When we arrived in Les Saintes, Guadeloupe (a small set of islands to the south of mainland Guadeloupe), we knew the Christmas winds would be blowing for about a week. This didn’t damper our spirits at all as our anchorage was in Terre-de-Haut, a very lively island with lots of great restaurants, shops, beaches and hiking. We were not going to be bored!
First on deck for Wild Horses, and our boat buddies Rode Trip and Caretta, was a hike up Le Chameau, the highest point on Terre-de-Haut at 309 metres. At the very tippy-top of Le Chameau is “La Tour de la Vigie”, an unmaintained small fort built in 1843 to protect French interests in the islands. This fort stands a slight bit higher than the terrain so it was our focus as we trekked slowly up the mountain. Although it only takes about 90 minutes to get to the top of Le Chameau, it was a seriously steep trek up. We started with 6 hikers and 1 dog and ended with just 4 hikers making it to the top. It was definitely not the right terrain for a dog, so at about the halfway point, Mike and Andrea (from Caretta) decided to forgo the hike and to take Ocean back down the mountain. No worries, the rest of us continued to the top while the three of them had a lovely stroll down to the main town to await our return.
The trip up was strenuous and required a few rest stops but we were treated to gorgeous views of Terre-de-Haut once we reached the summit. The fort is very small and in serious disrepair but it was still captivating, especially knowing that it was built to house 15 soldiers. Those are some tight accommodations!
A few days later, we did a second hike to another fort on the island. Fort Napoleon also requires some uphill trekking but stands only 130 metres above the anchorage. This would be a far easier hike and much more dog-friendly! Fort Napoleon is a large fort with expansive grounds, a botanical garden and, within its stone walls, it houses rich tributes to the island’s history and culture. Unfortunately for us, the fort closes in the early afternoon and we had arrived too late. Although we enjoyed the view of the outside of the fort, we would have to tour the inside another day.
We were at Les Saintes for a total of nine days and thoroughly enjoyed all the great restaurants and shopping that this little harbour village had to offer. The town and surrounding areas are very walkable and charming. In fact, there are very few cars driven about. Instead, people get around by walking, or by using scooters and golf carts. Yes, there was still “traffic” but at a much slower pace 😊. We even decided to get into the golf cart game ourselves! The crews from Wild Horses, Rode Trip, Caretta and Don’t Panic, piled into three golf carts and did a one-day self-guided tour of Terre-de-Haut. It was an inspiring trip which took us through the twisty, narrow and mostly “one way” village streets and to several of the rugged coastlines.
We even took a side trip back up to Fort Napoleon to finally do a tour of the inside of the fort. It didn’t disappoint!
As much as we enjoyed Les Saintes, our weather window for travelling further north had arrived by Thursday. We weighed anchor at 0800 to start our 32 nautical mile trip to Deshaies, in the north east corner of mainland Guadeloupe. We again travelled with our buddy boats Caretta and Rode Trip. Kemana also joined us on this leg of the trip, having arrived in Les Saintes a few days prior.
We were only going to be in Deshaies for one night as the forecast was for a great day for crossing the big gap between Guadeloupe and Antigua. We were excited about our upcoming day of travel but it was also a sad time for us. We were saying good bye to our long-time boat buddies on Caretta. We had been travelling with them, almost in lock step, since Luperon, Dominican Republic, a whole 9 months ago. We were continuing on to Antigua while they would be going to St. Kitts, an island where it is extremely difficult to take a dog. Although tears were shed, we have plans to meet up again, somewhere down the line in the New Year. We will miss them!
The next morning, Wild Horses, Kemana and Rode Trip headed towards Antigua together. The wind was light and variable, making for a very frustrating sail. Still, the sky was clear and the sea wasn’t rolly so we considered it a great day on the water.
Clearing into Antigua was easy – Customs, Immigration, Health Authority and the Port Authority are all housed together, just a short dinghy ride from our mooring ball. Although we had things lined up for the Veterinarian to clear Ocean in at the same time, a veterinary emergency came up so her clearing was postponed to the following afternoon. The delay wasn’t a concern as we were advised by the Vet that we could take her to shore for short trips to do her business; however, he stressed that we should make sure that Customs did not see her on shore. No problem! We are okay with sneaking her to shore!
By the end of the weekend, all three of the Wild Horses’ crew were cleared in and we were ready to explore Antigua! We are looking forward to all that Antigua has to offer! Happy Holidays from our whole crew!
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Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.