I have not been on Sailnet much in the last year because I have been, well, sailing. My wife lost her job at a financial company in Jersey last April so our cruising plans were quickly moved up. We left Liberty Landing in Jersey City in early May (the nice people at the marina let us out of our dock contract for 2010-1) and were soon the only boat cruising in Long Island Sound in cool and wet weather (but we had our choice of anchorages). Our quick departure meant we were doing installs of things like solar panels and a Monitor steering system at anchor but it worked out fine.
After tootling around in the Sound for a time we did a shakedown to Bermuda and back in early June then headed north and east again. Our plan was to go Maine but we were T-boned by a Marshall catboat while on a mooring in Plymouth, MA (don't ask how that happened - I can't explain). That meant a month there while we got the damage fixed and the topsides painted, so no Maine cruise.
Headed south to the Chesapeake and then went offshore to St Thomas (11 days). Decided to go south quickly and come back north slowly so, after three weeks in the BVIs had a couple of overnights and got to St Vincent after about a week. Spent over a month in the Grenadines and Grenada (both wonderful) and then came up-island visiting the places we skipped on the way down, like Martinique, St Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe, St Martin, Antigua, PR
and the Bahamas. Left the boat in Fort Pierce in prep for next year's adventures. The Caribbean cruise was intended to provide an overview of the Eastern Caribbean and it did.
Some overall conclusions (in no particular order)
- had a great time overall; highly recommend the experience
- even adjancent islands are remarkably different, both geographically and culturally
- people you meet, both on boats and locals are friendly and accommodating
- fewer problems and concerns than I expected re security, boat boys, etc
- cost was less than I expected
- really helpful and enjoyable to get involved in local cruiser communities
- best to pick your spots for provisioning and boat stuff buying
- entering into and clearing out of so many countries is a pain at times
- you could spend a looong time cruising in the area we visited quickly
- the offshore passage down is not be taken lightly but gets you there quickly
- the Thorny Path is a long, slow way to get there but better for less capable boats
- Europeans tend to cruise on smaller boats (25-28') than North Americans
- Brits seem to have almost all of the huge (>150') sailboats
- Norwegians, South African and Canadian boats seemed tp present in larger than expected numbers
- fewer US boats that might be expected (economy?)
- fewer charter boats than I expected, even in BVI
- the French and Dutch have done a better job with their former colonies than the British
- an asymmetric spinnaker means you get to sail a lot more than you would otherwise
- further south you go the nicer the weather
- you *really* come to appreciate how important distance to windward is; even when you are in St Thomas you have a long way to got to windward
- Chris Parker's weather forecasts are most helpful
In total we did about 6400 miles and sailed about 850 hours and motored about 330 hours (including into and out of harbours/anchorages and motorsailing. The Bristol 45.5 did wonderfully well, whether on passage (five days with 25-35 knots west and south of Bermuda) or as a home in harbour. We had no major failures and had only one major purchase - a new windlass because the price in St Martin was very attractive and I was not confident in our almost 30 year old windlass (that did not offer power down or have a manual setting for emergencies.
Ainia is almost ready to go again. I think I will replace the standing rigging because I do not know how old it is. I also need to replace some running rigging. We have decided not to keep the varnish up on the massive toe rail and rubrail since we will be in the tropics for the foreseeable future. The new windlass is in a different spot and I will build some partial bulkheads in the forepeak to improve storage efficiency.
Comments and questions welcome.