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Just January

January has passed slowly. We spent most of the month in Antigua, mostly in Falmouth but also in Jolly Harbour. We didn’t get into Deep Bay at all. Last year, and in 2020, it was our favorite anchorage, but the cruise ships are back and everyone who has been there this year told us that it is full of cruise tours and jet-skis which are in and out all day making a lot of noise and wake, and making swimming a little dangerous since the jet ski people don’t seem to pay attention to where they are going. We decided that we love our memories of the place too much to destroy them by going back this year. This is not to say that we were idle or bored. Even though the Salty Dawg pack has broken up, mostly, we are still hanging out with about 6 other boats so there were lots of events going on and plenty to do.

One of our sails from Falmouth to Jolly Harbour gave Mark the opportunity to put up every sail he could get his hands on. We looked pretty sweet flying 5 sails at once. And Mark didn’t stop grinning for 2 hours after we set our anchor.

Finally, we were facing the end of our allowed visitation period (a.k.a. visa) so we gathered our group of boats and headed south for Guadeloupe. It was the nicest sail between islands that we ever remember. Perfect conditions, without the insane catabatic winds that usually roar down the mountains or the big swell that gets squeezed between the islands. We arrived in Deshaies (say “day-hay”) in time to clear immigration at the local souvenir shop; buy some wine, foie gras, a baguette, and chocolate; and then meet up with friends for a cocktail and snacks ashore.

The next day a few of us took the bus to the next town and did a bit of damage in the grocery store, but not until we had procured French sim cards for our phones. Now I have one phone number that is good all over the Caribbean (and in Europe too). If you want the number, let me know. It’s long and I have yet to learn it, but I’m working on it. And just after I’d learned my Antigua number. Oh well. This one cost less and will last a while!

The following day was my birthday. Mark usually forgets and I am just a bit sullen for the day, but this year friends saved the day! We had a great lunch in town with Cindy and Steve (who sail on Flash) and that night there was a birthday party!! 16 people came, complete with cake and presents!! Who would have expected? I was overwhelmed. We all had a great time and I was very happy to provide a reason for a great party.

No trip to Deshaies is complete without a visit to the botanical gardens. This is a beautiful garden with what may be the best restaurant on the island in the middle.

About a week later our group got the itch to move on. For some reason we were anxious to get to Pointe-a-Pitre so we overnighted at Pigeon Island, a Jacque Cousteau national water preserve, without so much as a swim with the turtles (but a good deal of time in the grocery store) and the next day we sailed on, arriving at one of the dirtiest harbors we know in the Caribbean. PaP, as it is known, is an industrial port. HUGE container ships come in from France stacked high with cargo for all the island from St. Martin to Martinique. It’s very convenient for lots of things, but I won’t swim there. While we were there we took a dinghy trip up the center of the country

and we rented cars and take a trip to the Chutes de Cabrit – the 5,000 foot waterfall that Christopher Columbus and his crew saw from the sea as they were passing the island. The lure of fresh water brought them ashore, of course claiming the island for Spain. Upon leaving they spread the rumor that the natives were cannibals to discourage other explorers from coming here. I’m not sure which war resulted in the island being ceded to France, but we are glad that it was. These falls tumble through rainforest in four steps. We hiked along the mostly-paved path to the second fall. Breath-taking.

On the last day of the month came Mark’s birthday. Ann gave him a great gift of “babies” for Butch, our infamous flamingo,

(This is only half of them.)

and we all went out for a fun dinner at a “Vietnamese” restaurant. I’m not sure how authentic the food is, but it was amazing none-the-less. When 12 people descend on a small restaurant, it can create a problem, but we all pre-ordered and the owner took it in stride!

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