St Lucia to Guadeloupe (Deshaies) - Whales, Volcanoes and French cheese & pate

Imagine Of Falmouth Online Log
Jon Constantine
Sat 20 Dec 2008 12:15
Fri 19th Dec 08 & Sat 20th Dec 08

So, here we go, the first leg of our voyage.  It's roughly 140 miles to Deshaies so after doing the nav calculations we figured on it taking us just under 30 hours if we average 5 knots boat speed.  If we leave at 8am we should arrive around 2pm the following day.  This still gives us about 4 hours in the bag if we do end up going a little slower.  We've been to Deshaies before and know that there are a lot of fish/lobster pots in the entrance to the small bay and we really don't want to try to navigate through them in the dark.

We got up early, had breakfast, made some sarnies for later and then left the anchorage at 8.15am with one reef in the main and headsail and the fishing rod out.  Will our luck hold?  Winds are NNE 17 to 21 knots with gusts up to 23.  A partial moon is still up.  Seas are big and very confused.  We set off at a good pace with a boat speed of 6 to 7 knots just off the wind.  After a couple of hours the wind started to drop so we shook out all the reefs but just before 12 noon it dropped completely so on went the engine.  Flukey winds again as now in the lee of Martinique so the engine went on and off a few times.  Suddenly the fishing reel started whizzing.  Could it be?  Nope.  False alarm.  Just a large piece of Sargassum weed!

At just after 4pm motor-sailing along the coast of Martinique I spotted spouting water.  Seemed odd.  Too high for sea spray. As we got closer we saw a dorsal fin and then another and then the backs of two huge whales slowly emerged before slipping silently below the surface again!  Fantastic.  Our first sighting.  We think they were Pilot whales. It took a few minutes for them to pass alongside and then they were gone.  I took a photo but didn't get the camera out quickly enough and the pic I took doesn't do them justice.  Took a short video as well and although a bit wobbly with the boat movement you can see them quite clearly.  Will have to suss out how to upload to You Tube.  The camera stays in the cockpit from now on! 

              Get your magnifying glasses out - they are there if you look closely!

It was a good uneventful nightsail after that along the coast of Dominica.  We had an early dinner and took turns on watch through the night and spotted The Saintes at first light.  Shame we're not stopping as these islands are lovely.  I think we may take my folks there next month.  We found a dead flying fish in the scuppers but no success with the fishing rod.

Once past The Saintes we had good winds and a great sail up the coast of Guadeloupe before losing it yet again a couple of hours away from Deshaies.  It picked up again big time just at the entrance to the bay so we had to quickly dropped the main to get in control of the boat to motor in safely.

          Just over an hour from Deshaies before the winds hit us at the entrance!

Before turning into the bay we could see Montserrat ahead of us in the distance looking particularly active!  It definitely looks like smoke coming from the volcano and not just cloud cover.  We've read that the volcano resumed activity in 1995 and now often throws up tons of ash.

                           Volcano on Montserrat looking a bit active to us!

A lot more pots here in Deshaies than we remembered from last time with some half submerged and difficult to spot.  I stood on the bow and directed us in slowly.  We dropped the anchor at 12.15 just in time for lunch, very windswept and tired having travelled 143 miles in 28 hours, but happy to have arrived in one piece.  After the obligatory arrival beer, lunch and a quick swim we went ashore.  We didn't bother with clearance as customs was closed but we stocked up on a few essentials at the supermarket - French cheeses, pate and wine - our last minute Christmas shopping!! 

Leg 2 tomorrow and an early start so no late night for us, just dinner, a glass of wine and early to bed...