Tuesday we headed 13 nautical miles up the coast to St. Pierre. Approaching St. Pierre from the
water, Mount Pelee stood out in the distance and our thoughts couldn’t help but go back to that
fateful day in 1902 when 30,000 people perished in just a few minutes. In the late afternoon we
enjoyed watching the “red devil” festivities in St. Pierre. Everyone was dressed in red and
having a fun time. Vaval was being paraded around the town, and everyone joined in behind the
flatbed truck with music blaring from its loudspeakers.
It was disappointing that we couldn’t have stayed one more day in Martinique to see the climax
of Carnival, but we needed to take advantage of the weather and head north. In one month our
son Scott and a college buddy were joining us in the British Virgin Islands, and we still had
quite a distance to go and more islands to visit before their arrival.
Wednesday morning, February 17, we departed Martinique and sailed north to Portsmouth,
Dominica, 55 nautical miles away. We sailed across the channel on a reach with E winds 23-
25 knots and seas 6-8 feet. As we had already spent time in Dominica last year, we departed
the following morning for the small eight island archipelago of Les Saintes, 21 nautical miles
further north, enjoying a lovely sail with E winds 15 knots and seas 3 feet.
We spent 4 days in Les Saintes before continuing onto the Guadeloupe mainland. During our
stay we anchored both in the large bay off the small town of Bourg des Saintes on the island of
Terre-d’en-Haut, and also in the cove by Pain de Sucre, a lovely anchorage located on the
island’s western side. Here we enjoyed some good snorkeling. As Les Saintes was part of
France’s overseas department of Guadeloupe, we checked into Guadeloupe at Bourg des
Saintes. This clean, quaint, charming French village traced its roots back to Brittany and
Normandy, and its local bakery made the best baguettes.
Monday, February 22, we continued 33 nautical miles further north to Deshaies on
Guadeloupe's northwest coast. With SE winds 15 knots and seas 1-3 feet, we enjoyed another
gorgeous sail, sailing on a broad reach.
We really liked Deshaies. This fishing village had a nice feel to it. At 7 am every morning,
Harold, an enterprising young man, motored out into the bay delivering us freshly made
baguettes and chocolate croissants. When headed ashore, we took our dinghy a short distance
up the local river, tying up alongside the local fishing boats. We even enjoyed a few meals out
while in Deshaies at one of the local restaurants dotting the waterfront.
During our stay we visited the beautiful Botanical Garden of Deshaies. A friend had
recommended it and we weren’t disappointed. It was delightful to walk around this lovely
garden with all its lush vegetation. As Guadeloupe had been directly downwind of the eruption
on Montserrat, many of the garden’s plants still had a fine coating of ash on them, providing at
times a slight dullness.
Blue and Yellow Macaws
Pain du Sucre
On Thursday we rented a car to get a taste of Guadeloupe. Although the mainland of Guadeloupe
was thought of as one island, it really consisted of two islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre.
These two islands were geologically different, separated by a narrow sea channel. Grande-
Terre was a limestone plateau; Basse-Terre was mountainous and volcanic, lying along the
Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc.
With Deshaies located in the NW corner of Basse-Terre, we started our exploration by enjoying
one of the trails in the National Park of Guadeloupe, known for its lush tropical rainforest. Our
walk took us through verdant forest abounding with foliage. There was vegetation on every tree
trunk and branch, many were “air plants“ (Tillandsia), making this tropical forest the best we
had ever seen in the Caribbean. Afterwards we enjoyed a refreshing dip in a nearby waterfall
Afterwards, we drove over to Grande-Terre but cut our stay short due to the traffic congestion.
Instead, we turned around early and drove back to Deshaies along the north coast of
Basse-Terre, enjoying the peacefulness of the countryside dotted with sugarcane fields. One
farm was cutting sugarcane, and it was fascinating to watch the machine cut the sugarcane, strip
the foliage, and then chop the cane into one foot sections before throwing it into the awaiting
tractor-trailer, which in turn hauled the sugar cane to the mill to be put through the presses.
After a lovely 5 day stay in Deshaies, we set sail Saturday, February 27, at 3 am bound for
Nevis, 74 nautical miles away. With little wind, we mostly motor-sailed. We passed within 2
miles of southwestern Montserrat but didn’t stop due to the recent volcanic eruption on February
11th. Soufriere Hills Volcano, dormant for 400 years, had begun erupting in 1995. Now, the
southern half of Montserrat was uninhabitable and Plymouth, the island’s former capital,
remained abandoned, parts of it buried under ash.
We waited until Monday to check into St. Kitts and Nevis as there was a substantial overtime fee
imposed on Sundays, like in most countries. On Monday, after finishing a very lengthy check-in
of almost 2 hours, we headed down Main Street in Charlestown, Nevis’ only town. Much of the
colonial style architecture on this street had been preserved, giving us an inkling of what this
small town might have looked like in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Alexander Hamilton, one of our country’s most prominent and influential founding fathers, was
born in Charlestown in 1757, and so we stopped to visit his birthplace. A Caribbean Georgian-
style house, supposedly a reconstruction of the house in which Alexander Hamilton had been
born, stood on top of the original foundation. The original house had been destroyed during an
earthquake in the 1800’s. Currently, the Nevis House of Assembly occupied the second floor
and the Museum of Nevis History, the first floor. On display in the museum was an excellent
exhibit on Alexander Hamilton, reminding us again of all that he had done to shape our financial,
political, and legal systems. Hamilton was one of the three authors of The Federalist Papers,
writing more than two-thirds of the essays; he was one of the signers of our U.S. Constitution;
and as the first Secretary of the Treasury he wrote our young nation’s monetary policy, paid off
our war debts, and made us a solvent nation. Today on our U.S. currency, only two non-
presidential faces appear on any of our bills, that of Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin.