The problem with premade plans is they won’t always turn out perfectly as you’ll see explained in this blog.
We had everything in order for our friends, Laurie and Joe, to arrive into Antigua on February 21st. We took a mooring in Jolly Harbour and asked them to taxi to the marina where we’d meet them, then sail them to Guadeloupe where they would fly out of. We saw their plane go over and went ashore just in time to meet them at the dinghy dock. They were hungry and thirsty, so we went into the pub by the poolside for a round of drinks while they enjoyed a few appetizers. I had made chili on board which we only needed to heat, so no full meal was necessary.
Joe and Laurie’s flight arrival as it passed overhead in Antigua
The trip before we got to the squalls. Sorry too busy during the squall for more pics.
The following morning Paul and Joe went ashore to clear everyone out. We departed Antigua for Guadeloupe at 10am. While protected by the island of Antigua the winds and sea were decent, but as soon as we got out from the lee of the island the sea state became quite unstable. The winds were over 25 knots so we were already single reefed, but the horizon had some squall clouds on it so we double reefed. We ended up hitting the tail end of 3 squalls. Some with gusts of up to 45 knots. Now this is not fun for seasoned sailors like us, so you can only imagine how it can incapacitate our guests. They were flat out on their backs for most of the trip.
We arrived in Deshaies, Guadeloupe at 4:30 in the afternoon. Thankfully the anchorage is well protected and our friends recovered from the passage fairly quickly. The following day we all ventured ashore and walked the mile or so up hill to visit the botanical gardens. No dogs were allowed so Paul sat outside with Charlie while the rest of us went through and enjoyed the plants and birds. First stop once inside is the feeding of the koi, and believe me when I say they are well fed. They are huge and there are hundreds of them in the ponds throughout the gardens.
This is just a few of the hundreds of Koi – feed me, please
Laurie and Joe enjoying the sights
Orchid – for real – not photo-shopped – amazing
Some amazing vines that became roots behind Gwyn and Laurie
The ever present goats
Now that is a really different tree trunk
Deshaies harbor from the botanical garden
I enjoyed the bright colorful birds they had in a large outdoor arbor. Most of them were busy eating the fresh grapefruit slices that were hung for them. A few were hopeful that we had food, but the food dispenser was empty so we had nothing to offer. I also enjoyed the plantings and it was particularly interesting to see the orchids growing in their natural habitat.
Colorful birds aplenty
Love the affection expressed
Hangin’ with the birds
Got his eye on us
Just push a half of a grapefruit onto a nail – voila bird food
Flamingos look surreal
Sleepy time, and its a struggle to do that in Yoga for us mere humans (especially on a boat)
We were all tired after trekking through the gardens. Paul and I started walking downhill with the dog, while Laurie and Joe organized a ride back to town on the free shuttle. Laurie managed to communicate to the driver to pick us up along the way.
We left Deshaies the following morning for Les Saintes (a small group of islands 37.1 miles from Deshaies). This sail was slightly better than our previous crossing, but the seas were still rough and the winds still high so we were double reefed again. Our guests faired better on this trip having taken some Gravol as we departed.
The required morning shower our first morning in Deshaies, Guadeloupe
Deshaies harbor on Guadeloupe as we were leaving
The French always have a better way – fishing boat, so says the AIS – outclasses the “normal” fishing boat
On the way to Les Saintes, this Caribbean 600 racer came flying by us like we were drifting. Didn’t realize we were on the race course
We anchored and I took Charlie aboard in the kayak to a small beach littered with sea glass (score). We spent one night at anchor and moved onto a mooring the following morning as soon as one freed up. We all ventured into town where we found a place that sold fresh baguettes. We also located some free WiFi in a new little creperie not far from the dinghy dock. We enjoyed crepes and galettes here a few times over the course of our visit.
A partial view of Terre de Haut from Fort Napolean
Les Saintes Pain de Sucre (sugar loaf) behind which we hid from the wind with Terre de Bas in the background
Bourg des Saintes on Terre de Haut with Fort Napolean on the hill right center and Guadeloupe in the background
Looking a bit more to the west is Fort Josephine on Ilet a Cabrit on the right and Pain de Sucre with Terre de Bas in the background on the left
A closeup look of Fort Josephine, we didn’t climb that one this trip. Spot Blue Sky just to the left of center?
A closer look at the town and to the right a house built like a ship’s prow. Colorful and fun with good food
The streets are busy with people from ferries that come over from the island of Guadeloupe several times a day loaded with tourists. There are many little shops and restaurants here and there are multiple grocery stores within walking distance. Scooters are the main mode of transport here and they are weaving around between those who are on foot throughout the village.
Les Saintes Anse du Bourg – beautiful except for the constant rain showers and wind. Not normal weather
A walk across the island to the windward side brought some nice surf
Interesting looking airport nestled between two hills and a mountain at one end. Behind me is the ocean
Loved the use of color in the homes
Charlie tentatively meets two other dogs who were just dying to make a new friend.
Maybe if I pick Charlie up, the other dogs will stay home. Nope, followed us all the way into town.
Laurie and Joe as we sample some restaurant food on the sea’s edge
Paul and Gwyn at the restaurant in Bourg des Saintes
Our days were spent wandering the town, enjoying galletes and baguettes. We did the hike up the hill to visit Fort Napoleon. This time Charlie and I sat outside while Paul did the tour with Laurie and Joe. Our evenings were spent playing Farkle or scrabble after a short swim.
The mandatory football field in Terre de Haut
Always the goats in the bush on the way up to Fort Napolean
Taking a break just before the summit on our climb to Fort Napolean (Guadeloupe in the background)
First you go down into the moat then scale the walls and that only gets you to the inner fort – I’d call it a losing proposition
Fort Napolean inner fort seen from the fort walls which also had a moat on the outside. Guess they didn’t like visitors
Marigot Bay on the other side of Fort Napolean. Bit of a hike straight up
Iguana standing guard inside the fort – about 4 feet long
Before we knew it the week with our guests was over and it was time for them to leave. They opted to take the fast ferry over to Trois Riviere, Guadeloupe rather than do another passage in the rough seas. Good choice I’d say. So we bid them goodbye and we dropped the mooring and moved to an anchorage called Pan de Sucre. Here there was a small beach and some snorkeling. The winds continued and boats were coming and going. Each evening we were kept busy watching that no one fouled our anchor while setting theirs. Boats often drag in this bay so it was nerve racking.
Another marvel of French innovative marine engineering, Laurie and Joe said the rides was quite smooth despite the heavy weather on the way to Trois Riviere
Thanks for wearing the bright blue shirt, Joe! Bye for now L & J
Pain de Sucre protecting us from the high winds in Les Saintes
Uncomfortably close anchoring in Pain de Sucre but he didn’t see it that way
The good news (for us) is the wind shifted and he dragged into another cat while the captain slept in the morning.
They are just getting ready for the marriage vows (we think). Gotta like the wedding attire. Although he had on no shirt, he sported a bow tie and long pants.
Day after the wedding managing the kids – still in bow tie
I’d finally had enough and really wanted to get somewhere with more protection from the winds that never seemed to let up. We chose to sail back over to Guadeloupe on March 3rd. While on route we were hailed by Ullyses in French. Paul responded in French, much to my surprise, and eventually both parties converted to English. They were asking for us to take some photos of their boat while under sail. We were happy to comply.
Our plan was to sail to the Jacques Cousteau marine park, but we ended up stopping in a bay just a few miles south of there. It was well protected from the winds so we actually had some time to kayak Charlie ashore and to deliver the photos to Ulysse who’d also anchored here behind us. They invited us for wine that evening and returned our USB key with a few photos of us. They had sailed recently sailed across the Atlantic and still had their crew with them. Nice people and we did our best to communicate. Thankfully they all spoke better English than we spoke in French.
Ulysee wing on wing in the rough water of Canal des Saintes between Les Saintes and Guadeloupe
Ulysee in calmer water in the lee of Guadeloupe
That night the winds were really high and we dragged. Usually it’s simple to haul the anchor and reset, but to my surprise we had snagged a tarp full of muck. It took me about 10 minutes to get it off the anchor while Paul kept the boat pointing into the wind. In the end we chose a place behind all the other boats to reset in case we dragged again. Thank goodness for our anchor alarm. We weren’t the only ones who dragged that night. We certainly didn’t get much sleep here.
With winds still high sustained to 38 knots and gusting to 50 knots, we passed by the Jacques Cousteau marine park and made our way back to Deshaies. Here we cleared out on March 5th and sailed back to Antigua. No squalls, but we were double reefed all the way back and still made an average of 8 knots. We’d have another week or so of these higher winds to endure before they finally abated. You just can’t predict the weather.