Skip to main content

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:
  • Updated:
    Original:

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.

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

Rescue

Cruising: Safety Lessons Learned

It’s not often that sailors get a chance to put their rescue and MOB training to the test, rarer still that they do as quickly as newbie California sailor Khosrow “Koz” Khosravani did recently. If and when an emergency situation ever arises, though, it pays to be prepared. This ...read more

01-LEAD-'22.01.10_FALKEN-Maiden_Emma-Bow

At the Helm: Sailplans

The first thing you notice when you look at the sailplan for the Farr 65, Falken, which Mia and I recently added to the fleet here at 59-North, is the sheer number of headsails. Falken was built in 1999 as a racing boat to go around the world, and the crew would have carried the ...read more

01-PR-2-Throwing-it-Back-_©LaurensMorel

Racing Class Reunion

Where does an old VO70 go to retire? Right back to the racing circuit, apparently. This spring saw a remarkable contingent of Volvo Ocean Race one designs back on the water and duking it out on the Caribbean circuit. While it’s no surprise that some of the VO65 teams intending ...read more

05-Sailboats-moored-in-sheltered-waters-off-of-Kärrsön

Charter: Sweden

With 2,000 miles of coastline, 270,000 islands and seemingly countless bays and inlets, Sweden is truly a sailor’s paradise. One of the top sailing destinations here is the archipelago just outside the country’s second largest city Gothenburg (locally known as Göteborg), on the ...read more

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more