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Caribbean vacation

We’re just back from another (our third) Caribbean sailing adventure. Our first trip in 2004 covered Guadaloupe, Les Saintes, Antigua, Nevis/StKitts, Saba and St Maarten. Trip two last year was Martinique to Grenadines. This time out we filled the gap, flying into Pointe a Pitre again, and sailing down to St Vincent over a 12 day period.

We are very fortunate to have some good friends who winter in the island chain every year, and more fortunate still to get invited to join them when we can. The boat is a Beneteau First 36.7 – not the heaviest or most comfortable blue water boat you might envision, but a great sled for the speedy type of tradewinds daysailing that we do in that area. Powered up and easily driven, we sail with a reef or two and a blade most of the time, and make very good time doing so, esp when headed generally south.

After a quick provision in Guadaloupe, we went for an evening swim at a beach at Grosier Ile nearby. A public beach (as are all French beaches) this one is lit up like a ball field for evening swimming – great idea!

We left the next morning for a “quick” hop to Marie Gallante. However the trades took an untypical day or two off for us, and our short dash turned into a sloppy beat into 8 – 10 knots of breeze on the nose. No matter, we are used to that here on Grenada via the Georgia Strait, and we spent a lovely night on the hook at Anse Canot. The next morning it was into the town St Louis for bagettes and pain chocolat. (and our first exposure to the new French pay toilets – 30 euro cents for 15 mins – not sure what happens if you exceed the time limit)

Sunset over Les Saintes:
>>

Dominica was our next stop and once again the winds deserted us and we actually ended up motoring the entire day…. Quite unheard of!
Calm Conditions:
>>

Domineca was very interesting. We rented a vehicle and drove the length of the island – you have to admire the tenacity of the crews that put roads on these islands – and those willing to drive them. Scotts head Park at the south end was one destination – no anchoring allowed so the only we to see it was by road. Unfortunately by now the swell was up and we were unable to snorkel there that day. We then took a cross island drive, stopped at Jacko Falls, and drove the windward side back to Portsmouth.

Domineca:






>>
A couple of nights here saw us heading south to Martinique with finally typical conditions of NE trades to 25 knots.





A quick reach across the gap saw us anchored off St Pierre beneath the impressive Mt Pele, which was unusually in the clear for the whole two days we were there. St Pierre is fascinating, esp for the evidence remaining of Pele’s 1902 devastating eruption, which killed all but two of the inhabitants, one of whom was a prisoner in solitary confinement. The pressure wave destroyed many major buildings, and hot sulphur gases did the rest.

>>
A visit to the DePaz rum distillery followed (also destroyed in 1902, but a family member in Europe at the time returned to rebuild). This is a beautiful setting with acres and acres of sugar cane on the slopes of the volcano, a family chateau and the distillery alongside the fields.

We moved on to sail by a regatta taking place in Fort Du France, stopped for lunch at Anse Noir before anchoring for the night in Anse Chaudierre near Petit Anse where the regatta fleet spent the night too. The next day saw us sail around the point and beat the 10 miles to Le Marin for supplies and water. These two days were often squally and rainy – several boats were seen to retire, one without a mast at the end of the day. We ran into two major squalls ourselves, one pushing 50 knots very briefly, the other softer but longer lasting with pelting rain.

TAIL END OF ONE SQUALL



GETTING A BIT DAMP!

>>

South of Martinique the sun came on strong and things warmed up (we had had nights as cool as 22 C and everyone on the weather nets were complaining and disbelieving their thermometers)

Another night on one of Benny’s buoys below the Pitons, always impressive, and we were off the St Vincent, stopping at Wallilabou Bay for a night.






The Pirates movie sets are breaking down a bit, but still neat to see, the boat boys aggressive as ever, but better organized and less squabbling between them. Another night in Petit Bayhaut a short trip south of Wallilabou produced snorkeling that nearly rivaled that of Xel-XHa in Tulum Mexico. Highly recommend this obscure little bay (as does Doyle). There is a small struggling resort here that offers meals to those anchored, and charges a nominal fee for the buoys (waived if you go to the restaurant for dinner)

A final night at Young Island Cut, a short taxi ride to the airport saw us packing up and coming home. By now the trades had filled in solid, and the sail down to Young Island was a one tack beat in 25 plus with some tidal short chop that settled into longer swells around the corner. A final windy night on the hook ensured no one missed the early morning taxi.


YOUNG ISLAND CUT


We, of course, feel very lucky to be able to enjoy this area in this fashion – no charter worries, experienced hosts, a very well found and well managed boat that we are able to sail as if it were our own.

Ron

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)

Last edited by Faster; 02-10-2008 at 01:14 PM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 02-10-2008
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Great pics...wish I was there.

Cheers,
Shawn

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post #3 of 13 Old 02-10-2008
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Great report and even better pictures, thanks for sharing.

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I had a dream, I was sailing, I was happy, I was even smiling. Then I looked down and saw that I was on a multi-hull and woke up suddenly in a cold sweat.
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post #4 of 13 Old 02-10-2008
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Faster,

I had been wondering if you were back and hoping you'd post a trip report. Thanks for the photos and vicarious thrill!

P.S. I'd be curious to hear more of your thoughts on that 36.7, as compared to your boat, etc, and suitability for coastal cruising verse racing.
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post #5 of 13 Old 02-10-2008
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Well done! And very nice pictures. No trouble with thieves, I presume?
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Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
Well done! And very nice pictures. No trouble with thieves, I presume?
No trouble with thieves, no, but you may have noticed that we spent very little time on St Lucia. Perhaps there's a corelation there.

An attempt to post a vid clip:


Ron

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)

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post #7 of 13 Old 02-10-2008
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Originally Posted by Faster View Post
No trouble with thieves, no, but you may have noticed that we spent very little time on St Lucia. Perhaps there's a corelation there.

An attempt to post a vid clip:
Cheers mate. Looks like it wasn't a complete waste of time. Nice pics too. good to have you back, even though you might be thinking wistfully of the islands. Couldn't blame you. Couple of weeks is simply not long enough.

btw, while you were gone the epic journey of the Womboat finally made it online in the Cruising forum. I believe that Clooney has been signed to star in the upcoming hollywood epic to be directed by Woody Allen, or was that starring Allen and directed by Clooney ? I do know that Russell Crowe is very upset as he saw it a great career opportunity after Master and Commander but I had to tell him no.

Andrew B

“Life is a trick, and you get one chance to learn it.”
― Terry Pratchett, Nation

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post #8 of 13 Old 02-10-2008
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YOU SUCK! but don't feel bad, it's becoming common around here lately
Beautiful pics and story. i probably speak for a few of us on here and i say again with great envy. YOU REALLY SUCK!
thanks for sharing and raining on our parade

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Sin City, Liquor all day, Poker all night...Channel Islands & Diego, So Cal
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Faster,
That was wonderful! You guys are smoking along in that video... Did I hear you say "It's going to look so tame"?
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Faster,
That was wonderful! You guys are smoking along in that video... Did I hear you say "It's going to look so tame"?
Yes, you did, and it does compared to the ride we were having at the time. As we approached Martinique the swells built pretty good and we got some good surfing goin on. Top indicated boatspeed on a wave was 13.4 knots. Our average for the day was 8.8 knots over 45 miles.

Ron

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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