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Old 27-08-2010, 13:28   #1
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Rivière-Salée in Guadeloupe

Has anyone navigated the Riviere Salee in Guadeloupe? We will be in a 50' Cat with a 26' beam and 78' mast. Is this river navigable for us or unrealistic? It seems like a good bit of advanture and something different. I am not sure if it would be worth it or not. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 27-08-2010, 14:52   #2
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Read about the Rivière-Salée
Guadeloupe's Northern Anchorages and the Rivière Salée | Caribbean
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Old 27-08-2010, 21:23   #3
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Simply put it is not an impossible task. I have a 60 ft monohull boat and was thinking about exiting north to save having to go all the way around the SW end of Guadeloupe. So I took my dinghy all the way up the Rive Salee and decided it was better to go south and around. The decision was based on the restrictions on the bridges you must past through and one particular nasty right angle bend in the river just before/after one of the bridges. I did not think I could hold station and turn rapidly enough with a single screw big sailboat to make it through the bridge. Also the water depth in some areas is 1.6m or 5 ft.
- - But for a twin screw catamaran with shallow draft, all of these concerns are eliminated. So you could navigate the Rive Salee with little difficulty - but - research carefully because I believe you have to do the passage so as to pass the bridges in the dead of night - not the daytime. There were piling installed before and after each bridge for rafting up to to wait for the bridge opening time.
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Old 28-08-2010, 05:48   #4
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I once considered the Riviere Salee as a shortcut, but you need to be ready for the bridge openings, which I believe is about 0430 for the first one. I decided that I didn't want to be putzing around in the dark in a shallow, restricted and unfamiliar waterway. I think it would be fun in daylight, but that's not an option.

Instead, we cleared out at the marina in Pointe-a-Pitre, asking the officer if we could spend a couple of days at Saint-Francois on the way to Antigua. He told me that'd be no problem. SF was a very enjoyable little town with a nice anchorage. Good restaurants and a super supermarket. We continued east, rounded the point and sailed along the NE coast of Guadeloupe en route to Antigua.

In my opinion, Saint-Francois and Les Iles des Saintes are the two best destinations in Guadeloupe. Deshaies is "OK", as is P-a-P. Give Basseterre a miss.
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Old 28-08-2010, 06:11   #5
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I will second that - bypass Basseterre do not stop - unless you are 30 ft (9m) or under. A very good friend with a 42 ft sailboat tried to enter the little marina and found it near impossible to maneuver inside. When exiting he encountered a standing wave train in the neck of the opening and nearly lost the boat as he was pivoted 90 degrees with his bow overhanging the jetty rocks. We met up again at Iles des Saintes where he and his wife were in the little church on their knees giving thanks for not losing their boat during that terrifying maneuver. So it is not advisable for anybody over 30 ft to try to enter there.
- - Last year Iles des Saintes was still using the "fax" method of clearing boats in and out. You go to the little police station next to the little triangular park "downtown" and they will fax the paperwork to P-A-P and get your clearance back in an hour or two. No charges, of course, in the French Islands.
- - P-A-P was well worth a stop especially to see the Bas du Fort Marina and visit the French Cafe/Restaurants which are excellent. We anchored just outside the Marina along the eastern shore just before the Carenage and then dinghied into the marina. We also rented a car and drove completely around the two "wings". It was fascinating and a lot of fun. We went over both of the bridges over the Rive Sallee which are about 1nm apart. I would not recommend trying the river on a moonless night, in fact, a full moon night would be the best time. As I said there are pilings by each bridge so you can tie up and wait for sunrise after passing the bridges.
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Old 02-09-2010, 16:13   #6
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Thanks to all.

Based on the advice here we have adjusted our itinerary to skip the Rivere Salee and most of Guadeloupe. We are going, istead, to visit the Jaques Cousteau Underwater Marine reserve off the NW coast for a full day and then head out from there to Antigua the following morning. I am assuming we can clear in and out of Deshais. Or is there a better place given that we want to stay as close to the dive sights as possible. The sail from there to Antigua will have us on a NNE heading. Will this be possible given the prevailing winds in mid-November or will it likely involve tacking? Either way, the distance does not seem overwhelming. The more I read of Antgua the more I want to spend time there instead of Guadeloupe. Any comments? Great chatting with everyone.

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Old 02-09-2010, 17:18   #7
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Good luck clearing out of Deshaies. I've tried to clear in there, coming over from Nevis, maybe six or seven times. The Douanes office up the hill has been always closed. No luck at Basseterre either. I've always found the Saintes office convenient.
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Old 02-09-2010, 17:21   #8
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Guadloupe clearace

Hey Hud, how is the weather in Nevis now? Still blowing? Anyway, there is no way I want to sail all the way to the Saints to clear in and out. What happens if the office is closed and we just sail away to Antigua?
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Old 02-09-2010, 17:40   #9
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Weather here is good right now. Fiona went by to the NE with no impact. Others are coming from Africa, so we'll keep an eye on them.

Do you plan to visit Les Iles des Saintes? Well worth the time--such a nice place! You can clear out there and ask for permission to stop along the way on Guadeloupe with no problem. I really don't know if the folks in Antigua will freak out if you don't have outbound clearance from Guadeloupe. They do tend to insist on proper paperwork there, however.

I had a real incident with immigration in St Maarten while clearing in at Philipsburg. We had left Barbuda without clearing out because of huge swells which prevented us from getting over to the lagoon and to Codrington where the customs/immigration office was. We needed to get to the BVI to meet our son, who was flying down to join us.

The agent in St Maarten berated me for 20 minutes about not having the paperwork, but didn't throw me in jail or confiscate my boat, even though she threatened to. Grrrr!

It's hard to predict how the officials will react if you don't have the paperwork in order. It's a rubber stamp society down here, so the safe course is to dot the i's and cross the t's.
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Old 17-07-2012, 09:03   #10
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Re: Rivière-Salée in Guadeloupe

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Originally Posted by luv2 View Post
Has anyone navigated the Riviere Salee in Guadeloupe? We will be in a 50' Cat with a 26' beam and 78' mast. Is this river navigable for us or unrealistic? It seems like a good bit of advanture and something different. I am not sure if it would be worth it or not. Thanks for the advice.
Definitely worth it ...Just done it in a 40ft cat drawing 1.2m. three lifting bridges need to be raised for the mast clearance...once up no height limit just look out for low flying aircraft.
It says in the pilot ...min depth [at northern end] 1.7 over CD...we did not find even a 2m min. Draught is the main consideration, though the second of the two southern is the narrowest we were 22 ft and it was narow enough to warrant fenders both sides ....at 26 ft you should be ok but over 30 ft wide might have dificulties because you need to go through at a bit of an angle and there is a slight cross current.
Once through in the early morning sun it is idilic.
I would do it again if the oportunity arose.
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