Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Touch of France in the Caribbean ….. June 2014

28 May – 03 June 2014:  Deshaies to Pain de Sucre, Guadeloupe – 15 51N 61 36W

From Smoldering Volcanoes to Green Guadeloupe

We left Montserrat and continued on our journey southeast, we ticked off another 43 miles, still on the wind but the sea state was ok and the sheets were finally eased – well for a few minutes here and there!

Our first stop in the French Islands was the horseshoe shaped anchorage of Deshaies at the top of Guadeloupe.  It was a lovely spot, the anchorage was calm and comfortable and the French village ashore was very cute (somehow forgot to take photos!!)P6020018 

We had heard that check in formalities in the French Islands are quite unique and we confirmed this when we located the customs computer tucked away at the back of the brightly painted Pelican Boutique and Gift Shop, I got to do some window shopping while skipper swore at the computer with the French keyboard.  All was completed in due course, 4 Euros was paid, our arrival papers were printed off and we had legally arrived, not a uniformed government official in sight, no passports viewed or stamped, what a novelty –

Yummy Croissants and Baguettes

We spent a couple of nights here, the surrounding area was lush and green but we didn't do any exploring inland.  The village was lovely, but it is surely a land of contrasts with old French architecture, cafes lining the streets with blackboards advertising the plat du jour priced in euros, interspersed with the colourful local fruit, vegetable and fish markets and neighbouring boulangeries.  French speaking Caribbean folk were laden with freshly baked baguettes hot out of the oven in one arm and tropical fruits in the other, a colourful scene indeed. The French and the English fought over the Caribbean islands for centuries, and Guadeloupe is one that remains French.  Deshaies was great introduction to this Franco Carib blend.

P6020017We moved on down the coast in company with Truant III and Americans Little Wing, plans were to stop at the outlying Pigeon Islands for a snorkel in the Jacques Cousteau Marine Park and then anchor for the night in the nearby bay on the mainland.  But the plans didn’t include the wind to come in from the southwest when we are in the middle of the trade wind belt where the winds consistently howl through at over 20 knots from the east, so onto Plan B.  Well we didn’t really have a Plan B, but did find better shelter further down the coast at Anse a la Barque, a small indent that the three of us squeezed into along with several local fishing boats, it was ok for the night.

Pain de Sucre, Isle de SaintesMoving onto Les Saintes

We continued down the remainder of the coast and across to Les Saintes, the winds were gusty off the high Guadeloupe peaks then swirled all around as they raced down through the valleys – a challenging sail.  We crossed the short channel at the bottom of the mainland and dropped anchor in the beautiful bay at Pain de Sucre next to our English friends Mark and Sue on Macushla, great to catch up with them again.

We spent a few nights in this delightful quiet anchorage, the long walk around to the picturesque village of Bourge des Saintes was a serious hill session and provided much needed exercise but with treats of decent coffee, French pastries and steaming hot baguettes waiting at the other end, well how could we resist.

It was an area you could spent some time exploring but June was upon us and the hurricane season had officially started., we needed to keep ticking off the miles south.

Au Revoir France, Off to Dominica

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