The Caribbean Sailing Season Update
29 October 2014
Well it's about time that we update our blog and it has been a long time coming. I am sure some of you have actually given up on ever seeing anything again. So here goes....mainly from memory:
This Christmas was spent in Charlotte Amalie USVI and as always it was really nice to be away from the really cold weather they were having back home. Christmas dinner was had on Lone Star with five other couples anchored in the bay. It was a beautiful day in paradise. Another round of guests (Charlene and Colin) were getting ready to arrive in the next week, only to be delayed by a day due to bad weather back home. Upon their arrival, we quickly packed up and headed back over to the BVI's for some scuba diving and snorkeling. Unfortunately, due to the time of year the scuba diving was less then spectacular because of the high winds which really had churned up the water. Fun was still had by all with some good sailing and checked out some of the islands which we had not been to in a few years. Once they left, we had another round of guests (Kim and Sandy) arriving in the USV's and we took them over to the BVI's as well. First was a brief stop in Soper's Hole to check-in and then over to Cane Gardens for the Superbowl. We returned to St Thomas with them and sent up 95 stairs to Blackbeard's Castle. They spent the whole day there and of course came back SUD (showed up drunk). After a few trips over to the BVI's, we discovered many places where you can still anchor and save yourself the cost of mooring balls. BVI's are now back on our list of great places we have visited now that we know where to stay without incurring the cost of daily mooring fees. So now our guests have all come and gone and we were on our own again for a while.
We then decided to head over to Culebra with a few other boats for a change of pace. We anchored in Ensenada Honda Harbor and spent a wonderful week there touring the island and just enjoying the surroundings. Ten of us jumped on the early morning ferry over to Puerto Rico for of day shopping. The trip over costs 4.00 round trip for the two us and is about a 20 mile trip. When was the last time anyone took a ferry at that price? A taxi was pre-arranged by Jane of Cheetah ll and for 10.00 each and we made stops all over the place including the fabric shop for new sunbrella ,the local West Marine, grocery store and of course a stop of lunch before heading back for the return trip to Culebra. If memory serves me right on our second trip to Culebra, a day was spent touring the island in rented golf carts where we made our way to Flamenco Beach. The beach stretches for a mile around a sheltered, horseshoe-shaped bay and is regarded as the finest in Puerto Rico, and quite possibly the whole Caribbean. Some people consider it to be among the top 10 in the world.
There was a few sails over to St. John and we anchored at many of the islands national park mooring fields. This island has probably some of the best snorkeling around and as fishing is not allowed in many of these spots the sea life is very plentiful. Speaking of snorkeling when anchored in Coral Bay for New Years, I was swimming over to Cheetah ll and found a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses. It was a great find as Michael had lost a pair of Oakley's overboard when he jumped into the water with them on the top of his head to rescue our runaway dinghy in Jolly Harbor the previous season.
By now, it was March and time to start thinking about heading back to St. Marten again for our return guests. Steve and Tina has so much fun the first time that they booked another trip. We anchored off Prickly Pear where we found the best internet in all of the islands thanks to Sir Richard Branson. He owns Necker Island which is right across from Virgin Gorda. Not only did he provide this great free internet, there was a fireworks display that evening that was better than some of shows we have seen back home. We departed at 3am with Chris and Fran from Changes who was also heading in the same direction. In the end they decided to keep going past St. Marten due to family commitments. Now that we were back in St. Marten, it was time to stock up on cheap beer, wine and food and wait for our guests to arrive. On our previous trip to St. Marten, Michael had spent many days with Mike of "Shrimpy's Laundry and Yacht Services" learning how to repair outboard dinghy motors. He was ready and eager to spend some more time getting his hands dirty. There was also the broken washing machine and ice maker that needed some attention as well. On Michael's birthday Highland Fling stopped by and the rest of day was spent taking the washing machine completely apart in the cockpit of the boat. There were parts everywhere and I doubted that it would ever go back together without extra pieces left over. Eventually, they figured out what part needed to be replaced and they put it all back together without issue. The broken part was now on the growing list of things that would be bought when we got home again. The ice maker would wait until Steve and Tina arrived as Steve is an expert on refrigeration. There was also a day spent re-sewing the UV on a head sail for Walkabout in the cockpit of the boat. Of course there was time for swimming and socializing as well, as there were many boats in the anchorage in Marigot Bay. The longest we stay in an anchorage is about two weeks and then you start to get itchy to get moving again. It was now time to go....just had to wait a few more days for Steve and Tina who were going to spend our last two weeks with us making our way back to Antigua. Upon their arrival we again loaded up and sailed over to Grand Case for the Tuesday evening street festivities and some of the best local food on the island. We then sailed around the island and over to St. Bart's where you find some of the richest and largest boats in all of the Caribbean. We stayed in Colombier where the mooring balls are free and the beach is beautiful. The only problem there is, if you go to shore and you want to go have a drink somewhere you better be prepared to pay big time as Steve and Tina found out later. $50.00US for two drinks!
Now it was time for some real sailing and over to St. Kitts and Nevis we went. Had a great sail and fished almost all the way. That night we had a wonderful tuna dinner. We spent a few days there but the plan was to do as much sailing as possible before we had to be back in Antigua for haul out. In the anchorage in Nevis we met another couple of Canadians from Vancouver and were making their way back to the east coast of Canada. We sent them on their way with all of the charts for the Bahamas as they would need them and we would get them back from them in the summer. It's always nice when you can help a fellow sailor out. In the meantime we discovered that our great big Canadian Flag and pole had "disappeared". Just another thing on the replacement list.
The next stop was island of Montserrat. The island was devastated by a volcano in 1995 and the capital city Plymouth was buried in more than 12 metres (39 ft) of mud. It destroyed the airport and docking facilities, and rendered the southern part of the island (the "exclusion zone") uninhabitable and not safe for travel. Two thirds of the population of the island had to flee the island. Visitors are generally not permitted entry into the exclusion zone, but an impressive view of the destruction of Plymouth can be seen from the top of Garibaldi Hill in Isles Bay. Many sailors do not stop here as the anchoring is not always that great. Timing was on our side as it was very calm while we were there. This is an island worth making a stop at (other than the abundance of sharks that we saw).
Now for the 48 nautical mile trip back to Antigua. Just another nice day sail in the islands. Up bright and early we motored out of the anchorage put the sails up and put out the fishing rods. Within minutes we heard the line shooting out on the reel....."fish on"! We slowed down and began reeling in the fish. Yes, another tuna was caught and enjoyed for dinner that evening in Falmouth Harbor. Next stop was Green Island which we had not been to before. All I can say is that it was spectacular. Green Island is an uninhabited island just off the east coast of Antigua and offers a wide variety of pristine white sand secluded beaches. We moored behind the reef and enjoyed our last few days there. It really was time now to get over to Jolly Harbor and prepare for haul out. The sails were removed with the help of Steve and Tina. They were leaving the next day and we had one day left before we were scheduled to be hauled. The boat was hauled and power washed. The two weeks' worth of laundry was done and the boat was tidied up inside and out. Some work was arranged to be done while we are gone and we were now on our way home.......April 10th, 2014.