The main reason we came here was to see the little town used as a backdrop to the TV show “Death in Paradise” which seems silly as it’s a long trip just to see a place but why not, we’re retired anyway.
Getting here was no fun, we are slowing learning how to get from one place to another on the ocean with the harsh Easterly winds blasting at you, then when you come near an island the wind gets bent, sometime compressed and really kicks up the wind waves. We observe other peoples movements using the AIS system and can see that there are some real tactics involved. Once you let the wind blow you “below” your destination it’s really hard to head upwind to get where you wanted to go.
We thought we’s stop at Statia on the way here from the BVIs to get a taste of Dutch culture but we got there on Christmas Day, anchored near town in an anchorage but the officials were closed for Christmas and Boxing Day. So we just got some rest, cooked some meals and chatted with friends on the Garmin. By the end of Boxing day we were ready to move on. Thought about going ashore but we’d be entering a country without checking in and it seemed like a bad idea.
The town of Deshaies here in Guadeloupe is a mixture of fixed up and shiny with abandoned and worn out. They get lots of tourists for the very same reason we’re here so there is a plentiful supply of small restaurants and cafe’s to choose from.
The check in was pretty painless, we went to the local police station and they led me back to a windows machine to do the check in online. All in French of course but with a few english word hints, also I never knew this but the French keyboard has rearranged some of the keys from the American ones, so typing is slowed down a bit. Anyway it was easy to fill out the form, print it hand hand it to the immigration or police people where they stamped it (with gusto) and also whacked our passports.
The bay is somewhat protected from the ocean swells but the mountains in the background combined with the valleys that lead here produce some occasional wind patterns that keep us moving around. We’re anchored here in 30 or so feet of water, and took several moves to find a spot that was less rolly than the others. All kinds of things to think about when anchoring, not only considering what your boat will do, but what the other boats have done and how close they’ll get. Also Catamarans behave differently than monohulls when at anchor or moored.
This is the first time we’ve been immersed in a place that uses a language that we don’t really speak, French. So we have a couple of phrase books that we carry around and try to get comfy with the polite words you use with strangers and vendors. I have heard many stories from Americans who have visited Paris and have found the French to be rude and aloof since we speak their language poorly, if at all. We have found none of this here in the Caribbean, if anything they see that we’re trying to communicate using their language so the cut us some slack and help out.
Added to the puzzle is the fact that Gayle fell during the passages from the BVIs and broke some ribs as well as jammed up her shoulder so she is in pain and not really comfortable anywhere. We’ve used the Garmin to discuss this with our Doctor in Florida so we know what we’re dealing with. We found a French doctor who examined Gayle’s ribs and shoulder and agree that the ribs were likely broken, he gave us scrips for pain meds, an ointment for her shoulder and an order for an Xray at a facility in another town.The Xray facility is an urgent care facility about an hours taxi ride inland so that’s what we did first. It was a nice ride and we got to see parts of the island we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. After we got there and checked in they quickly told us that it would be many hours before an Xray could be done because the treatment for broken ribs is the same as for bruised ribs and they were backed up with more critical care cases. We recalled our taxi and made our way back to Deshaies.
We’re on the Euro here and everything seems kind of expensive, not sure if it’s a French thing or a Guadeloupe thing but it still is expensive to have a meal. As always we go to the markets to buy local produce and food, then bring it back to the boat for meals. The beers here are light colored, but tasty and the rums seem pretty good. I tried an aged rum but it doesn’t mix well with fruity juices, the clear rum is better for that.
We’re taking our time here, trying to figure out what to do about the rib situation. The original plan was to be in the canal by the third week in January as February and March are very busy with the World ARC crowd going thru. We’ll either spend a whole season out here in the Caribbean or do the canal later in March. Jury’s out on that, in the meantime we will wander down the island chain.
After leaving the protected bay here in Deshaies we made our way down the coast to the end of the main, mountainous island to a 10 mile open ocean gap to an area called Illes de Saints which are a group of upthrusted rocks big enough to live on. We wanted a small spot to anchor so with Gayle’s injuries we are trying to day hop our way down these islands. We found a sketchy little place that was perfect, just out of the wind, shallow enough to anchor in clear water surrounded by reefs and rock. After we settled in we could see that on some of the other islands to the North there were 3 cruise ships and lots of private boats. Two of the cruise ships were sail driven and were beautiful as they sailed out of there at sunset.
The overnight anchorage gave us a better angle on getting to Dominica with the Easterly winds trying to beat us up as we made the trip.