Les Saintes for Christmas

 

 

From Pointe à Pitre, we had a short 5 hour sail on a single tack to the beautiful islands of Les Saintes. We were relieved to be leaving the hot and busy marina and setting out for some peaceful and quiet stays on anchor and on buoys.Part of the Guadaloupe archipelago, Les Saintes has a main island and several smaller islets. We took a buoy in the bay below Fort Napoleon, in front of the charming seaside village of Terre de Haut. No doubt about it, this is the Caribbean! You can see it, feel it, and hear it!

2 coffees and a bottle of water for 12€! Ouch!

The small bay front village is lined with colorful, painted wood houses, some restored, but many of them badly in need of some TLC. There’s a lovely old church in the local style, and plenty of (very expensive!!) places to eat and drink, as well as a decent hardware store, a couple of grocery stores, a dive club and a bakery.

 

Notre Dame de l’Assomption

 

This beautiful little watercolor shows Pain se Sucre hill on the Anse Mire bay. It was done by local artist Alain Joyeux and was originally painted for the chef of a nearby restaurant. But Peter saw it and wanted to offer it to me for Christmas, so he went and bought it off the chef! Very pretty!

Here we are enjoying a beer at one of the local restaurants, Couleurs du Monde. It’s a very cute and colorful café, but as with all the other eateries, really expensive. So we stuck to the beer!

 

 

 

 

 

 
As eating out was pricey, we were happy to discover a butcher and fine food shop called Robbe Steak, where they sell wonderful meats, including locally made sausages (some of the best either of us have ever eaten) and boudin noir, but also steak, cheeses, wines… The owners are an adorable and very hard working couple. Definitely worth stopping by!

Robbe Steack

 

 

 

 

Unexpectedly, our friends Juan and Carole Zulueta were here for Christmas too, so they invited us on board to share a Christmas meal with them. Homemade duck confit from wild ducks Juan bagged himself were the star of the show. Their

Christmas on Ophelie X with Carole, Josiane, Juan and Patrick

friends Patrick and Josianne were staying with them, so the 6 of us waited for Santa together, with foie gras, smoked salmon, champagne and all the typical French Christmas fixings!Juan, in addition to being a really sweet guy, is also a scuba instructor, and he offered to take me for my first dive on Christmas day at the Lynndy shipwreck site. How could I refuse? I’d been wanting to do it, and this was a terrific occasion.

Juan picked us up in his dinghy with all the equipment, and took us to the site of a shipwrecked ferry, only a couple hundred of meters from us in the bay.He gave me a talk on the basics, and gave Peter a lot of useful pointers, too, notably on how to avoid having problems with his ears, and how to put on his equipment in the water. Juan took me by the hand and we went a meter or two down. I got a little panicky – I’ve never been comfortable under the water more than a few feet, and I wanted to surface. I was ready to give up and thought this just was not for me. We came back up, and Juan talked me through it, reassured me… and then we went back down, and down and down, about 15 meters, to visit the shipwreck.

The site was full of lively, colorful, fascinating life (here’s someone’s youtube video of their dive at the Lynndy Shipwreck! While I didn’t love the sensation of diving, being able to see this underwater fauna and flora was mind blowing! It was a very emotional experience, and I am so lucky to have done my first dive in these conditions, holding Juan’s hand like a little kid! I can’t thank him enough for such a lovely Christmas gift! Peter really enjoyed the dive and kept disappearing in and out of the wreck. We had to be careful not to rub up against fire coral which can give you a nasty burn. There were surely some lobbies or langoustes hiding away in the abandoned passenger cabin but they stayed well hidden. Unfortunately no photos or videos of the dive so we must look into acquiring a waterproof GoPro (or equivalent) camera for future dives.

Ophelie X sailing out of the bay

Juan and Carole left today to return to Pointe à Pitre, as their friends Patrick and Josiane are flying back to France, and other friends are arriving. This is Ophelie X (an Abel Super Maramu 42) motoring off into the middle distance! We will probably cross paths again in Marie Galante next week.

Club Med 2

Cruise ships come regularly to this harbor, and this morning brought the arrival of the Club Med 2. It’s a pretty stunning ship with it’s 5 masts. Would love to see it under full sail. We did some shopping and then stopped at the Café de la Marine for refreshment (ie. ice cold beer). There were families presumably from the Club Med boat and they did not look like they were happy campers. Considering aweeks very basic cruise holiday on the Club Med at this time of year costs about €2000 a pop they should’ve been having a ball. We had a certain feeling of schadenfreude. Is that mean of us ?

In the same vain of fabulous ships, the one on the left is EOS, and it belongs to Diane Von Furstenberg’s husband, Bill Diller, founder of Fox broadcasting. Unlike some of the multi-million dollar yachts, this one is truly beautiful. It is a 3 masted schooner with gorgeous lines and lots of wood, shined to a high sheen! It is services by no fewer than 3 runabouts, including two vintage wood and fiberglass motorboats. It can host 16 guests, and was built for only 200,000,000$. It’s up for sale now, and I’m sure Bill would give you a good price on it, he seems like a nice enough fellow!

Sara resuscitated this old string and metal crab/lobster pot that we bought in Nazareth (Portugal) months ago for €5. Right now it’s 20 meters under Opsimath on the sea floor baited with a piece of rotting chicken neck Sara’s kept for the occasion. We’ll see what happens tomorrow morning. (Update: Sorry to report, no crabs, no lobsters. Our hunter/gatherer talents have yet to reveal themselves. But we’re keeping up the faith!)

We stayed on the island for over a week, and so we really had time to visit. We saw fort Napoleon, and this is the view of the bay from above, with Opsimath in the foreground.

Perhaps even cooler, we walked over to the Anse de Pompierre, which is a natural reserve, no boats allowed. It’s one of these incredibly beautiful palm tree-lined beaches in a cove that was surely once full of thriving coral. Sadly the coral reef is now a sad reflection of what it probably once was, but the beach itself is gorgeous!

One of the really funny things about the island is the chicken population! They are EVERYWHERE! In the photo below, you’ll see a group trying to have a picnic on Pompierre beach… But instead of sea gulls or pigeons, they are surrounded by chickens and roosters, fighting for every crumb. The sultry is everywhere, and you hear cocks crowing 24 hours a day. They must be semi-wild and certainly see healthy and happy!

We did splurge on one meal while we were here, on our way back from Pompierre beach, in this very cute restaurant, Les Douceurs de l’Ile. We both knew as soon as we saw Cabri on the menu that this would be a necessary treat! We did not regret it. The meal was delicious and the chef and waiter charming. The island is also home to a thriving goat population, but it’s hard to find cabri for sale. Yummy!We did splurge on one meal while we were here, on our way back from Pompierre beach, in this very cute restaurant, Les Douceurs de l’Ile. We both knew as soon as we saw Colombo de Cabri on the menu that this would be a necessary treat! We did not regret it. The meal was delicious and the chef and waiter charming. The island is also home to a thriving goat population, but it’s hard to find cabri for sale. Yummy!

On our last morning, I just knew I’d have to go back in to a beautiful shop called Moagony, where their specialty is beautiful cotton and silk clothes in white, or painted in beautiful sky blue. I resisted as long as I could, knowing I wouldn’t make it out without a shopping bag. I was right, and am now the delighted owner of a new linen dress and two tops. What can I say?

As I write this we are underway to Marie Galante, but thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Les Saints. It was the first time we stayed any real length of time in a lovely anchorage and we’re happy that we did. We also got great leads on where to leave the boat in a few weeks…