04/06/2011, Guadeloupe Bound
We woke up with plans to go hiking, check the weather for the next five days and probably stop at a boulangerie!
So much for plans...the weather is great today to leave for Guadeloupe! In one hour, we took the engine off the dink, the sail cover, the connector, the rain dodger, stashed everything that can fly, like computers, printer, etc., and we were off!
It was a blustery day, very wet, very sunny, awesome in fact.
We arrived here at the base of the butterfly! That's exactly how the country is shaped. Two side wings, islands actually, with a River seperating the two halves. Basse Terre (humorously called low land) is the huge mountainous side and the smaller one, Grande Terre (large land) is the smaller, low one. Here we are in a very historical place, but it's also a huge industrial port! Lots of BIG traffic, lots of tour boats, just plain lots of activity. Whew!
After Altair is fueled up, watered up and the laundry is done...we'll explore! Our plan is to go thru that River Salee, where it cuts off a big chunk of miles from the passage to Antigua, and it should be very exciting!
04/05/2011, Les Saintes, Terre de Haut
We breezed thru customs like we were on a calm beam reach thru these torquoise waters close to the mountains.
We followed our noses past the boulangeries, arrived at the Customs and Immigration office and cleared in effortlessly! They turned that French keyboard our way, we managed the electronic forms (in French), they didn't once try to understand our teeny bit of French/English attempt to explain, and as usual, got a clearance to stay! The French are so anti-paper, anti-form and anti-stuffed procedures...love that! Hmmmm, we are now, totally taking everything we said about those French back.
My amazing Captain joined me for a hike up the hill, visited with the flora and the Christ statue and proceeded east to windward. This cruising and hiking is very healthy business! Love it!
We have to get weather for our short leg to Guadeloupe! When?
04/03/2011, Martinique, Past Dominica, The Saintes!
We took off @ dusk, missed all the crab pots that are in water off soundings...guess it's the state of overfishing...Another story!
It took us exactly 24 hours from anchor up in St. Pierre, Martinique to anchor down, three times, here in the Saintes and we rested. We finally got the anchor to set, but it appears from the stares and the broken french that we are too close to our neighbors. Our friendly, helpful new friends insisted on offering their assistance with the mooring well in front and clear of them...we stayed the night! We are just down right rusty with the overnight crossings, but all is good! The guide says there are no moorings...so we think we are on a fisherman's light weight mooring...we will have to move, for sure!
We have enough curiosity to follow our noses for the boulangeries, see if the customs office is open on a Sunday...and then just fly the 'Q" flag until we get the news tomorrow about our not clearing out of Martinique!
04/02/2011, St. Pierre, NW Coast of Martinique...
The chain has been down too long (2 weeks, yikes) and the evidence is when it's coming up! Yes, we loved this quiet, sleepy village with great food, even better hiking, and the sea life just exploding for many, many glorious years, we hope! Our newest slogan..."Gotta Go"!
We left a little before 6a, and we headed north for St. Pierre. We will have to keep moving...the weather is cooperating and we can hopefully sail...we even saw speeds of 8 kts this morning, which is unheard of for our wee sloop, but the current was with us and I have shots of the chartplotter proving our claims when we have unusual speeds like this!
We tried to clear out of Martinique but "Le Escapade" doesn't participate any longer. We must go to the Tourist Office instead. A long tirade about the government being unwilling to pay for their services until now so they gave it up! We trekked up the hill to find a big padlock and a heavy bar preventing anyone from entering! It's closed til Monday and we have that weather window for our overnight to Iles Des Saintes.
We Americans are so driven by weather windows...but it works...for us! The French just say 'que se ra" and off they go! What will we do? Just leave, take a bus to Fort de France or wait til Monday! We did the unusual for Altair! We left! We are taking our chances that we will not get arrested...the Saintes are French too, and they, the French, are typically very laid back about this clearing in and clearing out stuff!
Wish us luck!
03/31/2011, Martinique, St. Anne...Still...
We thought we were leaving for the north coast and St. Pierre to check out three days ago...weather still not cooperating until today!
We talked Duncan and Jo into going snorkeling and we'd pick them up when the weather cleared! A glorious day was had by all! Thanks honey...thanks Canon...thanks Duncan and Jo for a great day in the water!
It got pretty exciting, with the best reefs to dive near the channel! The seas were getting pretty rough, the kids hadn't been in open water like this before, but we survived beautifully entertained by the colorful scenery below these stirred up seas!
03/21/2011, We left Le Marin for St. Anne
All we did was check in yesterday and I managed a small hike to tried to remember all the places and routes that my friend Olga showed me!
We wasted not one day before we weaved our way thru this complicated harbor...lots of reefs, lots of obstacles, but totally worth the move to clear water out here at the mouth of the bay and a glorious village that we missed on our way south so long ago!
This is the path, paved and switch backing thru the 14 stations of the cross to the top of the mountain where the statues of both Mary and Jesus are displayed. Dudley is truly amazing and that's what I fell in love with 11 years ago. He's like the ever ready battery and I want to emulate him when I become a septuagenarian. Fat chance me tinks, unless I change my ways!