Saturday, 6 December 2014

Guadeloupe, Glad to be Back ….. Nov 2014

15 – 27  Nov:  Isle de Saintes to Deshaies, Guadeloupe – 15 52N 61 35W

PB170007-001

A Wet &Windy Ride, But Worth It!

PB170012We 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.PB170009  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.

PB170004PB170003

PB170002When 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

PB220013This 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 PB230031forward 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. PB240042 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, PB230025 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, PB240038we 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.

PB260045PB260046PB260047

never to old to blow out candles!!  Delicious French deserts compliments of Team Harmony

PB260044Last 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 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Dominica – A Garden of Eden ….. June & Nov 2014

Portsmouth,  Dominica – 15 34N  61 27W
P6040093
 
A Slightly Cryptic Blog Posting
It’s November and we have just had a quick overnight stopover in Portsmouth, Dominica.  We only stayed a night as we explored Dominica extensively on our way south in summer, but when I looked back to see what I had published I found the following posting (half finished) still in the drafts folder.  So for now I am slotting it in here as we travel north then I shall “re-post” it in its rightful place.P6040075

Back in June ….. Heading South

I have been harping on and complaining about our bashes to windward all season, 6 months of sailing hard on the wind sometimes in very messy seas has made the sailing unappealing, uncomfortable and at times very wet (in my opinion!!)  So it is with much relief and joy that I can finally report that for our sail from Les Saintes, Guadeloupe to Portsmouth, Dominica the sheets were eased all day and we sailed a close reach  – not down wind yet, but it was a very welcome step in the right direction!
P6040084
 
Prince Rupert Bay in Portsmouth sits at the top of Dominica.  The bay is guarded by Fort Shirley, built by the  British to fight French invasions, of which it seems there were plenty.  The fort area is now a National Park with some great hiking trails around the headland.
 
It is close to the anchorage so along with Truant III, Little Wing and El Lobo we set off for an afternoon of exploration in the National Park.  The hiking was interesting and the trails well shaded, the views from the top were magnificent and the barracks and other buildings have been restored.  mangoes up closeAnd then there were the mango trees, fallen mangoes lay everywhere and I came back with my daypack bulging at the seams, they are just delicious and those that can’t be eaten now will end up in a huge batch of mango chutney, yummy
.
Up The Creek With A Paddle

We did a morning tour up the Indian River with our guide Martin (Providence Tours), it was a dawn departure, the best time of course to see the birds and enjoy the cooler part of the day.  P6040042
Martin was excellent, his ability to spot wildlife was incredible, and his knowledge of the local flora and fauna was endless.  We saw countless birds as he quietly paddled us up the Indian River,  the extensive root systems of the BloodwoodP6040036 trees clawed their way along the rivers edge and vines hung down overhead, it was all very special in the early morning light.

How They Look Before They Get To the Supermarket!!!
 
We tied up the canoe and set off ashore through the jungle for an informative walk, here are the fruits of the forest.

pineapple cocoa bean podpink pineapple
Above: Regular Pineapple, Cocoa Pod – inside are the cocoa beans, and Pink Pineapple                        Below: ?forgotten? and Red Bananas .. see the banana flower at the steam bottom, and bird spotting
P6050004red bananaP6040023
vanilla vine clinging to cocoa treepassionfruit vine over treepassionfruit flower

Above: Vanilla Pods clinging to Cocoa Tree, Passionfruit Vines & delicate Passionfruit flower            Below:  Jumbo Passionfruit, Cinnamon bark & Cashew Nuts and red or yellow Pod/Fruit

big passionfruit, has another namecutting cinnamon barkcashew fruit and nuts
starfruitP6050014P6040025
Above:  Starfruit & Apricots (not like apricots we know but tasted the same, hard shell )                          Below:  Local Man balancing his load, Cherries & Castor Oil pods
P6050038cherriescastor oil pods
We visited a local farmer who also just happened to have a rum shack, rum and coconut milk before our morning coffee – not something we normally do but I would have to say it went down very well!!
 
P6040051auberginefarmers house in Domnica
 
Then A Full Day Island Tour
 
The following day we again engaged the services of Martin and we went off on a full day tour of the northern part of Dominica.  This part of the island was very diverse, we drove high up into the cloud forest where we were colder than we had been in months.  We saw bubbling sulphur pools reminiscent of New Zealand, complete with silver ferns (see the photo below of the imprint on Martins arm).
 
P6050023P6050029P6050035P6050053P6050032

P6050048We did another nature trail discovering more fruits, flora and fauna of the forest. passed cultivated gardens etched into the sides of steep hills and then we came winding our way back down to sea level on the north east coast and visited a couple of pretty coves sheltered by outlying reefs, stopping at one for a well deserved lunch break.

Then we carried on discovering landscapes that reminded us of the Canary Islands, a bald outcrop of rich red soil sculptured over the millenniums by endless wind and waves, it stood stark and out of place on this lush tropical palm fringed coastline.
P6050060  P6050068
 
We had an excellent stay in Portsmouth and our two tours were excellent, Martin was an exceptional guide which makes all the difference.  It is a wild and widely undiscovered island with friendly locals, stunning scenery and millions of juicy mangoes!
P6050046
Southern Dominica Still to Explore