Guadeloupe Iles de Saintes Dominica

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Sailing, Sailing, Sailing is amazing in the EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA, as the winds are always blowing from 090 degrees (east) plus or minus 10 degrees and the course is 180 degrees (approximately) southbound. For the non-sailor, that means you are sailing on a beam reach with the winds blowing from the side of the boat. Sailors love beam reaching and even better, we love downwind. (But to sail downwind from here, we would have to point our bow towards Central America and Panama so for now, we will accept the next best sailing, beam reaching.) We are loving this! We paid the price to get here after 1,200+ nm from Florida bashing into the easterly trade winds. Now, take a look at this photo…

Sailing on a beam reach southbound in the Caribbean Sea

Departed Antigua for Guadeloupe

We departed Falmouth Harbour on April 16th setting sail for Guadeloupe, our first French Island. Falmouth Antigua to Deshaies Guadeloupe is a 42 nm run. sailing south on a beautiful beam reach. Radeen and I were smiling! Little did we know how much we would also love the French Islands. Pulling into Deshaies was a real joy seeing the cute and astonishingly clean little town spread along the water’s edge, with the church steeple straight in from the dinghy dock and of course, the bakery.  The French love their coffee and baguettes and croissants and so do we!

Our first French town off the bow, Deshaies, Guadeloupe


We were happy to see Island Packet 350 IVORY STAR owned by Bob and Margo, whom we had met in Farjardo. They love this little French town of Deshaies and they had a really cool anchoring spot right off the cliffs, great for snorkeling. Island Spirit hosted happy hour and we shared great stories. The Island Packet Fleet cruises and gets around; we see IP owners everywhere. Good times!

Island Packet 350 IVORY STAR off Guadeloupe
Hayden, Bob, Margo, and Radeen in Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Iles de Saintes were calling

We wanted to stay weeks in Deshaies with Bob and Margo, but southbound we headed because “The Saintes” were calling. We had heard that Iles de Saintes is a favorite of so many people, including Pat and Eric of IP460 CUTTER LOOSE. Catching up with our buddies on Jeanneau 45 KINDRED SPIRIT was another goal. The run down the leeward side of Guadeloupe and then into open waters toward the Saintes is a 22 nm leg, very simple, very short. One would expect a calm, casual sail down the leeward side, but that does not happen. The mountains deflect the east trades up and over their peaks and then the wind comes from every direction, South, West, North, East, who knows.  So after several auto-tacks and backwinding of sails, we stopped this silly game. After double reefing the main and furling the full jib and deploying the staysail, we added 2500 RPMs on the engine. Oh, we know this procedure well. At the bottom of Guadeloupe, the winds whipped around and accelerated to 25-30 knots as we left the lee of the island and pointed SE towards Iles de Saintes. Next thing we knew, we were all-out bashing into the winds again. The winds bend and change from East to Southeast on the bottom of this island, directly onto our bow. Here we go again, let’s get it done and let’s get to Iles de Saintes…

Radeen looking over the bow as the winds heel the boat over 20 degrees and  we push into the strong winds
Radeen loves to travel and Island Spirit is our vehicle to get there. She is a real sailor, look at that smile.
This is beating from Guadeloupe to Iles de Saints in routine 20-25 knot tradewinds.

Ahhh, the Saintes are so interesting

Everyone is right about the Saintes being a wonderful place to visit. The island has very few cars and no fuel, only a ferry dock where visitors from Guadeloupe arrive daily. They walk off the ferry dock, stop at the bakery to pick up a baguette and have an espresso.  Then they walk the town stopping in the various shops on their way to the beach. Some arrive with rollerboards and luggage walking to their simple rented rooms and apartments nearby. This ferry dock is the hub of activity on Iles de Saintes. We loved just hanging out there with our coffee in the am and watching the arrivals and departures of locals, plus many tourists from France and other countries. Our relaxing days were spent walking the town and hiking the hills, all the while Island Spirit was on a mooring ball in the harbor. Thanks to John and Darcy of KINDRED SPIRIT for guiding us to a choice ball.

Here is the 24 photo essay we posted up on our svIslandSpirit Facebok page:
Link to view photos here: svIslandSpirit Facebok page

Photos Here: svIslandSpirit Facebok page

Off to Dominica

After spending 5 days in Iles de Saintes, we headed south for another dream sail of 20+ nm on an easy beam reach. We sailed into Portsmouth, Dominica, which has mooring balls and a very well managed “boat boy” system called PAYS, Portsmouth Association for Yacht Services. BRILLIANT. Many boat vendors are part of this one organization. They have logos on their shirts and badges and they all work together. Now, this is the proper way to deal with yachts, instead of being harrassed by multiple, aggressive “boat boys.”

We arrived at noon on a holiday, Easter Monday, and the harbor was already one big booming party after another. WHAT FUN. Sadly for us, we had decided to Q flag here for only one night and move on in good weather. Next season, we plan to dedicate several weeks to this island. We know Dominica is not to be missed, but we needed to push on.  We enjoyed the lively crowds from the boat well past midnight; these people know how to party!!

Island Spirit anchored off Portsmouth Dominica as the sun was setting

Why Leave Dominica?

….because the French Island of Martinique is calling! Yes, we have discovered that we really like the French Islands and we heard that Martinique is one of the best. So sadly we departed Dominica under Q-Flag without checking in and traveled down the lee shore towards open water. The island of Dominica looks so tropical and so lush, we cannot wait to discover it fully next season. Here are a few photos as we traveled south.

Look at the beauty of Dominica
The south end of Dominica as we sail towards Martinique

On to Martinique

Portsmouth Dominica to St. Pierre Martinique is about a 55 nm run. Look what we sailed into… truly looks like a stage set from the Broadway musical, “Les Miserables” ……more in our next post on Martinique! Here is a teaser photo 🙂

St. Pierre on the north end of Martinique is so interesting and very different

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Hayden and Radeen in St. Lucia, trying to catch up on the blog.
Thank you Reuben !


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4 Replies to “Guadeloupe Iles de Saintes Dominica”

  1. You guys have definitely captured the beauty of the Caribbean Islands and the joy of sailing!

    So, when do we start to follow your experience on You Tube?
    Dan & Barbara Tyska

  2. So that is what a beam reach is!
    I always thought it was something that he framing carpenter did LOL

    Keep moving south and get Island Spirit tucked away safely for the season. Next year is waiting.

    Thanks for posting, really enjoying it.

    Greg Kate and the doodles

  3. I feel as though I am always sitting alongside the 2 of you in the cockpit of Island Spirit as you sail along on this adventure. I can feel the heel, smell the water, feel the pulse of that bashing, feel the spray on my face and my cheeks hurt after a day of smiling! Thanks for sharing. Loretta

  4. Very well done.How true that the cruising lifestyle still involves deadlines, detours,and the self imposed promise to return and explore at a later time.The fleet misses Team Island Spirit.

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