Guadeloupe to Antigua
Terry/ Nicola Flinn
Thu 1 Mar 2007 18:23
Rather than sail all the way round Guadeloupe, we decided to take the very adventurous and challenging route along the River Salle, a shallow, mangrove lined canal which divides the 2 halves of the island. It is further complicated in that the 3 road bridges only open once each day at 5am when it is still dark. The night before, we anchored close to the first bridge, so that we could have a look at it in daylight and be in the best position. Next morning, we crept along, with barely enough water depth to keep us afloat, with Nicola using our big flashlight to illuminate the bridge piers and the river banks. As soon as we cleared the last bridge, we found a mooring buoy and went back to bed to wait for the dawn. We continued along the canal and then cautiously threaded our way between several picturesque, but dangerous reefs before finally reaching the safety of the open sea. En route, we caught a Spanish Mackerel, which with its fearsome teeth, looks very like a Wahoo, but again makes excellent eating.
We spent the next 2 nights in the very charming anchorage at Deshaies, which is a small town with a decent supermarket, some nice bars and restaurants and is very French. Terry was even able to watch France play Wales at rugby on the TV.
We spent most of the next day on an interesting but quite strenuous hike up the Deshaies River, where we followed the river from rock to rock, passing many a pretty pool until we reached a waterfall.
Next day, we had a wonderful sail to Montserrat, managing to catch another Spanish Mackerel as well as a tuna. Much of the island was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1995 and most of the south side of the island is surrounded by an exclusion zone. We noticed a plume of smoke coming from the crater and saw an outflow of ash which tumbled down the hillside into the sea.
Unfortunately, it was very windy and the seas were too rough to allow a safe landing ashore; we were both disappointed not to be able to explore the island and reluctantly, after a very uncomfortable night at anchor, we continued to Antigua. After 7 hours beating our way into wind, we arrived at the charming Nelson's Dockyard in English Bay Antigua.
The marina is the focal point of a National Park and most of the buildings have been restored; we cycled to the top of Shirley Heights, with it's look-out fort and stunning views of English and Falmouth Bays.
We took the opportunity to catch up with the laundry, e-mails, phone calls and shopping; Nicola even managed to get her hair cut and blow-dried.
We moved on to Nonsuch Bay on the easternmost tip of Antigua, where we spent two very peaceful days in the large, almost deserted, bay which is protected from the Atlantic swell by a coral reef. We both love Antigua and we will explore several more anchorages before moving on to Barbuda.