Redwings Round the World

Guadeloupe & Iles des Saints

16 - 22 February 2001

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16 February - Bourge des Saints  

Aaron - We left Prince Rupert Bay at 0900 with a 2X reefed main and three fishing lines trolling as soon as the anchor was up - we really want to catch a fish as our last was so yummy and as we plan to be in the Saints for a week or so doing boat work so this will be our only chance to get our own fish.

Good thing we reefed.  Although the winds were down a bit in comparison to the last week, we still had 20 gusting 30 in the middle of the channel between Dominica and "The Saints".   Nice beam reach though and we averaged 8 knots across the 16 mile passage and stayed pretty dry.  No fish though.

Colleen varnishing in The Saints

Like Martinique, The Saints are part of France, but belong to "Le Departement" of Guadeloupe.  The isles are a cluster of mid-sized to small islands some five miles south of Guadeloupe.

What a change from Dominica!  Good bye lofty peaks covered in towering rain forests, accompanying rain, and annoying boat boys.  Hello scrubby hills, "cutesy" town, clear skies, and fresh croissants.

On our forth try, we finally were able to find a spot in the tightly packed anchorage where it did not seem that we would be playing bumper boats with anyone.  We dingied in to town and confirmed what I expected: The Saints are basically a French Bequia - a good combo.  Lots of freshly painted colorful shops and restaurants along the main drag which parallels the anchorage, small fishing boats pulled up along the beach, dudes playing boules by the sailing dingy club (squadrons of Hobies dodged around us as we motored in).  Very nice.  Good place to spend the next week varnishing.  Yippee.

17 February - Bourge des Saints  

Aaron - Spent the morning preparing the bright work for varnishing - sanding, taping, sanding, cleaning - started varnishing, and of course the heavens opened up and trashed what little work we had done.  C'est la vie in the Caribbean!  We had hoped that the Saints, which are much smaller and lower than neighboring Guadeloupe and Dominica, would attract less rain giving us a better percentage chance of getting a few coats on.  Oh well, to be honest, I was ready to quit anyway and put the first coat on tomorrow as it took us four hours just to do the first round of sanding and taping anyway.

A Maine couple Chris and Mary from the 40-something-foot wooden catch Dovekie came over and introduced themselves.  After our rainout, we went over to their boat for drinks and heard all about their tough voyage in force 9 winds from Boston to Bermuda.  Mary cracked her ribs and a few other things in a knockdown.  Yikes.  They must be in their 60's, but have a huge amount of energy and are undaunted by their rough sail.  They plan to cruise south to St. Lucia, and then head back up to the Virgins before again setting course for Bermuda and then across to the Azores and Europe by early summer!

Later in the afternoon, we headed into town and took a walk with Christine and Rob on Far Niente around the ville.  We searched in vain for a place that would allow us to upload our e-mails via their phone line.

We then dingied over to the "Yacht Club" owned by Jerome and dropped off our laundry and tried to get on line.  Apparently the phone lines are broken, but supposedly they will be fixed tomorrow. 

18 February - Bourge des Saints  

Aaron - We were successful in getting one full coat of varnish on just five minutes before it started to rain.  Better than yesterday I guess but some of the most recently varnished bits will be a bit pocked by the rain for sure. 

We took a several hour hike around the island in the afternoon.  Colleen made friends with a three-pawed calico cat on the way.  We are now definitely open to getting new cats, but we want to find two kittens.  The right cats, place, and time will present itself I'm sure.

Every little house on the island seems to have 10 chickens, 5 goats, and a sign advertising fresh homemade punch for sale outside.  Its very quaint.  Even though we are getting a bit of rain, it is dry here on a relative basis.  Rather than the huge mossy trees just 16 miles away on Dominica, there are cacti here.

The phones still are not working at the Yacht Club - arrgh - no e-mail for three weeks.  Next time we go cruising we will get either a satellite link or SSB (shortwave radio) modem.

19 February - Bourge des Saints  

Aaron - Finally got on a full coat of varnish with no rain all day!  This one looks pretty good and we were done by 1100.  We are getting pretty fast.  We also put on a new mast boot as we have had increasing leaks at the partner (where the mast comes through the coach house into the boat).  We have a Spartite partner chock, but it seems to have all of a sudden gone a bit soggy and started letting water in around the seals.  Anyone out there know what they shelf lives on these things is supposed to be?  We filled the gaps with 5200, wrapped copious amounts of self-amalgamating rigging tape around it, and then put a latex boot over the whole thing and tightened it up with three industrial sized hose clamps - hope this works.

Not only did we get a good day of varnish in, we were finally able to upload our e-mails at the Yacht Club.  168 messages over the last three weeks had piled up.  Fun reading tonight!

20 February - Bourge des Saints  

Aaron - I'm sure you're all really interested to hear about it, but we successfully got our third and final coat of varnish on this morning with no rain!  That should last us till we get to Maine at least.

As there are no customs or immigration facilities in The Saints, we had not yet checked into Guadeloupe.  However, about mid-day a police boat came by, asked for our papers, and extended a basket on a stick (like in church) for us to place our ships papers and  passports in.

They cleared us in right there from an immigration perspective, although we will still have to clear customs later when we hit the Guadeloupe mainland.

After responding to the myriad of e-mails we have been collecting over the past three weeks on our server and cleaning up the boat, we took a two hour hike up to the highest point in the Saints - a mountain overlooking "The Bourge" with a small fort at the top.  2/3 of the way up, we came across a huge smoking garbage dump over the side of the mountain.  All of the town's garbage I guess.  Gotta go somewhere....  There was a big family of cats hanging out there as well as the ubiquitous flock of chickens.  I can't understand why the cats don't munch down on the small chicks.  They seem to be side by side all over the island.

Great view of the town, airstrip, islands, and Dominica to the south and Guadeloupe to the north.  The airport is really cool.  Just a small strip between two hills just behind the town.  Small prop planes have to fly right over the town, bank a sharp left while dropping out of the sky, and set down throwing the props in reverse before running into the sea. 

Current plan is to leave tomorrow for Pigeon Island which is 1/2 way up the coast of Guadeloupe after collecting our laundry and doing e-mail again at the yacht club.  Pigeon Island is part of the Jacques Cousteau National Underwater Marine Park - the diving is said to be great.  Venla left for there yesterday and Far Niente the day before so hopefully we will catch up with them up there.

21 February - Bourge des Saints to Deshaies, Guadeloupe  

Aaron - We dingined into the yacht club early to pick up our laundry.  It was done (it took 5 days because the electricity was out two days after we originally left it off - go figure), but not folded, and they did not have any bags so I had to back to the boat to get some.  When they asked for money, I said Colleen had already paid them - I thought she had the day we left it off.  Jerome called his wife and asked her and she said "oui".  Back in the laundry shack where Colleen was folding the duds, she said no, I never paid them for the laundry, only the e-mails.  We did pay them, but they had no clew if we were coming or going.

Normally we'd joke that they must have been smoking pot - but it's not joke - it was only 9 am and the smoke was already heavy in the air all around the club!  Jerome has been very helpful though and thank God we were finally able to get on line there.  In addition to providing laundry & communications services, he putts around the anchorage every morning at around 0700 to 0800 on a little catamaran boat and hocks fresh bread, croissants, and bread to yachts.  Guess the sunrise probably does look even nicer with a Caribbean cocktail in the veins. Jerome has a website at

On the way back to Redwings met another boat from Maine that just happened to be a Peterson (a 44) as well!  Paul & Sue on Sereno are from Addison, Maine which is "way downeast".  We took an avid tour or Sereno - we have never been on a 44 before and were keen to see what was the same and what was different.  I've heard a lot of theories about where the extra two feet are in the P46, and I'll say I have to go with the cockpit crowd.  Our cockpit is a lot bigger and down below, in the area in the middle of the boat where the cockpit is, we have more space than the 44 - specifically the starboard pilot berth and the battery box.  But overall, there were many similarities between the two boats.

Paul & Sue came by Redwings for a quick inspection, but we could not visit as long as we all would have liked as we had decided to skip Pigeon Island and head all the way up Guadeloupe to Deshaies today -  a 30 mile trip.  We spoke with Rob of Far Niente and also Gary on Gigolo and they both confirmed that the diving and snorkeling was not that great really and that if we wanted to "skip a stop" somewhere along the way, Pigeon Island is a good spot to skip.  But don't miss Deshaies.

We sailed off the mooring with a 15 knot following breeze and looked like heroes tipping our hats to Loblolly (another ARC boat) doing 7 knots through the anchorage on a broad reach towards the gap between Ilet a Cabrit and Terre d'en Haut.  We had a really pleasant sail across the channel to Guadeloupe and were able to sail most of the way up the coast to Deshais without motoring - though we did get in about two hours of motoring, charging, and water making when we were off the middle section of the island and the wind was blocked by the mountains.

We arrived Deshaies at around 1700.  The harbor is a sharp inlet cut between to small hills that plummet to the shores, the town is built right along the beach.  Church bells rang as we came in.  Good holding in 25 feet.  Almost no wind in here.  Beautiful.  A quick trip to town and our last stock up on brie and French coffee.

22 February - Deshaies, Guadeloupe  

Colleen - Aaron lingered for a long time in the morning over the SSB radio in the morning.  As I waited for him I swept out the cabin and went above on deck to throw the dustpan collection over the side.  I saw the owners of Singapore flagged "Tien Fei" dingying by, and waved them over.  Aaron and I had been meaning to say hello to them, the first Singapore boat we saw cruising.  Maggie and Raymond were the jolly owners.  They have been out cruising for several years.  We invited them to join us for a drink on Redwings at sunset.  A sailboat motored out as we spoke and yelled to us that the Customs agent was now in his office (a rare sighting) and we should hurry and dingy in to catch him and check in/check out of Guadeloupe.  

Aaron and I then dingied in, and after a confusing search found the customs office and officer!  Deshaise is notorious for the customs guys being MIA.  Checked in and out is one fell swoop.

We strolled around town, got fresh baguettes for the day at the 1000 year old boulangerie.  We found a place to send emails, and shopped for fresh vegetables on the street.  Tien Fei had just warned us that produce was pretty dear in Antigua.  Our shopping was limited by my Franc supply however.  The ATM wasn't accepting my card (what a surprise, good old Fleet Bank...)

Aaron and I went back to the boat.  After our reminiscent brie and baguette lunch we decided it was time for Redwings to get a long overdue interior clean up.  We worked for hours, but it wasn't so bad, as the environment was pleasant, and the immediate effects of a cleaner boat were satisfying to see.  Aaron got caught up with some interior painting.  The Finnish couple from Venla, Cheryl and Heikki, came by and we invited them to join us for a sunset drink as well.

We really rushed to get off the boat for a little hike before everyone came over.  We didn't really have enough time though, so it was more like a 45 uphill walk.  We very quickly got back to the boat in time to put some food together, and shower up for the evening.  We had a lovely time with our guests.  Tien Fei had spent a year in Indian Ocean/Africa, a place where many cruisers miss.  They entertained us with exotic tales of that year.  

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Copyright 2001 All Rights Reserved by Aaron Henderson and Colleen Duggan