You ask cruisers ( those of us that spend months putting up sails, reefing them down, plotting courses based on wind and wave direction, but literally slugging it out , mostly into the wind or waves, for the sake of enjoying the scenery and weather has to offer during North America’s Winter) what they enjoy most about this life and after the discussion about food or rum, (haha), there is usually a comment about the water. We see so many different hues of blue it’s amazing. Mostly it depends on the depth and bottom structure, but even in 3000 feet of water the color reflects the beauty of the sky in what is truest a deep blue ocean. As we sail from island to island and explore their anchorages we are pleasantly surprised by the many different blues.
Between visitors in Guadeloupe, we had enough time to make a run to Antigua, and then onto Barbuda. We had not stopped in Barbuda in previous years, but the word was out that since it’s destruction by Hurricane Irma in 2017, things were coming back to life. We knew we had to be provisioned and were prepared for enjoying some solitude and beautiful beaches. We found a gem of an island on the mend.
Barbuda lies 30 miles north of the island of Antigua, so a nice day sail is what it takes to get there. We were just 5 miles off according to the GPS and we sighted land. The island is so unlike the mountainous volcanic ones we had just travelled from in the Windwards. From the bow I was lookout, just like in the shallow Bahamas, to make sure we didn’t get a surprise coral head , not marked on the electronic charts. We anchored easily in deep sand that stretched nearly 6 miles! We were simply overcome by the beautiful turquoise water that covers miles of sand that surround this part of the island…again reminding us of our first year sailing through the islands of the Bahamas. A quick swim to check the anchor confirmed the clarity of these waters. What appears to be 2 ft from the bow becomes nearly 20 ft once in the water. Over the next few days we would swim, snorkel some incredible reefs of Cocoa Bay, walk the beach, hike the island, explore the frigate bird colony, and congregate with fellow cruisers for a beach sunset party.
With Barbuda being our northernmost anchorage, we head south back to Green Island, Antigua. We spent a few sporadic weeks here last year and enjoyed watching the amazing kite surfers maneuver the wind and reefs. This year we focused on some great snorkeling at the south and northeast entrance to this protected spot. We took the dinghy through the south cut around the reefs to a secluded bay south and a bit east of Green Island ( used by one of the resorts for a “remote” luncheon/snorkel spot) We found a snorkeling/dive bouy to tie up to and headed off to explore. We saw spotted eagle rays, giant yellowtail and parrot fish, we even scared up a huge porcupine fish ( see the link…they are hands down my favorite and they always have a smile, however shy they are) in some of the clearest waters yet this season.
We left Dominica with the perfect wind to head to Marie Galante, one of the outer islands of Guadeloupe. We were enchanted by the white sand beach and gentle, friendly nature of this island. We stayed 3 days and had time to rent scooters to see most of the island. It’s beauty and easygoing lifestyle would bring us back, nearly 3 weeks later when we had time and the right wind to bring our daughter Kelsey and her friend Lee to share this island’s secret beauty.
After a pleasant sail from Il des Saintes the night before, we arise as the sun crests the palm-tree lined beach and prepare to take the dinghy to Port St. Louis (“sen lwee”) cruiser-early in the morning to rent the scooters, 0800. We found on our previous trip that the ferry arrives at 0815 and the scooters are quickly spoken for. We also have promised our guests fresh croissants from the boulangerie across the street from the scooter rental office.
We are kindly greeted by the proprietor telling us that they have only 1 scooter left. After several minutes of hilarious miscommunication trying to use Google translate, and the help of a kind German woman ( who spoke fluent French), we understood that another person would pick us up and take us to Grand Bourg ( 5 miles away) to get 2 scooters we needed for the 4 of us. We were out of luck on the pastries, unfortunately they had sold out long before we arrived. You know what they say about the early bird….these Loons didn’t make it. Twenty minutes later we were on our way to get the scooters. The forms0 had already been completed and we just needed to find helmets that fit and we were on our way. We planned to circumnavigate the island as much as we could in 6 hours. This would prove to be a challenge at times as the cycles did have speed governors installed. Not only did 5his prevent us from getting over 40km/ hr it also made going up some steep hills quite comical! We found ourselves several times inching uphill, as the engine whined to it max, then switched to a low gear.
We stopped for simple provisions ( baguettes, sausassion, fromage, et bierre), found a crowded beach park, where we had to take the last piece of table for our lunch. It is a beautiful spot on the northeast part of the island, Anse Canot. We watched experienced kite-boarders in Capasterre, and took a self guided rum tour and tasting at Bellvue Distillerie. The island is so varied…hilly, canopied, rocky Atlantic topography, and serene, turquoise Leeward beaches.
It made for a great day of exploration. We ended the day at one of the favorite sunset spots, Chez Henri. A quiet popular true beach bar in St Louis, where you sit with your feet in the sand and watch the sunset. Here we found great WiFi, good beer and relaxing Caribbean vibe.
Leaving Marie-Galant we sailed on a northerly course for Guadeloupe mainland to get our guests back to the airport. We would spend one night in this new location just outside of the bustling city of Pointe a Pitre…. Il Gossier. A quaint seaside village only 5 miles from PAP, we found a nice spot to anchor off the small island. We didn’t find much reef from which to do any snorkeling, ( Kelsey and I actually swam in 6 inches of water quite determined we were headed over a reef!) once ashore on this spit of land we found a trail that lead us to one of a few lighthouses in the Caribbean. From our unique vantage point we were struck by the power of this great blue water hitting the rocks and reef.
Southbound again to Martinique, we would take one of our first official dives of the season. We found a quiet anchor spot to the south end of Anse Dufour. The western side of Martinique, just a short motor from Fort de France. We found ourselves in 20 ft of clear water and within swimming distance of the reef.
We swam here last year and made note that it would be good to dive. With friends aboard to watch the boat, we donned our gear and made the plunge ( or ‘plon-jay’ as they say in France). We found a nice wall to explore that extended nearly 1/4 mile and we swam to depths of up to 60 ft. We saw so much healthy coral and sea life ( eels, huge porcupine fish, snapper, Sargent majors, big eyes, drum, and huge filefish) and some of the clearest blue water we have yet to find…with visibility at close to 75 ft. (wishing my go pro cover hadn’t rusted, no underwater pics this time).
Our search for more blue water and new anchorages continues as we spend time in St Lucia…between the Pitons, at the hot springs and some very nice resorts…. in the next blog entry.
Hoping to have more time and better WIFI to keep connected.
Lost Loon journey continues!