From Deshaies, our plans were to sail south along the coast to Basse Terra, located on the southwest coast of Guadeloupe. When we arrived there with Oceana, they were concerned that the swell would be uncomfortable. We understood their concern as we've seen how a swell can cause mono hulls to sway like pendulums. The day was still young, so we decided to continue on to the Saints, which is a scenic group of small but tall islands just south of Guadeloupe.
Oceana off Basse Terra, Guadeloupe
We had been motor-sailing in the lee of Guadeloupe with a slight sea breeze until we reached Basse Terra. As we left the lee of Guadeloupe, everything changed. The wind switched from less than 10 knots out of the west to high 20's from the east in about a minute. This is something that you get used to in the lower Leeward and Windward Islands. As you leave the lee of the island, the trade winds are accelerated as they squeeze around the tall island and hit you full force from the east. If you are not looking at the sea state in front of you, you will have no warning. Depending on the conditions, you might have 10 knots of sea breeze from the west and then an immediate switch to 25 knots from the southeast in as little as a few seconds.
We saw the white caps and lumpy seas ahead and quickly shortened sail. Then Jen commented... um, where did the Saints go? Up ahead the Saints, which were clearly visible only a minute or two ago, were hidden by haze and rain. It was a wet and brisk sail to the Saints. Being a weekend, the anchorage close to town was quite full and we couldn't find a suitable place to drop the hook. Instead, we moved to another location in the Saints that we had anchored before and were happy to drop the hook and let the rain wash off the salt we accumulated crossing the channel from Guadeloupe.
The next morning was a fine day which we spent exploring the town and sampling the local beverages, food and of course, ice cream.
A view of the Saints from the town dock
From the Saints, we sailed back north to Point A Pitre, the largest city in Guadeloupe. Oceana had gone ahead to refit with new house batteries. We joined them a day or so later in the Marina Bas du Fort where we enjoyed a couple of nights on the dock. Laundry, some mechanical maintenance and other chores more easily accomplished on the dock were taken care of. Then it was back to the Saints, which was a good staging point for the jump south to Dominica. On the way back to the Saints, I caught two largish Barracudas which I released since they aren't so good for eating. Note the big pointy teeth!