04/08/2011, Downtown Point a' Pitre
It was a long day...squeezing in the historical sites, the wharf, the old town, lined with veggie vendors, artisans everywhere and then the famous Flower Market, worthy of a visit on Friday and Saturday! We're in luck!
I started to photograph the 'exotics' first...then I met Sylvie! She is such a delight and speaks English to boot! She is not only an amazing business woman...supplying flowers all over the two islands and to France where one of her sons has a flower shop and buys from her gardens! She has acres and acres (which we didn't get to see, of course) of flowers and these two days are big for her where the locals are concerned! Not too many cruisers have vases filled with bird of paradise, helconias, roses, etc.
Silvie is 74 years old, has 17 children, 14 boys and 3 girls. She still runs the biz with the help of a few of her children, et al...and that's the secret to getting old. Stay focused, stay very busy and God forbid...have l7 children. Natalie is one daughter pictured here with my man...surrounded by women...still...That's my studly Dudley!
04/07/2011, The Darse, Point a' Pitre, Guadeloupe
We are so glad to check out this intriguing city with a clear creole atomosphere! Now this is patwah speaking at it's best!
We met up with Joyce and John on Cheloni to begin our exploration of this carenage bustling with energy that the farmers, fish mongers and flower folks must've invented. It's so electric... yet very private! I had the hardest time, buying everything I could recognize because that's the only way they would let us photograph them...most of the women anyway. The men seem to like us blonde, blue eye women, because we got some great photos.
The day was packed with the architecture, the Place de la Victoire (where street theatre, artists and vendors selling anything they think a tourist will buy is found), museums, and Chez Roberts! The author of our guide, Chris Doyle, spoke highly of this restaurant with good food right in the heart of the city! Wow!
One day is not enough!
-- Dudley and Bec S/V Altair skype name: dbaltair skype #: 305.600.2308 sailblogs.com/member/altair firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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!