Monday, January 25, 2016

Driving Around Guadeloupe

You may have thought I meant we rented a car and drove around the island, but the reality is that in the last couple of days we have sailed and motored Mowzer around quite a bit of the island.  Just to give an orientation - here's a view of our travels:

From Marie-Galante we headed to Gosier and Pointe-A-Pitre and then around Basse-Terre to Deshaies.
 Before leaving the charming little island of Marie-Galante, we took a morning hike from St. Louis up to Vieux Fort through the forest, mangroves and by various farm tracks and when we arrived back in St. Louis we were ready for a bit of lunch.  On a whim we picked La Baleine Rouge and oh boy was it a good choice.  Best lunch we've had in a long time!

We will definitely return here for another great French meal.

Henry picked the Burger de la Mer and I had the Brochette de Boeuf.

The view was pretty nice too!
Leaving Marie-Galante behind us we had a wonderful sail up to Gosier.  With the wind just behind the beam we were making half wind-speed most of the way - meaning that with the wind blowing at 12 knots we were travelling at 6 knots which is pretty sweet!  Imagine if we'd actually put in some effort and shaken the reef out of the main which stays in pretty much most of the time for the conditions down here.

We arrived at Gosier to find quite a few boats in the blustery anchorage.  With the winds howling through and the waves rolling in over the low reef it was an uncomfortable anchorage.  I'm sure if the wind and waves move a bit to the north it is delightful and we'll try it again another time, but on this occasion one night was enough for us.

Gosier is a suburb of Pointe-A-Pitre but also doubles a a beachside resort town.  There's a little island that with a lighthouse that provides a little protection to the anchorage.
We left Mowzer rocking and rolling in the anchorage, knowing that with the constant conditions and dropping wind that our mighty Rocna would hold her secure.  We easily caught a bus into Pointe-A-Pitre (PaP) where we explored the capital city of Guadeloupe.

The Saturday morning market was in full swing in the main square.

The main shopping street was jammed with local traffic and very much reminded me of Yonge St. in Toronto.

The Cathedral stood off to the side, almost out of the way which is unusual on the French Islands.

Carnival is coming up in a another few weeks so all the shops are decked out in local regalia.

Along the waterfront is a huge new museum/cultural centre that reminded me of the velodrome from the Beijing Olympics.
Lots of open space but even with a cruise ship in town this place was pretty deserted.  Not the heart-beat of the city for sure.
We took a look at the anchorage in the main commercial port and made the decision that we would be much more comfortable there than Gosier, so we hopped back on the bus and moved the boat just three miles down the coast to comfort.

Along with being tucked into a little cove in the main commercial port on the island, we were entertained to a constant parade of small and large traffic that went on well into the night.  Far from disturbing, we quite enjoyed watching all nature of everyday life in a busy port.

Sitting in the anchorage at PaP with a  view of downtown and the cruise ship dock.

Night fell and the same view became quite magical.

The full moon rose above the boats in the anchorage.

The lights on the museum flickered like firelight with the cathedral tower lit up in the background.

It's hard to see but look carefully and you'll see a three-masted sailing ship - this boat was towed into the port by a coast guard vessel about 10 pm.

At about 10:30pm the banana boat was all loaded up and headed out from the port.

And finally at about 11pm the cruise ship set out on her way.

Glad we weren't any farther back in the anchorage!

We got up the next morning with a plan to head out early but being a little slow we didn't get off quite at the crack of dawn.  It was probably a good thing since we would have been sharing the narrow entrance channel with more behemoths.

Another Costa cruiseship arrived at 6:30am.  They're actually doing a 180 right behind us to reverse up to the dock.

Right behind the first came the second down the channel.  See what I mean about being at the back of the anchorage - pretty close quarters.

And just as we thought it couldn't get more crowded, one of the fast island ferries passed the second cruise ship.
We only spent the one day in PaP and this part of the island but we decided to head around to the west side of Basse-Terre and catch up with Brita and Jason and hopefully get in a hike up to the volcano together.  The weather has been squally and rainy but may clear a little later in the week.  In the meantime, we'll sit in Deshaies and see what fun we can get up to.