There doesn’t seem to be any easy sails anymore. Ruth and I left Deshaie, Guadeloupe this morning (4/2/15) in a drizzling rain with winds forecast to be 10-15 knots from E/NE. The 30+ miles to Isle des Saintes should be easy. - not even close – winds were mostly from S/SW with a few squalls. We were sailing in the leeward of the island so the seas were flat, but he wind was all over the place from 5 knots on the nose to 32 knots when we cleared the south end of the island. We had expected some wind when we were faced with open ocean, but 30+ knots is a bit much. We had put in a single reef in both the main and genoa and kept sailing while watching the rig. The boat is tough and did not hesitate. We were concerned since this boat has a new front cross beam and the mast and rigging all re-stepped and re-tensioned just before we took over. The rigging was fine, it did not have any problems with the full mainsail up at 25 knots of wind. When the wind got up the seas also got a bit rough – luckily Ruth did not get sea sick and did a great job.
We sailed into the Isle de Saintes – arriving at about 4 PM tired and ready to anchor. We anchored here 15 yrs ago but not this time. The entire bay is taken up by moorings owned by the French. We had to go way, way out and anchor in 30 ft of water. So much for being a guest!! We bounced around a bit but the wind seemed to ease off overnight. Went ashore the next day. The place was cheek to cheek with people since it was Easter weekend, half of France must be here. We bought some more great French baguettes, cheese and a bunch of home grown vegetables. Prices are about double USA prices. The village is very quaint with very narrow streets and small colorful buildings. Most of Guadeloupe is green with plenty of rain and has a couple of mountains over 4500 ft. with a population of over 420,000, whereas Antigua population is closer to 70,000.All of the French Islands are considered part of France, whereas many of the other islands are independent. Having a firm government has advantages, so that most things work in the French islands, but they are still very French and I don’t speak French.
When we were in Deshaie, a very quaint village set into a small bay, a large gray steel military looking boat motored in and anchored right next to us in the crowded bay. It had official decals and looked like a US Coast Guard boat. They were the French Doane – Customs. I was a bit concerned, we were anchored in 30 ft. of water and swing about a lot more than a steel boat. They never batted an eye and stayed the night. Just before sunset one of the uniformed officers came out onto the fantail, unzipped his pants and took a long pee off the boat.
Plenty of wind today in the bay with 2 or 5 kite surfers going back and forth in back of us. One went airborne for about 20 ft going at top speed. Wow! I think I’m gonna give up sailing and take up kite surfing. The kite and board both fit into your suitcase.
I hate to sound like a broken record – but the sail from Isle Des Saintes to Dominica the next day was the worst yet. Forecast was again 10-15 knots of wind. Mostly it was 25 to 35 knots and ugly seas. The seas seemed to have come all the way across the Atlantic. Luckily the sail was only 20 miles of open ocean and took less than 3hrs. We occasionally took a bit of salt water in the face. I sure miss peaceful downwind sailing. Dominica seems a nice Island. They don’t have a lot of people, pop 80,000, but have lots of rivers and water so they grow many fruits and vegetables and export to the other more touristy, populated Caribbean islands We saw a pickup load of bananas headed to market that was piled so high that you could hardly see the pickup. Will go ashore and see about some wifi. Didn’t find wifi, so left the next morning we sailed onward south to the capital city of Roseau and are now swinging to a mooring. The winds and seas were light, so we made water and ran the 220V washing machine arriving with clothes drying on the line. The water here is very deep right up to the shore. When we were here 15 yrs ago we dropped the entire anchor chain, (about 300 ft.) then tied a long rope from the stern to a coconut tree. I sure don’t like doing that. Lots of French boats here in this island sandwiched between two big French Islands. It has been a 4 day Easter holiday, and tomorrow we look forward to going to the local market, one of the best in the Caribbean for fresh vegetables and fruit.