Why Not a Month? Page 2

For the past few years we have chartered monohulls and catamarans in the Caribbean for the usual week or, sometimes, 10 days. We savored every moment of those brief charters, but invariably felt pressed for time and regretfully passed by anchorages we knew would be more perfect than all the rest. If only we had two weeks, or better yet, a whole month, we could ease into our vacation, explore
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
AntiguaCruising,0598

Our month-long charter made it possible not only to visit some out-of-the-way anchorages that wouldn’t normally tempt us, but also allowed us to linger in the most beautiful and sought-after anchorages. At the southern end of St. Lucia is the famed marine park between the two Pitons. We spent three glorious days there with only one minor irritation, checking into customs, which by this time had lost some of its charm. One of the drawbacks of our long run from St. Martin to St. Vincent was that we changed countries about 10 times and each time had to clear in. A few offices are beginning to modernize. For example, in Martinique we checked in and out by computer, but in St. Vincent the process was downright primitive. We were initially charged $200 because the owner of the boat wasn’t with us, but we managed to haggle the price down to $100. Most customs offices charged a modest fee of around $10.

By the time we reached St. Lucia, we were growing a bit weary of anchoring and picking up mooring balls, the time-consuming customs rituals, motorsailing along the lee side of islands, and even cooking. Our best intentions to prepare most of our meals on board gradually weakened, and by the end of our trip we were spreading money around in local restaurants, much to the relief of the customer-starved harbor haunts.

l.deutsch

There are inevitable downsides to a month-long charter. On islands with fewer charter boats, like Statia or Dominica, making contact with the charter company is impossible without a cellphone. We solved this problem by purchasing local SIM cards in several of the islands, which allowed us to use our unlocked GSM quad-band cellphone, which we brought with us from the U.S. Getting reliable weather information was also tricky: the Sunsail bases were not well informed about weather conditions outside their bases, and many of the radio reports were in French. My French is reasonably good, but I am not familiar with nautical terms or weather words. Dale solved that problem in Roseau, Dominica, by subscribing to Virtual Buoy (buoyweather.com) and Windguru, services he could consult when we had Internet access. This allowed us to avoid ocean runs on days when the waves were ten or more feet high, or when the wind was too strong.

Again, such delays allowed us to spend more time exploring the islands and hanging around the harbors. In Roseau on Dominica, for example, Dale enjoyed a head massage and haircut, and later we caught a local bus that was filled with kids on their way home from school. On our ride way up to Laudet, high in the mountains, we saw a lush tropical forest with breadfruit, grapefruits, coconuts, and bananas going unpicked. These were all sights and smells we would not have enjoyed on our usual trips.

In Deshaies, on Guadeloupe, we spent a whole day at the magnificent botanical gardens; one evening in Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts, we lingered to watch a parade of carnival dancers dressed in exotic costumes; in Portsmouth, on Dominica, we had time to do the Indian River trip. On St. Vincent we were able to tarry long enough on our trip up to the gorgeous Montreal Gardens to watch a villager prepare a potion of herbs to ease my sniffles.

Some of the crossings between islands were numbingly long for casual sailors like us. Especially in unfavorable or uncomfortable conditions, we ended up doing more motorsailing, especially in the Leeward Islands, than we would have liked so we could reach a harbor in time to anchor, clear customs, and enjoy cocktail hour. But all these minor irritations were insignificant, and you can bet we’d do it all again—if we have the opportunity.

Related

Pestilence

Sailor-Punk and the State of Cruising

Back when I was a young man, sailing back and forth across the North Atlantic in an old fiberglass sailboat, it seemed fairly obvious to me how all that was wrong in the world might be set right. Everyone should be issued a boat at birth! Or so I declared to any who would listen ...read more

promoOnTheHorizon600x

Cats On The Horizon

Dragonfly 32 Evolution Denmark’s Quorning Boats has been systematically upgrading its line of folding, performance-cruiser trimarans in recent years as part of a long-term effort to incorporate the latest developments in yacht design, with the latest to receive this treatment ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more