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Last update March 31 2012.
After a number of days on anchor in Deshaies, finally the wind went down and we could procede our sail to Ilet a Caret. This is located in the Grand Cul de Sac Marin Bay encircled by reefs in the North of Guadeloupe. We sailed in between the reefs, which according to a local should be no problem. Having no detailed charts, John was standing on the hood to do the necessary eyeball navigation. You could see the reefs very well indeed and in the distance we saw Ilet a Caret appear. We enjoyed the scenery of this Paradise Island. We walked round the island, filming and swimming, delicious.
After a quiet night at anchor at Ilet a Caret we sailed on to Baie Mahault. The reefs here were indicated with stakes, you can't miss them (or actually, therefore you can). There were not a lot of boats on the anchorage and JoHo was the only foreign boat in the bay. The place is incredibly quiet, no waves, no swell, good holding. Perfect. At the end of the afternoon we went for a stroll through the village. We were the only white people, and all villagers stared at us. But they were helpful and after some time asking around we found a local rental car service for a local price. So we got our Clio for four days to explore the island.
La Guadeloupe Parque National, Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe consists of two parts, with bridges over the Salty River
(Riviere Salee) to connect each other. Basse-Terre is high, very lush green with volcanic mountains. The Eastern part is Grand Terre with its
limestone plateau and sandy beaches with coral reefs. On Monday morning
March 5th, we took the car to the southern part of Basse-Terre. At the La Guadeloupe Parc
National we took a trail at
It would be a easy walk, good for non-hiking ill-trained sailors - or so the booklet said. The walk started in a dark piece of tropical forest. The path consisted of rocks, wet clay and tree trunks. Magnificent surroundings, filled with bird and water sounds. But easy... not really. Halfway we had to pass a couple of fast flowing streams, had to jump from stone to stone. After that the trail got (a bit) easier, untill the lake overview-point, then worse again. We enjoyed it very much though, only a few people explore this trail (and for good reasons, you really need hiking gear).
The Chutes du Carbet a little further are three waterfalls which emerge from the Soufriere. The Soufriere is the highest point in Guadeloupe, this smoldering volcano is 1467m high. We visited the second waterfall and saw the first from a distance, as with us hunderds of other people. After this short hike we rewarded ourselves with a typical Creole meal.
In the afternoon we drove along the South coast, just a pitstop at Vieux Fort. Then we went to the starting point of the long hike up La Soufriers which again is in the National Parc. This hike is pretty impressive, we passed the hot water sources and came through the jungle and finished above the tree line. At 1200m fog descends down and we were shivering in our damp clothes, we decided the top wasn't worth the effort, especially with the fof around. Tired of all the efforts of that day we drove back to JoHo.
The second day was less idyllic but not less beautiful. We went to North of Basse-Terre via the Route de la Traversée. This road passes straight through the spectacular Guadeloupe National Parc. Our first stop, Cascade Ecrevisses. We were just on the hiking trail wen the air cracked open, pooring rain and poor us getting soaking wet. We sheltered under a number of large leaves, we baptized them to umbrella plants, where (then dry) John got a bucket full in his neck from an overburdened leaf...:-). After this short but intense break we walked on, this waterfall was more beautiful in color but less spectacular in height. Our other stop was Maison de la Foret which had a walkway full of information boards and a genuine easy walk through the woods.
Then, after all this nature it was time for culture! At Maison de Cocoa we received info about cultivation, production and history of the cocoa. Further on the day we went to the Rum museum in Bellevue. Here they make many types and flavors of rum and they allowed us to try them all. O-la-la. Luckily the boat is just a 10 minutes' drive.
Anse du Souffleur, Guadeloupe
On day three we tackled Grand-Terre. We drove along limestone hills and farming hamlets to Port Louis where we went to a lookout post and made a walk through the mangroves on a well-maintained wooden pallisade-path. After that we travelled through fairly flat land with farmlands and old mills all the way down to South point, Pointe des Chateaux, a rugged Cape where the Atlantic waves break on the rugged lava rocks, we compare this with the well-known Bonaire East coast.
Later, on our way back westward we stop at a small harbour town with a marina called St Francois, we enjoyed the view of this well-kept marina. Then, almost at the capital Point-a-Pitre we walked around in Gosier, looking at Gosier Island with a lighthouse, many boats were here on anchor (rolling from board to board, oh we were so happy with our anchorage!). And so our impressions of Guadeloupe end here, as we use day 4 to stock up the boat.
On march 10th we sailed on to Antigua. It was aprrox 40Nm with 10 to 15 knots of wind, the waves were 1,5 metres high (almost nothing in Caribbean terms) and it became a beautiful sailing day. In the afternoon, after 7 hours, we arrived in Falmouth Bay, where we saw old friends again, Sam and Adrian of Blue Moon. We enjoyed Happy hours with them. From Falmouth Bay we walked to Nelson's Dockyard National Park. In the 17th and 18th century this was the biggest British Navy base in the Caribbean. Nelson was stationed here against his will to imply the Navigation Act, which forbade planters and merchants to trade with the USA. This Dockyard now is a National Park, has been restored and has a nice museum. If here, it is a must to visit.
After a couple of days we continued to sail on and made a stop in The Cove at Jolly Harbour with its splendor Milky Blue waters before we set our sails to Barbuda.
The island of Barbuda was really wonderful and we baptized it Beach Island, how we enjoyed this beautiful island. Not many boats make a stop here, making it extra interesting to us. The anchorage was rolley because the wind died down. Therefore we decide to go to St Maarten asap, that is on day 2 of our stay here.
So in the evening of the16th, we left Barbuda and sailed into night with our spinacker up. It is a strange idea to sail the Carieb with almost no wind. The morning of March 12th we arrive in St Martin, at the French side and anchored in Baie de Grand-Case where we met Shelley of SY North Wind. She is one of the few single handed women we know and slowly on her way to the Pacific.
After two days we went to Baie de Marigot for the opening of the bridge at 14.30 into the Lagoon. They opened the bridge at exactly 14.30 (non-french), seven boats came out and four went in. After the bridge we took the channel down to our present anchorage. We dropped the anchor on the French side, which is a free anchorage. On the Dutch side you have to pay for anchoring AND passing the bridge.
Now back in the crowds we saw our American friends Pat and Darnell from SY Dream Island again, after almost five years!. We met them first in the Abacos in 2007. Pat and Darnell are here with some friends from the Domincan Republic, Rene and Stacy of SY Pipe muh Bligh, Deana and Troy of SY Storyville and Kevin and Jenny from SY Vagabondo.
The days that follow we've had big parties, every night and we discovered a place were they sell excellent shoarma.
Now we made the decision not to proceed to the BVI's, as getting back down from there will be too strenuous. Kevin and Karen, SY Windigo III, are in the BVI's, eagerly waiting for us to arrive (well, that's according to Island Dream) but they will have to wait 'till next year. This season Anguilla will be the furthest we go before we slowly sail down south again.
If you're interested in sailing the BAHAMAS, BERMUDA, MALDIVES or BONAIRE have a look at our books at SAILADVENTURES where the books are available online.
You can always mail us for more info on these cruising grounds or cruising in general, we'll gladly help you out.
JoHo is at anchor in Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin at 18°02,9' N - 63°05,8' W.
To go off again and sail to less explored areas and generally nice cruising grounds, maybe begin the start of a circumnavigation (although to circumnavigate is not the goal).
JoHo will be our main address, floating office and home for this year.
Still we'll have to work some in between where and when possible, we may compile a few cruising guides on our way.
John and Jolanda