Monday, March 8, 2010

Antigua to Guadeloupe

March 3-4 - Jolly Harbor to Falmouth

We left Jolly Harbor in the morning after getting Lahaina Roads ready to sail. The weather looked good with a promise of a fresh breeze that would make for a good sailing day.

As soon as we got out of the harbor and were able to, we hoisted the sails. Darren appeared to enjoy the experience of getting everything ready. We ran him through all the tacking strategies, using the GPS, using the wind gauge and setting the auto-pilot.

After about a five hour sail along the coast and making a few tacks, we pulled into Falmouth (though not without a small engine malfunction that Dave quickly fixed).

Falmouth is an open harbor to the west, but otherwise is well protected. On the other side of it lies English Harbor and the historic (Horatio) Nelson Dockyard. It’s a far better protected harbor, but it’s very tight with not much room for the boat to swing.

The following day, Thursday. we decided to rent another car since we had not seen much of the eastern part of Antigua. Among the places we visited, were Half Moon Bay and Nonsuch Bay. One of the interesting spots we found was in Nonsuch at a place called Harmony Hall. It had an exquisite panoramic view, with an old wind-driven sugar cane mill turned into a visitor center and a unique art gallery. We would have enjoyed a lunch there was it not for the fact that lunch prices hovered in the $40 price range. But the view would have been a good one.

On our island tour, one of the things that befuddled us was the cost of local pineapples. Apparently, these fruits are like gold here. At the mom and pop fruit stands we found them for $10 each and thought we were being taken advantage of and so balked at buying any. Turned out that that was the going rate. We don’t get it.

After a few more sights such as Parham Bay and Shirley Heights, we drove back to Falmouth. It had been a long but fun day.

March 5 - Antigua to Guadeloupe

Friday morning, after coffee and breakfast the three of us headed in by dinghy to the dock of the Antigua Yacht Club. Darren was taking a bus into St. John, spending the night there to be close to the airport for his early morning flight. Dave and I were headed out to Guadeloupe. It was odd sort of parting with Darren walking off to a bus stop near Nelson’s Dockyard and Dave and I, going off in the dinghy, back to Lahaina Roads.

Dave and I were quickly underway and had an uneventful forty mile crossing to Guadeloupe. The island appeared low to the east and mountainous to the west end. It was a few more miles to our destination.

We anchored in Deshaies (pronounced day-ay), a small fishing village, on the northwest side of the island. No sooner had we plunked down and secured the anchor, when customs officials off of a navy boat came by and requested permission to come aboard. They didn’t have the serious commando look - the commanding officer was in shorts and bare feet.

But it was the first time we ever had been boarded and checked so thoroughly. The crew, three men and a woman, asked all sorts of questions and searched the boat from stem to stern. I really don’t know what they were after, but obviously they found nothing. They were very friendly, cordial, finished their search and bid us adieu.

A short time later, a white, young, long-haired French fellow came by on his skiff asking if we wanted anything for the morning such as baguettes or croissants. Only in a French harbor does this happen, eh? I’m surprised he didn’t asked if we needed an expresso with that!

On Saturday, we took the dinghy into the town dock, which is up a small river. We got our customs and immigration check-in done and took and then decided to take the bus to the main island town of Pointe-a-Pitre.

Guadeloupe looks kind of like a lopsided butterfly. It’s actually composed of two separate islands divided by a river. The eastern island is flat and geologically older, while the western island is younger and more mountainous.
Pointe-a-Pitre is situated on the eastern island, where the butterfly’s wings connect to its body. Although not that far away, it took us 2 ½ hours by bus to get there. Since it was Saturday, lots of things were happening - fresh fruit markets, spice markets, clothing street vendors, street musicians and flea markets. It was a happening place.

We walked all around a section of town near the water, had a very tasty paiea lunch and set about to find our way home. We found Guadeloupe to be more prosperous and livelier looking than Antigua (of course - one is British and the other is French). The people seem friendly and most are well dressed, looking all too Western.

Lots of young teens walk with MP3 and cell phones. Some of the boys dress like the gang bangers back home with baggy pants that hang down to their knees and baseball caps, while the girls dress very smartly and look beautiful. Obesity, although present, doesn’t seem to be quite the problem it is in Antigua. They must be eating the French diet.

We got back to the boat in time for a quick swim before the evening’s cocktails were served - Crown Royal for Dave, wine for me. A light dinner consisting of scrumptious cucumber salad with soup followed.

Sunday morning, we walked up the hill to the south of Deshaies to find the Botanical Garden. With the warm weather, it was a hot and sweaty, one mile walk. The Jardin Botanique was a very nicely laid-out botanical garden with native and non-native tropical plants and birds. The paths were curvy and several times cut across a creek and a small waterfall. Although it wasn’t cheap, it was a worthwhile excursion.

The afternoon was spent catching up on email and reading. Just another grueling day in the life of a cruiser.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures as usual George. I wonder if you could make a link and share more of them...I know you have just a few more. :-)