Sailing down the Leeward Islands

St. Barts, Nevis and Guadeloupe!

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Dear readers,

It’s been a while! But not for lack of adventure. The past six weeks have been a whirlwind of skill acquisition, boat repair, sailing, constantly clearing in and out of different countries, and waiting for good weather windows.

In mid-January, after a super intensive period of theory and practice, we got our PADI open water diver qualifications. A big shout-out goes to Astrid, our friend and instructor, for her support. It would have been much less fun without you, Mrs. Schulz!

Our first stop was to our favourite anchorage, Anse de Colombier (St. Barts), for a couple of days of chilling with sea turtles and snorkelling with parrot fish.

Sunset in Colombier
Sun setting over our solar panels in Colombier
We had been hoping to sail down to Antigua next, but with the winds coming from the southeast for most of the week, we decided to follow the wind and head to Nevis instead.
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The last time we visited Nevis, it was a Sunday, so we didn’t see much besides shuttered up store fronts, overflowing churches, and beach bars. This time around, we decided to rent a scooter from Nevis Scooter Rentals and visit the island properly.

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Lovers Beach, home to turtle hatchlings (though sadly we didn’t see any that morning)
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A rare shot of a genuine David smile
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Mel watching the clouds go by
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We saw a family of monkeys by the side of the road and pulled over to watch them for a while. They were curious, but still quite shy.
There are still several plantations on the island. While some have been converted into swanky hotels, this former sugar plantation has evolved over the years, first as a distillery, then a museum, but is now abandoned.

Then it was time for lunch!

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Excellent start to lunch at Oasis in the Gardens
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David always gets the Pad Thai when we go to Thai restaurants – this one got bonus points for presentation
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The restaurant is in the beautiful Botanical Gardens of Nevis
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How’s that for stunning?
After stopping into a few plantation-turned-hotels, we ended up at Sunshines, our favourite beach bar in Nevis, where we had the famous Killer Bee rum punch to round out the day.
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Sun setting over Ar Sgrail (left of the sun) and Pinneys Beach
Our next stop was Guadeloupe, affectionately dubbed Gwada by the locals, where we were meeting up with friends from Ottawa. We had a few days to kill before having to meet them in the main city of Pointe-à-Pitre, so we chilled in Deshaies for a few days. Last year, we had been stuck here for two weeks with high winds, and it became one of our favourite anchorages.  How can you not fall in love with a place where baguettes and croissants are hand-delivered to your boat? But a lot can change in a year.  This year we were hoping to fill up on water and do laundry. As we’ve mentioned before, there are certain things that we take for granted when living on land, especially access to fresh water and laundry machines. When living on a boat in the Caribbean, fresh water isn’t always easy to come by, and tracking it down in Deshaies was especially problematic. On some islands, fresh water is easy to find. In Dominica, for example, they have loads of fresh water that come down from springs up in the mountains, and boats can fill their tanks by mooring on the water buoy which is linked to this fresh-water source. On the other hand, when we were in Antigua last year, a huge, unseasonal swell stirred up debris that clogged the island’s desalination filters, meaning that many parts of the island actually ran out of water. In St. Martin, boats generally fill up on water at fuel docks, but there is also Arthur, who comes around in an old converted aluminum lifeboat (Bisquetin) with a giant water tank and pumps water into your tanks for you. It’s a great service when you’re anchored somewhere and don’t feel like moving. The water comes to you! The thing that is always surprising is the variation in costs. Ar Sgrail holds 120 gallons, or about 450 litres. In St. Martin, we usually drop between $30 and $40 US to fill our tanks, which lasts us about three weeks. In Dominica, it’s $25 for unlimited water once you’re on the water buoy.

In Deshaies we knew we were running low, but after going on a wild goose chase and talking to every public official in town about some mysterious token system at the fishing port that no one seemed to have concrete information about, we gave up on trying to get water (laundry was also a no-go without a car). And as it turns out, a few days later we were in Pointe-à-Pitre, where the marina charges 1 euro per 100 litres (about $5 US for us to fill up), so it all worked out. But the whole ordeal was a good reminder that if we ever decide to sail further afield, where fresh water is harder to come by, we may want to look into installing a watermaker, which desalinates sea water using reverse osmosis. But since a new one costs about $5000, and seeing as we use less water than we would at home, we’re happy to go on a wild goose chase every now and then. It’s all a normal part of cruising life! Worst case scenario, we can collect rain water since it’s been an unseasonably rainy winter!

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Double rainbow in Deshaies (i.e. rain is coming)

Where the wind takes us next: we have fun-filled visit with our friends JP and Kellen in Guadeloupe, Les Saintes, and Dominica!

4 thoughts on “Sailing down the Leeward Islands

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