44' Luxury Catamaran Mustang Sally

Doug, Wendy and Mustang Sally cruise the Virgin Islands. Follow along on their adventures meeting funky local characters and visiting hot spots and hidden treasures with links to our favorites websites and additional interesting information.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ANTIGUA TO ILES DES SAINTES










































The Start of the Windwards

April 25, 2008 Antigua – May 18, 2008 Iles Des Saintes

Ron and Ally had left the previous day and we were sailing the west side of Antigua headed back to the south end but not before we visited a couple of spots along the way. Antigua is incredible in that every time we sailed around another point there would be another amazing expanse of white sand. Antigua has more beautiful beaches than any other island we have been to so far. In fact, the guide book tells us that there are 360 beaches to explore! Believe me, if hurricane season wasn’t coming we would have stayed the next year and investigated every single one. Maybe next time around…..
We planned on anchoring a couple of nites at Fort James (which is very close to St. John’s, the capital of Antigua) as this was where the big, world famous and expensive race boats and anyone else who wished to race in the Antigua Race Week (not to be confused with last logs Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta) would end their first nite of racing in the “Race ‘Round the Island”. There would be a huge beach party with live entertainment and we planned on being a part of the action. The first 2 nites we were anchored at Fort James there wasn’t another boat around but the afternoon of the first race, we could see hundreds of boats approaching the anchorage. Lo and behold, we were in the middle of the action as all of the race boats anchored around us and the fun and games started.
We had decided that we were going to enjoy the party as well, so we dinghyed in to the party on the beach and enjoyed a couple of rum drinks and some great music. Everyone was feeling the music and the rum and there was lots of dancing and carrying on. After a while we decided to get something to eat and we had both agreed on “local” food. We wanted to really experience what the locals ate and so we chose a little hut far away from the beautiful restaurants. We could tell it was popular among the locals as they were all lounging about gossiping and drinking the local beer, Wadadli. We reviewed the menu and after a few shudders (yech!), more rum and a few giggles we ordered goat water (goat stew) and pig’s tail (pretty self explanatory). We waited in anticipation for our gastronomic delights to arrive….we were psyched up. When the food came the goat water was a very rich, dark brown with chunks of suspicious looking meat floating about. The pig’s tail looked just like a pig’s tail should but smothered in BBQ sauce, but the bones in the tail moved about much like one of those wooden snakes that wiggles when you move it. Doug felt like Indiana Jones, or something like that, and charged ahead with spoon in hand. We both tried the”goat water” and declared it acceptable but very rich tasting, until that is Doug discovered another kind of meat as well as the goat. We couldn’t figure out what the other meat was….we had seen a few rats around….hmmmm. I lost my nerve when it came to the pig tail….I couldn’t do it. Doug persevered and dug in, shortly after tho’ he couldn’t eat any more of the pig tail. It was grossing him out too much. Needless to say, another wonderful adventure that ended with Doug not feeling so well (really?) and we went back to the cat much earlier than planned.
During all of this adventure and exploration the last couple of months, we had watched as one of our little dogs, Willis, deteriorated. We both knew what was coming but I procrastinated as long as possible, as my little guy, and his brother Rollie, had been with me for 16 years thru thick and thin. I could not imagine not having him in my life anymore. But he got rapidly worse and I could not deny it any longer. It was a very tough time but we felt that he was suffering and so we went to see a very compassionate vet and that afternoon we came back to the boat without our Willis.
That same very tough afternoon we made flight arrangements for me to fly home to Canada. While everything else was going on we had also decided after emailing back and forth with my Mom that it was time for me to come home and visit with my Dad who is ill. I flew out 1 day later to Canada to spend a week with my Dad and my Mom. I also got to get together with my girlfriends one nite and got caught up with my girl gang and strangely enough a firetruck showed up with some firefighters. Hmmm....That was awesome! It was a wonderful week seeing my Dad and my Mom that went far too fast and although I missed Doug I wish I could have stayed longer and hung out with my Pops more.
I flew back to Antigua in time for a couple of days of much needed rest before we sailed further south to Guadeloupe. Coming back, I could see that Falmouth Harbour, which was jam packed with boats when I left, was now empty, with only 1-2 boats other than Mustang Sally. Everyone was making the trek south to get out of the dreaded hurricane zone and we were slightly behind schedule. I also noticed that the boat was a lot quieter now that my little Willis was gone and I couldn’t imagine leaving Antigua without him. It was very hard.
Three days after I got back from home we sailed to Guadeloupe, the next island south of Antigua. Guadeloupe is actually comprised of two massive islands, Basse-Terre and Grand Terre which are joined by an isthmus, so the island from the sky resembles a butterfly, I am told. Guadeloupe is dominated by mountain ranges which are inactive volcanoes, most notably La Soufriere. We enjoyed a lovely sail, close hulled at first with winds blowing 12-15 knots. Mustang Sally was averaging 7.5-8 knots but then the winds died and the seas were relatively flat and it was scorching hot. We landed in Deshais (Day-hay), which is on the northwestern coast of the island. Doug washed the cat off with our new wash down hose using the fresh water from our newly installed water maker. How wonderful to be able to wash all of the salt off your boat after a wet sail. We had never been able to do this before and we were both pleased as this meant no more salt water getting inside the cat and also that Doug could rinse off the stainless steel on the deck to prevent rusting from the corrosive salt.
We both enjoyed a swim and dinghyed to shore to check in with French customs, which was a very fast, simple and pleasant experience. We walked around the lovely little French town but unfortunately, all of the restaurants and boutiques were closed. We are pretty accustomed to the French way by now, of closing thru out most of the afternoon but this was 5 p.m. and everything should have been open. Must have been a holiday. Too bad for us as it meant no French wine or baguette at a little café so we went back to the cat and enjoyed a big BBQ steak dinner with our own wine to celebrate our arrival in Gaudeloupe. Poor us…..
The next morning we awoke to the sounds of lots of beautiful birds singing and chirping. For some reason there are hardly any birds in the northeastern Caribbean (probably a shortage of fresh water as the eastern Caribbean is very arid) and I had been told that the further south that we went we would see and hear a lot more birds. I had really missed the sound of the birds and was happy to hear them sing again. I decided to go for run to stretch my legs and enjoyed the small town of Deshais with lots of colourful flowers and pretty, well kept, pastel coloured houses. I said “Bonjour” to everyone I passed and received a pleasant greeting back….huh…imagine…. French people actually being nice. I knew it couldn’t last for long so as soon as I got back to the cat we lifted anchor and slowly motored down the western coast. I enjoyed one of the best seats in the house, the port bow seat. I stared into the water which was so flat and calm I could see the rays of the sun slanting thru the water many feet down.
We had noticed in Antigua and even more so here in Guadeloupe, the proliferation of palm trees. Yes, there were palm trees in the Virgin Islands and in St Martin, but not like this. This is what we had always imagined the Caribbean to look like. We learned from other cruisers that the further south we travelled it would become even more lush, particularly Dominica (Dom-a-NEEK-ah), which was the next island after Guadeloupe and Iles des Saintes.
The next day we continued to motor close to the western coast of Guadeloupe taking our time and enjoying the scenery. We took a mooring ball in Basseterre for the nite readying for our next day’s sail to Iles Des Saintes. The sailing between islands was like a dream come true. The longest trip between any of the Windward Islands was 35 miles, which is a half sail for Mustang Sally. The sailing is the best too, sailing beam reach or broad reach all the way. No complaints here!
The sail to Iles des Saintes was leisurely and we anchored in the bay of the beautiful fishing village. It was very hot with little wind as we explored the pretty village and I got to practice my French, which although was not great, was good enough that the locals could understand me fairly well. After walking thru the lovely village we headed back to the cat for a cooling swim, nap and then a sundowner.
The next day we hiked up to Fort Napoleon. This fort was spectacular. Probably the best reconstructed and cared for fort we had ever seen. The hike was a steep walk thru the outskirts of the village and we enjoyed the gorgeous foliage… wild hibiscus, flamboyance, heliconia, etc. At the fort they had collected whalebones from a whale that had been found on one of the beaches a few years back. Apparently, the whale had been struck by a boat and come to the beach to die. Also, we learned that the French don’t think much of Christopher Columbus, I would even go so far as to say that they are anti-Columbus. One quote from one of the historical documents at the fort said that the best thing Columbus ever did was to sail back to Spain. Hmmm? Where do these people think they would be if it wasn’t for Columbus? Certainly not on that beautiful island in the Caribbean!
We had considered having dinner out at one of the French restaurants but the Euro is excessively expensive so we decided to ixne that idea and moved the cat to Pain de Sucre, which is a mini piton at 200 feet high. We had a lovely dinner aboard. We woke the next morning to a gentle breeze on our faces, and the sound of the surf on the beach. Not a bad start to a day I’d say. We kayaked, explored in the dinghy and swam. Doug also spent time hunting for lobster, but he was unsuccessful and, we had to have something besides lobster for dinner. I had gone for a hike that morning and discovered a lovely beach and while I was there very dressed up people on scooters started to arrive. On one of the scooters was an older woman, who I assume was the mother, and on the seat behind her, hanging on, was a young woman in a short white satin dress with a white veil. How kewl! Wedding on the beach and so simple. They had a BBQ planned for after as well.
We were checking out the next morning and to make tracks for Dominica. Can’t wait.
Til next time, fair winds…..