People want to know “What’s it like to cruise full-time?”
The best answer I have is, “It is similar to being a kid again. You get up with the sun, you play hard, often with good friends, you explore new places, eat and shower when you can, yet sleep like a log. The only difference is you probably drink more.”
– Tess, 1st mate, S/V Ingomar
A New Destination
Somewhat reluctant to depart Anitigua because we had not explored the northwest side, any doubt was quickly suspended when we sailed into our first port, Deshaies. Not to be fickle but Guadaloupe is beautiful. It is also French, which means quality food and easy check-ins!
Deshaies, a quaint fishing port, is also a clearance port. Like all French islands clearance was a breeze, and with our papers we were free to walk around and were delighted, at first glimpse, with the town. Deshaies is small but pretty, with a long sandy beach which hosts beach bars, stores and restaurants on both sides of the main road. It was clean and had accessible wifi.
Another merit – the restaurants. My sis, Jac, had sent a New York Times article, extolling the food virtues of the island. I quickly came to realize why. The menus written outside on chalkboards were tantalizing. I also spied a woman making sorbet on a table, under a tree, and made a mental note to check her out the next day. Back onboard the aroma drifting from the hills into the anchorage was pure nirvana. Filbert has a habit, that is typically adorable of our furmate. As we close in on port, he lifts his head, points his nose up in the air and sniffs. In our anchorage you could look around and see all the cruisers doing Filly’s ‘sniff the air’ move. The aroma was intoxicating.
Food + Hiking = Bliss
We had met Kinship (Kath & Matt) ashore and arranged to do a hike the next day up the Deshaies river. The route wasn’t entirely clear as we set out but we found a route rock-jumping up the river bed. It was cool, with the forest looming high on either side of us, offering welcome relief from the blazing sun. The plant life and trees were prodigious, lush and green, towering over us on either side. I felt 10 again and clearly remember many days spent rock jumping on the beaches of Newfoundland.
After our hike I twisted the arm of my co-hikers into a visit to the Sorbet woman (a lie). When we first got there she was empty but insisted we ‘restez ici’ until she retuned. We did and return she did! We had the best ice-cream, passion and coco sorbet, creamy but not sweet. All for $2 euros a cup. A couple of beers and wifi concluded our great hike. On the way back to the boat we ran into TiSento (Agnes & Bas) and over a couple of beers we were awestruck by the sunset. As we sailed to Guadeloupe the previous day we noticed the cloud over Montserrat was changing. The active volcano looked … active. And sure enough, it was rumbling and the particles in the air painted beautiful sunsets, orange and red.
The next day we were up with the sun, took a dinghy ride to the patisserie for croissants and bread. One of the best things about the French islands is the patisserie or bakery. There’s one or two in every town, and the bread, croissants, pain au chocolate, eclair, flips, whatever is divine!
We stayed onboard for the day, scrubbing Ingomar, giving the boat a well deserved once-over, tackling things like the stainless steel fittings and other such boring tasks. Sufficiently bored we shared a happy hour with TiSento and sadly said goodbye to them as we were taking different paths. Hopefully we get to meet up with them somewhere down the way.
Cousteau National Park
The next stop was one I had been anticipating before we’d even left to come on this trip. The Cousteau Underwater Park, comprised of 2 islands and a mile of coastline offered the best snorkelling I’ve ever experienced. It was breathtaking. I remember watching Jacques Cousteau on TV as a kid and thinking, ‘I’d like to do that”, or at go with him on his underwater adventures. And voila! here we are. The water is crystal clear, with healthy coral and an astounding array of sea life. I could have swam for hours and intend on revisiting on the way back. We anchored across from the park in Pigeon Island Anchorage where there were 2 variety of turtles swimming under our boat and starfish everywhere. It was the coolest place I have been yet! We also ran into Kinship and Terrapin who were anchored there.
We stocked up on provisions the next day at the Lieder Price, a Costco style store but with a french twist. The grocery shopping in the french islands is amazing; our boat is full of tapinade, olives, pestos, marinated artichokes and cheeses. We left Guadeloupe and sailed to Anse å la Barque because the rolling in Pigeon had been too much. I swam in the morning and saw an amazing amount of coral and fish before we hauled anchor again and set sail for a new destination.
Guadeloupe is an amazing island and we’ve seen a small part but will revisit on the return trip. Hiking, swimming, snorkelling and hanging with friends were indelibly etched into my brain superimposed on the map of Guadeloupe (shaped like a butterfly!). People say that you can’t relive your youth but cruising is an expeditious way to get a little closer to your inner kid.
Oh, Yesterdays over my shoulder, so I can’t go back there too long,
Theres just too much to see, waiting in front of me, I know I just can’t go wrong.
~Jimmy Buffett – Changes in Latitude