Following our last episode in the Dutch and French Antilles, we were excited to visit the decidedly British influenced Antigua (An-Tee-guh) where cars drive on the left. We arrived in Antigua during the Classic Yachts Regatta and enjoyed spectating from the hills dividing historic English Harbor on the South Coast and the Caribbean Sea. The classics were pressing hard with full sail in the brisk trade winds. The Island was filling up quickly as Antigua sailing week was to kick off the following week.
We spent a few days in Jolly Harbor, a few days in English Bay, and explored the eastern anchorages: lovely Indian Creek located below Eric Clapton’s estate in the hills, and Nonsuch Bay behind Green Island. Green Island is a protected private wildlife sanctuary of sorts… where Cindy scored some wonderful hummingbird snaps.
This next section of our adventure was, for the most part, a dash southward ahead of a more relaxed visit to The Grenadines and a leisurely return north to Antigua where would leave the boat for a home visit and Kyra’s graduation.
We got an early start on the morning of April 25 for a 10 hour close reach to Deshaies (Day-hay), the northern-most port of entry on west coast of Guadeloupe. After getting our anchor down in the crowded Deshaies anchorage, we reunited with Bob on “Helios.” Bob is charming singlehander buddy-boating with fellow singlehander, Charlie, on “Migration.” The two of ‘em were headed south to leave their boats in Grenada for the hurricane season.
Guadeloupe, also a Department of France, is actually two Islands, divided by a very narrow, but navigable ditch down the middle. The two islands taken together look like a butterfly from above, with mountainous Basse Terre to the west and GrandeTerre to the east. It would have been fun to motor thru the channel, but it’s a challenge to manage the tides, locks, and bridge openings. Furthermore, the western shore includes a number of beautiful bays and anchorages, each offering welcome protection from the incessant trade winds. After re-anchoring with a bit more room between boats, we cleared into Guadeloupe with Immigration, Customs, and Port Captain. Then joined Bob and Charlie (and their rental car) for a grand adventure to the southeast side of Basse Terre and a strenuous hike with 1km of vertical to two huge and beautiful waterfalls, each 300 feet in height. After a lovely French dinner ashore, we returned to Pazzo to find a charter catamaran anchored uncomfortably close to us. When their German crew returned some time later, I hailed them that I was not happy with their proximity and implored them to keep a close watch during the night when the boats start to dance around in the fickle winds and swirling current. Nearing midnight, we awoke to find the Germans hoisting anchor and in search of a more spacious spot.
Moving south from Deshaies, we spent a day anchored near Pidgeon island and the Jacques Cousteau wildlife refuge. Mr. Cousteau once claimed that Pidgeon Island is some of the best diving in the world. We found the snorkeling to be very good, indeed. We found very tame fish, sea turtles, interesting rock formations, and plenty of other divers! We give it a solid “A-“.
From Pidgeon Island, we progressed south to the quiet island group south of Grande Terre, “The Saints.” The Saints are a popular cruising destination for cruisers and charter boats alike. Crowded anchorages with plenty of pay-to-stay mooring balls. For about $25/night we don’t have to worry about other boats anchoring too close. The quiet little town of Terre-de-Haut, once a bustling fishing village, is now a popular tourist destination. We hiked to Le Chameau, a 17th century fort and the highest point in The Saints for grand vistas overlooking the islands. Following a steep and meandering goat trail back to sea level, we hitched a ride back to town for a delicious crepe lunch! Unfortunately, after lunch I discovered that I had left my VISA card in the small grocery in Deshaies. Ooof-da ☹. Unable to contact the grocery (no phone, no website), we cancelled the card and ordered a new one to be sent to Pete and Tania Swain who’d be joining us in a couple of weeks.