At Pigeon Island, Guadeloupe

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Latitude 16o 10’ N

Longitude 61o 47’ W

After a brief stay, we left Dominica at sunrise on Monday, May 4th and  headed over to the French Island of Guadeloupe. Another island meant another round of visiting immigration and filling out entry documents. By 10:30 we were anchored off the Guadeloupe port of entry at Basse Terre.

The next step was to drop  the inflatable Zodiac we use to row ashore back into the water. It spends most of its time strapped upside-down on the foredeck. By now we have the procedure for launching it   refined to a fifteen minute exercise.  Release the tiedowns and slacken the sheets on the port side of the boat and move them out of the way. Crawl underneath the Zodiac and fully inflate the bladders. Secure the painter (bow line) to a forward cleat so it won’t float away once in the water.  Then attached the spinnaker halyard  to the ring on its bow and crank away until the Zodiac is suspended in the air above the level of Lillian’s lifelines.  With skill and some luck, pushing and spinning it coordinated with a timely  release  of the halyard ends up with the inflatable in the water, right side up.   Add the thwart and the oars and she’s ready to go.  Denise, being fluent in French, was an obvious choice to ride in and help with our entry. I went along because the ship’s captain is required for check-in … and I like to row.

There is new  online registration system, SailClear, much touted as unifying and simplifying entry procedures throughout the Caribbean Islands. The captain enters crew information and itineraries into the system to facilitate arrival and processing at the next destination.   Apparently, no one accepts it.  At  least  it’s not used  in St. Lucia, Dominica, or Guadeloupe. Every island has its own system. Upon arrival in the immigration office at Basse Terre we were offered the  use of their computer. By now, I’ve nearly memorized the passport information and birthdays of everyone onboard. With Denise’s help we were able to complete the form in about half an hour, press the enter button, and we were officially in Guadeloupe, ready to row back to the boat.

As with all the islands that we’ve visited, I feel apologetic in  how little time we’ve been able to devote to each.  Due to other commitments and the impending hurricane season, Lillian is scheduled   to be  in Bermuda by mid-May. But I feel fortunate to at least get a passing impression of what each island has to offer.  Dominica would be a great location to have spent more time exploring inland, and Guadeloupe looks ideal for spending time exploring the various ports and anchorages. We were able to spend a day and two nights  in Guadeloupe anchored in the Marine Park off   Pigeon Island.

The most enduring memory from that one full day in Guadeloupe is the Botanical Garden and the bus rides it took to get there. The Garden itself is exceptional and memorable, but the combination of bus rides it took to get there is  even more memorable , due to  the more than half a dozen  people who went out of their way to help somewhat confused tourist negotiate the system and make sure we ended up where we trying to go. 

Arriving successfully back at to Pigeon Island  from our Garden adventure, we all went for an afternoon snorkel, had dinner on the boat,  and prepared for an early morning departure to  the island of St. Barts, 120 miles away.    

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