Sunday, 15 March 2015

Guadeloupe Reflections

Guadeloupe was magical.  And it was boring.  Not in the short time we were there, of course, but Patrick and I could both see that “another day in paradise” would get old after awhile.  (earlier blog posts and photos of paradise here and here...).

This surprised us.  While planning our trip, we thought we might just fall in love with the Caribbean and decide to make it our home-base for cruising.  After visiting a few ports and mooring areas around the island, we realized that we would be bored silly.  The ports are just places to park the boat while making repairs or re-fueling. One palm-studded sandy beach looks very much like another, and nothing looks more like a Caribbean anchorage than another Caribbean anchorage. The natural environment can be spectacular but it never really changes.

We mentioned this unexpected and somewhat-disturbing discovery of ours to sailing friends who have sailed in the Caribbean. Their opinion was that the Caribbean was an interesting place to sail, but only for a couple of weeks.  Another cruising couple also highlighted security problems that make you very hesitant to leave your boat or dinghy unattended in many areas.  They said they actually stayed on board their boat most of the time and rarely went ashore together. That just doesn't sound like much fun to me.

Rather than undertake a month-long Atlantic crossing only to end up disappointed by the Caribbean and then undertaking another month-long Atlantic crossing to return home, their suggestion was to simply charter a boat locally for several weeks.  How sensible.  And we can say that, for the time being, it doesn't interest us at all. 

Don’t get us wrong: there are TONS of sailing blogs out there (more than 50% I’d say) by people who love love love sailing full-time in the Caribbean, and the revelation that it’s not our cup of tea isn't meant to dissuade anyone.  We will definitely go back to the Caribbean as island-hopping sun-seeking tourists for that extraordinary natural beauty and climate.  We just don’t want to live there.

I've said it before: Patrick and I are travelers who sail.  For us, no place offers more historical, cultural, linguistic, culinary and scenic diversity than the Mediterranean, with the added bonus of warm weather and water at least 6 months of the year.  Maybe the sailing conditions aren't always the best (too much / not enough wind), but that’s not why we’re doing this.  Who knows - maybe we’ll be disappointed with the Med, too, although we've already sailed there three times (Corsica, Sardinia, Tunisia, Lampedusa, Malta, Sicily) and loved it. 

For the first time since we began sailing, our dreams and plans are coming into clear focus.  When we began the blog, we said we didn't know if this would be a blog about a couple who sails around the world or about a couple who gives up sailing after a few years of testing the waters. Now we know that: 

1)  we will continue sailing and living aboard 6 months of the year until we’re too old to make that feasible (and then we’ll just move onto a canal barge and drift around Europe’s waterways !);

2)  we will sail extensively around Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Eastern Atlantic Islands (Cape Verde Islands, Madeira, the Canaries, the Azores, etc.) ; and

3)  we may sail in the Caribbean and South Pacific, but by chartering locally rather than investing time and effort in those long ocean passages ourselves.  (Mom ! Stop cheering ! I can hear you all the way from Florida. How embarrassing…)


Anonymous said...

And may I recommend the Pacific Northwest? Beautiful islands, nice ports, fantastic scenery, and reasonable security. - Craig

MH said...

Thanks, Craig - that sounds idyllic. I have friends who sail in that area and it is definitely on my dream list.

Ed Mitchell said...

But not America's inner waterways?! Sail up into the Great Lakes, down the Chicago River, down the Mississippi, across the inner coastal to Mobile, up the Tombigbee River to the Tombigbee Canal, to the Tennessee River and back to the Ohio. Would love to see you at Owensboro.

MH said...

Hey Ed, The US waterways is an interesting option, but that will have to wait until we finish exploring Europe. (How old will we be then??) Two gorgeous young ladies and excellent photo-journalists just completed the The Great Loop (you can see their route here: they are pondering a book deal about it. We met Ed and Sue Kelly this summer, who completed a European loop from the north sea to the black sea into the Med and back up around to their starting point in London, passing through the canals and rivers of Europe over the Continental Divide. That's another dream loop. So much to see !!!