After venting our frustrations and obtaining as much information as possible, we dropped our mooring on April 23 and turned the bow towards Guadeloupe’s west coast. Our plans to visit La Desirade had been scrubbed when we discovered that the harbor there is just too shallow for our draft; the first time we’ve run into that problem since being in the EC.
The short leg from the Saintes to the SW corner of the big island carries a heading of 300 degrees, putting us somewhere around 150 degrees off the wind and making this leg thoroughly enjoyable, right up to the point when we encounter the accelerating winds at the corner of the island. Wind speed increases rapidly to around 30 knots, waves build to match, and careful attention to sail trim and steering is required. Many cruisers are startled by the sudden increase in wind and waves where these boisterous conditions persist for several miles up the coast. Guadeloupe’s mountains drop steeply to the coast here, so the wind rushing down the hillsides adds to the normal bending acceleration you’d expect. Locals heading south to this corner of the island with intentions of sailing a northeasterly heading along the southern coast to Pointe a Pitre, hug the coast closely to minimize the wind and wave action.
We sailed quickly up the west coast to Deshaies to spend what we thought would be a quiet night after clearing out. To our surprise, the first race of Antigua Race Week kicked off the next morning. About 40 boats had sailed down from Antigua to Deshaies for the race start and for the evening’s parties. Of course, all those boats and crew had to clear in to Guadeloupe, and clear out for departure the next morning. Needless to say, my clearing in process was slightly extended, in part due to me being the only person in the Customs cubbyhole who spoke both French and English. So, guess who did the interpreting for many of those race crews?
One of the US flagged race boats pulled in to anchor just upwind of us. They literally threw a tiny anchor over the bow with what appeared to a clothesline securing it to the boat – in 50 feet of water. Oh boy; we’d never sleep tonight, we thought. Fortunately for us, later that evening they dragged into another boat, the Race Committee boat of all the ones they could choose. Soon after the fiasco, the race boat picked up and went in to tie to the scraggly fishing docks. No marina here.
We left in the morning before the race took off.