Friday, July 8, 2016

Islands of Saints

After a relatively benign trip from St Martin, we have finally arrived in Guadeloupe….well Iles des Saintes to be exact.  When we first planned the route, we had planned on making our first stop in Deshaies, which is the first anchorage on the northwest coast of Guadeloupe. Since we hadn't anticipated that Moitessier would make such good timing during this passage, we ended up deciding last minute that we would skip Deshaies and move on to the anchorage in Basse-Terre, off of Marina de Riviere Sens (the next port for clearing in).  Originally we had planned on making landfall in Deshaies the following morning, but with the winds in our favor, MoMo was cruising at a nice average speed of  about 7 kts, making our would-be arrival in the middle of the night, which we all know is not something we ever want to do. And so we trudged on, moving further down the coast to make some headway, as we are currently already a little behind schedule (when are we not?).  Upon arrival the following morning at Basse-Terre, we noticed that the "anchorage" was essentially a tiny sliver of shallower water off of the side of the island very very close to shore, with the depths dropping from 65' to 165' in a matter of 2-3 hundred feet.  And so, once again, we decided to sail a couple more miles south to Iles des Saintes, meaning Islands of Saints in french and, boy, does it live up to its name.  

Sailing into this set of Guadeloupe owned islands was such a lovely surprise after the stressful debacle of a morning we had with deciding last minute where to go. We hadn't done any research and  didn't know what the deal was with all the mooring balls dotting the shore where the charts had labelled "anchorage," and so we tucked into Marigot Bay as this happens to be the only place  around with reasonable water depths that you can anchor in. After dinghying it in to the town of Terre de Haut and checking in, we discovered that it would cost us 11 Euros a night stay on the mooring balls, or 60 euros for a week, which we justified as reasonable considering the mere 2 euro check-in fee into Guadeloupe.  We also decided to take a mooring as our anchorage, though sheltered in settled weather, was starting to become unsafe with building winds clocking around and bringing in huge swells.  We ended up staying and relaxing in this lovely town for over a week, awaiting a tropical wave to pass before moving on.  We didn't do much but deal with some repairs on the boat (i.e. rewiring the SSB antenna, re-mounting our exhaust hose that had snapped loose, repairing an issue that had popped up in our steering, and so on…).  We revelled in the homeyness and the "Europeness" that this little town exude, and I swear it felt like I was walking around some small town in Europe somewhere, with its delightful colorful houses, once again set upon a lush island backdrop.  Though there isn't too much to do but just enjoy the beauty of this little set of islands, Frank and I thoroughly enjoyed taking it easy and just getting into the groove of the small island community here.  There is a sleepy Sunday feel to being here, and as brief of a stay we had here, we quickly fell into a routine of walking into town, getting some gelato, some baguette and cheese,  buying groceries, and simply marveling the quaintness of this place.  My words are not doing it justice, so I'll just stop right here and hope that my photos can portray just a little of what I'm going on about…

That's St Eustatius behind me
Approaching Guadeloupe
Entering the Islands of Saints
Marigot Bay, where we anchored while it was sheltered
On a mooring ball...
Town of Terre de Haut
Church in the center of town
I've never seen this flower before
Goats everywhere…not sure if you can see in the photo
Hiking to the top
Fort Napoleon at the top...