The Spanish Virgins
There’s a basic injustice about the way sailors view the Virgin Islands. St Thomas and St John—the main U.S. Virgins— are well-known tourist and sailing destinations, while right next door, the British Virgin Islands draw sailors by the thousands to take advantage of the numerous charter companies based there. But what of the third set of Virgins—the islands of Culebra and Vieques off the east coast of Puerto Rico, known as the Spanish Virgins?
To us, they appeared ripe with opportunity—the road less travelled. If the British and U.S. Virgins offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, perhaps the Spanish Virgins would be a less crowded alternative to the others. We thought we’d check them out this winter, so we arranged to charter a Hunter 45 from Sail Caribe (sailcaribe.com), based in Fajardo on Puerto Rico’s east coast.
With me were Pip and Harry Nielsen and Tim and Jean Sheehy and their daughter, Megan, all raring to go after a few months of winter.
2012 Les Salons du Multicoques
Les Salons du Multicoques is a small, but influential European multihull boat show held on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of France in alternate years. This year it was held over a windblown, rainy weekend (April 18-22) in Lorient in Brittany next to a collection of massive submarine pens that date back to World War II. It didn't seem to me the show was very well attended, but all the builders I spoke to there had BIG smiles on their faces. As they explained it, this was a process of natural selection. Anyone willing to travel all the way to Lorient (it took me four hours by train from Paris to get there) and to come out in such grim weather HAD to be seriously interested in buying a boat.
"No tire-kickers here," they said.
And though I was, indeed, just a tire-kicker myself, I found plenty there to catch my interest.