Our open-boat invitation in Goyave, Guadeloupe, was again very successful: Before his departure, Mark Wüst demonstrated the solar catamaran to a big crowd of visitors, amongst them a lot of children. With our new co-skipper Jean-Claude Pichon, we are now heading northwards.
Michel and Martin went to the capital. Michel wants to deal with the customs formalities, Martin has to run errands, barber, broken spectacle frame, films. A visit to the central church again showed the mixture of cultures – high columns in colonial style, yellow walls in front of the blue sky, stairs consisting of ocean fossils with shells, sea urchins and other petrified sea animals.
Due to the encounters on the boat with island people, we got closer in touch with the Creole language. One first simple example: "Ou pè mangé" (On peut manger – one can eat). Or more difficult: "Nou kontan wè zot Sin-Piè" (Nous sommes contents de venir vous autres à Saint Pierre – we are pleased that you come to Saint-Pierre). We found both as inscriptions in public. And since we are "boat people", we asked our
creole partners how one can say "come on our ship": "Vini epi batau".
While Martin was in Pointe-à-Pitre Beat wanted to extend Martin's first forest exploration – by bike. He found the following sequence of zones on his trip: 1. Wooden huts. 2. French houses, faceless as usual. 3. Fancy mansions. 4. Car wrecks area. 5. Plantations. 6. Cow fields. 7. Beginning jungle. 8. Dark paths — end of the bike tour because it started to turn into a camel trophy with huge puddles, fallen trees and mud. In a mountain brook, Beat washed his shoes and the bike that he has borrowed from a Swiss settler before he dared to return to the deck of the "sun21". All our field research is thoroughly documented with photos that will be accessible later. During these expeditions, our loyal friend Mark stayed on our boat before having to leave us for Switzerland. He made all kinds of bigger and smaller refinements, reparations and also a serious control of both electric motors.
Yesterday at noon, Mark Wüst left us. Until some minutes before his departure, he was demonstrating and explaining his boat to the big crowd of visitors who followed the open-boat invitation. One boat excursion was planned; but people, mainly children begged for more. At the end, the "sun21" left the harbor and returned four times — each time lifting and resetting the anchor. In the narrow harbor of Goyave, Dominica, the boat got stuck in the ropes of an old overgrown buoy – the first situation so far that Mark's action would have been needed; but he just left. Therefore, Beat put the bathing slips on and jumped into the water. He had to swim under the deck and free the boat. Thanks for your compliment, Skipper.
Jean-Claude Pichon, a friend of Michel's, arrived from Martinique. He will serve as a co-skipper until we reach the Dominican Republic.
Before dusk, we took the borrowed bikes and drove to Mrs. Berthelots "Jardins des eaux". The day before, Beat found this oasis on the return of his interrupted "Camel trophy" expedition. Martin did not expect such a unique place in such short distance to the harbor village of Goyave. Christiane Berthelot, the widow of an architect and politician ("Parti des Independentistes") has created a natural landscape marked by half a dozen of small lakes filled with water of a fresh well, meadows with rare trees and big leaved tropical plants next to a mountain river with clear water, big round stones and pebbles and almost tame trusting fishes. Martin who prefers to swim in sweet water enjoyed very much to swim together with the fish that did not shy away from human beings. In one of the ponds, small canoes waited for visitors; and in the next pond, a thick warty toad was resting on a stone and glided into the water when we tickled it with a blade. Hidden in the jungle, there is the "crying rock" – a big stone with a curtain of water droplets and luxuriant plants with bizarre red flowers. On this spot, you are permitted to express a vow. Before dusk, Lady Berthelot, who has visited our boat in the morning, offered us a cup of lemon balm. She explained to us that her garden is not only dedicated to the botany but also to poetry, imagination and to the myths. We sympathized very much with that.
At the end, we cycled back to the harbor, very quickly, because our bikes did not have lights. But the police would not have punished us on this island.
In the late evening, the crescent moon is appearing again, a party in our harbor pub, organized by the tireless Alain Blaze with musicians and dinner begins. Now, at midnight, the music goes on and nobody calls the police…
Today, we departed from Goyave, Guadeloupe. After a short stopover in a Marina in Pointe-à-Pitre where we filled our water tanks and cleaned the boat that has become dirty from all the visits of the last days, we glided silently on the "Rivière salée" (salty River), a salt water connection between Basse Terre and Grande Terre , the two parts of Guadeloupe. The river benches consist of mangrove with numerous tangled roots above ground that form dense thickets. Now, we are heading towards St. Martin between the faint silhouettes of the islands of Antigua and Montserrat. The south of Monserrat and its capital Plymouth had to be evacuated in 1995 because the volcano became active.
A new phase of our trip has begun – we are on a new course, almost to the North. The sea moves gently. It is quite warm, and the tropical sun was very generous to our boat. Our new co-skipper, Jean-Claude, is taking turns during the night with Michel.
Speed: 5 knots
Waves: Up to 3 feet