We were honored to host my French host father, Denis, for 5 days last week. I hadn’t seen Denis since our wedding in 2000, so it was a real treat to catch up. He’s a delightful conversationalist and easy guest, and we had a splendid time. I’ve forgotten my photos again, but luckily I have Denis’ on my computer, so you’ll actually see a photo or two of ME for a change!)
We met up in Deshais, a picturesque little town on the northwestern coast of Guadeloupe. Despite predictions for light winds, we hit sustained winds of 40 knots and gusts to 47 on our short trip – 9 miles – down to Pigeon Island, where there is a marine park established by Jacques Cousteau. Denis is an avid diver, so he took the opportunity to get a dive in while I went to the supermarche and stocked up on wine, baguettes and prosciutto (jambon cru) – all the essentials for a pique-nique on the boat. Denis and I snorkelled the afternoon away while Philip worked on his book; I’ve come to appreciate the crystal-clear waters chock full of sea life in St. John – the snorkelling was mediocre at best off Pigeon Island.
The next morning, we headed down to Basseterre, another harbor that promised a good hike, and spent the afternoon enjoying a strenuous jungle hike up the side of a mountain. Denis managed to pull down a bunch of bananas for me, but they were not yet ripe. (Damn. Just remembered that the one banana I took is still in the backpack that we stashed in the forecastle. Must. Remove. It. Soon. Before it ripens, at least.)
The next day, we had a long haul – 27 miles – up to Pointe a Pitre, the largest city on Guadeloupe. This was the day that the weather forecaster said would be the calmest in months, the day to try places you wouldn’t normally venture. We thought we might have to motor for lack of wind. We had to motor, all right – because we were facing 30 knots on the nose in heavy seas. For the first 4 hours, we made between 1.5 and 2 knots; we coulda WALKED faster. However, once we made it around the south end of the island and out of the nasty winds and currents one inevitably sees in rounding a Caribbean island, it calmed down a lot and we made up the time by motorsailing the rest of the way to Pointe a Pitre.
We spent the next two days on a mooring in Pointe a Pitre, repairing the various things that had inevitably broken on our bash up the coast (shit always breaks when we’re beating against heavy seas). Philip was, as usual, rather annoyed by the damage, but I have come to expect it by now!
Philip left yesterday morning to head back to the States for some residency bureaucratic stuff – I’m so jealous that he gets to hang out with our friends for the weekend! I am alone on the boat until Monday evening (thus, the mooring rather than anchoring). I’m such an extrovert that I tend to get a bit wiggy after about 12 hours alone, but I’ve been incredibly productive. I’ve finished most of our laundry, which, when you’re doing tiny loads in 5-gallon buckets, is quite a task; scrubbed the decks and rinsed off the stainless; made four plain white courtesy flags that I will paint for the countries we’re about to visit; tried to repair the propane solenoid (it crapped out after coffee – THANK GOD – but before breakfast – and ended up ripping it out; used a blow-torch to loosen the DAMN LOCKTITE on the new regulator I want to install; and watched about 10 episodes of The Gilmore Girls. That’s the past 24 hours. I’m very productive when alone. It’s the only way I stay sane! Next I plan to tackle finishing the dodger, doing our taxes, provisioning and about a bazillion other tasks.