Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pigeon Island & Deshaies, Still in Guadelope

 Friday, December 30, 2011
Departing The Saintes
Pulling out of Les Saintes in mid morning, we made our way to Pigeon Island, off the northwestern coast of Guadeloupe.  No mooring balls were available at the Jacques Cousteau Natl Park that would have enabled us to hook up & just jump overboard to snorkel.  Dropping the anchor across the way, off the mainland shore, at what is known officially as “Pigeon Island Anchorage”, we settled in for a few moments until the rolling began.  We should have left, but didn’t.  Another mostly sleepless night, being tossed about, holding on to the sides of the mattress and listening to everything on the boat bang about. 

Unable to lower the dingy due to the roll, I tried to make myself happy, missing the snorkeling over at the Park, by scrubbing the waterline and parts of the hull.  Ugh.  Fish feeding frenzy -- soooo much green stuff, like long whiskers and then the red and white barnacles all along the hull.  What seemed like hundreds of fish hung out all around me, sniffing and eating the stuff I scraped off.  I was always hoping that those fish didn’t entice a BIG one!  Turtles abound here at this anchorage - more than I ever saw at Tobago Cay and that’s a turtle preserve! 
Yachts getting bigger and bigger!
Funny, on one side of us is a private $100 Milllion ++yacht and on the other side of us must be a $100 dollar sailboat, obviously homemade.  I watched the guy, who is single handing this boat, hop out of the cockpit and throw a long line overboard that had a weight on it.  He is using a rope to measure how deep the water is in order to figure out where and how to drop his anchor.  Later, we noticed him moving about his boat with a flashlight....no power; no wind generator, we see no lights of any kind, including nav lights nor anchor light.  Minimal equipment aboard for sure!!
So many turtles  everywhere I looked!
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Coming into Deshaies anchorage
My escargot, right out of the oven
New Year’s Eve was quiet for us - so THAT’s not much different from being home, lying on the rug, sipping wine and watching the NYC ball drop......if we make it that late. 

We pulled out of Pigeon Island in the late morning of the 31st, tired of the rocking and rolling there, making our way a few hours northward to Deshaies (Day Hay).  Dropping the anchor and the dingy quickly, we set off to explore this tiny town of two streets, about 3 blocks long each and while doing so, met another American couple, Steve and Cathy.  Four makes a party, so later than evening we celebrated New Year’s Eve aboard Finally Fun (that big aft deck again usually makes us the Host Boat!).  In celebration of the big evening IN a French town, I made escargot, dripping with butter and garlic to go with the cheese and crackers and the toasty French bread to sop up the sauce.  Fingers greasy, we tried to hold onto our wine glasses as the wind and current rocked us about, sliding our food and drink back and forth across the table.  

Sharon,  Cathy & Steve headed off to snorkel at that point behind us.
Our party over about 9:30, Andy and I woke up at midnight to the sound of puny firecrackers sputtering over the town and boaters blowing conch horns from their cockpits.  Didn’t miss the NYC ball dropping a bit.
What IS this face in downtown Deshaies
We’re stuck here for nearly a week due to weather -- high Christmas winds and high seas are ripping through -- so we are catching up on boat chores & wandering the town periodically to stretch our legs.  

The wind howls continuously down the mountain through a vent in the mountains above, keeping us swinging on the hook.  When the boat turns a bit sideways, the wind rushes into the boat through the side doors, blowing everything around -- book pages flutter with a flapping sound, anything not weighted down or with some weight of its own, flies across the cabin.   Every day it rains in squalls for a short period, forcing us to shut our cabin doors and mop up, then it clears.  Fifteen minutes later, the process starts over.   Gives me something to do....... 
Finally Fun off in the distance

This guy look like he is guarding the dingy dock!
With the Christmas winds upon us now, there is NO good day....it is ‘honking’ here, creating Drama.  Often too much Drama.   Gale force winds ripped through our anchorage the other night, starting about 10 PM.   At 11PM, sailors were still coming in from the pounding seas - to the now overcrowded anchorage. My bitch wings wouldn’t show up in the dark so I didn’t even try and besides, the sailors were desperate to find a spot to drop the hook.  It was frightening as several boats were way tooo close to us before it was over, but there was no good place left for anyone to drop the hook.   Boats were swinging wildly, and anchors dragging in the pitch black night as clouds covered the moon and stars.  One sailboat slid silently right past us, not five feet off our side, with the crew oblivious below.  I could have reached out and touched someone!  Andy sprang into action, waking the dead with our horn and finally roused those sailors.  Gaining control of their boat, they re-anchored with no harm done.  Another sailboat came in about midnight, with absolutely ‘no room at the inn’.  Zipping past us - why on earth would one come blind into a crowded anchorage so FAST???  Perhaps the wind was pushing them?  These Americans screamed at us through the howling wind as they zipped past our hull, “Get us some light...Turn on your spotlight”, which we promptly did, playing our light in the pitch black over all the boats at anchor in their path.  Four tries later, they finally hooked the bottom and settled in.  They were gone when we woke up early the next morning.  The winds suddenly stopped at 1:00 am and the half moon and the stars popped out...We hit the bed, asleep in moments. 
Andy enjoying lunch off the boat
Great meal of grilled whole snapper sitting over the water

Wine is sold in 1/4 bottles & small glasses

We are trying to make headway up the island chain, but are losing a lot of time now due to the weather and Christmas winds.  By about 8 PM tonight, the wild winds ceased.  The little harbor is now flat, with narry a ripple!  No breeze at all.   What a difference!   We plan to depart in the AM (Wednesday, Jan. 3) for Antigua, about 5 hours away.  We expect 6 foot waves but 10 seconds apart.  Hopefully, if that holds we won’t pound ourselves to death.  We shall see!


  1. Love the bitch wings comment! Hilarious!

  2. Sharon, thanks for the info on Deshaies. We're planning to head there tomorrow (June 7) to wait out some relatively big winds (20-30 kts). It's a quieter time of year, with fewer boats everywhere. Still, I'm wondering if that's the best spot. What's the holding like? You mention a lot of dragging, but with a well-caught anchor (or two) and plenty of chain is this a big enough fear to stay away in such conditions?

    1. Paul, sorry for the delay in response. Got this a few days ago but were in NC mountains without wifi or cell service. This may be moot by now....but those anchorages are fine. You are not dealing with those tremendous Christmas winds this time of year. We generally put out 5-7' of scope (all chain) with our rocnar anchor and we never drug anywhere. Once in a while we'd put out more scope if expecting a blow, but only if we weren't in a crowded anchorage. Enjoy!!!