Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Guadeloupe forests and volcanoes

Our hire car was delivered on the dot of 09:00 and the marina called me and pointed out "les deux demoiselles" whose car hire company it was. The little Citroen was brand new and had still got plastic bags covering the seats, and a mileage of 125km on the clock. The four of us piled in, and I drove off up the mountain roads to La Soufriere volcano, mostly struggling in first gear and occasionally second up the steep inclines. We arrived at Les Baines Jaunes to find a trail leading up the volcano in thick rainforest. The sulphur baths were a disappointingly dark clear luke warm water in a concrete tank, which two German ladies were tentatively climbing into in their swimming costumes.

We climbed a steep forget trail, well constructed with srepsin high humidity and it was a great relief to eventually reach a place where the vegetation thinned enough for a cooling wind to reach us. The path offers a 4Km circuitous the cone, but we were short of time and descended, enjoying the rich variety of lush rainforest vegetation, with huge heart shaped leaves of taro-like plants, bromeliads pierced in the branches of trees, strangler figs trailing long aerial roots, Bird of Paradise plants with their beautiful red flowers, and leaves that reminded me of its West African relative, Thaumatococcus daniellii, which I worked on for ten years producing the protein that is 3,000 times sweeter than sugar.

Thence we descended and drove round the coast to visit the Chute de Carbet, a gigantic waterfall that was spotted from the sea by Christopher Colombus, and explored by him.
We descended a myriad of stairs to the river and along to get a view of the 450 metre high falls. Then on the way back Kyle took us down a steep hillside on a slippery forest trail to find a beautiful deep pool with a waterfall. We weren't the first there, but were the only ones to dive in. Kyle displayed a considerable sang froid by executing a back flip off the rim of the waterfall into the pool (which didn't quite fit with his status as the responsible parent of two of my grandchildren.)

Then back to the boat for a quick passage up the coast to Pigeon Island, here we had a brief swim in the dusk (until I recalled that it is shark feeding time) and had supper before setting off north to Antigua at midnight. We had a fast sail close hauled making 7-8 knots under clear starlit skies, arriving in English Harbour at 08:30. I went ashore to sign in at Customs and Immigration, the crew being required to stay onboard while our yellow quarantine flag was flying.

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