It was an early start for us on Wednesday to meet at the dive centre for 0800. Once aboard their boat, 20 of us sped south for an hour to Pigeon Island for 2 dives and lunch, returning to Deshaies after 1600.
It was a brilliant day and very good value. We didn’t expect hot rice and chicken curry, salad, French bread followed by a banana and chocolate cake for lunch on a boat. Being French, we weren’t surprised to see most people smoking, 1 of the crew filling the petrol tank as we went along and no forms to fill out before diving. They also served up alcoholic rum punches with lunch and after the dives. I love the French ☺
There are white buoys for the dive boats and a couple of yellow buoys at the park but we thought the yellow ones, which are for yachts, were too close to the shore for Beyzano. The anchorage on the mainland is just a short dinghy ride from the park, so a better option would be to do that. The water was crystal clear and the photo. above is taken from the dive boat, many metres above the rocks.
There were 5 staff with our group giving us small dive groups and plenty of time to explore. The morning’s dive was very pretty and there wasn’t too much current. We stayed down 78 minutes and saw lots of different fish, 1 lionfish and some barracuda. There was an area of sand where the dive guide told us to put our palms on it. It was warm and I assume associated with the thermal springs in this area.
For the long lunch stop, we anchored in Malendure, the anchorage opposite the park and all swam off the boat, looking for turtles. Many were spotted but it wasn’t until the following day, when Rob and I took Beyzano there, that we got a photo. After lunch we went back to the eastern side of Pigeon Island and our second dive was also lovely. We dived down to see the statue of Jacques Cousteau, the famous French scuba diver and went deeper this time against a beautiful cliff of coral and sponges. There were lots of colourful fish once more and it was a very pretty dive site. Some of the party came just to snorkel and could see much of what we saw just from the surface.
We then sped back to base, avoiding lots of fish pots which we noted for our journey south and the crew let a young girl drive the boat for a while, much to her delight. Most of the conversation was in French but it was good to hear and try to understand what was going on. The staff all explained the essentials to us in English and the parents encouraged their children to talk to us in English as they are learning the language at school. The centre has large tubs of fresh water for washing off our gear and filled our tanks whilst we were away. They use steel tanks and the difference in weight from our aluminium tanks was marked. Being on your back rather than in the weight pouches at our sides, it made it difficult to keep balanced and we took some time to adjust.
We briefly caught up with John, on ‘Elephant’s Child’ and waved goodbye to ‘Mr Curly’ on our way out of the bay and hope to see them both further down the chain. As we move south and the summer approaches it is definitely getting warmer and the days are lengthening by an hour or so (not a lot compared to the UK). Over the last few months we have resorted to using a sheet to cuddle under at night, as it actually felt chilly once or twice. Having no covers takes some getting used to as I think it is a psychological need, to pull some cosy covers over you to aid going to sleep. Just lying there without any covers is quite strange!
The journey along Guadeloupe’s western coast was variable to say the least. From drifting along with just 3 knots of wind, it suddenly gusted up to 28 knots and we were lucky we were motoring at the time, so weren’t caught out. We stopped for the night in Malendure, with excellent holding in sand. Mind you, we saw another yacht try to anchor 5 times, dragging back over 200 metres from where they started. They had a CQR anchor and were doing everything right from a procedure point of view, so only the anchor design could be blamed. We do still recommend our Spade or a Rocna, as they seem to set well, dig in and hold. No sleepless nights 🙂