Les Saintes – the holy islands of Guadeloupe
On Januar20 we had another farewell or better an “au revoir”. This time we spent 2 weeks in Martinique and it was a beautiful and varied time. Le Marin is one of the biggest, if not the biggest yachting centre in the Caribbean. The perfect place to do some repairs on the Rivercafe and from now on we are self-sufficient for the first time. Hooray
After the somewhat downbeat mood in St Lucia, the near normality of Martinique was a relief. It is the most populous of the French Caribbean islands and it was wonderful to see that the people here lived cautiously but quite normally.
From Le Marin we anchored in strong winds to St Anne, a small but very picturesque village in the south of the island. Many others had the same idea, especially French boats, and after a restless night we moved on to La Grand Anse. A bay in the green with clear water and many snorkelling spots. In many bays – like here – anchoring is no longer allowed and instead anchor balls are used to moor the boats. This costs a little for maintenance. But I think it’s excellent, because we sailors no longer destroy the seabed with our anchors and seaweed can grow undisturbed. Perfect co-existence.
The beauty of sailing without deadline stress is that you can simply wait for a suitable weather window. After a couple of days, the wind became weaker than 7 Bft, the waves got flatter and we left for our last stop in Martinique to spend the night in St. Pierre. This town in the north of the island used to be the capital and was devastated by the island’s still active volcano, Mont Pelée, almost 100 years ago. The black beach, crystal clear water, lush vegetation and a bit of infrastructure, make St. Pierre a nice stop. Clearing in and out of the French islands is brilliantly easy. No port master, no customs and no immigration. Just enter everything into one of the terminals provided and you’re done. The check-in/out computer in St. Pierre was in an Alsatian restaurant (@Valerie: vraiment alsacien) and we cleared out in style with an “uncarbian” pastis.
Between Martinique and Guadeloupe, one day’s sailing away, lies Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). A sensationally beautiful island, as we know from previous visits. Unfortunately, the C19 situation was unclear and we would have had to leave the “French bubble” (C19 protocol). Everything is a bit more complicated these days. That’s why we could only anchor briefly for one night in Prince Rupert Bay after 50 nm. And immediately the police/coast guard swam alongside us with their ship to make sure we didn’t leave the ship and bring in any epidemics.
Dominica behind us
Early in the morning we set off for Guadeloupe. To the south are the islands of “Les Saintes”, our longed-for first destination in Guadeloupe. We fell in love with these small islands on our previous visit. Only 1,700 people live here on two islands and a few other uninhabited islets. It is green and lush, the water crystal clear. The iguanas (they look like little dragons) sit in the village and the bars and restos are right by the water. You can hike, bike, snorkel, dive or just hang out at the beach. It’s super class.
We are now moored with the Rivercafe at a mooring ball the main village of Le Bourg. The boat is safely moored and during the nights we are rocked to sleep by the waves and the wind. After waking up in the morning, we jump into the clear water and then shower on deck. Clear for the sunny, windy day.
From our mooring we can see Guadeloupe and the capital Point-a-Pitre is only 20 nm away. When we want to go ashore, we get into our dinghy and head for the jetty in the middle of the village. Every metre of water is crystal clear and you can see deep down to the seabed. Just beyond the jetty is the main street in Le Bourg. Small restaurants salvage the reputation of the mediocre Caribbean cuisine. But to be honest, most of the chefs are French. The main street of Le Bourg is lively and very friendly. There is fresh fruit, cafes, provisions and th quirkiest hardware shop. We enjoy observing life and normality and are delighted that life in Les Saintes seems to go on unaffected.
In the evening, when the day tourists from Guadeloupe have disappeared again, the magic of the islands unfolds. The bars and restaurants come alive. And the light of the setting sun transforms the bays into the mother of all kitsch.
Our plan is to stay a little longer in Les Saintes this time. Afterwards, we want to go to Point-a-Pitre to spend a few days cruising Guadeloupe. For me, this is the most varied island I know in the Caribbean. Then we have two or three more stops planned. I wouldn’t be surprised if we stay here for another 2-3 weeks. In addition, the C19 protocols are also changing for our next destination, Antigua. So we’ll have to wait and see. Anyway, I wanted to practise enjoying the present more than planning ahead all the time. And what better place to do that than Les Saintes? /Holger Binz