Exploring Les Saintes and Gwadloop

Tue 26 Mar 2013 17:10
16:13.322N 61:31.782W

Les Saintes is a lovely place to walk in. It's such a small Island that you can get all over it in a relatively short time and the views are worth the climb. Although there is plenty of bird life, from hummingbirds to pelicans, when one is walking through the scrub the rustle of leaves that would signal a bird foraging in the UK is more likely or than not an iguana. These ones were smaller and less tame than the ones in Tobago Cays, scurrying away at full speed when you approach, elbows high and to the side. If it's not iguanas, it'll be goats, who seem to be free range all over the place!


Having such a huge beak must be great for scooping up fish but certainly doesn't do the pelican any favours when he's trying to groom himself. This one seemed to be tying himself in knots.


No chance of reaching himself under the chin though, a foot will have to do. The final result, if a bit fluffy, looked pretty good.


We sailed up to Guadeloupe to replace our engine start batteries, which meant going in to the marina for a few days. This is the first place we've been to with unmetered water since crossing the Atlantic so we've done major deck and cockpit scrubbing, washed  five huge buckets of ropes and done six loads (and counting) of washing. Quite apart from the water supply, it's a really pleasant marina. Although it's very large, the majority of boats belong to locals and visitors are all on one pontoon. This makes for a friendly, companionable atmosphere. We're right at the end of the pontoon, which means we get to greet everyone as we go past, it also means unwanted visitors are less likely to come to us. By this I mean people - our neighbour woke to find a man peering down the hatch at him, rats, evident by the holes around the marina building on land, and cockroaches. Due to extreme vigilance (for example banning cardboard in which they lay their eggs, and washing muddy vegetables before they come aboard - poor Steve and Phil! ), and in part to extreme paranoia by me,  we have managed to keep these unwelcome little six legged beasts away so far, except for just one, in the Cape Verdes, who appeared on the chart table. I was talking on the phone to my Mum at the time and conducted a one woman campaign against the blighter whilst still carrying on the conversation. Mum complained of rustling. I sprayed him with bug spray, which he ignored, then left toxic 'goo' inside the chart table for him to eat and die! He evidently did. Other boats haven't been so lucky and I've heard tales of constant warfare with the little blighters. My worst worry was being two days into the crossingTHEN finding we had stowaways, with nothing on board to fight with, and just watching them multiply for two weeks. With this in mind Phil and I set out to buy boric acid in the Cape Verdes. Apparently you mix it with condensed milk and they eat it and die. Cape Verdeans speak  Portuguese and we didn't know what the Portuguese was for boric acid, but, undeterred and in his usual confident fashion Phil walked into the chemist and requested "Borico Acido", which, it turned out, was exactly what was written on the packet! How ever the stick-an-o-on-the-end system for Portuguese only gets you so far, we didn't know how to ask for how many hundred grams and the best we could ask for was half a kilo so we now have enough boric acid on board to kill an army of cockroaches. A better approach would be to have a pet lizard to eat them, but lizards are hard to catch. I did catch the cutest little one, about two centimetres long, including the tail, with beautiful markings on him, but when he made a bid for freedom by running up my arm I squealed and shook him off, so the project was abandoned.


All around the marina are chandlers, marine work shops, tourist gift shops, cafes and restaurants, each with a different theme, trying to outshine each other. It most certainly doesn't feel like the Caribbean, but we got out our Bromptons and headed off to explore, as we do, and soon found the Caribbean, cheek by jowl with the French en vacances. The colourful self built homes, with red tin roofs are there, the fish markets with huge fish being chopped up whilst a ring of people watch, are there. The little bars with music blaring, where you are shaken by the hand and greeted and asked all about yourself when you go in for some juice to drink, are there. The families on the beach: mums with hats sitting in the shallows keeping cool; courting couples playing, the girls squealing; young men showing off with handsprings; little girls with plastic watering cans and little boys jumping off the pier are there. But alongside all this are middle aged French on sunbeds under fake palm trees staying in hotels or apartments.

It's also been lovely seeing and hearing more land birds. There's a Carribean Martin that comes and trills his song at us in the mornings, sitting in the rigging. We've seen more humming birds, those little yellow birds we saw in Tobago Cays (they're called Bananaquits! ), Kingbirds and a flock of smooth billed Ani - a type of cuckoo. Shore birds are plentiful too: four or five types of heron or bitterns as well as turnstones and oystercatchers. Oysters don't take much catching by the way, they just sit there and get eaten.

It's been fun but I'll be glad to get back on anchor. There are those black birds here too, you know the ones, we found out the 'proper' name for them: Carib Grackles! But here, instead of "Bequia is Sweet Sweet!" he sings a different song: "More sweet in Be-quia! More sweet in Be-quia!"