Pointe a Pitre, Guadaloupe - 1st time around

Thu 27 Jan 2011 02:39
Some interesting facts about Guadeloupe
Columbus discovered the island in November 1493 and named it after a Spanish monastery, Our Lady of Guadalupa de Estramadura
Guadeloupe was taken over from  the French by the English in 1759 and fought over for many years. It was eventually returned to the French, which has maintained sovereignty over it since 1816.
Napoleon Bonaparte re-instituted slavery in 1802, which was eventually abolished in 1848, following a campaign led by French politician Victor Schoelcher
Guadeloupe has had representation in the French parliament since 1946
Heavily dependent upon subsidies from the French government and upon its economic ties with mainland France, which absorbs the majority of Guadeloupe’s exports and provides 75% of its imports
Tourism is the island’s economic mainstay, but there is still a high demand for bananas and sugar.
Hurricane Dean barrelled through the Caribbean in Aug. 2007, destroying 80% of Guadeloupe’s banana planation
Bilharzia can be caught if swimming or wading through fresh water.
Dengue fever (from some type of mosquito bites), has led to outbreaks and some deaths on the island
The 24 nm beat up from Les Saintes up to Pointe a Pitre was in strong, gusty winds (28 knots) and once we were safely anchored, I went below and noticed everything in the forepeak was wet.  On closer inspection, sea water appeared to be coming through the forward hatch and had drained into the bilge where we keep the parachute anchor rode (100m length of rope) and other bits and pieces. Not good news!  The Lonely Plant guide suggests that Pointe a Pitre (which takes its name form a Dutchman called Peter, hence Peter’s point) doesn’t rank very high on an island must-see list and those who miss it haven’t missed much.  I would agree with this, but we did manage to find some places of interest including the Schoelcher museum, the harbour side market and an excellent frozen food shop, called ECOGEL.  However we were primarily here to order spare parts for Nimue.  Both the transducer for the forward looking sonar (it detects what’s in front of you coming up from the sea bed) and the control panel for bow thruster had failed almost simultaneously.    We spent the majority of time in the careenage anchorage just outside the Bas du Fort marina entrance, but we did end up stopping a couple of nights in the marina to sort out one or two jobs and to wash the salt off the 100m parachute rode.


Arriving in Pointe a Pitre anchorage


The route in for all commercial traffic and docking facilities opposite the anchorage


One of the starboard hand marks entering Pointe a Pitre – yes starboard


Both pictures (above & below) show boats sunk after hitting an obscured reef




Michael preparing to launch Merlin (our dinghy)


Books drying out due to leaky fore hatch


What a lovely sunset


See how close the yachts are anchored close to the main channel.  Reef breaking in the distance


A cruise ship passes close by


And a tanker....  yet another dismal day!


A few days in the marina. Nimue was docked on this quay


The market building in Pointe a Pitre


Fish and vegetable market stall in the shabby looking harbour


An array of fish and shellfish (lobster selling at 25 euros per kilo. Not bad)


Headless again!!


Conch for sale?


Vegetable market (above & below).  A good selection



Sunny one moment


Pouring down the next – a usual occurrence in Guadeloupe as the high hills and volcano attract the rain clouds
We encountered the usual problems with delivery of the parts we ordered for Nimue, but did end up after several e-mails and SKYPE conversations later receiving a full refund of US$ 120 from FEDEX for the very late delivery of the bow thruster control panel.  We paid for a 1-3 day delivery, which eventually turned up 10 days later! 
Anyway, Michael did an excellent job fitting the new parts and as soon as he had done a quick dive under Nimue to check the fitting was good, eventually after 17 days we headed back south to Les Saintes for the Cruising Association Party.