Ticking off the miles

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guadeloupe  ,
Friday, February 16, 2007

Approximately 4953. Miles, that is, since we took possession of Quest 19 months ago. That's a lot of water under our keel, and we're still not home to Juneau. Plans change, but what hasn't changed is that we are absolutely loving our adventure.

My brother, Ellis joined us in Antigua in mid-January. He originally planned on staying for two weeks. Plans change. Two has turned into six and we've been having a wonderful visit.

Ellis checked onto the plane with his folding kayak (two bags). One bag of kayak parts made it off the plane.

Walking back to the boat one day, we happened upon a young man up in a palm tree. It must have been coconut harvest time.
Since OSHA isn't around here, he climbed up sans safety gear. We watched as he kicked coconut after coconut to the ground. After he was done, one of the locals picked up a coconut and machete-ed off one end and started to drink. When the liquid was done, he whacked the nut in half and proceeded to scoop out the pulp. These coconuts were harvested before they had time to form meat and the hard shell that is familiar to most. I wandered over and started a conversation with this particular local. He asked if I wanted to try one. SCORE! We enjoyed our treat and then headed out to the boat.

After being "adopted" by one of the English Harbor gate guards who said he would keep calling the contact at the airport for the lost bag, we decided to circumnavigate Antigua, visiting little bays that we hadn't yet seen.

We found the most incredible snorkeling on the northern side of the island. The crystal clear, shallow water was warmed even more than normal by the sun. We anchored in seclusion in two of the bays and Ellis introduced us to the fun of "Geo-caching".

In order to geo-cache, you visit a web page and get latitude and longitude coordinates for a cache near you. Then you use your handheld GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) to hone in on the exact spot - give or take thirty feet. It's sort of like a treasure hunt. The caches are waterproof containers of assorted size with assorted goodies inside. Ellis came prepared with some sites in Antigua. We searched for two unsuccessfully. Perhaps the goats ate them. The third site we attempted we were successful.

We were on the top of the hill on Great Bird Island when we overheard a tourist loudly exclaiming, "There's a friggin bird!" His buddy tried to correct him, saying the tour guide said it was a "Frigate bird." We laughed as they argued over the correct pronunciation.

When we got back to English Harbor after our week's circumnavigation, we checked at the gate for the rest of the kayak. Still no show! After threatening further action (not sure what that might have been), the kayak pieces "arrived". All's well in the end. We made plans to sail for Guadeloupe the next morning.

Guadeloupe, if viewed from above, looks like a butterfly. We sailed down the western side of the left wing and anchored in Anse Deshaies, one of the most protected bays on the leeward side of the island. This French island is the largest we've visited in the Caribbean so far. The small town of Deshaies (Dez-hay), held a wonderful welcome to the island. After checking in with customs, we wandered the small town area and located a supermarket. We purchased an assortment of tasty French cheeses, a loaf of (French) bread, a few oranges and some water and went in search of a spot suitable for our picnique. Refreshed, we decided to wander up the hill to the Jardin Botanique de Deshaies (botanical garden). Visiting it with Ellis was a delight, since he went to school for botany. The plants were incredible, and we kept pointing out ones that we have as house plants, but here are outdoors and upwards of six feet tall.

Ellis and I went for a long walk up and over a hillside to a beach where we walked on ochre sands and enjoyed a cooling dip in the water. We went the roadway back to Deshaies and enjoyed a lunch of fresh fish and stuffed christophene (a vegetable) at a local restaurant on the water. After our meal, I called Chris on the VHF and he came in to the dock with the dinghy.

After the squirrelly winds made the anchorage uncomfortable, we decided to head south to "Les Saintes", a group of small islands part of, but south of the big island of Guadeloupe. We anchored in a small cove near "Le Pain De Sucre" (Sugar Loaf) which had deep, clear water. To investigate further, we dinghied to the small dock and put on our walking shoes, and headed toward what looked like the town center. After several hills, around the harbor and a mile or so, we found an internet café, got electronically caught up and then continued our walk - up another hill and further around the harbor to Fort Napoleon. Iguanas skittered in the brush alongside the road as we passed. Chickens clucked, goats bleated, sheep baahed as we steamed on our merry way. When we got back to the town, we found a gelato (ice cream) store and rationalized away two scoops of some of the best tasting cold creamery we chose.

By the way, it's "Frigate Bird".
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