On the move at last!!
19 February 2009 | Guadeloupe, Les Saintes, Dominica and St Lucia
Well, at last we have moved from Antigua. The Visa card never arrived (God bless HSBC) but we could wait no longer. Hopefully, they are now sending it by DHL to St Lucia.
We left Antigua about 10 days ago and sailed to Deshaies (pronounced Dayay) in Guadeloupe. Took about 8 hours and was pretty rough with 20 knot winds and gusts up to 30 knots. We did get joined by a couple of little dolphins on the way (or possibly just one that moved back and forth very quickly!) which was fantastic. The pilot guide had said it would get choppy as we got to Guadeloupe but would be more sheltered in Deshaies but it was, in fact, quite rough when we anchored and it stayed like that all night and the next day. We did go ashore for a couple of hours and it was like being in any little French town. Full of little cafes and patisseries and French people smoking Gaulloise and pretending they can't understand you! Andy perfected his Gallic shrug but still they wouldn't speak to us! We moved on down to Isle des Saintes the next day which is still Guadeloupe but south of the main island. We stayed in Bourg des Saintes which is a lovely little seaside town with pretty houses and yet more cafes. It has a strong links with Brittany and there are Breton fishing boats moored in the bay. While we were anchoring, we saw a turtle swimming past, definitely a first! The restaurants all advertised plat de jour but instead of a choice of 8, 10 or 12 francs (about a pound) like it used to be when we all went to France back in the 70s, it was 19 Euros (nearly 19 GBP), and that didn't include a litre of rough red wine and enough cheese to take some home with you for sandwiches the next day!
Unfortunately, while we were in Guadeloupe, there was a transport strike on, which meant there was no food in the shops or petrol. We tried to get some money from the ATM but it was empty and the bank refused to give us money on our Visa cards. (Not sure why. We thought it was either because they were also on strike in support of the transport workers or just because they were French and they could!)
After a couple of days we abandoned Guadeloupe and moved down to Dominica, the next island down. This was owned by the French and the British over the years but most recently the British until they got independence in 1978. It's a stunning place, incredibly lush and green. Lots of gorges, valleys and waterfalls. Lots of beautiful coloured flowers and different birds. It rains quite a lot and so is known as the land of many rainbows. We took a couple of trips with one of the official Indian River guides that come and meet your boat when you arrive. They are incredibly knowledgeable and will take all over the island showing you all the different birds and trees, stopping every now and again to jump out of the mini bus and pick lime leaves or cinnamon or lemon grass or to show you a snake or where they filmed that scene in 'Pirates of the Caribbean' where Captain Jack had that fight on the water wheel! The island is pretty poor but everyone was really friendly and seemed pleased to have tourists there.
We would happily have stayed in Dominica longer but the weather forecast was for possibly gales later in the week so, as we have to be in St Lucia by 23 February to pick up our Australian friends, Joe and Pete, who are joining us for 6 weeks, we decided to head on down here. We stopped in Martinique on the way just overnight but didn't go ashore as we couldn't be bothered to get the dinghy off the deck and blow it up!
We've had two fabulous days sailing down to St Lucia. Wind was ESE 9-15 knots, gusting to 20 and we shot along at 7-8 knots. We've met a lovely American couple from Marblehead, Mass, Nancy and Dave, and have been travelling down with them. (They unfortunately always leave us well behind, but at least have sorted out where to anchor by the time we get in!) We've been having a competition to see who could catch a fish first and they have even given us a fantastic lure which is apparently The One to catch a Mahi Mahi. So far neither of us has had even a hint of a bite although Nancy and Dave did get a tiny little flying fish land on their deck so Dave is claiming that he won! God knows what we'll do when we do catch something as neither of us knows quite what we have to do, despite reading all the books. Apparently, we have to pour alcohol in its gills to kill it quickly and painlessly but neither of us wants to waste good rum!
So we are now in St Lucia, safely esconced in Rodney Bay lagoon. It's changed a lot since we were here in 05. Lots of building going on and the marina is much bigger than it was. We have a few jobs to do on the boat while we're waiting and we have to provision for the trip to Panama which should take about 9 days. I can't imagine how much food you have to buy for four people for 9 days (and as for toilet rolls......) but it will be a good exercise for when we have to provision for the Pacific crossing of 26 days!!
We have added the Xplot feature to this blog so you should be able to look on map now and see where we are/were should you be so inclined (mainly for you, Mike!)
Hope you're all well. We miss you all and wish you were with us........ but you could be!!! Keep warm/cool and stay in touch, J&A xxx