Fiu in Adriatic
From Antigua to Dominica via Guadeloupe - May 2004
Coming from Antigua and crossing the channel between the two islands we are now aiming for Anse des Haies in the North western corner of Guadeloupe.
This was good sailing, although perhaps a little daunting for the inexperienced, with 3-4m waves and gale force winds. Ivo ended up steering most of the way once we began actually crossing the channel. We arrived in Anse des Haies sometime around 9pm and with relief anchored up.
Next morning we went into the town to clear in to Guadeloupe and do a bit of shopping, again in lovely French territory! Ivo convinced us to walk up a steep hill (only 1 km) to visit the Botanical Gardens there. Despite an entrance fee of 10 Euros, it was definitely money well spent.
We spent a good couple of hours walking around this very well organized garden looking at the interesting flora as well as the flamengoes and parrots. On our way back down it started raining (again) and Sonny & Susan took shelter under a big mango tree while Ivo ran across the road straight onto someone’s porch. The couple quietly sitting there on their porch did seem a bit surprised to see a stranger run straight in to their home but they took it in their stride. Ivo realizing the situation began making polite conversation with them – sign language, English and French, until the rain eased off. We then did some shopping in the village, vegetables, fruit, bread (baguettes, of course) and takeaway meals – cabri curry, which is goat curry. Only 3,5 Euro per person, not bad, even if it is goat.
After lunch we sailed 10-15 miles down to Anse de la Barque. We stopped there for the night, only one other boat in this small anchorage in front of a light house. Curiously the actual village was situated in the next little bay whilst the villagers kept only their fishing boats in this bay. Why the village was in a different place was a mystery to us. The next morning, since the furler no longer would open completely Ivo had to climb up the mast to see what was wrong and see if he could fix it. The process of someone going up the mast entails a lot of winching and pulling by those not going up and for the person climbing the mast, it is best to not suffer from vertigo!
The next day we left Anse de la Barque (May 5) for les Iles Saintes
Les isles Saintes are a small group of pretty islands situated just 6 miles south of Guadeloupe. These islands have a peculiar history and in particular “Terre-de-Haut stands apart from other places in Guadeloupe; since the island was too hilly and dry for sugar plantations, slavery never took hold. Consequently, the population is largely comprised of 'blue eyes' who still trace their roots to the early seafaring Norman and Breton colonists. Home to most of the island's residents, Bourg des Saintes is a picturesque village with a decidedly Norman accent.”
Good sailing, wind on the beam which made it relatively comfortable and we anchored up behind the Pain du Sucre sometime early afternoon. Sonny and Susan went ashore and walked into Le Bourg on Terre du Haut to have a look around and do some provisioning. Meanwhile Ivo cleared up his “workshop”. The walk into Le Bourg was a distance of perhaps 1,5 km each way and with very steep hills.
Next morning after breakfast we motored around the Pain du Sucre in order to anchor up in front of the Bourg. We cleared customs & immigrations here – this is a relatively new feature – a few years ago one had to clear in and out on the mainland. The local police fax a copy of the declaration and ships papers over to Point a Pitre’s customs who within less than an hour returned our clearance.
In all of the French islands clearance in and out is free of charge except in St Barth where we paid a small fee.
In the harbour of Le Bourg they were in the process of demolishing the old pier and the boat with the crane etc was called Dalmatzia so Ivo and Sonny promptly rowed across to enquire whether there might be some connection to the Dalmatian coast, but no, not that any of the workmen knew of.
Half the village was actively watching this demolition, comfortably installed at the front of one of the houses fronting the beach.
We bought sword fish steaks (6 Euros a kilo) at the little fish market and had these for dinner upon arrival in
Contrary to Dominica’s poor reputation that makes it a place to avoid because of the aggressiveness of the local boatboys and risk of theft, our stopover in Portsmouth bay was actually very agreeable and Ivo and Sonny went on an Indian river tour with Albert who had come up to us when we arrived. Albert is a cultivated and educated man with quite some charm and can definitely be recommended as guide to anyone stopping over in Portsmouth.
Ivo came back from the Indian River trip with a couple of long bamboo poles, which over the next few days, he turned into various useful containers. In fact the next day as we sailed down along Dominica we picked up another bamboo pole so by now our boat looked quite homely, what with these pieces of drifwood either on deck or dragging along behind the boat. It became a bit of a joke so when we saw a big fridge floating we did wonder whether Ivo also wanted to pick that up for spare parts.
As we left Portsmouth we sailed quite close to the coast and Ivo swam for a while behind the boat with mask and snorkel to look at the corals. Saw an abandoned fishing cage full of dead and alive fish but it was too deep to recover.
We had intended to stop briefly in Dominica’s capital Roseau, but viewed from the sea it was totally devoid of interest so we decided not to and instead had a lunch stop at Scotts Head in the bay of la Soufriere, a small deep bay at the very tip of Dominica. One cannot really anchor in sthis bay so we just stopped the boat and let it drift slowly while we had our lunch. Ivo wanted to take photos of Fiu with the small town and the steep hills as backdrop so Susan steered the boat around to ensure the best angles while Ivo stood in the dinghy taking photos.
After lunch we then headed straight across the channel to Martinique – to the Baie de St Pierre on the NW tip of the island.
Next - Martinique