Hanging with Turtles in Guadeloupe

Anchor down in Guadeloupe on 15 Jan 2017 and it’s time for a refreshing dip before I head ashore for customs formalities. After shuttling between the very formal three offices, much paperwork, passport inspections, NZD 80.00 fees and one hour later for Antigua the French territories made a refreshing change. It took me longer to find the little gift shop with the customs computer terminal in than it took to complete the DIY one page simple entry that the gift shop staff print and sign and EUR 4.00 later we are all cleared in. Anxious to get an internet connection fix and with the promise their wifi covers the bay I paid an exorbitant EUR 12.00 for a very mediocre pina colada. Definitely spelled with lower case letters and quite a let down after the amazing one from the local’s beach bar in Antigua. Would have been cheaper to buy a local SIM… Deshaies it transpires is a rather cute but expensive tourist town.

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New game invented! Rock, paper, scissors and the loser has to jump in and line up to try again. Loving the separate aft deck.

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For the folks at home still in the conventional consumerist rat race land life, don’t worry, it’s not all sunshine and drinks on the aft deck. Sometimes we even get some rain. This one was another decent tropical downpour. Nice of it to rinse the boat off after the trade wind romp between islands.

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After enjoying the Mediterranean foods, the supermarkets and food on Antigua were pretty disappointing. In our eyes they were very American… You know, like, cheese comes only in two colours or out of a can. So it was great to be back in French territories and a raid was quickly organised to the local patisserie. YUM!

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After taking on all those calories it was time for a little walk. The guide book suggested a short hike to a lookout point over the bay so I persuaded the family it would be fun. After a short while it was realized that the French idea of a gentle stroll is somewhat more in advance of what we had in mind as hiking boots and walking sticks were better suited to the slippery rocky scramble than our jandals. Come on, it can’t be much further, let’s just go to the lookout before we turn around…

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The track deteriorated after this photo along with Shannon’s mood. Hikes in the bush are fun if you are prepared and not wearing blister causing inappropriate footwear while sweltering in the humidity climbing a mountain. Soon it was safer to carry on and do the loop track than to descend the steep slippery slope. To top it off the lookout was not just around the corner and when we finally got there it only had a disappointing narrow view over the outer bay. We could not even see our boat. Ah well. Kids were holding up well and enjoying it so on we go. Heading down the other side we were rewarded with a peek of the beach far below. We met a small party coming the other way who were kitted out with most of an adventure shop’s catalogue. They seemed somewhat surprised with our attire… Kiwi jandals can go anywhere mate.

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Finally we got down the mountain to the beach. The steep soft sand caused bonus aggravation points for Shannon as it abraded the new jandal blisters… Hmmm, I was starting to think this walk may not have been my smartest idea today. The waves were dumping heavily on the steep beach calling us to cool off and play in them. The kids not having been in waves like this before were keen to get straight into the water. They were not happy I made them walk further up the beach to a calmer spot while I explained that large dumping waves are likely on the rough side of playful. They were not completely convinced until they got into the area we picked as more forgiving. Great fun for two waves until a larger set came in and stripped off Boston’s expensive goggles while trashing him around ending his fun. Amelia and I continued to play as I carefully watched her. To really top off Shannon’s fun a squall came through and dumped a truck load of good old stinging rain drenching her and Boston as they tried to hide in the trees. After the squall we staggered to the end of the beach and the little tourist area. Recharged on fizzy sugar drinks we timed it perfectly to catch the next bus back over the hill to the boat. Phew, saved a few points there.

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Restorative tonics were needed at the end of that day as Chris competed with us for who had the most extreme hike story from the day. His river wading bush bash came a close second only as no kids were involved. Cheers Brother.

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A skip down the coast brought us to Pigeon Island and the stunning Cousteau National Park.

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This place is Amazing! Above the water it is just another nice bay with plenty of the usual tourist trappings; expensive cafes and trinket shops. Under the water it is something else. The islands off the bay have some of the best snorkelling we have seen.

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Heading back to Drakkar after the snorkelling mission.

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But the best part is the turtles right in amongst the boats, just chillin’ and grazing the weeds on the sea floor. They were so relaxed around people we could get quite close. We were all blown away.

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Just hangin’ with the turtles.

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This is where Chris left us to start his long trip back to NZ. It had been the longest time we had spent together since our childhood living at home. So good to share this with you my brother.

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Beautiful sunset after another day well seized with experiences to top off our cup of life.

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We met the great family off the cat Keltia and enjoyed hanging out with them for a few days. They suggested a bus ride down the coast a little to a hot spring outlet.

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The hot water river gushed down to the sea creating a strong current past the beach. We soaked in the sulphur loaded waters while the kids played for ages.

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We had a picnic lunch on the beach before the homeward journey.

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Waiting for the bus in the heat boys will be boys and plugged into electronics.

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This bay is a boaties paradise. Sheltered anchorage, good holding, tiny fishing harbour right in the carpark of the industrial area complete with large supermarket and self service laundromat. Simple things make us happy. One of our shopping trips found this large iguana basking in the sun. Compare it to the size of the dinghy on the other side of the creek! It escaped Amelia’s attentions by diving into the water and swimming away much to her dismay.

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Before heading south we had to introduce the Keltia crew to the joys of hammock life. It was pretty hard to get Nate back out of it.

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What’s a blog post without a sunset shot?

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Arg, the cruising life seems to be full of goodbye’s as we head off in different directions. We really enjoy meeting so many cool people and it makes it even better when our paths cross again. Looking forward to seeing you guys again Keltia crew.

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A little skip south brought is to the famous Iles Des Saintes.

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What a beautiful place this is. No wonder it is one of the iconic destinations. A better idea today to head up the hill early on a nice road rather than extreme jandal mission with uncertain outcome…

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Lookout point near the top of the climb with some of the beautiful view.

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But what are the kids more interested in? A very comfortable fluffy cat basking in the attention of the parade of tourists…

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Purpose of the climb was Fort Napoleon. Which surprised us how cool it was. Nicely restored piece of history in a superb location.

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The museum in the main fort kept us, and most importantly the kids interested for ages.

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The immaculate grounds held a wide collection of plants and some free range children.

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Choosing to follow the herd we wondered; What is everyone looking at?

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Why massive iguanas of course. Basking in the sun and regally ignoring the crowds of hovering tourists gawking at them.

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Pretty obvious why this is one of the places to go. Yes that is a nice view. Yes Drakkar is in there too of course.

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Kids Boat Spotted! It was great to meet the great family on Trismic as an afternoon introduction rolled into the evening.

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The Trismic crew suggested a snorkelling site just around the headland where we were anchored and we joined them there the following day. Eagle eyes Amelia spotted the 1m moray eel creeping amongst the rocks in less than 2m of water!

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Hey, let’s have another sunset photo. We do enjoy the quiet time at the end of the day in boat life where we can take stock and watch the sun slide under the horizon. Such a marked contrast to the hurly burley of land life dashing to get home and spend a few precious minutes with the family in the midst of the rat race.

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An early morning with sunrise over Dominica as we head south to meet our friends from New Zealand.

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Drakkar sure slips along nicely. Here we are in the channel between Guadeloupe and Dominica with 14.1kn true wind, 14.8kn apparent wind and boatspeed 8.5kn. Got to love sailing like this.

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Three countries in one day’s sailing as we skipped Dominica with her veil of clouds on our way to Martinique.

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5 thoughts on “Hanging with Turtles in Guadeloupe

  1. Hi All! Amelia did you manage to catch some wildlife for your cage and Boston, did you get your goggles back?? Lots of love, Nana xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  2. Yay Max and Fam ! Jandals rule ! ( most of the time. ) Amazing to see how confident the kids are at snorkeling now. And Jaques Cousteau Park . . .! ? Masses of madly Heavy rainstorms here . . .envy envy envy mutter mutter . . . Lots of love. Keep enjoying the mission. XXXX

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  3. a treasure to read – made even more inspirational than usual (if that is possible, which I doubt) as I am about to get into the traffic on a very wet raining evening where my phone tells me travel time is 68mins longer than usual – I know where I would rather be….. bring on the next blog!

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