Beam me over!
05 June 2012 | Deshaies, Guadeloupe
Beam me over! – It’s June 5th and we are anchored in the beautiful little harbor of Deshaies (pronounced Day-hay) on the Northwestern corner of Guadeloupe. We are about 80 miles southeast of our last blog in St. Kitts and two more countries. But how did we get here? We didn’t just get “beamed over”. Well, it seems almost like that. Here’s how.
We left St. Kitts and the Port Zante Marina late on Wednesday the 30th and motored down the 5 miles to the southern end of the island to a nice beach called Whitehouse Bay. We were not expecting moorings but found 5 brand new moorings but with no pennants, only a ring on top of the balls. Luckily for us, someone had left a dock line attached to one and we picked it up easily.
An hour or so later a small coast guard boat came by with 5 guys checking the moorings by diving and taking pictures. They came over and asked me about picking up the ball and I said it was nearly impossible without a pennant. They explained that the moorings were new and they were checking them as part of a new initiative. I explained how I would do the pennants. Other boats came in during the afternoon, and I went over with the dingy to help them attach a line through the ring easier than trying it from their deck.
We went ashore and hiked around the corner to check out a new development on the south end including a marina and golf course. It is just getting started although they did have a club house and a small floating dock already built. To build the larger marina, they had to break through a natural barrier and open up an old salt pond. Dredging was currently going on to get to a 20 ft depth.
Next morning we were off to Nevis, about 5 miles away. It is a smaller island but part of the combined, independent country of St. Kitts and Nevis, although they are also a British territory. Nevis was very quiet and you could tell low season was here. The Port Authority had recently installed about 100 mooring balls along the famous Pinney’s Beach between the Four Seasons Resort and the main town dock. We were there for 3 nights and were one of only 2 or 3 each night. Our friends, Orin, Sherry and Chaz showed up and took a mooring close to us. It was a good anchorage and mostly calm except for when the ferries from St. Kitts would come by throwing a huge wake.
But Nevis did nothing for us. The town was not clean, the historical venues were not well maintained, you had to dive with a shop, and there were no places to go except by taxi or tour bus. It seems the island was set up for the land tourists and people over from St. Kitts for the day. The old plantations had been refurbished as restaurants and hotels and not historical sites. The five of us walked around the area with the Historical Site map and found the ones close to town to be very underwhelming.
Our most excitement came as we returned from immigration the first day and found WD full of swarming honey bees. We had left the boat open to air it out and they were everywhere! Although not aggressive, we were cautions as Gail went below and “shooed” them out with a fly swatter and some bug spray. Then we closed off the interior hatches and tried to keep the ones outside out while we slowly maneuvered the ones inside to a hatch. They seemed to go to the light and, when there, we would open the hatch quickly and they would fly out. Took a while, but we finally coaxed the last one to leave. We could not figure out what attracted them but it seemed that something in the little pantry above the settee got their attention. So much for the excitement.
That was enough Nevis. We had a decision to make of where to go next. Antigua was 45 milers due east into the wind. We have friends coming to Antigua but not until close to the 27th. Montserrat was 35 miles southeast but not a tourist friendly island because of the volcanic activity. Guadeloupe was another 35 miles southeast from there on almost the same 140 degree line. So we opted for Guadeloupe with a one night stopover in Montserrat. It would almost be like being “beamed over”. It would be two travel days into a completely different environment with no volcanos, no clouds touching the islands and no Saints. (Well not completely true, but we will discuss that later). And the weather looked very good. Middle winds and low seas. We were looking forward to moving on.
We motor sailed to Montserrat with only one long tack. The 35 miles took just about 8 hours and we arrived at the little bay called “Little Bay” with 6-7 other boats. It was surrounded by cliffs and a very quiet black sand beach. I wouldn’t want to be there on any north or west winds but it was perfect and we slept well.
The next morning we were off early and around the west side to get a look at the famous Montserrat volcano. It erupted in 1995 and its dome collapsed in 2003 but it is still not considered safe. There is a two mile exclusion zone around the south end of the island for all boats. Se we got as closed as we could without risk of running around or hitting some uncharted lava flow. It was still pretty awesome. The poor town of Plymouth was covered during the original eruption and you could only see the ruins in the flow to the coast. It was difficult to tell the clouds from the steam but there was less “smoking” than I expected.
As we headed to Guadeloupe, the winds actually shifted about 20 degrees north so we had a great close haul sail (with no motor!) directly to our destination of Deshaies (so no tacking!). WD was very happy. It was maybe the best and longest sail since we left Miami. The seas were 3-4 ft and the winds mostly 10-15 kts. We flew the full genoa and full mainsail and she just romped along. As the wind shifted another 10 degrees north we could fall off slightly and we saw speeds of 7.5 and even a couple of 8+ kt readings! Not a cloud in the sky. What could be better? We would have missed this if we had been beamed over!
So, we are back on French territory in a very nice anchorage in Deshaies. We are really looking forward to Guadeloupe and the islands south. There were over 20 boats in last night. It appears that many are heading south to Grenada so we will be seeing them along the way. For now, we are happy to see something besides little islands with volcanos touching the clouds. Au Revoir for now!