We set sail for Guadeloupe on Wednesday morning, Nov 29 – fabulous winds that were forecast to die out over the next few days. A beautiful beam reach south, a few squally bits as we approached the coast, and into the welcoming harbour of Deshaies (Dey-hey). It’s a deep anchorage, and requires some tricky maneuvering to have sufficient scope for holding, yet enough space around the other boats – especially since the swirling winds funnel into the harbour from the surrounding mountains. We anchored near our friends on BALOO, and were followed in by another Outbound TOODLE-OO, also arriving from Antigua.
Safely set, we lowered the dinghy and headed into town to clear customs & immigration into Guadeloupe. In contrast to the formal, uniformed agents at the Antigua offices, the French islands typically subcontract this service, and in Deshaies you check into the country at Le Pelican Boutique – after the shopkeeper moves the piles of sundresses and bikinis from the self-serve customs & immigration computer. You simply fill in the information about vessel and crew, she prints the form, stamps it, and collects 4 Euro – easy! Afterwards, we have our “traditional” celebration at L’Amer Bar – Ti (short for “Petite”) punch and the amazing fish sampler at a waterfront table overlooking Kinetic and the setting sun.
The following morning we set off with Laurie and Bill of TOODLE-OO to explore the Jardin Botanique. The botanical garden is about a mile’s uphill walk from the dinghy dock, and definitely worth the climb. It’s one of the best botanical gardens we’ve ever seen, in a beautifully landscaped cliffside setting overlooking the Caribbean Sea. In addition to the wide variety of Caribbean trees, flowers and herbs, we enjoyed the aviary, flamingos, and goat pen!
After a morning in the Jardin, we spent the afternoon provisioning the boat with French delicacies, snorkeling along the harbour’s cliff walls, and enjoying happy hours with our cruising friends.