Saturday, January 26, 2013

Les Saintes - Close to paradise

This really is the Caribbean that you imagine, it is stunning.  Terre Haute is just of 5 squared km so tiny! The main village is very cute with one main street lined with small restaurants and some tourist shops but there are a local population so you do also have a church, a couple of schools, town hall and a few small supermarkets dotted around the island.

Our first afternoon at anchor was eventful as Amanda glimpsed a fin about 10m from the back of the boat, “what was that” she shouted for Mark to look, another glimpse and then third time lucky it was 2 dolphins, wow how nice.

Next morning the weather was a bit of a surprise with torrential rain storms lasting probably only 5 minutes just time to make sure all the hatches we closed before opening then all again.

Rain, rain go away!
They produced some amazing rainbows over the islands.

We thought one of the squalls was going to blow the windvane off, it almost looks like we are sailing in this video there is so much movement on the surface of the water.

Lucky for us by the rain cleared up and we went ashore to explore.  There are some pretty houses which are all lovingly maintained but I do always feel a little guilty taking photos of someones house J

Cute little yellow house
There are also some unusual visitors in their gardens to go with the goats and chickens.

Yes it is an Iguana
As always we had a few photos of Magnum sat in the bay enjoying her time without us.

Magnum is the furthest boat to the left

Look how tiny Magnum looks next to the square rigger cruiseship
We walked to Pompierre beach and arrived on a palm fringed beach, sheltered with a reef and with wild chickens and goats roaming around. 

Amanda in the palm trees
 Funny that after a week in the Caribbean we had not been in the sea so we had to have a dip but we were both disappointed by the fact that the sea was all stirred up by the waves crashing on the reef and not that inviting at all, hardly worth the walk L

Mark chilling
On our return to the boat we were excited to see Leopard anchored next to us, this is a British superyacht that we have seen blasting down the Solent and then was in Tenerife in November. She was racing to the Virgin Islands at the end of November (expected to take around 1 week, super fast!). Funny that she should turn up here at our first real anchorage in the Caribbean.

Leopard at anchor
Leopard costs £50,000 to charter for 1 week if you fancy a holiday!

The next day we had to have a swim we couldn't wait any longer! So we headed off to another beach and had success, the only problem was all the other tourists J but it was crystal blue water but the dip was quick as not long before it clouded over.

Pretty beach but a bit cloudy
Mark made some friends on our walk.

Sun back out and Amanda still has new Caribbean hair - even more spectacular after a swim!

Wow where did that hair come from and those smiles!

We had walked our way around most of the island in 2 days but one final visit was to Fort Napoleon, as the views over the bay were nice.

Magnum is the further boat to the left - looks tiny but you can enlarge the photo for a better view

Another day another fancy cruiseship
The cloud had almost cleared off the volcano on Guadeloupe.

Guadeloupe's south coast
We didn’t actually visit the Fort as we were too hot and bothered so here is the extent of our photos but what was most exciting what the nimble little goat!

Yes he is walking down a wall!

Mark hot and bothered
One more pretty beach - Marigot, on our return to town although not the best for swimming with all the fishing boats.

A few more iguanas along the way.

We were so lucky to spend 5 days in Les Saintes such a pretty place, it is not spoiled by too many tourists as only gites and very small hotel but was a popular stop with the smaller cruiseships - the sail boats which are actually quite nice.

One of our favourites, looks quite serene and not too many people invading our pretty location

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guadeloupe - First night at anchor in Caribbean!

With a week in the marina we were keen to head out although as we had rushed around and not had our well needed and deserved rest our first trip was just a hop outside the marina to anchor off Ilet a Cochons  – but no pigs in sight.  Views of mountains in west of Guadeloupe were appreciated whilst sat reading our books for the afternoon.

First night at anchor in Caribbean
We also enjoyed the traditional Caribbean dingy racing around the harbour; it was pretty impressive how they darted around the reefs.

Go go go

Next day up early and back out in the big Atlantic, 20 knots of wind almost on the nose was not what we were hoping for!  But lucky for us the sun was shining.

Blue sunny skies
Although not for long and then a huge squall hit us, as normal in these situations Amanda sat nicely sheltered under the spray hood taking the photo whilst Mark was at the helm and drenched J

Pouring with rain
After the previous couple of months of sailing you would have thought we would have had our sea legs, nope! Just over an hour into the journey and Amanda felt awful and had to lie down.  But Mark enjoyed the sail, 15-20 knots easterly although it was a bit bouncy with the swell hitting us on the beam but the views over Guadeloupe were lovely – cloud topped mountains and green lush landscapes.

Basse Terre topped with cloud
Before long and Les Saintes were in the distance, these 3 islands are just south of Guadeloupe, we were heading to Terre De Haut, the most populated of the 3 islands.

We picked up a mooring buoy just outside the village of Bourg des Saintes, which was a bit frustrating as we had hoped to anchor but the majority of the anchorage was filled by buoys and you could only anchor in very deep water, the reason this is frustrating is we have to pay for the buoy and after a week in marina we could do with saving the money.  But we couldn't resist this anchoarge looks stunning and we have not even been ashore :) 

The anchorage at Bourg Des Saintes in the distanc
We are not alone but it is pretty here

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guadaloupe - Back into the wilderness

With slightly more energy than the day before we headed back to Basse Terre but in our rush we forgot our waterproofs and within 30 minutes of leaving the boat the skies had opened, this was even before we reached the rain forest!

First stop Chutes du Carbet, this was a couple of hours walk into the forest as there had already been some rain that morning it was already pretty muddy and slippy. The waterfall was pretty impressive but slightly frustrating as to get to the bas you had to climb down some roots which I just wasn't willing to risk in my white shorts! I could have easily taken a tumble but Mark hiked on down.

Huge bamboo

The leaves are as big a Mark!
Very very muddy
Waterfall worth the walk

Me in the undergrowth, Marks root ladder back up to me
The skies opened again on our walk back and we were drenched both of us had to strip off to dry our clothes before our next stop! Just as we were driving our I spotted a humming bird feeding on the flowers – I tried desperately to take a photo but unfortunately it’s wings were moving so fast that you can only see a green blur in the photo.

The blur under the flower is a humming bird - really it is!
Next stop for our normal picnic lunch was Pointe Violon, a palm fringe been over looking Les Saintes which are a small group of islands off the South coast.  We continued our drive around the south coast and headed north up the west coast before heading inland and up towards La Soufriere, the volcano. 

Les Saintes in the distance
Heading up the mountain
Next stop for our normal picnic lunch was Pointe Violon, a palm fringe been over looking Les Saintes which are a small group of islands off the South coast.  We continued our drive around the south coast and headed north up the west coast before heading inland and up towards La Soufriere, the volcano. 

Who would have thought a wild strawberry would grow at the base of a volcano

Views of south of island from volcano

Gully from lava flow

Mmmm where is the summit!
 But as the weather closed in we headed back into the forest and as quickly as possible back to the shelter of the car.

Looks like we might get wet soon!

Rushing back into the undergrowth and back to the safety of the car
We finished our day driving north around the west coast so by the end of the day we had circumnavigated both wide of the island – we make the most of our hire cars as it is a luxury.

Guadeloupe - Beaches and Sugar Cane

Grande Terre is the eastern side of Guadeloupe and the most built up with tourist activity, the largest resort is Le Gosier although we had no time or desire to visit. Sainte Anne was a small resort along the south coast which we stopped at briefly to look at some craft shops, there was a fantastic hammock shop but unfortunately they were too big for us to store on the boat L

Next stop on the south coast was Saint Francois which is a working fishing port, most the boats were back in and the pelicans were making themselves at home.

Pelicans relaxing
There were also a huge number of Conch discarded which had  recently been caught and stripped of their meat, not sure what they will do with all the shells – I was of the impression that Conch were endangered but still seem to be heavily fished here.

Pile of Conch shells
Next stop was the small marina which was lined with some nice restaurants and cafes and we stopped for a delicious smoothie – worth mentioning at this point that both Mark and I had not been feeling too well the night before and suffered with only a few hours sleep perhaps the trip was catching up with us! If we had not had the car we would not have left the boat but we had to make the most of it.

Mark enjoying smoothie whilst struggle to stay awake at marina
We then headed around the north east coast onto Pointe Ste Marguerite for the days lunch spot over looking a rocky beach with the Atlantic swell rolling in – very unlike the sandy palm fringed beaches on the south coast.

Our super car, we asked for small car ended up with 7 seater for same price!

Let's hope we are back out at sea soon
As you drive more inland and north east around the coast the vegetation changes again with huge fields full of sugar cane and random cows – funny the cows are normally chained to the spot and usually just 1 or 2 – bet they miss their friends.

Cow and Sugar Cane fields in distance

We then stopped Lagon de la Pointe where there is a protected inlet although the waves are crashing at the entrance it is still at the shoreline although to be honest the water looked a bit green and murky and wouldn't have tempted me in.

Crashing waves of the Atlantic
The final stop right at the top of north east coast was Pointe de la Grande Vigie where there were some great views back along the east coast with the sugar cane field stretching out in the distance - the sugar cane is obviously used for sugar but did you also know that the Rum in Guadeloupe is made from sugar cane and not Molasses and we can already tell you it tastes pretty good :) 

Fields of sugar cane in the distance

Looking almost normal again with the east coast of Guadeloupe in the distance
The final stop of the day was Anse Betrand which actually looked out towards Antigua in the distance and it really didn't look that far away – great because that is our next hop.