Written by Jon
Guadeloupe is another island we’ve already visited twice. The first visit was with Sta Vast and we stayed around the islands of Les Saints on the south west corner. The islands are picture postcard cute, scattered with colourful cottages, huts and houses where the variety of colours is only matched by the states of repair.
Unfortunately for cruisers on a tight budget (us) the majority of the well protected little bays are now covered with paid mooring buoys and anchoring is prohibited. Thankfully, we managed to find a nice little spot out of the wind on the quieter of the two islands, Terre de Bas. A green and largely uninhabited anchorage with only a couple of local boats and some nesting pelicans for company.
We enjoyed a relaxing few days in the comfy company of Sta Vast, splitting our time between boat school, swimming and taking long walks around this quiet little island so the kids could run and play.
After a few days together we parted ways once more, with Sta Vast heading to Guadeloupe proper and Itchy Foot heading back to Dominica for a birthday party which we described in the previous post. After a wonderful few days in Dominica we once again returned to Guadeloupe, this time skipping Les Saints and heading directly the west coast of the main island.
Being very much a part of France, legally, financially and socially, Guadeloupe is a great place to shop for food. So when sailing up the west coast we chose to make a ‘quick’ stop to shop outside one of the main towns. Not a normal place for yachts but there was space to anchor and tie up the dinghy in a dock giving us a few hours to shop in smallish ‘european’ supermarkets for relatively cheaply. As is always the way, shopping took longer than expected and that night we only had time to move a few miles up the coast and anchor in a beautiful little bay called Anse a la Barque.
The next morning we had a bit of a slow start and then sailed/motored the rest of the way to the top of the west coast to meet Sta Vast in Anse Deshaies – one of the most popular and attractive anchorages in Guadeloupe. Shortly after we managed to get safely anchored and gather our thoughts we had a lovely surprise when Blue Zulu dropped anchor beside us. Mr and Mrs Blue Zulu are a lovely couple we met in the Cape Verde islands and are the boat with the 9 year old girl, Stella, who had a birthday party in Dominica. They also have a boy about a year older than Teo and all the kids get on very well. As the sun was soon to set we all headed ashore to complete customs ‘check-in’, followed by ice-cream and a play on the beach together. Rather than head back to our boats, as the kids were having so much fun (and the adults) we decided to grab excellent take-out pizza, some beer and have a candle-lit meal on the beach.
The next day, after boat school, we made a plan to follow a river gorge and walk up into the mountains with the kids. We’d read about the walk in one of the guide books and figured it would be fun to try. Within a few minutes of entering the gorge it really felt like we were in the middle of the jungle and with giant rocks to scramble over, fresh water pools to swim and rivers to jump over the kids had a wonderful afternoon hiking.
The next day was low-key, resting legs after the hiking. Pat from Blue Zulu saw a beach from a bus the day before so we jumped in our dinghy and went around the next bay. Miles of golden sand largely to ourselves. The only challenge was that the breakers were landing hard all along it so landing the dinghy wasn’t easy. The simple solution is often the best one, so everyone but the driver jumped out of the dinghy and swam ashore and were then ready to help ‘catch’ the surfing dinghy plus brave driver as they came in. In the end we all made it in safely and the kids spent a lovely afternoon playing in the crashing waves with only a few bangs, bruises and scrapes to show for the day.
The next morning we were up early for the sail across to Antigua. We were in the middle of lifting the anchor when I heard someone shout “Jon!” looking around I saw a very old friend, Nancy, from my first job in London some 20 years ago. She left the rat race 10+ years ago and has been sailing and working around the Caribbean since then. After a quick hug and a promise to meet up soon, we left for an almost perfect sail over to Antigua – flat sea, fine reach and 12 knots of wind.