Les Saintes is a small group of islands just to the south of the main island of Guadaloupe. It’s a lovely, peaceful and charming place that is easy to be in. We visited it twice for a few days each time, once on our way north and again on our way south. There are some places its nice to come back to, and this is one of them.
The first time we arrived at the end of a 65nm sail and a 6am departure from Martinique, bypassing Domenica. The moon was almost full and providing good light as the sun started to come up. We hoisted the main with one reef and one in the genoa as well. The wind and swell were on the beam of course as we are heading due north. We have 18-22kts with some stronger gusts and a few rain squalls. Once we get into the lee of Dominica we get some relief from the swell but eventually we get a wind shadow as well. We motor for a while and then sail a little more with the reefs shaken out, getting some pressure coming through one of the bays. That was short lived so the motors went back on again. Out of the lee of Dominica and the breeze returned, hitting the high teens again as we approach Les Saints. We check out Anse Fideling for our first night. It is on the less developed island of Basse Terre so it sounded like our sort of thing, but it is not particularly nice. The water doesn’t look really clean, its crowded with older boats that probably don’t have holding tanks and think they own the place - we are getting the death stare so we move on. We pick up a mooring ball at Anse Cointe, €14 per night, which is reasonable. The anchorages here are deep and the bottom is weedy so mooring balls help protect sea grass for fish and turtles to enjoy. It’s a really pretty spot with a couple of small beach resorts ashore and overlooked by a headland called Pain du Sucre (literally sweet bread).
nWe head ashore to check in the next morning. It’s a really pretty town but very touristy and as it’s a weekend, there are a lot of day trippers. Plenty of shops and bars too. We can use the internet for a while at the LSM office as part of the mooring ball fee. After lunch we go looking for “No Worries” some fellow Aussies who we heard were here and find them over at Ilet a Cabrits. We have a few mutual cruising friends - such a small world but there are always Aussies out there!
On Sunday we hired a 50cc scooter and toured around the island of Terre de Haut. It was a bit like riding around on a lawn mower, particularly interesting going up the steep hills. First stop was Fort Napoleon just after opening time. Great views from the top and a lovely garden area with many different cacti and some iguanas hiding in the bushes. We visited the various beaches around the island. Marigot Bay looked like it could have been good to anchor in but having seen it from above, it looks a bit nothing. Lots of weed. We stop at Plage de Pompier but again huge piles of weed (Sargasso) on the shore and along most of the beach. It has been a huge problem in this area and when it blooms, large volumes end up rotting on the beaches which is very bad for tourism. We watch a pair of pelicans doing synchronised diving for a while, before moving on.
Grand Anse is a long beach on the windward side of the island, which is too rough for swimming and again has lots of weed. We take a quick look at the tiny Anse Roderique, which looks a bit like Little Bay at South West Rocks. Each time we try to go to another bay we seem to have to drive back into town and get stuck in the one way street system trying to find the next turn off. We swing by Anse Figuier and then back into town again to drive down to the western end of the island, near to where we are anchored. We stop along the way for some scenic photos back to our anchorage, you can never have too many pictures of your boat! Anse Crawen on the southwest tip is the last beach we visit and probably the nicest, although the cloud has come over and we don’t feel like a swim. We visit to the colourful cemetery, where a number of graves are decorated with huge conch shells. It looks like rain so we decide to grab a baguette and head back to the boat for a late lunch. We have pretty much done the island so we return the bike early. We departed the next morning to Pointe a Pitre on Guadeloupe but returned to Les Saintes 2 months later on our way south.
Our second visit we picked up a buoy at Ilet Cabrits (or Goat Island) having arrived from “Mainland” Guadeloupe which is just a short distance away. The skies are getting dark and menacing as we arrived and we had some heavy rain just after we picked up the mooring ball. There are a lot less boats here this time than when we were on our way north. Dinner is a BBQ on board and we put out lots of buckets out to catch the rainwater that drips off the back of the boat. We use that the next morning to have a big boat washing session, tackling the cockpit area with soapy rain water. We don’t just sit around drinking cocktails in exotic locations you know!
Mid-morning we went ashore to Ilet a Cabrits and walked up to Fort Josephine. It was abandoned in 1903 and now is just a collection of ruins, inhabited by goats. From the top we can see across to Terre de Haut and Fort Napoleon that we visited before. After lunch I go into town (on my own in the dinghy, out of sight of ITIKI!) and try to connect to the internet, however they have changed the password since our last visit and as its Sunday the office is closed! Anyway some good practice in the dinghy and I have booked a restaurant for tomorrow.
We go ashore mid-morning to spend some time at the internet café but it is frustratingly slow! We also check out as we are leaving tomorrow. Our anniversary lunch (its Anzac Day!) is at Au Bon Vivre and it was the best meal we have had in a long time. French with a Creole twist and a lovely bottle of Rose. Just perfect! And a lovely way to finish our time in Les Saintes & Guadeloupe, as we head to Dominica tomorrow.
Lynda is slowly getting used to the transition from working to not working and racing to cruising.