Posts Tagged Guadeloupe

On Island Time – Guadeloupe

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October 1, 2011

Last night I watched the sliver of a moon rise over the tropical island of Gaudeloupe where she joined a million stars in the heavens above me.  The buzz of tropical town was the only sound that could be heard for what seemed like hours.  In the distance I could hear laughter and I heard the voices of a young couple on the dock a few yards away as they entered into a ritual of courting as old as time.  His voice and her voice intermingled with joyous refrains that sounded like poetry to my ears.  They carried on in act one of their two act play and eventually left the docks holding hands as they strolled back into the town at the end of the pier.  The small tavern at the end of the pier began playing music as the nightly crowd came in and I watched as people entered and exited on their Friday evening in paradise.

Though this week has been spent mostly on the boat, I have had a great deal of time to think about some of the simpler things in life and how I may  accomplish them.  I have thought about the things that all mortals eventually think about.  What is next?  What, of course is the next next, but the next after that and the eventual last next for us.  Is there a last next?  I have a theory that we all live today in our own paradise or our own hell.  We choose which it is.  Mine is a paradise.  I guess I have to say that I am a spiritual person and I do believe in an afterlife.  I think that we all have the opportunity to get there.  I think where I differ from a lot of folks is that I think that we can choose to start living in that paradise that we all hope for in the end, right now.  I speak of these places I travel as paradise and they are, but the real paradise is where we live in our hearts and in our minds.  I love the islands and a portion of the paradise I strive for is here. There is more.  There is the paradise of how we live our lives. It is the paradise of how we treat others and how we treat ourselves.  That is the paradise that is much more difficult to find at times.  For the past five or six days with the Wingates on the decks of Sanitas I have had a great deal of time to reflect, to plan and to think.  I am good at reflecting, ok and thinking but I fall very short of planning and have most of my life.  This week as the weather has cleared and the warm air of the tropics opened the space my mind I have been able to do a good deal of all three. I am ready to move on.

The Wingates arrived back on the boat last night and they are still resting as I write this post, but in a short while we are going to go ashore and walk up the street to a little bakery and enjoy pastries and coffee and some of the fine fruit available in this little corner of paradise.  There, they will chart their course to their next island paradise and if I approve I will go along with them for at least one more leg of their trip.  They have not given me any clues as to which way they want to sail.  There are still some active weather cells popping up here and there to the west of us, but we won’t be sailing west anyway.  The choices from here are basically north or south. Do we want to head closer to the equator or closer to the United States?  It is not my decision.  I am along for the ride and will go wherever they choose to go.  My decision will come when we get where ever it is we are going.  Will they ask me to stay on for a few more days or weeks, or will I chart my own course again and ramble my way across the islands?  I guess there is no down side to either of these eventualities.  One will keep me in paradise and the other will, well, keep me in paradise.

I have really enjoyed Sarah and Thom’s company, and I realize I haven’t told you much about them, but it is to suffice to say they are really good people and a pleasure to be around.  He is a few years older than her, but not many I don’t think.  They owned a house in Galveston that was destroyed by a hurricane a few years back.  From what they have shared with me they collected their insurance money, sold the plot of land where the house once stood and flew to Rhode Island where they bought this boat.  Since then they have sailed and lived on the boat.  They occasionally go back to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to visit their family, but primarily they sail, keep moving.  Both of these sailors know how to have fun and they are not afraid to let their hair down and revel with the locals.  In the little bit of time that I have known them I have discovered that they are both living life as if there is no tomorrow and so that if they live if for thousand more years they will have no regrets about their journey through along the way.  I know much more about them now than I did a couple of weeks ago, but not as much as I would like to know.  I am going to spend the next days on this boat with them finding and make an effort to enjoy their stories, their lives and their plans…that is if I am in their plans for the days ahead and if their plans suit my lack of planning.

For now, I sit here, sipping my coffee and watching the deep midnight blue sky as it gives way to all of the shades of red, I breath in the spice scented air of the tropics and hope that everyone finds peace in their own paradise.  I am at peace in mine.

William Fair Roberts…on island time in paradise.

On Island Time in Deshaies, Guadeloupe

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September 26, 2011

I have said before that every day should be an adventure.  This week I have done my best to live up to that mantra. This week’s journey sort of reminds me of the theme song to Gilligan’s Island the old TV show.  We left Roseau early in the afternoon, a week ago Sunday, and began our short journey to Marie-Galante a short 20+ miles from the Island of Dominica.  We should have made it there in a matter of just a few hours, but wouldn’t you know it, the weather felt the urge so remind us that we are in the tropics and that a beautiful day can turn into a pretty dismal mess in a hurry.  Sunday was a good example of that. 

Without incident, we sailed up the eastern coast of Dominica and out into the open 18 or so mile stretch of water that separates Dominica from Marie-Galante.  We were only a few miles out when clouds started to build to the west and to the south of us.  With a heading pretty much due north, we thought we could outrun the storm behind us.  If I had to guess, I would guess that we are not the only sailors to ever make that mistake.  Within the hour, the weather had caught us and the blow began.  Thom and Sarah’s boat is a seaworthy craft, but we were tossed around for most of the night.  We finally decided to stop the run and turn and face our medicine, or to be more exact the storm, head-on.   Our headlong drive into the storm put a little off course, but thanks to the great navigator, Sarah and the salty captain Thom, we were never in danger.  Sarah was able to re-plot our course as soon as the weather permitted.  By daylight on Monday morning we were about half way between Marie-Galante and Gaudeloupe.  Since only about twelve miles of water separates them we had a choice to go to either one.  I was given the option of which port to call our next one, and in my normal decisive manner I chose neither and asked if there was any place to anchor and fish for a while. Sarah soon had us on route to Petite terra Guadelupe, a tiny little island on the north east tip of Gaudelupe.  By late in the day we had arrived at the tiny island paradise. We were not alone there. More than a dozen sail boats, all about the size of the Wingate’s boat the Sanitas.  We chose to navigate our way into Petite terra pass the home of some of the most beautiful water in the Caribbean.  The pass is fairly shallow with plenty of places to anchor and stay for a few hours or a few days.  With water so blue you would think it had been colored with food coloring, and so clear the the boats seem to hover in the air above flying schools of fish beneath their hulls, this may be the place I have searched for my entire life.  One thing led to another and Monday turned to Tuesday and Tuesday to Wednesday before we even talked about moving on. 

However, let me back track just a little. On Tuesday, I rose before sunrise and took a quick dip in the waters of the pass.  As the sun quickly rose, the waters of the pass seemed to glow as the beams struck the small waves to my east.  I treaded water for a few minutes and then climbed on the boats stern and slipped back into my shorts and made coffee for me and the Wingates.  The peacefulness of the morning on Petite terra is without rival.  I have not been everywhere, but of those I have traveled, this tiny island is among the most peaceful.  The sweet smells of others cooking on the boats float on the wind and mingle with the aroma of coffee and the sweetness of the natural vegetation from the island as they passed us at anchor here.  I took the inflatable to the flats to the south of us and snorkeled and fished for most of the day on Tuesday and that night we dined on the bounties of the sea.  I brought a bottle of rum on board and with that and a couple of limes and some sugar I mixed-up rum drinks for all of us.  We sat on deck and watched the stars appear above us as night fell and before we knew it, we had drunk that whole bottle.  With the night on Tuesday came a strong wind and I decided to sleep on deck so I could enjoy the stars.  Though the clouds threatened a few times, the night was dry and windy and I slept peacefully with nothing but the heavens above as my cover. 

Each day there was the same but different.  I started with a swim and coffee and I spent some time reading and trying to forget that the world exists beyond my vantage point here in the islands.  There was time for snorkeling and visiting with the other sailors over lunch or dinner or a drink. 

Today I am still technically with Sarah and Thom even though they are not here and won’t be for a couple of more days.  On Thursday we sailed to Deshaies, Guadeloupe.  The boat is anchored at marina and I am spending most of my time on board with only short trips to shore when I need necessities like beer (found a great one here…Corsaire) and ice and a fresh baked croissant or two. There is promise of more bad weather and we are going to stay here until that threat moves back to the more normal range.  From what we understand there is a weather system forming to the northeast of the islands, but it really shouldn’t do much but provide us with bands of strong wind and rain.

Once the Wingates return to their boat, they have promised me a couple of days on the island to explore, but I haven’t yet decided whether I will stay a while or move on with them as they head wherever it is they are headed.  I think I have written enough for today.  My fingers are tired, my computer battery is low as is my personal battery, so  I think I am going to indulge in a little afternoon nap before  the sun goes down.

One last thought before I stop placing words into cyber space.  Having a little time to think, a boat on which to rest , people from every corner of the earth doing the same things you are doing a stone’s throw from you on a the deck of their own little home on the sea helps to bring the world into perspective. We are indeed all just passengers on this stone tumbling through the universe and I am glad this stone I am one is 3/4ths covered with water.

William Fair Roberts…on island time in paradise.