St Kitts - Guadeloupe - Les Saintes

The waterfalls of Guadeloupe. Photo: Unsplash
The trip to St Kitts was pleasant, with good weather and not too high waves. My mum was visiting, and for her it was a first passage on a sailing boat. It was a very long passage for a beginner - a whole day, which is not to recommend really, but she managed, and helped along with steering and other things on board. When we were within some miles of Statia, suddenly the dolphins came! Plenty of them, with some babies, they were wishing us a pleasant trip. I have not seen dolphins since the Spanish side of the Atlantic, so surely it was a nice and unexpected encounter.

St Kitts is a very beautiful island. As mountainous as Saba, it also has some pittoresque pastures and plantations, as it is not as steep near the coast. There are many old sugar cane plantations, and soon we were munching on some sugar cane - delicious when you need water and energy. We went to see the fort on St Kitts, the most impressive in the Caribbean they say, and surely it was - with a huge rainbow coloring the sky from the rainclouds in the mountains! We also took some strolls in the hills, climbing an old volcano, enjoying the tropical forests. The beaches were splendid, something I really missed at St Maarten, with nice sand, transparent water, and a lot of diving black pelicans, and at Southern Friar's Beach we even saw a lot of monkeys, and - mongoose! There, the snorkelling is excellent - there is a wreck which is on shallow waters and can be explored while snorkelling, such a luxury. There was a lot of fish, a lot of starfish, and a lot of coral. I found a cave full of lobster, but didn't take any. All of the Caribbean is protected, and it's forbidden to spear-fish here, however I know of some people who don't care about these laws - but such people don't care about any laws at all, and go along happily doing other illegal stuff like doing drugs, fishing at forbidden areas, and not paying the marina bills, making life to hell for the rest of us that actually want to leave a clean wake.

Welcome! But do not expect us to make life easy for you... photo: Unsplash
Anyway, back to St Kitts. The capital city looked like it was a scene from an old Western movie, you just waited for the duelling cowboys to appear. The marina was nice and cheaper than your regular Sint Maarten marina, however all the bureaucracy and the paper work was terrible here. They even missed the fact that we booked a berth, and we were to anchor outside (among the vicious ferry boats that threatened with running over us, and honked angrily despite the fact that it was the marina that advised us to stay there. But we found a way around at the end, and got a berth so we did not have to dinghy back and forth, and also could get some water. At the clear-in, they spelled all of the names wrong, and listed everyone as females for some reasons.

After enjoying St Kitts, Mum left, and s/y Space sailed further South towards Guadeloupe. The island of Montserrat was on the way, with its ever-smoking volcano. I did not come onshore, preferring to watch the volcano from offshore. Just over 15 years ago, the volcano erupted and buried the capital under 12 meters of mud. I sailed on, contenting myself with some photos from offshore.

Montserrat from a safe distance. Photo:
The first destination at Guadeloupe, the small village of Deshaies, was very cozy and beautiful. Small, unexploited, colorful, and very French, it was a very good welcome (not to mention that the clear-in process took less than 5 minutes and costed 3 euro, compare this to the rest of the islands where you can count on multiplying these numbers by 5, if not 10 or more...) The rain drizzle above the sunny Deshaies makes it a place of permanent rainbows, which is very pretty.

The pretty village of Deshaies, bathing in sunset light. Photo:
After this, s/y Space headed to Basse Terre, the capital of Guadeloupe, hoping for some more French charm. How much have I not mistaken! A slummy, dirty town was before me, smelling of urine and filled with poverty (of though playing hiphop, selling Big Macs and Converse shoes). The internet was to be found in a Christian shop (along a variety of prayer posters, icons, bibles, Tarot books and cards, zen buddhism stuff, and even Kama Sutra, very strange for a Christian shop...) and was extremely expensive, the keyboards not even being qwerty, imagine that... I soon wanted to leave Guadeloupe, but not before exploring the Chutes de Carbet, Eastern Caribbean largest waterfalls.

The trip there was long (Guadeloupe is a large island) but very scenic. The demanding hike took 4,5 hours in total and, though my legs were almost destroyed, untrained from the sailing, it was worth it. The waterfalls, more than 100 meters high, were impressive, and on the path passed through both rain forest and cloud forest. It rained so much that the path sometimes turned into a river, and hiking was more like rafting by feet. But the rain was warm and refreshing, so I didn't care, and even had a picnic in the pouring rain.

Skinny dipping in the waterfalls!
After that, I took bearing to the beautiful islands of Saintes, on the South from Guadeloupe. The weather in the lee of the island has been wonderful - all sailing here has been smooth and beautiful, with dark blue seas, light blue skies, sunshine, beautiful coast line, and light winds (and absolutely no waves). The winds do disappear sometimes, but it makes a very good occasion for some skinny-dipping behind the boat in the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

Bourg de Saintes (the capital of Iles de Saintes) is a very cozy small city. It's very pretty, very pleasant, and very, very French. The main street is lined with very nice restaurants, art galleries (seems like all Caribbean painters have moved here), and some souvenier shops. It reminds a lot about Southern France here, both the climate, the houses and churches, the green hills and so on. Everyone speaks French, all signs are in French, French flags everywhere. People go about carrying baguettes, there is a lot of French delicacies in the shops, and everything is priced in Euro (and the prices are very upscale French, too). There are quite a lot of tourists here, making a big difference towards Deshaies. It is however very pleasant despite the tourism.

The water here is unbelievably clear, and it makes for very beautiful bathing and snorkeing. An evening is best spent with a baguette, a bottle of French wine and some cheese, an inexpensive luxury.

I had seen two or three other Swedish boats in the same harbor, and got a visit from s/y Mazarin - a lovely couple who have sailed to here from Stockholm, with their little son on board. By now he's about one-and-a-half years old, it's hard to imagine how they manage the full-time jobs of being parents of a very active and curious little guy, while sailing along in a 27-foot boat!

Another unexpected encounter, but a bit different in size, was m/y Eclipse, the largest private yacht in the world at that time, belonging to Abramovich. It has a dance floor, jacuzzies, bullet-proof walls, missiles onboard, two helicopter landing pads (with full stowage so the helicopters cannot be seen – so nobody knows who’s at home and who’s visiting!), a submarine and much much more. 70 crew are required to make all this work. I have seen their dingies (almost larger than my boat), the security personnel and some crew, but not Roman himself, not as if I looked.

Soon to proceed to Dominica. At 20:30 in the evening, there will be Earth Hour, something that I support and always have been eager to celebrate. However, it's hard to find any contrast when on the boat... What should I do - turn off the anchor light? Hmm.