After a few days in Deshaies, we sailed down the coast to Malendure near Pigeon Island and then to Pointe-a-Pitre. We make this move in consideration of the winds. Pointe-a-Pitre is in the middle of Guadeloupe, between the two butterfly “wings” of the island. That means sailing around the south end of the mountainous Basse Terre part of Guadeloupe and then north on the east side of it. Even in moderate east winds the southern point gets pretty windy due to the compression of the winds whipping around the end of the island.
This results in a direct up wind sail which is not what we like to do. This time it was not terrible but the seas were lumpy and it was a motor sail up to Pointe-a-Pitre. The reason to go there is that it is good place to base a car tour of the entire island. It is centrally located and you can drive to both the low island of Grande Terre and the mountainous Basse Terre. It is also a major city worth a look at including a modern Memorial ACT museum. The anchorage is protected from any swell but it is a commercial harbor with a large container terminal near the anchorage. But since we are currently traveling in a mini-convoy of cruisers that we know, it is a good place to arrange sundowners, restaurants, rum distilleries and just to tour around.
We had a three car caravan one day to visit the Chutes du Carbet. These are three waterfalls in line from one stream that come off La Souifriere, one of the main inactive volcanoes on the island. What makes these waterfalls interesting is that they are very tall, over 300’, and can be seen while traveling along the coast. See the green arrow on the chart to see where they are.
Actually, you can only see two of them from the coast as the upper one is usually in the clouds. Christopher Columbus saw these falls when he cruised here years ago and it is reported that he stopped in to fill his water tanks. The local natives apparently didn’t appreciate his arrival and chased them away. Maybe they didn’t get custom clearance or health certificates to stay or something. In any case, our hike up to see them up close (the falls) was a half hour climb but mostly on well maintained trails and walkways. The trail goes all the way to the top for those interested in hiking another two hours. I was not interested, or at least my legs were not.
Hike through these lush tropical forests are always amazing. I am always impressed by the size of the trees, ferns, leaves and flowers. Some of them are as big as a car (well almost).
For those interested, unlike Columbus we did fill our water tanks at the marina in Pointe-a-Pitre for $0.08 a gallon. Many cruisers these days have “water makers”. Actually, the machinery doesn’t make any water, it just takes the salt out of the water your floating in. High pressure pumps and very fine membranes do a reverse osmosis (RO) trick to prevent the salt ions from passing thru. All well and good but the cost and maintenance is another bill that must be accounted for. I’m not against them but there is readily available shore side water (and some of it is actually RO water). Granted, we, and especially Maureen, watch our water consumption so that we don’t have to run and fill tanks less than once a month or longer (usually longer). But looking at the water falling hundreds of feet in these rain forests, emptying into the sea, one wonders about reinventing the wheel. I guess I like Criss C’s solution to fill our tanks. OTOH, we do have and used, a rain catchment system to supplement our water supply.
On another day we took a dinghy trip up the Riviere Salee and had picnic lunch of French wine, cheese and bread in La Manche a Eau. among the mangroves. A good GPS chart is a good idea if you want to wander through the many channels and byways here. The area is between the two main land masses of Guadeloupe. That is always a fun trip although the dinghy ride back to Pointe-a-Pitre is a rough sometimes wet, up wind ride across the wide harbor. Well, at least we didn’t have to sail up wind.
We are now in Les Saintes but will sail to Martinique tomorrow. The Butterfly island has a lot to offer but we have a time schedule to be in St Lucia by the end of February. Marie Gallant is another island here that is worth a stop but not for us now. The weather window decides when to move, so tomorrow is the day. And today a northerly swell arrived and we are in a stage 3 to 4 roll!