Saturday, June 20, 2015

Making Tracks South - Guadeloupe to The Saintes

Pigeon proved to be a bit of a rolly anchorage as the winds and waves wrapped around Guadeloupe from the south so we decided to continue our southward progress and move onto The Saintes.  This is a group of five little islands of major historical significance about five miles south of Guadeloupe.

We started off with a fluky wind from the east but that quickly settled in nicely as a wrap-around wind that came to us from the south-west.  Flat waters and a steady breeze sent us happily down the west coast of Guadaloupe, admiring the little villages along the way.

The upper mountains are lush and green but lower down the slopes only the Flamboyant trees add a blaze of colour to the dry slopes.

The lower slopes are greatly cultivated, such as this cane field just north of Basseterre.

And where the land is too rugged for farming, quarrying for building materials has left terraces that look like an attempt at Machu Picchu.

As we approached Basseterre near the southern end of the island we could see a hard line on the water beyond which the white horses were dancing and the wind was obviously coming from the east.  Sure enough, our pleasant breeze of 12-15 knots on starboard whipped around to 25 knots on port.  Luckily we had plenty of warning and proceeded with reduced sail down the coast and out into the Saintes Passage.  Chris Doyle in his cruising guide indicates that this part of the trip can be a bit of a slog and he wasn’t kidding.  The wind was steady over 20 knots, the seas weren’t particularly big, but the current pushed us inexorably to the west and well off our intended mark.  We sailed faster than motoring but used the engines to assist, making the last 6 miles at about 3 miles an hour - woohoo!  Excitement by the bucketload!

We finally, and very happily, found ourselves among the islands that comprise The Saintes and picked up a mooring ball in Anse Mire just north of the town docks.  Bourg des Saintes is the main (little) town, almost entirely dedicated to the day passengers who come over on the ferry from Guadeloupe but with gallic charm a-plenty this place is definitely a must-see.  We headed in for a look and were not disappointed.  Caribbean colours, gingerbread trim, clean streets - including recycling bins, and plenty of tropical flowers among the shops and homes make for a pleasant, low-key village atmosphere.

The eastern part of the village near the ferry dock.

Overlooking Mowzer in the anchorage.  We started in St. Thomas at latitude 18N and are now almost at 15N - we've definitely enjoyed our Latitude Adjustment! (shirt was compliments of CYOA)

Gingerbread and pretty colours - all on one house.

Shop fronts along the street near the ferry dock.

Two one-way streets that are used mostly by pedestrians and scooters.

As the sun went down, the red roofs and warm white walls just glowed.

Tomorrow we’ll set out for a hike in the morning and see what else these little islands have to offer.

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