It’s been a while since we’ve had to strategically plan our itinerary based on weather, but this was one of those weeks. A cluster of nasty squalls appeared in the forecast, forcing us to seek shelter in a protected harbor.
We decided to bypass the insufficiently protected harbors of Monserrat (the next island down the chain) and push on to Guadeloupe instead. We left Nevis at 3AM and thirteen hours later, arrived in Deshaies, wrung out from dealing with gnarly, confused waves and squalls. I spent my last ounce of patience negotiating the packed harbor to find a suitable spot for anchoring. It took two tries before we got it right.
Guadeloupe is a French territory, which means we are back to the Euro and wonderfully relaxed procedures for clearing in – which we did at a computer terminal in the back of a stationary store. Deshaies is a scrappy fishing village with harborside restaurants, souvenir stands, a bakery and a wine shop. They probably get lots of visitors in high season, but walking down the almost-empty streets this time of year, we felt conspicuous. One local pinched my elbow as we passed in the street. I turned around to glare at him and he just grinned back at me.
The squalls arrived right on schedule bringing buckets of rain and high winds that made the whole boat shake. There were some tense moments when boats around us started dragging anchor. After spending three days whiling away time with books and movies in the cabin, we were hungry for some physical activity. Once the weather cleared, we set out for a highly-anticipated hike in the rainforest, up a riverbed to a hidden waterfall. The hike was a bust. We decided we’d had enough of Deshaies and left as soon as conditions improved.
There wasn’t enough wind to sail, so we motored nine miles down the coast to Pigeon, where we set anchor in a large, sleepy harbor filled with more sea turtles than we’d ever seen before. Provisioning for fruit and veg gave us a perfect mission for going to town to explore. Unlike Deshaies, there are still plenty of tourists here (most of them from France, based on their language and sun-deprived skin), which made exploring town more interesting, though we would have preferred less swimmers around, both on the reefs and in the anchorage.
Tomorrow we’ll raise anchor again, for one final stop in Guadeloupe; Îles des Saintes (most people just call them “The Saints”), a small archipelago, just 24 miles south of here. We’ve heard rumors that the main town, Terre de Haut, is still hopping in the off-season, and we are excited to check it out.
Schooner anchored next to us in Deshaies Bay
The main drag in Deshaies
Hiking in Deshaies. Hikers ascend by climbing from rock to rock along the riverbed.
The river leads to a hidden waterfall near the top of the hill. We ignored our guidebook’s recommendation to avoid making the trek after heavy rain, (it had just rained for three days) and the moss on the wet rocks had melted into a filmy slime. After about an hour of sliding and skidding off of rocks and falling into the river (me), we gave up on seeing the waterfall and turned back.
Next, we sailed ten miles south to Pigeon, a small vacation town near the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve. A tiny squall made this beautiful double rainbow for us to enjoy.
The bay is filled with big sea turtles who are not shy about approaching the boat. At happy hour we made a game of spotting turtle heads poking up out of the water. They surface ever 15-20 minutes to breathe.
There are French tourists snorkeling all over the anchorage, looking at the turtles. They don’t seem to care in the slightest how dangerous it is to swim around a harbor filled with boats and dinghies. They are also kind of loud and invasive for people who are supposed to be swimming and watching peaceful sea creatures. One afternoon, as I showered on the aft deck, a group with an instructor suddenly came alongside the boat. He would not stop shouting instructions (does one really need an instructor for snorkeling?) at his pupils. My French is poor, but I’m pretty sure I heard him yell “Look! An elusive boat woman shaving her legs in her natural habitat!”
We went into town to restock fresh veggies and fruit. The grocery store is a pretty half mile walk from the dinghy dock.
We’re delighted to discover that it’s mango season in Guadeloupe – the fruit is tumbling down from the trees.
Sidewalks and roads are littered with rotting, squashed mangoes
I love browsing in foreign grocery stores, especially the snack isles, to see what people like in the places we visit. Potato chip flavors are always fun – these roast chicken flavored ones are quite popular in Guadeloupe.
We love trying the new varieties of local fruit we’re starting to see as we move south. This apra has a leathery purple skin and the white, pulpy stuff inside tastes like concord grapes.
Brian made an exception to the no bananas rule so I could buy these adorable, sweet bananas (he told me we have to finish them before we get underway again). I finally got to try out a recipe for two ingredient pancakes that has been circling the internet. Except, in addition to eggs and bananas, I added baking powder, vanilla, a pinch of salt, a half cup of whole wheat flour, and fried them in a buttered skillet. So, maybe not exactly two ingredients :/. Delicious though!
Thawing out one of our last packets of bacon from our favorite butcher back in NYC (thanks to our freezer and solar panels, which are kicking ass!). We don’t eat a lot of meat aboard, so this bacon indulgence was a real treat.
Setting out for a snorkel in Jacques Cousteau’s Underwater Preserve. Cousteau shot scenes for his underwater adventure films here.
Our first ever encounter with this kind of fish. The references we carry aboard don’t catalogue fish that are unique to this far south and the internet has been useless to identify it. He wasn’t camera shy and turned on his side when we approached with the camera so we’d capture his best side.
Following this school of angel fish
They are docile and easy to photograph