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The Voyages of s/v Silverheels III
...a virtual ship's logbook, and some thoughtful (unabashed?) reflections on our sea-going experiences.
The "Ahem" of the Butterfly Doesn't Seem Crappy Now
01/24/2015, Ppointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe

When Ken and I think of Guadeloupe, we think fondly of Les Iles des Saintes and of Marie-Gallant, some of the islands associated with Guadeloupe. The south shore of the Terre Haute we know a little bit, and our West Coast experience is basically overnighting to get to Antigua or to Les Saintes. Point a Pitre really didn't do much for us. Actually, we are not alone in referring to it as "The Asshole of the Butterfly"... with Guadeloupe shaped like a butterfly, and PaP's location at what would be the end of the alimentary canal, AND our opinions on the area, well, it just worked too well.
However, our opinion has been changed a great deal in the last few days. Partly because we are with friends, but also because of our excellent experiences here, we have a better feeling about the area. We knew about the Industrial Zone Jarry from the cruising guides, but had no idea of what it actually entailed. Barb had to get a new computer battery, and was referred to 1,001 Piles (batteries), located in the zone, to get it. She gave us the basic directions on how to get there with public transportation, so we struck off with our computers in the waterproof backpack to see what we could find. I figured if Barb could do it with a French vocabulary that may very well be counted in single digits, we would be fine.... And I was right.
The Industrial Zone is 38 hectares of stores, warehouses and services, all located a stone's throw from the major port in Guadeloupe (actually, it is the major port for the Caribbean, with smaller freighters fanning out to service other islands). This is conveniently close to Point a Pitre, and therefore, not formidably far from where we are anchored. If there was somewhere safe to leave the dinghy, we could dinghy there. Alas, we had to rely on public transportation, but we chose to walk into PaP and take the minibus to Jarry.
After asking a few people where to catch the minibus to Jarry (the regular busses don't go into the Industrial Zone, but the communal taxis do), we found ourselves in a 7 passenger microbus. It really was designed for 7 passengers, and that is how many were in it. We told the driver where we wanted to end up, and she took care of us. I was smart enough to confirm where we could catch the bus back into the city.
Our first stop, and I will add here that there were 6 of us, with my French being the "best", was the large marine store. This place was a darned good size with a decent selection. Ken and I were delighted to find a maintenance kit for our windlass for 85 euros (I cringe when I think of what we paid last summer to get some of those same pieces sent to Grenada). And I found it interesting that they had a number of self defence items for sale at the front. Don't assume that just some of the American cruisers might be armed, the French seem pretty serious, too.
After visiting that store, Ken and I wanted to go find the battery place to get new ones for our computers; Ken's barely holds a charge, and mine is showing a poor ability to run without being plugged in, too. The marine store had a map with a legend to find all of the businesses in the Industrial Zone, an absolute necessity in that area. The crews from 'Tomorrow's Dawn' and 'Seaquel' headed back, while Ken and I struck off to find 1,001 Piles.
I.Z. Jarry is unlike any industrial area we have seen. Instead of having things spread out around Guadeloupe, it is ALL in one place. Clothing, tools, computers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, designers... you name it, you will find it there. And it is a big place. It is also not very pedestrian friendly. However, we found our way to our desired destination and had new batteries in no time flat. Wow.
Ken had been hoping to find a special tool for removing the oil filter on the diesel. Ours was on so tight at one point that we had to wait until we took the boat in for the regular diesel checkup to get it removed with the right tool (this was okay for our diesel, manufacturer specs say change it after 500 hours). This filter wrench has a metal band that is tightened on with a threaded nut system. When we were walking, I noticed a place advertising tools for professionals, so we thought we'd give it a try. BINGO! We even made ourselves understood.
A stop at a pharmacy enabled us to pick up some migraine pills for Ken (they are much less expensive in the French islands), and a gentleman there asked us if we would like a ride to the bus stop to get back to PaP. Yes, please!
We now have a much better grasp of the public transportation system in this area, and are planning on talking the bus into the Basse Terre side of the island to take a peek from the road. With someone else driving, I will be able to enjoy the trip without worrying about which turnoff I need.
So we had a good "hunting and foraging" day, and discovered that PaP is really much nicer than our original impressions had made us think. It is also more "Caribbean" feeling than Martinique, with the locals and the bus driver being looser than their counterparts in Martinique.

Limin' in the Caribbean
Should We Stay or Should We Go?
01/24/2015, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe

Having got over the flu, and the dental crown was done, it was time to leave Rodney Bay and go to points North. Our "see ya's" were made to pretty much everyone, and we had stocked up on a few things there. The only question was "where?"
We certainly considered Martinique, as we do enjoy that island, and we wanted to stock up on good coffee beans and canned duck confit. However, I had another possibility in mind, as our friends Barb and Stewart on 'LaLuna' were in Guadeloupe. 'LaLuna' has been there since completing their Atlantic Circle, getting some stuff done. I thought it might be fun to bomb straight up (island hopping) and catch up with them. Plus we want to spend time around "Gwada", and it still gives us the chance to pop back to Dominica for carnival, or get up to Antigua, St. Kitt's and Nevis, and Montserrat. Decisions, decisions.
The morning we left St. Lucia was pretty much perfect for us. Nice winds, gentle seas, and the wind pushed us along on a lovely sail to the west coast. We just didn't know where we were going to end up. Grand Anse? Fort de France? Or closer to St. Pierre to stage to get to Dominca foe the next leg to Gwada. We finally decided on what we were going to do when we were level with Grand Anse d'Arlet... we decided to make the three day hops to get to Point a Pitre.
We anchored the first night at a little beach just south of St. Pierre; nice easy place to anchor without the crowd of St. Pierre. The next morning we headed up towards Dominica with the thought of getting to Roseau and planning on an oh-dark-thirty departure the next morning; our plan B was that if we got to Roseau before 1:00pm, we would continue on to Portsmouth. We ended up motor sailing at a, for us, brisk average of over 6.5 knots (pure sailing would have been MUCH slower). We made it to Portsmouth with time to spare. We had the bonus of two sets of dolphin sightings, with one visit, and our best whale sighting yet, with us seeing the whale cresting, and a full view of the flukes... Wow. The best part about getting to Portsmouth was that we could get going at our regular civilized time of 6:00am rather than at about 3:00am.
Our trip from Portsmouth gave us a squall or two, rain, and our least appealing weather of the trip. However, we were contacted by 'Seaquel' on our way in to see if they could follow us in to Point a Pitre. The channel isn't horrible, but it can be a little disconcerting and even a touch confusing the first time in. Ken and I had a miscommunication mess up in the beginning, causing us to initially change course quite a bit, which had to be a little confusing to Andy and Sally. We got in, anyway, and got a good spot to anchor.
As we approached the main area of the anchorage, we saw 'LaLuna', sans crew. When we snagged a ride in with Andy and Sally so that I could get us checked into the country, we left a boat card tucked into the fuel tank of Barb and Stewart's fuel tank of the dinghy.
Later, as I was putting the sail cover on the main, and Ken was below getting some rest, I spotted a familiar dinghy heading our way. It was Stewart and Barbara, coming to say "hi". They dropped off their groceries, and came back for drinks. It was very nice to see them. We also realise that they were dying to speak to someone for whom English is their first language and who had some shared experiences. It was fun. The next night we had pizza on our boat and had Andy and Sally over, too, as they have done the Atlantic and the Med before, which provided lots of conversation fuel.
So now we will get to know Guadeloupe a little better again. And get caught up with some old friends, and get to know new friends better.

Limin' in the Caribbean

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