You'll land at Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe.
The Marina at Bas du Fort, where there are supermarkets, restaurants, bakers and shops, is just 15 minutes from the airport.
- 1st option: if the model of your boats allows, you can choose to take La Rivière Salée which runs between Grande Terre and Basse Terre, in a northerly direction towards Antigua. In this case you need to be at the opening of the bridge at 5 am, (the bridge is closed on Sundays and off-season between August and November; it is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Telephone 05 90 21 26 50).
When you leave the river you must wait until daybreak in order to see and follow the right navigation channel (this is a good spot to have breakfast), the bouys are well spaced out and easy to see, but any departure from this channel is unauthorised.
Once out of the channel you have 30 miles, or about 5 hours of navigation, to reach the mythical and nicely sheltered bay at English Harbour, the former base of Admiral Nelson. Here you will find beaches, coconut palms, transparent waters, historical buildings, museums and a convivial atmosphere emanating from the pubs which come alive at nightfall.
- 2nd option: you can skirt round Basse Terre to the south and head for Les Saintes which are 5 to 6 hours' sail away. This archipelago of Caribbean isles is extremely appealing, with numerous moorings, fine sandy beaches and really beautiful coves.
The main anchorage is to be found at Anse du Bourg, near the village and beneath the doctor's house that is built in the shape of a ship's prow. In the evenings things come to life, with numerous tourists taking in the scents and sounds of fish barbecues, ti punch and pinacolada...the holidays are off to a good start!
Departure from Les Saintes to take up the tradewinds from Guadeloupe.
You can take in the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve at Pigeon Island, where you can swim or try some underwater diving, then you can either dip your toes into the waters off the charming fishing village of Deshaies after 7 hours' sail, or you can continue on your way for 11 - 12 hours' sail to Antigua to drop anchor in the famous bay at English Harbour.
3rd and 4th days
Set sail for Green Island and Non Such Bay, 3 hours' sail away and mainly done with the engines as you'll be heading into the winds.
This is really worth a visit, as you will arrive in a magical cove, sheltered by a large coral reef and with moorings off the beach of Green Island where there are few boats. This is a really unspoilt spot...
You will be only too happy to spend a second day here, simply in order to make the most of this beautiful site, which is also ideal for kite surf and wind surf enthusiasts.
5th and 6th days
Set sail for paradise! 5 hours' navigation will take you to beaches of coral pink sand, coconut palms and warm and translucent waters as far as the eye can see. You'll feel as if you're swimming in an aquarium - there are so many reef fish, and of so many colours! (Be careful not to barbecue them though, as they are infected by the Ciguatera toxin!).
You have arrived at Barbuda, an extremely unspoilt island and one which is not very often visited by tourists given that you need to sail into the wind in order to drop anchor off the beach. The island is very flat and so the tradewind blows without any obstruction - as you are on the leeward side of the island the sea is as smooth as oil and conditions are perfect for surfing.
7th and 8th days
It's the beginning of the return towards Guadeloupe now:
- You can either have a full day's sail around the windward side of the island and arrive at Marie-Galante or Petite Terre
- or you can sail via the leeward side of the island as on the outward journey, but this is a longer route.
- You can also do this route in two stages: leave Barbuda and head for Grenn Island, then from here towards Guadeloupe via the eastern windward side of the island and passing via the Pointe des Chateaux, which is simply magnificent. You'll be sailing very fast, over a shorter distance and you will also have time to visit Petite Terre or Marie-Galante.
If you leave early enough you can get back to the marina at Bas du Fort where you will leave your boat and will have time to spend the rest of the day visiting Guadeloupe and buying those last-minute souvenirs before flying home...
...where you can start planning your next cruise :)