Saturday, March 24, 2012


When we checked the charts we estimated that it would be a trip of eight hours, since we usually make 5 miles an hour on the average, power or sail. We set the course at the windward side of Montserrat, so we had to turn around the northern tip, a few miles of motoring against the wind, but getting a better angle to sail to Guadeloupe. After starting at 6:45 am, we were able to raise the sails in about an hour, but motor sailed for a while waiting for the trades to pick up. We reduced the engine speed gradually when the winds get stronger. After 11:00 am, we started to fly, making 7-8 knots at times. This time Al got a bit apprehensive, and reefed the sails, but we maintained the speed and reached Deshaies, Guadeloupe (pronounced De Aye, go figure) around 2:00 pm.

First thing to do is deal with Customs. In Guadeloupe it is like a story of the Turkish satirist Aziz Nesin, who makes fun of the Turkish bureaucracy. Finding the place took us half an hour, by asking a dozen people who did not and would not listen to two people who only spoke English. So I used my broken French, and we found the Douane office, only to find a sign on the door that the clearance of private yachts were done only in two places; Le Pelican, Des Haies; and Marina Riviere Sens, Basse-Terre. Le Pelican was a small shop selling a variety of clothes and souvenirs, as well as doing photocopies. Since Des Haies is actually French soil, we asked the lady in charge if the identical form we had filled in Marigot, St Martin could be found in the system, but that was unheard-of. She said filling out the form on the computer was very easy (if you spoke French). After some deliberation between us, and using common sense, we filled it. Could we pay the charge of 3.00 Euros in US dollars? No. It was a good thing that we had 5.00 Euros, from our escapades in Marigot. Actually in Marigot, it was stupid to use Euros, since all the establishments accepted US dollars at par! We got some money from the instant teller in Marigot once, and immediately changed it into US, not to be shafted 30% for the things we bought. We wrongly expected the same in Des Haies, Guadeloupe. Al asked if there was a bank or instant teller, and the nice owner directed us with a wave of hand to the Post Office. We found it after walking in circles for a while, but the machine was out of order. Who needs money? We had plenty of food for the night. We were frustrated and very tired from the whole trip, and ready to relax at Ruyam II.

Next morning, we motored to our next stop on the west coast of Guadeloupe, Pigeon Island, where Jack Cousteau’s Marine Park is located. Guide mentions some yellow mooring balls for yachts, and many white ones for day use by divers. When we got there, we saw one ball which was dangerously close to the shore where the waves were hitting the huge rocks on the shore, almost next to it. We turned around and anchored at the bay across the islands. At the shore we saw some bars, and many people having a good time at the beach. We swam to the beach, which was very close, and asked the bartenders if they accepted credit cards. Of course not, what we were thinking. They did not bother with talking to us, obviously we had no money. Oh well, another day at Ruyam II.

Third and last stop was Riviere Sens, Bass-Terre, where we had to clear out the boat, and get out of Guadeloupe. We anchored off of the marina and dinghied in. As the dinghy dock non-existent, somebody told us to tie our boat to the side, where the wall was made of stones, coming into the water with an incline. It is very easy to hit the fiberglass bottom of the dinghy, but I guess people use the stone as a ladder, to climb up to the boardwalk. The man waved us to one of the several buildings at the end of the marina for Customs, and told us to walk there, dinghies were not allowed there. We started our search, and after asking several people who knew nothing about it, one person told us that it was taken care of by a shop on the far end of the marina. We went all the way and back, and asked somebody, who at last told us that he was the guy we were looking for. He was working at the café next door and operating the small clothing store, as well as using his computer in the store to fill the forms. While dealing with it, he told us that the marina was under construction, and the manager in charge of the operation was a Canadian, who was getting the aluminum parts built in Canada and shipped there. As far as I could understand, the whole thing was to be completed in four months. Good luck to them. Since he was a nice guy (and accepted credit cards), we had lunch at his café. We also bought some necessities from a near-by grocery store, and went back to get ready for the next passage.

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