15 – 27 Nov: Isle de Saintes to Deshaies, Guadeloupe – 15 52N 61 35W
A Wet &Windy Ride, But Worth It!
We were in and out of Dominica in 15 hours, it’s a magnificent island but we had done all our exploring on the way south so didn’t feel the need to linger again as we headed north. Plus the winds were forecast to steadily increase during the next week, so we took what was on offer and headed out into the Guadeloupe Channel.
Unfortunately the weather on offer was not particularly pleasant so we put 2 reefs in the mainsail, rolled out a slither of headsail and headed out into 30 knot squalls, charming! The good news was that the wind was on the beam, generally 15 –20 knots between squalls and the distance was only 23 miles. We had it knocked off in no time and were back into French territory in time for fresh baguettes for lunch.
We chose the town anchorage this time, it was looking like we would be here a while until the winds settled, so we tied up to a mooring buoy in the pretty bay of Grand Bourg des Saintes, and proceeded to enjoy yet another French gem.
Australians Lenny & Gina on Feijao were still with us, and their American friends Maggie & Wylie on Harmony also arrived after doing a 2 night sail up the island chain, we had plenty of social engagements to keep us amused. The anchorage was well protected but just a short distance away we watched the Atlantic rollers pass on by as the trade winds howled out in the channel between us and mainland Guadeloupe.
When the squalls came through we hunkered down, when the sun was out we made the most of the fresher air and took walks ashore. We walked up to Fort Napoleon and visited the museum which had a interesting display of the naval battles that took place over the years between the British and the French in these waters, I guess the French won this one, it was sure worth fighting for!
Farewell to Feijao – SOLD
This was a huge week for Lenny and Gina, the end of an era for them. They left Australia about the same time as we left New Zealand and have followed much the same path as us but we never met them until earlier this year in Puerto Rico. Feijao has been “for sale” and after a haul out and inspection a couple of weeks ago in Martinique the deal was done and a lovely Frenchman from Guadeloupe has bought Feijao.
It has been a busy time for them condensing over 10 years of life onboard into airline luggage allowances. Parcels have been posted home, old clothes and other items were donated to our pile of “Help for Haiti” (our forward cabin has been turned into a charity shop depot and will be emptied out and given away when we get to Haiti) and lastly all sorts of goodies now have Balvenie as their new home, we thank them greatly for their generosity. Gina and Lenny have moved onboard with Maggie & Wylie on Harmony (a Leopard Catamaran) so will be cruising just a little longer until they hang up their sailing gloves and fly home to Australia.
Not One of Our Better Days
After a week on the mooring the winds still had not subsided but we were ready for a change of scenery so moved a couple of miles around the corner for 2 more nights before finally heading north across to the Guadeloupe mainland. The channel was lively as expected and we had a solid 25 knots but it was aft of the beam at last. It wouldn’t have been such a bad crossing except for the “water event” we had. A hose clip on our generator exhaust had fractured and even though the hose had two clips on it a substantial amount of salt water had seeped into the engine bilge. This wouldn’t have been so bad but the channel had been very rolly so the water decided to distribute itself evenly into all the bilge compartments, quite a soggy mess to clean up.
Not A Good Night Either
Continuing up in the lee of Guadeloupe we had flat water but gusty winds, Skipper concentrated on avoiding the squalls while I reduced the bilge water levels. We stopped for the night by Pigeon Island, this is a Jacques Cousteau Marine Park and we had bypassed it on the way down as the anchorage was too rolly, this time it was flat so we tucked in to anchor, but the anchor wouldn’t hold. There is nothing worse than getting into an anchorage after a hard day and having troubling anchoring (thankfully it doesn’t happen to us often). So up it came and we dropped again, a couple of bumps along the seabed then it held well, or so we thought.
It was another squally evening and bullets of wind buffeted us regularly but we were secure so went to bed. The beeps of the anchor alarm are never welcome in the middle of the night and we hoped that we had just swung and strayed a little outside our “guard circle”, we looked to be in the same place but when we checked our track and depth it was clear we were slipping back and had gone off the narrow shallow shelf, we were now sitting in 30 meters of water, next stop Central America!
So I accepted that I was never going to get the chance to explore the underwater delights of the marine park and we left pre dawn, we motored slowly north keeping an eye out for fishing pots in the dark and entered the beautiful anchorage at Deshaies on the north western side of Guadeloupe just on day break, time for a rest.
Another Birthday Rolls Around
We spent 3 nights in delightful Deshaies waiting for an ease in the trade winds for our next hop north to Antigua. Any thoughts of leaving were put on hold when a Norwegian yacht left only to return after seeing 40 knots and 4 meter swells out in the open ocean, and yes looking at the photo it looks idyllic but we had only a few sunny calms between very blustery squally conditions.
never to old to blow out candles!! Delicious French deserts compliments of Team Harmony
Last year skipper had 60 knots forecast for his birthday on the US East coast, this year it was just 38 knots and the rain was much warmer. We had a combined celebration for Mark and Lenny’s birthdays and included Thanksgiving too, even the rain gave us a break and stayed away.
Then at last the howling trades eased, the anchorage at Deshaies rumbled at dawn with the sound of anchor chains being lifted and 12 yachts slipped out and headed to either Montserrat or Antigua, race on!
3 Seasons In the Caribbean & Finally We Are Going to Antigua