20th January to 29th January 2014
Iles des Saintes
20th January 2014 to 22nd January 2014
On Monday 20 January we left at first light for Ilse des Saintes. It is part of Guadeloupe (French Islands). It consists of the following: Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas and several smaller ones. They are small islands with a rocky shoreline. The vegetation indicates limited rainfall on these islands.
Anchorage is not permitted in the bay for two reasons:
We picked up the last available mooring in a water depth of 20 meters. The French are laid back on their customs and immigration protocol. It is all done on line including the payment of the mooring fees. No passports to stamp (we could get use to this).
Bourg des Saintes was a gorgeous little town. It is very French but friendly. These Islands attract predominantly French tourists and French Cruisers. The town is also geared up for ferry boats carting tourists from the main island.
Big cruising boats also drops anchor here and offload hundreds of people on the ferry docks. Late afternoon is the most beautiful part. The buildings colour is further enhanced by the setting sun.
The narrow streets offers a great variety of shops, very local and different, reflecting the interest and taste of their owners. One particular shop attracted my attention more than the others. The shop name is Maogany. The clothes are hand-painted and silk-screened in themes reminiscent of the sea. (The prices dampened the appetite due to our weak rand)
The doctor’s home resembles a ship’s bow and is something of a local landmark.
Tuesday morning we kayaked over to Ilet Cabrit. A pair of dolphins swam next to us.
We wandered through the streets and had lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the bay.
Later that afternoon we walked up the hill to Fort Napoleon. It was built in 1867. It has a dominant view of the harbour. The first French settlers ventured here in the mid 17th Century. Many a battle was fought against the British on the neighboring seas. The fort is amazing with pretty spectacular views.
Zack was desperate need for a hair cut. R600 was too expensive and I had to cut his hair on deck.
Wednesday morning we kayaked around the bay. We went by dingy around to Baia du Marigot and snorkeled at the Pointe Morei. It was beautiful, the water was clear and there were rocks covered with sea ferns swaying in the current and stunning coral. We saw a lot of different fish species. It was one of the best sites we had snorkeled yet. That same afternoon we snorkeled at Pain de Source.
23 to 29th January 2014
We left Ilse des Saintes Thursday morning (23rd January) just after breakfast on a lovely motor sail to Guadeloupe. Guadeloupe is a butterfly-shaped island with the two wings separated by a river.
Pigeon Island is halfway up the western coast. When we reached the leeward side of the island the wind died down and the water looked like a dam. We dropped the sails and motored along the coast.
The Pigeon Island area is the Cousteau National Park. We moored on one of the yellow moorings. The water was crystal clear and you could see the fish underneath Vagabund. We had a barbeque but instead of a “vleisie on the fire” we had a “vleisie on the reef”.
We scuba dived from Vagabund and enjoyed an underwater delight. It was like swimming in an aquarium. The water was clear with rocks, tunnels, cliffs, stunning coral of all types and colorful fishes swimming around.
After the dive we anchored for the night on the mainland shore, in the bay opposite to Pigeon Island.
On Friday (24th January) we went over to Pigeon Island to scuba dive again but this time from our dingy. We tied up to a yellow mooring alongside a dive boat. We dived the other side of the island. We had an excellent dive and even saw a turtle.
After lunch we went ashore. Several snackettes and restaurants are built on the beach. After a 15-20 minute walk to the town Malendure we found a nice supermarket that was well stocked with reasonable prices. Zack could not resist buying some French pastries. Needless to say that I put the pork chops into the fridge for the next day.
Saturday (25 January) it was raining and the wind was blowing 20 knots on anchor. We left for Deshaus a few miles further up the coast. The sea we experienced on Thursday was completely the opposite. A large choppy sea greeted us and even though we were on the leeward side of the island the wind gusted up to 33 knots. We brought the main down and sailed with the genoa not fully unfurled. We were glad to be on the leeward side of the island. It must have been rough on the open seaside.
Coming into the bay to anchor we anchored next to Shiloh (John, Holly and Devon) and Khayo Moya (John and Shirley). It was great seeing them again, waving and greeting them, but they could not hear us in the wind. Both these South African boats we have met in Trinidad. After inspecting our anchor set with a snorkel Zack swam over to greet them.
Saturday evening we were all invited to Shiloh. Everyone brought their own drinks and I took a salad. We sat around eating, drinking and having a good laugh. Building on friendships sealed with salt water that will last for a long time.
Sunday we had a nice group walk over to the next beach. It was very relaxing under the palm trees.