Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Glorious Sail

On Friday, we sailed from Antigua to the Deshaies, Guadeloupe (pronounced "day-ay").  This is almost directly due south.  When we looked at the weather forecast on Thursday afternoon, the winds were predicted from the east -- great, an easy and fast point of sail.  We checked again Friday morning before we left, and the forecast was for east-south-east winds.  Not quite so good, but still OK.  In practice, as we were raising our sails, the wind was from the southeast, which means sailing hard on the wind.  The boat is heeled over, the waves are crashing over the bow -- oh, well.  Luckily, the wind wasn't too strong (about 15 knots), and the waves were very small.  But Gretchen said "You keep promising me a beam reach or a downwind sail, and here we are beating again!"

As the morning went on, the wind became less southeast and more east.  By 10:00 or so, we could ease the sheets on the sails, and flatten the boat out.

The forecast also predicted lots of rain, but all we saw was blue sky and fluffy clouds, at least in our vicinity.

All-in-all, a very wonderful day of sailing.

Deshaies is a fairly small bay.  You clear customs at an internet cafe.  Shops here are open in the morning, then close for a siesta, and then reopen at 3:30 pm or 4:00.  We had to wait for a bit for the internet cafe to open, and used the time to explore the town.

Saturday, we hiked a mile or so uphill to a botanical garden.  This was wonderful.  Extremely well kept, a very large variety of tropical plants, including orchids, cactus, and huge collections of bougainvillea and heliconia, ornamental bananas and palms.  We spent nearly three hours, and then rewarded ourselves with a fancy lunch at the garden's restaurant.

Guadeloupe is officially a department of France, and English speakers are a very small minority.  But everyone is friendly, and we work out the communication somehow.

Tomorrow we will move to the town of Basseterre, on the southwest corner of Guadeloupe.  This is Carnival time, and we hope to catch a bit (but not too much) of the festivities.

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