At the first sliver of sunlight on the horizon, I am awakened by a single rooster soon to become a chorus. I turn in my bunk and listen to the waves gently lapping against Cream Puff’s hull. The day is beginning.
I am still a little groggy since our overnight sail from St Kitts. I try to get out of the bunk without waking Cindy. This never seems to work and she asks, “What time is it?” I tell her to go back to sleep. We don’t get enough sleep on the short overnight passages. Longer passages of 3 days or more allow us to get into more of a routine and sleep isn’t a problem. The one-nighters wear us out. In the galley, I retrieve my teapot from its special spot in the cabinet. It has a special place so it doesn’t break during rough passages. Our passage wasn’t rough this time but we always stow items like we are preparing for a storm. The batteries need a little bit of a charge before the solar panels collect enough of the sun’s rays to take over. I start the generator and fire up the battery chargers. I push the button to start the air conditioning in our aft cabin giving Cindy a nice cool room to continue sleeping. Since the generator is running the electric kettle is used to save on propane. Two heaping teaspoons of Taylors of Harrogate English Breakfast Tea go into the teapot as I wait for the kettle to boil my water.
We have Wi-Fi. I will never again take having Wi-Fi for granted so long as I live. Going disconnected for long periods is an ongoing challenge. I download and print The Times Daily Crossword Puzzle and wait for the tea to brew. Pulling back the hatch on the companion way reveals the beginnings of a gorgeous day. I often forget where we are until I peak outside in the mornings. This nomadic life does that to a person. Oh yeah, we moved again, didn’t we? The battery monitor shows the bank of eight batteries is about 90 percent charged; enough to wait until the sun is fully up and the solar panels top them off. I turn off the generator. The quietness of the morning takes over and again I hear the roosters from the shore.
I settle into a shaded corner of the cockpit propping my pillows up. Sipping my tea, I look about. We are in a little corner of paradise called Anse du Fond Cure. The boat swings slowly on its mooring about 180 degrees as it can’t make up its mind to point into the light morning breeze or the outgoing tide. For me, my view changes and I watch as the shoreline passes by my line of sight. It’s reminiscent to looking through a camera panning on a tripod. The town’s red roofs are starting to stand out as the morning light brightens. Palm trees shimmer. I fell lucky to be alive, really alive.
A house shaped like a ship drifts into view. For a brief second I have to remind myself it is us moving, not the house. When learning about the history of the island we later find out the house once belonged to a prominent photographer. When the photographer died, he willed the house to the township with one stipulation. The town could keep the house so long as it was occupied by a physician for the local people. The idea worked. The home is currently occupied by the island’s doctor. I wonder if the photographer died because he couldn’t get a doctor.
Arriving in French Guadeloupe we sailed past the main island. Opting to skip the big island until next season, we traveled a little further to a fabulous anchorage in the Îles des Saintes, a small cluster of islands just off Guadeloupe’s south coast. Technically, we are in France. The islands are a part of France. Later we will go into town and check in with the Customs and Immigration Office. We also need to find an ATM to get some Euros so we can pay for our mooring buoy. We hope to stay here about a week before continuing on toward Grenada. But for now, I take it all in from my vantage point in the bay and begin the crossword. I try not to think about the sail repair needing to be done again. The repair I made in St Kitts held but the webbing in the tack was so worn it broke in another place. I am in too good of a mood and it’s too early to start thinking about it. I use the crossword to get my mind back to nonconstructive events.
Mid morning, we motor the dinghy to a public dock by the pharmacy. We grab our backpack containing all our official papers and passports. I pull out the camera and start to take pictures as we catch our first peek of Terre-de-Haut (Land of High – Highland). Imagine a small French village transplanted onto a tropical island. Most people do not speak any English and my high school French is horrid. But somehow we make it through the immigration process. We treat ourselves to gelato to escape the already warm day. The church bell strikes twelve.
Food and wine are important in the French culture. They make time to enjoy meals. At lunch on the island, everything closes for two hours. And, I mean everything! Even some of the restaurants closed for lunch. I love this about the French. More people should learn to put work on the back burner for a couple of hours each day and enjoy life. Evening meals last all evening. If they sit to dine at eight, they will make the meal last until eleven. Our first meal ashore doesn’t disappoint. We found a petite café on the main street. For us, it is too hot to drink wine for lunch but this doesn’t stop the locals. Wine is cheap here. It is less expensive to have a glass of wine than a soda. This is our kind of place.