Monday 2 April – Friday 13 April
After a quick dinghy trip into town Monday morning Ocean Star & Wild Thing are on their way to the Island of Marie Galante by 11:30. We have a pleasant sail east in calm seas, approaching the island we feel like we are back in the Bahamas with the turquoise shallow waters. Marie Galante looks flat as you approach from the water, but has lovely rolling hills 300 to 600 feet in elevation, with very rich soil making it very green and great for growing sugar cane, still a major crop here. We first go to see the anchorage by Grand Bourg inside a break-wall so well protected. There is a marina here with limited anchoring space right off town, but NO room for us so we head up to the main anchorage off the town of St. Louis. With the light winds and calm seas this winds up being a perfect anchorage, and we are anchored by 3:30. We chose this weather window to come east to this open anchorage, and it worked out great. Boats are able to anchor any where along the western shore with it so calm. We go into town around 4:30 to see what is there, not a lot open at this time on a Monday but we do make a car rental reservation for the following day. Back to the boats where Jan & George bring their leftovers to have with our leftovers for dinner and to plan what we want to see of the island on Tuesday. We get an early start and are at the dock shortly after 8, as we are walking towards town several people are walking out asking if we want a car rental. We realize we just beat the ferry in and all the car rental people are there to meet visitors to rent them cars. We get a better deal than the quote from the day before, so go with this lady and get a nice little MANUAL 4 door Hyundai. I Started to drive, it's been a while since I drove a manual shift and after about an hour of Steve not liking the way I was driving and Jan & George were not being entertained by us discussing my driving abilities we stopped and let Steve drive. Sugar cane is a big crop for this island and with that they have several rum distilleries that you can go visit and of course have free tastings. By 11:30 we had hit all 3 of them and decided we were ready some lunch. Finding a nice little beach restaurant south of the town Capesterre, we enjoy a great lunch with a great view. We have fun driving the roads, most of which do not have street names so we were never quite clear if we were going the right way. But we got around the Island and saw most of the sights. In addition to the 3 rum distilleries, a huge 200 foot sink hole on the north end open to the sea, an ox driven cart that is still used on the island to deliver the sugar cane, and a local honey making shop. She reopened for us since a local Jackie from a bar down the street told us about her wonderful honey. Back to the boats by 5, relax a little before going back in for dinner at 7. Our 1st choice place was not open, so we walked around checking out a few menus. I do not eat fish, a main dish for this island, and Jan & George try to stick with a plant based diet with fresh local fish, and Steve likes unusual dishes, so finding a restaurant is not as easy as it sounds. We find one and Jan & George & Steve are very happy to hear that Dorado is the fish of the day. We are the only customers and there is only one man running the place, who speaks NO English. Steve does very well ordering in french, so he orders an appetizer and the fish, Jan & George both order the fish and I order chicken. One man operation, so we understand it taking a while to prepare our meals. What a surprise when we finally were served 3 chicken dishes and 1 appetizer and NO fish !!! LOL Trying to correct the meal was out of the question so we all enjoyed what we had, not knowing where the translation went wrong. Wednesday we head out around 8:30 and have a great sail over to Pointe a Pitre the capital of Guadeloupe located on the Grande Terre side of the island. As we are sailing over from Marie Galante, Ultra is sailing over from The Saints. We all arrive around the same time Ultra anchoring out Wild Thing anchoring for lunch before going into the marina, and Steve & I just heading straight into the marina. We tried calling the marina several times on the VHF radio but no one would answer. We pulled up to the fuel dock so we could talk to someone about getting a slip. The harbor master is there so he points over to a slip and tells us to head over there and he will help pick up our mooring line. The marina is all Med Mooring, so you back in in between 2 other boats, tying your bow line to a mooring out in front and your 2 stern lines to the dock. So I throw him the bow line and he secures it to the mooring and we are backing up BUT our bow line is not long enough to get us to the dock. The harbor master is leaving to go help with another boat, I have to yell at him to come back, mean while the wind is pushing us forward over the mooring lines. We get a longer bow line on but now we have to be careful not to catch any lines in prop or bow thrusters. All goes well and we get backed in, a little harder throwing the stern lines with the new arch and dinghy behind us but we finally get settled. The main reason we are coming in to the marina is to have power to equalize the batteries again. Makes it a lot easier to do laundry also and we have a lot of it. Steve is happy to find out that the for the 37.50 Euros a night ($50) INCLUDES water and electricity !! You almost NEVER see a flat all inclusive rate at a marina down here in the Caribbean. So we get to run the AC for a couple of days and give the boat a really good wash down. After lunch Wild Thing comes into the marina and Bill & JoAnne come in by dinghy and stop by to say Tomaz & Lilly on Heron (met over in The Saints) are also anchored out and have invited us all out to their boat for HH. Steve & I do a quick walk around finding the self serve laundry and bathrooms at the marina and the full service laundry up by the marine store and grocery and all the restaurants. I find a hairdresser and make an appointment for the following morning to get a hair cut and touch up of color that is now 7 months old. Thursday morning drop off several loads of laundry at the full service place, I go for my hair appointment while Steve goes for a walk with George to see what else is around before going back to the boats to work on boat projects. Some things are just easier done at the dock than at anchor so most of Thursday is spent trying to do boat projects. It is surprising how quickly the day can disappear with only a small amount of things getting done. JoAnne & Bill came in for a few errands and to make arraignments for a car rental the next day or so. We all wanted to do some exploring of the islands interior and this weekend was a holiday weekend so we wanted to get something set up. It did not go as smoothly as they had planned and the guy did not come through so another rental agency was found and a cars booked for Saturday through Monday. Which worked out well giving us Friday to finish all the boat projects we did not get to on Thursday. Saturday morning we leave the marina and go out to anchor by Ultra, then back in to get rental cars and we are on our way by 11 heading back over to the mountainous side of the island Basse Terre and drive along the scenic road of Route De La Traverse. This road runs through the national park and has several hiking paths along the way. First stop, just a very short walk but one section had a picnic area where we had lunch. The 2nd hike we got a little more exercise with the 45 minute de Bras David (Davids Arm) trail. Next stop Le Tapeur, Parc Aventure en Foret Tropicale AKA Zip line & obstacle course in the trees !!! This is the best zip line we have been to, good price and they just let you loose to do it on your own. What a blast we had !!! You will have to take a look at a few of the pictures to see, words can't do it justice. After this we are very close to the western shore and our former anchorage off Pigeon Island and the next days planed adventure. So we drive over there to be sure of the location and talk to the guide. I am 98 % sure that I will NOT be able to do the hike up the canyon river and rappel down the canyon walls but we asked the guide and he said you needed to be very sure footed and able to easily climb over the rocks on the canyon floor. With my left knee acting up this is definitely not for me. As the sun begins to set we make our way back across the Island not wanting to drive these winding, unlighted roads in the dark making it back to the marina just after dark. Stop at the pizza place for dinner then back to the boats for a good nights rest. Steve, Jan & George & JoAnne & Bill have a 7:30 am departure Sunday morning to go back across the island to the canyon adventure. They have a wonderful day hiking up the canyon and rappelling down, once again words are hard to describe so take a look at some pictures. I have a quiet day back on the boat. Monday is a sleep in late day for the hikers but we still have the cars so we get underway and head to the beach section along the southern coast of the Grande-Terre ½ of the island finding a beautifully shaded beach for lunch. A swim and walk along the beach, a short nap for some and then continue the drive east along the coast to Pointe des Chateaux. This is at the end of a peninsula where on this holiday Easter Monday the locals have come to spend the day / long weekend along the beaches that border both sides. We spend a short time looking out at the rock formations and beautiful beach but don't do the short hike up to the cross on one of the bluffs as it is getting late and we do not want to be stuck in the line of traffic when all the locals start to pack up and go home. Life is good in the islands. Tuesday cars need to be turned in, still some site seeing we want to do but Steve needs a break from driving the last 2 days, he is not use to it anymore. Boat projects and Wild Thing finally breaks away from the marina to come out to the anchorage. Jan & George & JoAnne & Bill come over to Ocean Star for dinner that evening. Wednesday a few more boat projects and we made arraignments for another car rental for Thursday to go to another section of the national park to see the waterfalls known as the Chutes De Carbet. Thursday we pick up the car as Wild Thing stays behind to finish up on a sewing project while they can still use Ultra's sewing machine. Fill up the little car with back packs, cooler and 4 people & we are under way by 10:30. Guadeloupe has some great roads and we are on the N1 “freeway” heading to the southern part of Basse Terre and the rain forest of La Soufriere mountain. After turning off the main road we wind our way up the very narrow D4 until it ends at the main entrance to the paths to the waterfalls. A 20 minute walk along a path brings us to one of the tallest waterfalls around, at 325 feet, a beautiful sight. But a little disappointed as due to falling rocks you can no longer get close or swim under it, you just see it from an observation platform. There is another slightly taller waterfall but it is a 3 hour round trip hike over some very difficult terrain so we opt to do another 20 minute hike down to a river bed and small waterfall and swimming hole to have lunch by. Driving back down the road we stop at Grand Etang (Big Lake) to hike around the lake. As is typical with island hiking there is NO easy way around a lake or up a hill, this one is no different. A lot of climbing up and down along a path lined with tree roots, rocks and mud. We get a great work out with this hike and are ready to call it a day afterward. Back towards Pointe a Pitre and the boats we make a stop at the near by HUGE Casino Supermarket, think super super Walmart. Our rental car is a very little Chevy Spark, with 4 people and hiking gear not a lot of room left. But we just had to check out the store and being cruisers once inside had to buy stuff. So loading all our purchases into the little car & then into the dinghy was quite a site. Dropped Ultra and thier goods off at their boat then back to Ocean Star to unload and rest our tired bodies. Ocean Star will be heading out Friday morning to go off shore around the island back up to Deshaies before crossing over to Antigua on Saturday. Wild Thing spending Friday finishing up boat projects then taking the short cut through the River Salee that runs between the 2 islands of mainland Guadeloupe on Saturday to head over to Antigua. We are parting ways with Ultra for now, as they will be spending more time in Guadeloupe before heading south to Dominica where we hope to catch up with them again. SO glad we got to explore so much more of this beautiful country and to be able to do it with good friends made it that much better!! Next stop Antigua with my sister Carol coming to visit and Classic Regatta week followed by Sailing week.