A PERIPATETIC JOURNEY
not all who wander are lost
Eoin raised the anchor around 7:45 on the morning of April 13, and it was good bye Antigua and Guadeloupe, here we come! We were all looking forward to visiting another French island for the culture, infrastructure, and of course, the boulangeries. The wind was on the nose and decreasing over the course of the day, so we motorsailed the 7-hour trip from Carlisle Bay to Deshaies.
The anchorage at Deshaies is notorious in the cruiser community for its high winds and poor holding in mostly deep water. It gets crowded and people don’t want to swing into other boats, so some let out less chain than is optimal. As a result, boats often drag anchor with a variety of consequences: from hitting another boat to drifting west across the Caribbean toward Central America. We motored through the crowded anchorage watching the depth readings consistently over 50 feet and finding insufficient swing room in the shallower (30 foot) areas. Fortunately, at the southwestern edge of the anchorage and close to shore, we found 20 feet of water over nice sand. After getting in the water and finding the anchor deeply buried, we felt confident that we would not be dragging it around the anchorage!
Brian went ashore to check in, which is super-simple in French countries. All he has to do is go to the shop or restaurant that hosts the customs and immigration computer, enter everyone’s information and that’s it. No paperwork, no one looks at our passports. We hoisted our little French flag to the starboard spreader and we were officially in France!
The highlight of our visit to Deshaies was the Jardin Botanique. After school on Friday morning, deciding that exercise would be a good idea, we walked up a very steep and long hill. The kids were wilting in the heat and exertion and we were all red-faced and soaked with sweat when we arrived at the garden. After recovering and refueling over a delicious lunch at the restaurant overlooking the garden, we walked through the garden, marveling at the strange and beautiful flowers and trees. It was especially interesting to see the same kind of plants we have had in our house in the past growing in their natural, and much larger, state. There was an aviary filled with almost tame rainbow lorikeets where visitors could buy small cups of food for the birds. It wasn’t long before a couple of birds landed on Kendall’s arm and drank from the cup. The birds were landing on people’s hands, arms, and shoulders. One even landed on Eoin’s head. We ended the afternoon enjoying a beautiful view of the anchorage while the kids played on the playground.
Later that afternoon, Kendall, Isla, and Eoin snorkeled from the boat. They saw a good diversity of fish and coral, despite the three large lionfish also in residence. Brian was sad to miss the snorkeling, but he was out of the water for a few days due to a rather gory toe injury. The previous night, as we were walking down the sidewalk toward the dinghy dock, he stubbed his toe on something. It was dark and we did not realize the extent of the injury until we returned to the boat and saw all the blood. It was a LOT of blood and it appeared much worse for the first couple of days than it turned out to be. Fortunately it healed quickly, although the tip of his toe is no longer as rounded as the others…we have photos of it (in case we needed to contact some doctor friends back home for advice) but we’ll keep those to ourselves.
On the morning of April 15, we set off for Iles des Saintes, a group of islands to the south of the Guadeloupe “mainland.” Many mooring balls have been installed in order to help protect the seabed from anchors. Boats are allowed to anchor outside the mooring fields, but the water is quite deep: at least 60 feet, usually more. It was crowded when we arrived and we did not find any available moorings in three different fields near the main island, Terre-de-Haut. Not wanting to anchor in the deep water and high winds outside, we headed over to Terre-de-Bas to try our luck. We were glad to find space and good holding in Anse Fideling. It was quiet and we enjoyed two relaxing days there, despite the Easter Bunny not finding us on Sunday due to our remote location. Oops.
We went ashore Easter afternoon to see the town and promptly got caught in a torrential downpour. Taking shelter at a bus stop, we practiced our French with the slightly inebriated Creole man who was also waiting there for the rain to stop. Upon realizing that the rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, we continued on our soaking wet walk. Since it was Easter, everything was closed, but we enjoyed seeing the cozy, well-kept, and gaily painted cottages and saying hello to the families gathered on many of the porches.
On April 17, we pulled up the anchor to try our luck in the Terre-de-Haut mooring fields, and were excited to find a mooring at Pain de Sucre. We spent the next two days exploring in the afternoons once the schoolwork was done, visiting Fort Napoleon, having a nice French dinner, and spending an afternoon on the waterfront playground.
The anchorage/mooring field in the foreground is the main one at Terre-de-Haut. We were moored at the Pain de Sucre anchorage, which is behind the low area between the tall mountain in the center and the smaller, rounded hill in the middle far right of the photo. Counting Stars is the white speck right behind the low spot. It was a beautiful place and well-protected from prevailing winds.
McGlynn family 5 (Isla, Marin, Eoin, Kendall, and Brian) sailing Counting Stars