Our 2002 Hylas 46

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Guadeloupe – Island Tour and Les Saintes with 4M's

Feb 21st - With the upcoming arrival of my sister and brother-in-law, I tried to pull together a little itinerary that involved very little sailing, as the winds have been very strong this week with no change for the next weeks.

We got Ambition all settled into the  Marina Riviere Sens in Basse-Terre which was our first experience of Med mooring the boat. This is backing the boat into the dock (no fingers alongside) with only 16 feet between two other boats (we are 14 feet wide!) while simultaneously picking up a mooring ball with the gaff on the bow! Sounds simple doesn’t it! Well….. it turns out there was no rope pennant on the mooring ball so as I backed up Maryse had the option of letting the ball go or falling overboard! Her valiant attempt to hold on resulted in some very colourful bruises on her arms. Try two was then to have her lay on her belly and try to loop a dock line through the eye as I backed up slowly. This was eventually effective but not pretty! No additional bruises for Maryse and no scratches to Ambition or our new CLOSE neighbors – all is good! As you might imagine we have no photos of this new maneuver!

Marina Riviere Sens

We found a car rental company that would deliver and pick up the car at the marina for €40 per day, mileage, insurance and tax included, which was a great rate!  My skills at driving a standard transmission were audibly evident as my first uphill start resulted in some tire squeals!  Well after a few of these I shook off my rusty skills and the shifting became much smoother and the passengers had less of the pigeon head bobbing! We took the opportunity to load up on provisions, beer and wine for Ambition at the “in town” grocery store, which is a treat as usually the best stores are not walking distance for us. 

We met our pale guests at the airport in Pointe a Pitre since the cab fare was equal to 2 days car rental! We got back to Ambition at 4PM and settled in for a little bubbly celebration then off to dinner at La Table Creole – WOW what a great surprise for a small restaurant, everyone was impressed  - the tuna tartar incredible and the Mahi Mahi brochettes perfectly prepared. A couple bottles of wine and back to Ambition.

Day one of our land tour was north up the west coast of Basse-Terre to Mahaut , a trip that reminds me of driving Route 1 in California – the longest stretch of straight road was probably measured in a few hundred meters only! At Mahaut we joined the Route de Traversee, which cuts through the middle of the Parc National de la Guadeloupe – a 42,000 acre forest reserve and rain forest. 

Stopped at Cascade aux Ecrevisses – a jungle waterfall dropping into a beautiful pool. The trail offered us some dramatic photo opportunities.
Plage de Clugny

A left turn at the end of the park took us north to Lamentin and through fields of sugar cane until we reached to north coast at Sainte-Rose. From here we followed the coast offering spectacular views and a more than winding roud . At Plage de Clugny we stopped for a late lunch and a stroll down the beach.
Plage de Clugny

In Deshaies we stopped for a cold beer in a bar that was over the beach with waves breaking under our feet – very pleasant stop indeed.


Back on board Ambition a lighter dinner of pate, bagettes and wine finished off a great first day.

Day two took us on another winding road up to La Soufriere, an active volcano . The road up was full of switchbacks – had to ask Michel to move his head so I could see out the passenger window to find the road around the hairpin turns! We hiked up the volcano for about 1 ½ hours until our legs started to let us know that they had enough! Michel and I continued up for a little bit further before bailing out and heading down to join Maryse and Michelle.

Our next day turned out to be a great sailing day from Basse-Terre to Les Saintes. As it turned out, it was the only comfortable day to make the short trip. Since then the winds have been 25 to 30 knots gusts well over that!

The Captain wears red??? NOOOOO Chelle!

On Les Saintes, we continued the hiking experience. Our first of three hikes took us to the highest fort on Les Saintes – a mere 300+ meters (ugh!) to the fort on a hill called Le Chameau. We timed it well as we were able to hide in the fort as a torrential rain squall blew through – timing is everything! For the hike back down we were not quite so lucky as the passing squalls continued to soak us quite well – the coolness however was appreciated.

Les Saintes from Le Chameau

Maryse was very happy, as our paths crossed with her sister and brother-in-law today. We have not seen Diane and Richard since August. Rodignard had sailed north from their summer storage in Grenada since December.  We are so glad to meet up and share voyaging stories and catch up all the news.

Never tire of sunsets....

Our next fort was Fort Napoleon which is a beautifully restored site where we had a guided tour which was very interesting and highly recommended! The other plus was that it was only 100 meters high!

Iggy the Iguana
Fort Napoleon

Fort Napoleon 

Our last fort was St Josephine on Iles Cabrit followed by a great snorkel off the beach. There were lots of fish and more live coral than I have seen in most places.
Fort Josephine

Les Saintes

Michelle and Michel opted to an extra day in Les Saintes rather than spend a day on a very rough sail to Pointe a Pitre.  So today their private ferry arrived at 9:15. Their private ferry turned out to be a 40’ cigarette boat with a couple of 350HP outboards on the back end! WOW They both had captains chairs to keep them comfortable and under the full enclosure to keep them dry! They were going to need this as the waves were 8 to 10 foot seas.
Private Ferry!! 

All strapped in and ready for a ride!!

We really enjoyed the the M and M's on board - great company!

After a few more days wandering around this island paradise we pulled together plans to leave for Dominica on Sunday March 5th. The winds will quiet down to below 20 / 25 knots to make it a reasonable 20 mile sail south.

All is great on board Ambition! 

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