After Portsmouth in Dominica, we sailed up to the small islands of Les Saintes in the southern part of Guadeloupe, and on March 10, we moored Sally on a buoy outside Bourg des Saintes. When we landed we all got the feeling that we had finally come to a place where we could enjoy a life on land as well. We saw several cozy restaurants and bars by the water, cozy streets with nice houses. There are also beaches where the grandchildren can swim without swell and breaking waves.
Macron’s speech is now just a few days away and we still have no idea what impact it will have on us and everyone else sailing here in the Caribbean this season. The speech will give us a sense of unreality, that this is not possible in a modern globalized world. Later in this post, I write about the first consequences of the speech.
As I started with, this is first and foremost a tourist spot with many visitors every day. They travel by ferries from Guadeloupe and stay during the day, they travel with smaller cruise ships that arrive in the morning and move on to the next location overnight. A few people sail here and stay a few days, some stay longer, maybe several weeks, and live on their boats. We take the opportunity to eat in the restaurant, swim, eye-catch in the small shops. It’s wonderful to be a real tourist for a few days, it’s been a long time ago now.
Baie de Pont-Pierre
We have read that there will be a wonderful bathing bay on the other side of the island and one day we took a walk there with the grandchildren who walk, carry and go sulky. It will be a very warm walk and the water we have taken with us, both to drink and to cool us down. We have a great day at a child-friendly shallow beach without diving and both grandchildren thrive in the water.
It is now that signals are coming of future restrictions on freedom of movement, closed restaurants and shops, and closed borders. We had intended to stay longer at Les Saintes but the signals we hear make us want to bunker food and fuel while it still is easy to do. Here at Les Saintes, there are only small grocery stores and no good place to refuel the boat, so we decide to leave for Guadeloupe and the port of Riviere Sense the next day. We email the marina to see if there is room for a few days and get an answer that we can stay until Monday when there will be some charter boats coming in that have booked a place.
We get a nice sailing up to Guadeloupe. As usual, the wind blows from the east, which provides great reach (wind angle from behind) in this direction. It is a short sailing, just under two hours. As usual, now the grandchildren fall asleep and we get no fish this time either. Carina and I will take the opportunity to visit the large waterfalls Chute de Carbet the next day and manage to rent a small car that can take us there.
Later the same day, the Swedish boat Song of the Seas with Tore and Maud will come aboard and dock next to us and we had a sun-downer together. They also want to visit the waterfalls and we decide that we go there together.
There are some small grocery stores within walking distance, but stores for major shopping are several km away and require car transport. So now when we have a rental car, we take the opportunity to go shopping after seeing the big waterfalls. The little car we rented is completely packed with food and it is scarce that we can fit ourselves in it.
Chute de Carbet
After just over an hour’s drive, we arrive at the car park where the hike to the three different waterfalls begins. As there are no longer any cruise ships to Guadeloupe, there is no rush here although it is Saturday and there is not a single tourist bus in the parking lot for buses. However, there are still a lot of cars parked along the road, so we probably will not be completely alone during the hike to the falls.
First, we go to the second waterfall, it is only 20 minutes easy walking to it, a lot of uphill, but so far we are fit in the legs. We don’t come all the way to this waterfall, so we’ll have to watch it from a little distance. Strengthened by the success to reach this waterfall, we decide to go to the first waterfall as well. There it is about one and a half hours of hiking according to the sign on the trail.
We walk and walk, climb and sweat over logs and stones as the path quickly becomes more and more ”natural”. Only roots, soil, and stone, the path goes up the mountain and then down into the next valley. The trail is surrounded by dense vegetation which means that you do not have to see how steep it is next to the trail. It is very nice to finally arrive at the waterfall after just over two hours of hiking. It is extremely cool to see the water rush down the roughly one hundred meters high cliff, down into a small pool where you can swim if you feel it. I skip the bathing and unpack the drone to film the waterfall from the air.
Now the effects of Macron’s speech are starting to come into play and it talks about closed restaurants and shops, the English word curfew none of us have heard of before and according to Google Translate, it means curfew. We talk about how this will affect us. We have already started to think about how to protect ourselves from being infected by corona when we are ashore to shop, swim and eat at a restaurant.
Malendure and Pigeon Island
The next stop will be at Malendure inside the small island of Pigeon Island, a few hours sailing north along the western side of Guadeloupe. Here there is a small bay with good anchoring and nice snorkeling and a nice beach, sometimes it gets a little tight between the boats.
We come here the same day France begins to close shops and restaurants. Some restaurants are closed while others are open, you can only buy takeaway food and there are long queues and a lot of people on the beach. A few people have mouthguards, we belong to those who do not have them yet. Here I and Johan get super good burgers from a small restaurant right above the bridge where the dinghies and dive boats dock. The next day, a curfew is introduced in France and thus also at Guadeloupe.
Around Pigeon Island, there is a marine reserve named after Jaques Cousteau where there are many diving excursions and there is also fine snorkeling. The first days we are here, the water is crystal clear and we have a few days of great snorkeling, both around Pigeon Island and at the cliffs on the headland at the northern end of the bay.
The third day we are here, the Swedish sailboats Lilla Anna 3 and Beaucastel come by for a quick lunch anchor. They are on their way to Antigua before Antigua closes its border tomorrow. Before darkness falls, they set course for Antigua.
The next day we find out that Antigua has closed its border, it is also rumored that they are doing a health check on those who come there. If you are healthy you are welcome, otherwise, you have to leave and then you are locked out from all other countries that also are closed.
To be sure of being admitted to Antigua, we start emailing the authorities, and finally, we get in touch with the head of the health department. After telling about our situation and that we are on our way to Sint-Maarten where Sofia with family is going with a flight we are guaranteed to be admitted when we arrive, we are sick we quarantine, but stay.
Now, a several-day wait for a weather window that promises comfortable sailing up to Antigua begins.
Dark days at Malendure
We always have to find out the rules that apply in the countries we visit and as the main source of information, we use Noonsite and the links to government sites that they publish. We also check interest-specific groups on Facebook, but unfortunately the information there is often exaggerated, old, difficult to find, or even erroneous.
Now that there is a curfew here at Guadeloupe, you always have to bring a document explaining why you are ashore. Without this document, we still take the dinghy to the dock and go ashore and throw away our smelly diaper bags (old baby diapers don’t smell so good after a few days in 30-degree heat). The cops are there on some occasions, but they don’t care about us, so I guess it was OK.
Now we only have to wait for a good weather forecast so that the crossing to Antigua will be pleasant for those with a tendency to become seasick. And we have to wait and wait and in the meantime, we have the worst weather so far this season. Rain, overcast, windy, more rain, and greyish weather every day.
Finally, there is a favorable weather forecast and we sail up to Deshais, the last outpost on Guadeloupe before crossing to Dominica. Have you seen the series Murder in Paradise on TV? Then you have seen environments from Deshais and its surroundings because this is where they filmed the series. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to go ashore, so we can’t experience the bar where they have a beer after every solved murder case, or see the house where the police station is located. We had been looking forward to a beer at sunset at the bar of the series.
In the evening we get a visit by the Coast Guard who informs us that we can no longer change port at Guadeloupe. That means we have to stay here in Deshais until we clear out of the country. What a fortune that we arranged help with check-out from Guadeloupe tomorrow marina in Les Saintes has promised to do so tomorrow and e-mail the clearance document to me.
The next post is about when we come to Antigua and Barbuda. It’s like coming to paradise compared to the last time in Guadeloupe.