To get February off to a fresh start, we decided to leave Antigua and begin making our way down to Guadeloupe. We were on somewhat of a strict schedule, as Mel’s mom was arriving in Point-à-Pitre on the 7th, and we wanted to get there in good time to scope things out.
We left Jolly Harbour in the late morning and spent the afternoon walking the length of Crabbe Hill Beach and stopped to have a drink at OJ’s, one of the many beach restaurants right on the water.
From there we headed around the corner to the southern coast of Antigua, where we spent the night in Carlisle Bay. We spent the evening watching the pelicans and the sea turtles, and discovered that the guy on the boat anchored next to us was from downtown Ottawa! Small world.
Our position in Carlisle Bay gave us the perfect angle for our crossing to Guadeloupe the next morning. We awoke before sunrise and departed by 7:30 a.m., and were greeted with a breathtaking view of Montserrat’s volcano, complete with plumes of smoke.
About halfway through the crossing, just as we crossed into French waters, David spotted a strange rock where water was sporadically spurting up. As we approached, we realized that this rock was in fact a whale…having a nap!
Given its relatively small size, and the fact that we only saw one other whale shortly thereafter (or it may have been the same one coming to check out what had disturbed the nap), we think it was a Minke whale. Its distribution is quite large and includes the Caribbean.
It was definitely one of our best crossings, covering almost 45 nautical miles in less than 8 hours. For once, we arrived at our destination well before sunset, and had time to check out the packed anchorage and choose our spot. Once the anchor was secure, we had a quick swim and headed ashore to clear in and grab some dinner.
Deshaies is a picturesque fishing town, with lots of great shops and restaurants. So we weren’t too disappointed to end up being pinned down there for the entire two weeks of our trip due to intense winds. It was a great opportunity to get a rental car for a few days and explore Guadeloupe’s two islands, Basse-Terre — with its luscious rainforests — and Grande-Terre with its many beach resorts, not to mention the numerous chandleries in and around the big city of Point-à-Pitre (you may recall we were still hunting for a fridge). Plus, since it’s a French island, we were able to eat delicious French and local food (and drink French wine) the whole time. What’s not to like!
Highlights from Guadeloupe
Our epic hike along the Deshaies River
We spent three hours hopping along rocks in the river bed, practicing our parkour skills.
Free-range chickens and cows everywhere
Finally finding a fridge!
We went to about 10 different chandleries before Mel’s mom arrived, and had no luck finding a solution for our fridge dilemma. Apparently drop-in fridges with top-opening lids are hard to find! Once Kim arrived, we decided to try one last store and (surprise!) found what we needed at a relatively decent price. Huzzah!
Fresh baguette and croissant delivery to the boat
Anne Laure runs Boat Services, an awesome service provider for yachties. She helped us get water, find rental cars and even delivered us a sheet of plywood to rebuild the fridge on a holiday. She even delivers wine right to your boat! With service like this, why would we ever leave??
Although we live on a boat surrounded by water, where you can jump in and go for a swim whenever it strikes your fancy, sometimes a beach day is still in order. Plage de la Grande Anse is a beautiful beach just north of Deshaies, and despite the wind and swell, we had a lovely morning of swimming and sunning there.
Road Trip to Grande Terre
On the map, Guadeloupe looks pretty small, but when it comes to actually crossing the island, appearances can be deceiving! The day before the rental car had to go back, we decided to go explore Grande Terre. It took us a few hours, since the Saturday beach crowd was slowing down traffic. We went all the way to the eastern tip of the island, Pointe des Châteaux, where the volcanic rock has been eroded over time by the sea to leave castle-shaped figures.
Fabulous anniversary dinner at La Kaz du Douanier
We celebrated our 10-year dating anniversary with a fantastic meal of sesame-crusted tuna steak and a bottle of wine from the Hérault region in France, where Mel was born.
There was so much more we wanted to see in Guadeloupe, like the Carnaval parades (we just missed the one in Deshaies), the beautiful Chutes de Carbet waterfall, the volcano La Soufrière as well as the many unique islands south of Guadeloupe, including Marie Galante and Les Îles des Saintes. But sadly these visits were not possible due to constant and unseasonable inclement weather and lack of rental cars. The good news is that we’ll be heading back that way in March, and now we have a good idea of what we want to see and do, so we look forward to returning!
Bonus: We didn’t see any whales on our sail back to Antigua BUT we did see DOLPHINS! It was so amazing to see them coming from far off and have them swim playfully in our bow spray. Unfortunately the conditions were such that we didn’t have time to get a camera, but it was an amazing memory for all of us.
We are now back in Antigua and have dropped off Mel’s mom and picked up David’s daughter, Rachael. Stay tuned!