Up before the sun on Monday to do the final preparations for our 50 mile run to Guadeloupe. Dropped the mooring at 6.30 ish and motored out through the channel to leave Jolly Harbour and Antigua behind – bidding a silent farewell to Glen on Blue Pearl as we passed her in the anchorage….
Motored out beyond the immediate hazards, got the sails up and realised that instead of the reach we were expecting, the wind was a bit closer than anticipated. But never mind, up go all three sails, and we head out. The waves are a little lumpy in the shallow water around Antigua – but as we got into the beautiful deep navy water, which was almost two miles deep, the sea flattened. This is as good as it gets and particularly for the last 10 miles when we were accompanied by flying fish and the wind changed so we ended up with the reach we had been looking forward to… On this eight hour sail we did wonder whether we would see whales as this is the time they migrate north with their new calves – but nothing happening. So following the fine example of Dory in Finding Nemo we tried whale talking….but still no show. Oh well, we’ll have to try and improve upon our accents another day!!!
Arrived into Deshaies, Gaudeloupe, at around 3.30 pm and were amazed by how many boats were already there. This is a tiny shallow anchorage if you can get close enough in – but no spots available – so ended up anchoring in nearly 50 feet / 17 metres of water. A bit deep but we had no choice on this occasion. There was very little room and we are a bit closer to other boats than we would like too. We got ourselves cleaned and tidied up and headed into town. There is a large dinghy dock here – but no-one told us that the waves surged up so fiercely that it took out great chunks of the dock as well as foundations of the shorefront properties too!
It was really something to try and dock here – but again, no choice. At least it is still daylight. Mission accomplished we headed off to check in and go for a wander. French customs and immigration is a doddle – here is a computer, fill in your details, stamp, sign, pay €4 and thanks a lot. So we have legally arrived. We grabbed a fresh baguette from the patisserie and went back on board Morphie. This is a very French town – friendly and welcoming people, but very little English spoken. Looks like I’m going to have to brush off the school girl French again…. We are pretty shattered so back on board for a quick bite to eat and an early night.
During the night I awake to engine noises – so pop my head out to see navigation lights right on our stern. These new arrivals were dropping their anchor and it felt like it was in our cockpit! Then a catamaran turned up and dropped close too….. and I wondered what had happened to the little red boat with the solo German guy in who had been our nearest neighbour earlier….and then I spotted him 50 metres off our stern so he must have dragged his anchor earlier. He was gone by morning when we got up so hope he was all right! As well as all the boat arrivals it was also a rolly anchorage so not a particularly restful night…
Tuesday morning we went ashore to get an internet connection. When I went to buy our car tax online the other day the system said we did not have any car insurance on file – oh yes we do! I’ve got the paperwork to prove it…. Anyway we needed to sort it out so into the internet cafe we go. After doing that, and paying a few bills, we went to the patisserie for breakfast. Had to be done – we are in France after all….. Fantastic pastries and strong coffee – what better way to start the day???? We chatted over breakfast and decided to move on – this is not a place we can leave dink for the day tied to the dock while we get a car and explore. And with the amount of boats around we are not comfortable leaving Morphie either….. So decision made, back on board, and we pick up anchor and leave for another anchorage 10 miles down the coast.
Unfortunately this time the wind was on the nose so we ended up motoring and arrived at the Pigeon Island anchorage a couple of hours later. This is close to the Pigeon Islands (would you believe????) and is a designated marine park named in honour of Jacques Cousteau. So we were hoping to get some diving in here, some snorkelling, and maybe this is the place to base ourselves instead whilst in Guadeloupe?
So went ashore to explore. In this anchorage, the dock was a public one used by all the watersports operators so we pulled dink right up close to the beach – but it was really really surging and not easy to get on and off. Looks like another place not to leave dink unattended too long….. The small beach was darkish sand and not too attractive – and was absolutely rammed with day trippers. We take refuge in a cafe to watch the world go by and are amazed at the diving activity on offer – loads and loads of operators here….
We watched at least five dive boats – crammed with maybe 20 people each – plus glass bottom boats and boats full of snorkelers… All of these boats were heading out simultaneously to the small islands a stone’s throw from the anchorage. Mmmmmmm…. this really doesn’t appeal…… We have done crowded dive sites in Egypt and hoards of people just get in the way, and I always always end up getting someone’s fin in my face, not an experience I am keen to repeat!!! So we make an executive decision that this is not for us – we’ll hold on until we get somewhere else…. Eventually we went back on board for another quiet and early night. And of course the obligatory amazing sunset shot…. But it is not all disappointing, because we have seen three turtles surfacing near Morphie in the anchorage.
This morning we headed off to explore the rest of the west coast of Guadeloupe. The wind was howling until we tried to sail and then it died! Typical… We went close to Basseterre – which was another possible place to base ourselves – but again, with the current surf conditions, it was not tenable. So we decided to go straight to Iles des Saintes today for a while and will sail back up to Pointe a Pitre on the south coast of Guadeloupe later.
These islands are still French so no hassle with customs and immigration to deal with. They are also supposed to be beautiful… As we rounded the bottom of Guadeloupe the wind picked up – and again, feast or famine…. 30 knots of breeze and it got lumpy for a while. Oh well, nothing we aren’t used to by now! So after a few hours we completed our 25 mile trip and have now picked up a mooring ball off Bourg de Saintes on the main island of Terre d’en Haut. Going ashore to explore soon.
Bye for now.