Guadeloupe Part 1 : Les Saintes

We’re back in France! After sailing from Dominica we arrived at a small group of islands called ‘The Saints’ and which are part of a larger group of islands known as the country of  Guadeloupe. Like Martinique, Guadeloupe is a ‘department’ of France. It is the island shaped like a butterfly in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. Please click on our “Cruising Grounds” maps in the left margin of our blog if you’re interested to see its’ location.

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Approaching Les Saintes with mainland Guadeloupe in the background
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Anne sitting in the ‘dress circle’ seat as we pass Pain du Sucre

Bourg des Saintes is the only town in Les Saintes and is located on the main island of Terre de Haut. The major industry is tourism and ferries arrive daily from the nearby mainland and other small islands. It has all the charm of a small French seaside village; quaint little houses, a pretty church, a good boulangerie, pretty beaches and good restaurants.

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The church
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Typical side street
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Location, location, location! Anne found this Renovator’s Opportunity in the main street!

I have a thing about doorways, entrances and letterboxes…

Whilst Anne had a morning of R & R on Kool Kat, Mal and I caught up with Catherine and George from s/v Picaro and we hiked to the top of Le Chameau, approximately 1,000 ft up a steep climb. It was a morning interspersed with lots of showers and we were fortunate the local goats were happy to share their shelter.

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At the top of Le Chameau overlooking Bourg des Saintes
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Catherine and Sue taking a breather!
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Mal & George with goat hosts

The following day Annie, Mal and I had a more gentle walk across the island to Plage de Pompierre, a small beach on the windward side of the island; note angle of the palm trees. After a Carib and a Desperados we were on our way again, winding our way home via two other bays and some interesting little streets.

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Plage de Pompierre
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Nothing like a quiet one after a good walk!

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The Saints is definitely worth another visit and next time we’ll check out some of the other islands. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Guadeloupe series which is about Pigeon Island in the Jacques Cousteau Marine Park where Annie fell in love with snorkelling 🙂

Until then, take care, Sue & Mal xx

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Dominica – the nature island

Well, we’re ‘full as a goog’ and slowly recovering from the annual over-indulgence known as Christmas! We hope you enjoyed your celebrations as much as we did, although it was a mixed bag for us this year. We were fortunate to have my sister with us but it was difficult being so far from loved ones at this time of year. We are grateful we could catch up with family via that godsend, Skype, over the preceding few days and Christmas morning but with a 15-hr time difference to the east coast of Oz, it’s not always possible. Needless to say we enjoyed ourselves and some of you may have seen a little excerpt of the Warner Sisters performing The Choir Boys’ Run to Paradise on Facebook. If it hasn’t already, I’m sure it will go viral on Youtube! LOL.

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Christmas Day 2014 in Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

But, back to the post. We had a great sail from Martinique to Dominica and anchored in Roseau on the south-west coast. This volcanic and stunning island of approximately 70,000 people, is one of the most naturally beautiful and untouched in the Caribbean. Whilst in Grenada, friends Dalynn and Glen from S/V Amoray, had introduced us to a Dominican, Seacat, who conducts guided tours so we picked up one of his moorings and contacted him upon arrival hoping to book him for a trip. Unfortunately, he was unavailable to take us on a hike over the two days we’d planned to stay in Roseau but organised a wonderful guide, Stowe, to take us on our last day.

So, with a spare day up our sleeve, Anne and I spent the next morning touring the town along with hundreds of others as two cruise ships had just arrived. We stopped by the beautiful Fort Hotel where there is a Warner Bar, believe it or not, and Annie fell in love with an haute couture Christmas tree! Following some helpful directions, we then wound our way left at the pink building and right at the cemetery to find ourselves at The Botanic Gardens. There were some interesting plants and trees and the Gardens are also home to a bus that had been crushed in 1979 by  Hurricane David. Fortunately it was empty at the time! Check out the pic below!

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Aida cruise ship
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Stunning Christmas tree at Fort Hotel
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Interior fountain at Fort Hotel
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I’m mad about Fig trees
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Talipot Palm
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Bus squished by Hurricane David in 1979

The next day saw us up early and off on our day’s adventure with Stowe. He was a fountain of knowledge about his beloved island and told us with pride that the tourism industry is well regulated and the government is very strict about who is qualified to conduct island tours.

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Annie & Mal with our guide, Stowe.

Our first form of exercise for the day was a 2-hr round trip hike to Middleham Falls. The paths were interesting, often created by local root systems, but we were glad to be in the cooler rainforest as it was a little more strenuous than we had thought. Stowe then drove us to Freshwater Lake where we passed a water pipe system made from oak. During our travels that day we saw the pipe snaking its way up and down the mountains.

Upwards we go
Upwards we go
Root systems formed intricate stairway
Root systems formed intricate stairway
Oak pipe carrying water
Oak pipe carrying water

We then arrived at Titou Gorge where, in the 2nd film of Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando Bloom jumps into the gorge to escape native indians. It was a stunning gorge; the water initially was very cold but once we were swimming it felt fantastic! It has a depth of 15′ so no where to take a rest and you have to swim against the current. So, by the time we reached the 1st  waterfall, my arms were pretty tired and I was out of breath. I think I prefer the buoyancy of saltwater! Mal scaled the small waterfall to view the upper one whilst I waited below. He then dived from the top of the waterfall into the lower pool. He muttered something about doing the stunt work for Orlando Bloom! Annie sat this little part of the day out.

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Stowe, in the blue bathers, and me discussing with others the coldness of the water!
Swimming in Titou Gorge
I’m pretty tired but exhilirated!
Stunt man for Orlando Bloom
Stunt man for Orlando Bloom

And, to put the perfect finishing touch to the day, Stowe took us to Trafalgar Falls where we eased our aching bones, feet, backs, etc in some hotwater springs. What can I say but, wow, it was fabulous!

The end of the day - aaah
The end of the day – aaah

We loved Dominica and will be back again. The Boiling Lake hike is on our bucket list and we will call into Portsmouth next time too. There’s lots to do here!

So, that was our whirlwind trip to Dominica. Next it’s back to the French islands when we visit Les Saintes, part of Guadeloupe.

So, until next time keep well, love Mal and Sue. xx

In the land of croissants and pain au chocolat!

2nd post on the great time we spent on Martinique – Anse d’Arlets to St Pierre.

We were very excited to head north to Martinique’s capital city, Fort-de-France (FDF), to collect my sister who was flying in from Australia. It was a quick motor-sail up to Anse Mitan for two nights which is located across the bay from FDF. It was fun to catch up with Serenade, Slow Waltz and Night Watch for dinner and a stroll through the Creole Village.

Cute little bar at Anse Mitan
Cute little bar at Anse Mitan

Over at FDF we had a day of boat provisioning and getting ready for our special guest! We couldn’t exactly remember what day Annie was arriving so it was lucky we arrived with a few days up our sleeve; she flew in on the Wednesday and we thought it was going to be the Friday! Bonus, we can set sail earlier, but only after a day showing her around town 🙂

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Back to Anse d’Arlets for some snorkelling and to practise using our new underwater camera!

And a gentle walk around to Grande Anse d’Arlets…

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A leisurely stroll along the waterfront
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Very peaceful little town
A Shrine with a very generous offering!
Look closely – a Shrine with a very generous offering!

We then sailed north to St Pierre, a town in the shadow of the volcano, Mt Pelee. It was here, in 1902, when 30,000 residents were killed by the volcano and the town, known as the Paris of the Caribbean, was destroyed. 12 ships in the harbour were sunk and the town today has many reminders of the disaster.

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Mt Pelee
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A typical street

The town had some great architecture and many buildings were adorned with pictures of women.

Original town hall
Interesting architecture
Giant images of women
Strong images of women
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Loved the old buildings
Kool Kat at anchor
Kool Kat at anchor
Exquisite pictures of women adorned buildings
Exquisite pictures

Theatre ruins….

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Entrance to ruins of theatre
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Modern day building decoration
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More cobblestoned streets

It was fitting that on the last night on the island of Martinique, we had another fabulous meal; the best rotisseried chicken we had ever eaten. C’est magnifique!

And so, the next morning we set sail for our next stop, Dominica.

From Annie, Mal and me, if we don’t manage to post another blog before Christmas Day, have a great day wherever you are.

A bientot, Sue xx

Martinique – Marin to Anse d’Arlets

Martinique is a “department” of France so it is just like being in France, albeit with a creole flavour! When we first visited supermarkets Leader Price and Carrefour in Marin, I felt like a child in a candy shop! The cheeses and wines are excellent, cheap and there is so much variety. We stayed in Marin for a couple of nights which is home to a huge marina with hundreds of yachts. Eight chartering companies have their home here and, as a result, the marine industry is thriving.

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Yachts and more yachts

We had a problem with our generator so Mal tried a few things but unfortunately it wouldn’t behave so we went ashore and spoke to some marine engineers who informed us it would be two weeks before they could even look at the problem. 😦 We came back to the boat and Mal decided to check a connection he hadn’t previously and hey presto, that was it! A new buz(?) bar and a couple of new lugs and we were on our way. Sure enough MacGyver solved it again!

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 We then motored over to the quaint little town of Ste Anne. On the way we passed a huge ship delivering some super yachts.

Delivery of super yachts with Marin marina in background
Delivery of super yachts with Marin marina in background

No sooner had we arrived in Ste Anne than a local “yole” race commenced and we had ringside seats! If you’d like to find out more about traditional yole racing, click here. A quick summary is that each vessel flies brightly colored rectangular sails over rounded canoe-like wooden hulls made from local pear trees. Sailing a Yole Boat actually requires all hands to be overboard, balancing on long poles while riding astride the vessel in an effort to keep it upright… and tame the wind. It was an amazing spectacle!

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We caught up with friends Jo & Greg (Serenade), Gwen & Guillaume (Slow Waltz), Diana & Gil (Serenada), Mary & Ralph (Nightwatch) and Alex & Dave (Banyan). We hiked to the most beautiful beach and did some snorkelling off one of the channel markers.

Fun aboard Kool Kat.
Fun aboard Kool Kat.
Waiting for us girls.
Waiting for us girls.
Grande Anse Des Salines beach
Grande Anse Des Salines beach
Amazing water at Grande Anse Des Salines
Amazing water at Grande Anse Des Salines

Mal & I then moved around to Anse d’Arlets which we remembered very fondly from three years ago when sailing on Bruce & Gina’s boat Wyuna. It is a tiny village that isn’t that much interested in tourism. Life just plods along for the locals. We anchored in Anse Chaudiere and snorkelled off the back of the boat in crystal clear water.

Fishing boat in Anse d'Arlets
Fishing boat in Anse d’Arlets
Massive school of round scads
Massive school of round scads

Martinique is such a gorgeous island that I’ll need to continue the journey in our next post.

Hoping you come back for more, a bientot, Sue & Mal xx.

Bequia to Martinique

After 13 days in delightful Bequia (pronounced Beck-way), we took a weather window opportunity to sail north with an Easterly prediction as distinct from the northerlies that equate to a very rugged sail! Along with about 10 other yachts, we left at 6am and headed for Martinique (90 nm) or, dependent on the sail, Rodney Bay, St Lucia. As you can see from the photo of our friends Diana & Gil on Serenada, it was a tad lumpy out there and wasn’t the easterly we had all hoped for. Never mind, we kept ahead of the squalls and we pulled into St Lucia after nine hours and readied ourselves for a morning sail across the channel to Martinique.

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Serenada in a trough!
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We evaded squalls that came and went all day.
Time for a nap....
Time for a nap….
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More squalls.
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Chart Plotter showing 8 knots across the ground in the channel between St Vincent and St Lucia.
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Always time for a cuppa!

We had a fantastic sail the next day, with the easterlies that had been predicted for the previous day, and anchored in Le Marin behind good friends Alex and Dave on Banyan. We dinghied in to customs together which was beneficial for us as Alex speaks beautiful French! Then time for a dejeuner, wi-fi and the local beer, Lorraine.

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Lunch – blood sausage, salt fish, accras, stuffed crab and salad. C’est magnifique!
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Aaah, Lorraine!

Sunny and John from on Notre Vie had filled us in on the fabulous provisioning in Martinique so it was off to the shops for some much-needed cheap French wine and cheeses! Oooh la la!

Until our next update, keep well, Sue & Mal xx