The Suspension Bridge, Riviere du Corbet at the National Park 17th January
The largest Trimaran, 110 ft long and 72ft wide. Moored opposite us in the marina.
15th January 2007
Iles des Saintes, is a group of islands between Dominica and Guadeloupe. To get to it we sailed in between various little islets. After rounding Pain de Sucre (a miniature of the Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro), Anse du Bourg opened up and we anchored here for one night. This is a very busy anchorage especially with French yachtsman. Bourg des Saintes is very picturesque village, with colourful wooden houses. After Dominica we found it all very touristy and pricey. We left the following day to Ponte-a-Pitre as we were due to do some maintenance work on the boat. Facilities there are readily available as well as a 1000 berth marina.
Guadeloupe is actually formed by two islands separated by a narrow channel, the Riviere Salee. Basse Terre is the mountainous part with the fantastic National Park while Grand Terre is flat and agricultural.
The following week was spent in the marina, among a few racing trimaran and super yachts. The most impressive was trimaran Geromino. Both of us had a chance to appreciate its size from the top of our mast, while rewiring our anchor light. It is huge!
Being in a marina always means work and with the heat it was a hard work. For the last day we rented a car to see the island and to provision. At the supermarket, once the boot was open we could notice that it was infested with cockroaches. With the food shopping these bugs would end in the boat. Initially the clerk at the office refused to change car, claiming that it was not her problem. But after an argument and waste of a whole hour the company changed the car
Finally we were ready to leave and happy to be away from the smell of the marina and lack of wind flow through the boat. The idea was to go back to Isles des Saintes and then Dominica. But now we on our last bottle of cooking gas and, nowhere in the Caribbean we were able to refill butane gas. We decided to head to Antigua instead hopping to find a butane filling station. The quickest route was via the Riviere Salee, which would put us at north of Guadeloupe. From there Antigua is 37 miles away. The river Salee has 3 bridges, the first two open at 5 am, then there is a 1.2 miles stretch of river through mangroves and the last bridge opens half hour later, all for a very short period. Only small boats with maximum 2 metres draught can make the passage.
That meant getting up at 4.30 am to be at the first bridge on time. The access to the first bridge was poorly marked, after working out the unlit buoys we were through the two bridges and stressed to get in time to the third bridge. The next opening time for the last bridge was Monday, as the bridge does not work weekends.
But we made it to the other side and picked up a buoy to wait for sunlight. Meanwhile hundreds of mosquitoes were feasting on us. Once sun was up and there was good visibility we left to negotiate the reefs of Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin. The navigational buoys were very sparse almost impossible to see the next one. Relying on CMaps made a difference, even though it took 2 hours to be in open water again. Not for the faint hearted.
From Antigua we came back to Guadaloupe. On the way we sailed 20 miles east of Montserrat. There was some volcanic activity at 12.30 pm. Grey clouds covered Chances Peak (Gallway's Soufriere) from top to bottom followed by a reddish cloud. This repeated a few times. Since arriving in the Caribbean we were following news regarding the volcanic activity in a hope that we could visit the island. But recently has been very active and unsafe for yachts. Majority of the population has been evacuated to other islands. Final destination for the day was Deshaies for 2 nights en route to Iles des Saintes.
Iles des Saintes was so charming, enticing us to stay longer to explore and snorkel. But not without a price. Anchoring in Iles de Cabrit was difficult since the anchor did not grip. Even at night we were not sure how safe we were. The anchor alarm went off at midnight. The boat was dragging out to the channel. After 3 hours of constant monitoring the GPS and checking bearings, we felt safe enough to go to bed. Next morning, both were ready for snorkelling when noticed that Nomad Life was slowly moving. Again we re-anchored and stayed aboard for 3 hours after both of us dived for an anchor inspection.
The hike up to Fort Josephine was a long and steep, but the views over the Saintes were fantastic. After all that walking a barbecue at the beach sounded like a good idea, followed by a couple of drinks. This is how a great day ended. But something disturbed Graham's sleep sensing that something was not quite right. Again we were in the middle of the channel, some 1 mile away from our anchorage! That was enough for us. At 3 am we left for the marina at Basse Terre. The sea bed at Iles de Cabrits is fine sand, therefore not very good holding ground. Strong gusty winds from differed direction and a strong tide make this particular anchorage not safe. The passage Basse-Terre was fast arriving in darkness still. The entrance to the marina is not advisable at night so we waited outside until daylight. Only to find out that the marina was almost in ruins due to a hurricane a few years ago, the pontoons were falling apart and the marina even had its own sunken boat near the entrance! Both were so exhausted that we dropped hook outside near the cement works and went to bed.