We had the opportunity in March, extended to us by friends (Carl and Shanna Denman) who now live aboard their sailboat (Moondance), to visit the Caribbean. We all agreed to meet up in Guadeloupe, in part to assist Carl and Shanna and their business Moondance Charters in exploring rum distilleries on the island- a very tough task! But Mike and I and my sister Pam agreed to attempt it.
Guadeloupe is in the chain of islands, east of Cuba, east of the Virgin Islands, and part of the Lesser Antilles. It is actually a grouping of islands, part of France, and the largest part of Guadeloupe is in the shape of a butterfly. We spent time on the western side of the butterfly, known as Basse-Terre, set on a volcanic mountain range and filled with amazing tropical vegetation.
A friend asked me to describe Guadeloupe and I said:
Laid back, very French and Caribbean all at once. Bakeries loaded with baquettes and pastries on every corner. Windy and warm on the water- nice breezes inland. Rhum, lots of rhum.
After landing in Pointe-a-Pitre, we drove to Deshaies Bay and spent the rest of the week on the Moondance. We sailed south to visit the Cousteau Reserve and then finished the trip anchored off the town of Basse-Terre at the southern tip of the island.
There were lots of adventures, but a few of my favorite moments include:
We learned that in Guadeloupe, the rum is RHUM- spelled that way if it is made with fermented sugar cane, instead of the more common main ingredient of molasses. We learned about tea punch- a drink served everywhere. Tea Punch is essentially a small glass with a squeezed wedge of lime, add a shot of rum, add raw cane sugar to taste, stir and stir and stir some more with a tiny spoon until most of the sugar is absorbed, sip and enjoy. Simple and delicious with a good quality rhum.
We had the opportunity to visit a working distillery Rhum Bologne as well as have dinner with the owner and his partner at their wonderful home on the mountain.
Jardin Botanique de Deshaies
Photos from this botanical garden in Deshais speak for themselves. Here are some of my favorites.
Sailing and Living Aboard
Spending a week on the water in the Caribbean with friends and family was all that I hoped it would be. We gained a true appreciation for the efforts of Carl and Shanna to live aboard and make life work day to day. Water is precious, meals on the boat can be gourmet with an enthusiastic cook, and everything takes longer than you would think.
As always, sailing does not happen just as you might wish or expect. Seems like we are always heading into the wind! But the wind was constant, the skies almost always clear, and it was warm. No room for any complaints!
So, we are just left again with gratitude. To Carl and Shanna for sharing a glimpse of their new life together, and to the seas for once again giving us all that we asked for and more!
The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails.
– Joshua Slocum