On February 26th, weather dawned clear with a tolerable forecast of 18 to 22 knot winds and seas running 5 to 8 feet, a little more than we prefer, but the best we’d seen in almost four weeks. After a nine hour romp south, we anchored near Pigeon Island, the Jacques Cousteau under-water park, about half way down the main island of Guadeloupe. Tucked in close to shore, we spent our first really peaceful night at anchor, close to the tiny fishing harbor.
After breakfast the next morning we enjoyed our first taste of French shopping with a quick hop ashore to the Leader Price grocery, and just across the street, the Carrefour Grocery, the two best grocery stores in the French islands. We stocked up on French chocolate, cheese, yogurt (the best in the world), and of course, a little French wine. After a month in Antigua with its outrageous food prices, the much lower costs and selections here were refreshing.
The next morning with another 15 to 20 knot forecast, we hauled anchor and headed south towards Les Saintes, that beautiful, small group of islands just to the south of mainland Guadeloupe. As we entered the open water passage for the short crossing, we held our breath and ran into – nothing. 6 to 8 knot winds and totally flat seas! What a shock after weeks of being battered.
We expected the harbor to be crowded; in fact, we expected all the harbors of the Lesser Antilles to be crowded as a result of the massive devastation in the islands to the north caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Saintes were beyond crowded; not a mooring ball to be had, and there were more than 50 vessels at anchor. In the past we’ve never seen more than a couple boats at anchor, and lying to our anchor here was a first for us. But we were pleasantly surprised; unlike the mooring field, the anchorage was very comfortable with no roll.