Ile de Saints or Terre de Haute as this group of islands are also called, was a beautiful taste of this fantastic group of islands called Guadeloupe. We woke up to another sunny day, but the anchorage was quite rolly. After the mandatory coffee and breakfast, we got ashore to start the exploration. We could see a fort from the boat and decided to walk up the hill to see it. This was a museum and it was Saturday, hence we clearly assumed the opening hours would be “normal”, but this is the Caribbean, nothing is normal. The walk was steep and warm and we met no one else walking, but a few goats. However, we did meet a lot of people in golf carts and scooters, going the other way. Maybe we should have been a bit suspicious by this? Well, we arrived, just in time to see a nice local lady locking the gates and telling us that it closed at 13.00 and that we should be back tomorrow. There was a small bar still open so we could enjoy the view and a nice beer, which put the smile back on the captains face.
We got back home and enjoyed a nice lunch and a bottle of rose wine at one of the many restaurants. This island is clearly a tourist attraction with all the pros and cons that follows. It’s well maintained and beaches and streets are clean and inviting, however, as all tourist places, it’s designed to part you with your money.
The prices were quite high and you had to pay for the mooring balls so despite it being very beautiful we started to look for the next destination. I had gotten recommendations of the PKK diving club at Plage Malendure, by Pidgeon Island, a nature reserve on the west coast. I registered for the training and 6 dives starting Thursday, meaning we still had 2 days to enjoy Ile de Saints.
Together with our friends from SY Emelin, we again walked up the hill to see the fort the next day. Just as steep and the same goats as yesterday, but now we got there in time. The fort was beautiful but the exhibitions not very interesting, except for the description of the sea battles between the English and French 3oo years ago. It’s amazing that a museum like this offers no English description or guiding at all, hence our understanding was somewhat limited. But the cold beer at the bar and the view was just as nice this time…
After a last night at the rolly anchorage, we set sail to the west side of the main island. The wind was gusting to 26knots and steady 20knots and we sailed on the headsail only, but still maintained 7knots until we came around the tip of the western wing (mainland Guadeloupe is shaped like a butterfly). There the wind died and we had to motor for the last 2 hours. While motoring I notice a boat called Ramsalt on the AIS approaching us from the north. We call them on the VHF and talk to Øyvind for the first time. We would meet them and become good friends a bit later, but this time we only said hello.
When arriving at Malendure, we found a good anchorage and very fast realized this was a fantastic place to snorkel. We jumped into the crystal clear water and immediately observed fish and sea turtles. The beach inside was crowded every day with people snorkelling around all day long. Pidgeon Island was just outside the anchorage and I couldn’t wait to see it.
The next morning I started the training with exercises in shallow water close to the beach. We were 3 people and one instructor, Aleksi. The training was very thorough and I felt safe all the time but must admit that removing the mask or regulator below water felt unnatural and somewhat scary. The other dives were like diving in an aquarium. We dived on all sides of Pidgeon Island and the only thing I think we didn’t see was a shark and dolphins. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any underwater pictures during the training, but if you have a chance to dive here, go for it!
While I was doing the dives, the co-captain and the crew of Emelin was patiently waiting for me, enjoying the limited facilities of Plage Malendure. One day after my dive, we went for a walk into the “town” nearby. All were closed, as it was Sunday, but a small local bar. Here they showed Premier League and I enjoyed a game with two local guys that didn’t speak a word of English. Football, however, is universal and we connected well. The co-captain found a beautiful puppy outside and more or less adopted it. She liked it so much that she went back the next day with a collar for it. I must admit I checked every cabin in the boat that evening to ensure the pup was not onboard.
Meeting new people is one of our favourite things on our adventure, and on Plage Malendure we met some fantastic people. After my “graduation” from the diving school and becoming a licensed Open Water Diver, I met Jill, Eirik and Nina on the beach and we celebrated with all local beverages we could find. A couple goes by and I notice a ukulele in the hand of the man. We say hi and this is how we meet Roger and Judy, a couple we would meet more times during our time in Guadeloupe. Roger is English, Judy American but they live in France and has so for many years. They joined us and Roger played his ukulele and we sang along for many hours. The next morning, we could feel the results but we had a magnificent time! Now it was time to leave Malendure and Pidgeon Island for this time, but we will always, especially me, this fantastic place!