Category Archives: Caribbean

Day 15 – Back to Civilization

Practice for the Carnival, Martinique
Practice for the Carnival, Martinique

Up around sunrise, we pack our gear and salty, weathered clothes.

When Pierre comes by to check us out, we give him the list of things that should be fixed. Being a new boat, from what I can tell ours was the first longer (multi-week) charter she has been on. We tell him that Ginger was quite comfortable but the reefing was anything other than ‘automatic’ as they called it. It took three of us and much winching to properly reef.

We also talked about how she didn’t sail upwind so well. Pierre said in french they have a saying that Lagoons sail “upwind like the fog”.  This had us chuckling for a while.

The day we pulled out of Le Marin, we were still tied up getting ready and another cat rented from Regis came motoring up the fairway towards us at higher speed than normal. He reached the end of the fairway where we and another cat were tied off perpendicular to the fairway. He then did a quick somewhat spastic turn, hit the boat in front of us with a big crunch then motored back out the fairway without stopping.

We were a little stunned, then gave our contact info to the man whose boat was clobbered in case they needed a witness. We chuckled and noted to ourselves to beware this kind of skipper on our trip.

Given the rough sailing conditions, tricky harbors and reefs we had seen on this trip, I was curious and asked Pierre how often people crashed their boats. He said “every week”. He said in fact that the boat we saw perform the hit and run then promptly motored into Marin harbor and ran hard aground on one of the marked reef. Someone saw it and told Regis, however the skipper never did. He returned the boat and said everything was fine. It was bad enough they had to haul the boat and repair the hulls.

I’m very impressed with Regis Guillemot, both as a charter company and a person. The staff seem very competent, honest, hardworking and friendly. On both nights we were on the boat in Marin, Regis (the owner) was there working late, attending to details long after his staff had gone home.

As we are waiting to check out, we have some time to walk around and look at boats. there are more cats here than I’ve seen anywhere else. Tons of Lagoons and Fountaine Pajots. Some Catanas, Outremers, Nauticats, Privilege. I was expecting to see some of the newer Leopards, but didn’t see any. I reckon it’s because the Leopards are made in South Africa and we are surrounded mostly by french cats. Would like to try an Outremer or Catana next time. They are more performance oriented and have daggerboards which improve upwind sailing.

We (Kelley, Loren, Susan and I) take a taxi from Marin to Fort de France. Same nice driver (Max) who had taken us to Marin on the first night.

We find a hotel down by the waterfront, it’s a rather quaint and disorganized place. The first pair of rooms we get are already occupied. Since we don’t speak French, it was interesting to pantomime that concept to the puzzled clerk.

We set out in search of food, but it is Sunday and almost everything is closed. There is one restaurant but it’s totally full of people from a cruise ship that is in port. We wander the shuttered streets getting more and more hungry, cranky and hot. We round one corner and there is a huge, gleaming McDonalds which is open and appears to be quite busy.

None of us are McDonalds fans, and it seems so perverse to be in an exotic place like this and go to McDonalds. Then again, having eaten foreign foods for a couple of weeks, there is a tiny voice in my head saying how wonderful a burger & fries would taste, eaten in air conditioned comfort.

We resist temptation, then wander the streets getting more hungry, cranky and hot.

In a moment of weakness, we decide to go to McDonalds. It’s too much for Loren and he bolts. Once inside we see that it’s swarming with local folks and it will take 20-30 minutes to get served. Considering the wait time and the stigma, we decide to search some more.

We find a nice little food kiosk over by the cruise ship dock and have a very French-looking grilled ham sandwich.

Back at the room we enjoy the first gushing hot water showers (aka Hollywood showers) that we’ve had in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people are starting to gather along the street below our hotel. We find out that it’s nearing Martiniques Carnival time and there will be a parade. We sit on Kelley & Loren’s deck directly above the festivities.

That's Kelley & Loren up on the balcony
That’s Kelley & Loren up on the balcony

It’s quite the spectacle. Groups of colorful dancers, musicians, drummers, and drag queens parade down the street to the cheers of the crowds. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but I imagine it to be similar. I’ll post some video.


We found out the next day from Max that what we saw was really the practice rounds for the real carnival. It’s hard to imagine any more energy or people in the streets than what we saw. The real Carnival starts in a couple of weeks.


It was a wonderful thing to accidentally stumble upon, though, almost like when we sailed into Ensenada, Mexico and stumbled upon the Baja 1000 race.

Day 14 – Back to Marin, Martinique

Customs opens at 8am, so Kelley, Sheven and I dingy over to shore when they should be open. They aren’t open. We go pay The Moorings for our mooring rental, then wait around for Customs to open. A taxi driver that Sheven has recruited says that it’s Saturday and sometimes the Customs guys drink too much on Friday nights.

Waiting for customs
Waiting for customs

Finally at about 9, a guy shows up. He gives me the big form to fill out, which I do and then try to give him. He waves we off, pointing to the empty desk next to his. He is Immigration, and the empty desk is Customs, which needs to process my form first.

We wait around for another hour or so, wondering if we’ve missed our chance to make it all the way back to Martinique today.

Finally, Mr. Customs show up. He’s a bit of a bully (or hung over?) and is shouting things in Creole at everyone. He takes my form, looks at it, then tells me I need to fill another form out so that the one clearing into St. Lucia shows Sheven and the one clearing out does not have Sheven.

So, I fill out another form without Sheven and give him both forms. He starts processing them, gives them back to me. Turns out the second form I filled out was missing the carbon paper for the copies, so I need to fill it out again. Finally, after the third form and lots of stamping and signatures we were done.

Ginger waiting patiently to go home to Martinique
Ginger waiting patiently to go home to Martinique

We are a little flustered about being so late to depart so we say a rapid goodbye to Sheven. She hops in her taxi and takes off, Kelley and I dingy back to Ginger. Loren and Susan have been wondering what was taking us so long. They had tried to reach us via radio, but Mr. Customs had made me turn our radio off. We get everything ready for departure, drop lines and start motoring.

The Moorings base at Marigot Bay
The Moorings base at Marigot Bay

The boat boy/man comes rushing up in his skiff. I assume he wanted to help with our mooring lines, but we are already free. He shouts that we still have the passport of the lady who recently left via Taxi. Oops! In our rush to get moving, Sheven’s passport was still in my dry bag. She had been gone for about 20 minutes and fortunately her driver called back to send word.

It’s a good thing – we were about 1 minute from being out of Marigot bay and out of touch. We give the boat man her passport in a ziplock bag. He runs it to shore. I think we were on autopilot, and from our dealings with the boat man last night, he seemed like a good, honest person. In hindsight, we should have waited for Sheven to come back, even if it meant not getting boat back to Marin tonight. [Postscript: as it happens, the boat man *was* honest and Sheven got her passport. We worried for a couple of days, though, until we talked to her and she was safely home. We were lucky. It would have been a real mess if her passport had gone missing.]

We motor out of Marigot keeping as close as possible to the western shore of St. Lucia, trying to stay upwind as much as possible. We pass Castries, where we had picked Sheven up 10 days ago, then Rodney Bay where we spent our first night on St. Lucia. After we pass Pigeon Rock the winds seem more consistent and we hoist sail.


We are pointed straight for Marin, but we’ve learned from experience that there is an approximate 2 knt current going west, and we seem to blow/slip about 1 knt when heading up in a heavy wind. Thus we know we’ll probably be 8-10 NM west of Marin when we reach Martinique. We decide to take this approach though, since we will be able to sail the passage (faster), then motor about 2 hrs to Marin rather than motoring the whole way.

The winds are quite lively and gusting to 32 knts, we are double reefed and bouncing along at 8-9 knots. Pretty good for upwind.

Sure enough, as we get closer to Martinique, we can see that we’ve been swept quite a ways west and almost down to Fort De France. As we blow by south and west of the landmark Diamond Rock, we drop the sails and start motoring for Marin. It takes a couple hours of motoring, but soon we are at the entrance to Marin. Watching the charts and markers carefully, we make our way around the reefs and to our docking area.

Susan driving us back to Martinique
Susan driving us back to Martinique

It is approaching 6pm and we assume Regis Guillemot is probably closed, so we plan to check out the docking area. If there is space, we will tie up for the night and hopefully get some water. We are out of water again because it turns out we only got approximately 40 gallons at Willilabou. If there isn’t space, we’ll head back out and anchor someplace nearby.

As we approach the dock area, Regis himself comes motoring by in a Zodiac. Since he speaks only French and our French is not at all good, he pantomines that he is going out to bring another boat back, then he’ll be back for us. At this point we also realize that we’re supposed to have filled up the tank with fuel before we return.

So, we spin around and head for the fuel dock. Turns out that’s where Regis is also getting on the other boat to bring it in. The fuel dock manager waves us off and says they are closed (twice) while we are idlying nearby. Apparently Regis had some words with him, because suddenly he is open again and waves us into a dock area.

After tanking up we head over to our dock area. Soon, Regis motors over in the Zodiac and jumps on board, takes the helm and backs us up into a tiny/awkward spot, where his men grab lines and tie us off very nicely. I don’t think I would have attempted to get Ginger into such a tiny spot and I’m thankful Regis works late.

We get a water hose and for the first time in 2 weeks, shore power. We start washing all of the salt off of Ginger (she is quite encrusted). There is a big DJ party of some kind on the shore near our dock with many hundreds of people and blaring caribbean rap music. After about an hour it ends, and peace settles into our dock area.

The carcass of an unfortunate boat in the Cul De Sac at Marin
The carcass of an unfortunate boat in the Cul De Sac at Marin

This has been quite the trip and I’m thankful that it’s ended without any significant mishaps. We’ve sailed hundreds of miles through some fairly heavy wind and seas, and we’ve visited some incredible places.

Tomorrow we’ll finish packing, clean the boat up and head for a day of hanging out in Fort De France before getting our flight early Monday morning.

Day 13 – To Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

We have a lot of miles to cover today making our way north, so we drop the lines and head out early. It is quite gusty and we see at least 38 knots of wind a the northern tip of St. Vincent – an area known for wind as the trade winds wrap around the tip of the island.

Heading back north to Martinique, St. Vincent in the background

Lots of launching off of waves and spraying.

I re-learn the fact that parts of my face start flapping in winds over 34 knots. Seems to me that the number used to be 38 knots and I wonder if that’s a symptom of aging? Someday, will my face flap at 20 knots?

Some of the spray hitting me at the helm is like getting hit by a salty fire hose jet. I’m pretty sure about 2 gallons of salt water has been jetted up my nose. This would please my mother. She’s into those Netay pots where you snort salt water to ward off colds and infections. I’ve surely snorted enough to make me invincible for a few months.

The salt spray is also quite hard on the eyes, even with sunglasses on. I’ve had to put on my diving mask before, but today we get by with periodically washing our eyes with fresh water.

We seem to make good progress in the right direction, but as we approach St. Lucia it becomes apparent that we are almost 10 miles west of where we want to be. I think this is because of an east-west current of 2 knots and the fact that Ginger has a lot of windage and probably is being blown sideways at at least 1 knot. Combined, that’s around 3 knts per hour of westerly movement.

At any rate, when we are west of St. Lucia, we start the engine and motor the rest of the way to Marigot Bay. I’m keen to get there before dark, since it’s a narrow bay and I’ve never anchored there before.

Moorings at St. Lucia
Moorings cat at Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

We make it in the nick of time, right at sunset. This is a big base for The Moorings, which is a big charter boat company (we used them in Greece). A boat boy tells us we can rent one of their vacant moorings, so we grab one rather than straining our brains to develop an anchoring strategy.

Marigot Bay is known as one of the best protected “hurricane holes” in the caribbean. The reason is that it’s a very narrow and long slot that is cut into the island with steep/protected sides.

The place is loaded with nice boats, especially cats and I’d love to spend a day or two just staring at boats.

This is where we drop Sheven for her trip home. She’ll take a taxi on the narrow winding roads to the airport at the south end of the island. We decide we had better do things properly, so we’ll need to wait for Customs to open in the morning to clear the boat into and out of St. Lucia.

Sunset Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
Sunset Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

Day 12 – Mustique To Willilabou, St. Vincent

This morning we dingy to shore for provisioning. Again we are searched for cameras. This time, we overhear some other french yachties complaining about it and the security guys say that the restrictions are only in effect this week. They imply that it’s because a VIP is “on-island”. The frenchman asks who the VIP is, and the security folks say that information is “on a need to know basis, and you don’t need to know”.

When we got back to the boat, we poach some Wifi and google “mustique security” and find out that Princess Kate is vacationing there and they don’t want any paparazzi to sneak in and get photos.

They have the best grocery store on Mustique that we’ve seen for a couple of weeks. It’s probably only 40 FT square, but loaded with very nice foods and drinks of all types. Outside by the beach, a man also has the best fruit stand we’ve seen on the trip.


We batten the hatches and start our serious northerly travel back toward Martinique.

The trade winds blow mostly from the east and northeast. We need to go back northeast, so we will be sailing close hauled to get back. Because this boat doesn’t tack into the wind very well,  in cases where we would normally tack upwind, we’ll probably motor straight into the wind because we don’t have time for tacking.


We decide to shoot for midway up St. Vincent – a harbor called Willilabou.

We sailed close hauled as high into the wind as possible, attempting to clear the northern tip of Bequia. We don’t make it around the corner, and because we are limited by time, we start the motor, drop the sails and motor (cheat) around the tip of Bequia. As soon as we clear the island, we raise the sails again.

It’s quite gusty – we see at least 34 knts, and we are double reefed. Between Bequia and St Vincent we get Atlantic swells in the 8-10 FT range. Lots of launching off of swells and waves spraying the helm.

When we get near Willilabou, we motor into the harbor. Quite aggressive boat boys here, and (as stated in the guidebook) they come out a couple of miles and try to flag us down. This is in contrast to Mustique, where they control all the waters around the island and there are no boat boys.

Sheven is at the helm, and we let the boat boys assist us grab a mooring and tie our stern to a piling. We are totally covered in salt crystals, so everyone jumps in the water for a swim. The water is about 50 FT deep, but we can see the bottom.

We discover we are out of water on the boat. The gauge is faulty and almost instantly drops from a reading of half full to empty.

There is a “senior” boat boy (really a 50ish year old man) who seems to be calling the shots here. He is in a skiff with no motor – only oars, but he is rowing around telling the other boat boys and everyone else what to do.

The Dock at Willilabou. Photo by Sheven
The Dock at Willilabou. Photo by Sheven

There is a water hose at the end of the dock, but we can’t reach it. With Sheven at the helm again, the senior boat man starts giving us instructions and we tie two of our dock lines (the only available lines we have on Ginger) together to the stern and we back up until the line barely reaches the dock. The hose barely reaches us. Water just barely trickles out of the hose, but it makes us happy to have water to wash the salt off our bodies.

Loren was the only one of us who made it to shore at Willilabou.  He bravely held the hose while drinking a beer. Photo by Sheven.
Loren was the only one of us who made it to shore at Willilabou. He bravely held the hose while drinking a beer. Photo by Sheven.

We met the most polite boat boy here. They are so nice, the ladies buy some jewelry.

Photo by Sheven
Photo by Sheven

Willilabou is where parts of Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed. They have kept parts of the set and other momentos from the film. Unfortunately, we got into the harbor late and were too tired to go ashore for sightseeing. Loren was the only person who made it ashore during water negotiations.

Awesome sunset, and we’re starting to get sad that our trip is reaching it’s end.





Day 11 – To Mustique

After waking, Kelley, Loren, and Sheven all jumped in the blue waters for a snorkel, swam with some turtles and said goodbye to the lovely Tobago Cays. We decide to start making our way back north and the first stop will be the island of Mustique.

A goodbye snorkel at Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven
A goodbye snorkel at Tobago Cay
Loren & Kelly leaving Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven
Loren & Kelly leaving Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven

Mustique is a very interesting island – it’s private, and owned by some very wealthy folks. Including british royalty, business high rollers, and celebrities like Mick Jagger and David Bowie. It’s off limit to cruise ships and the general public. Yachters, however, are welcome in a limited fashion. There are some moorings for visiting yachts, and we figure it would be an experience.

One of the little boats parked at Mustique.
One of the little boats parked at Mustique.

Weather forecast is the usual 15-22 knts from the ENE. Unfortunately, that is exactly from the direction we want to go. Sailboats don’t sail straight into the wind very well. Cats, in general, don’t point as high into the wind as monohulls. So, rather than tacking a bunch of times, we motor ENE directly into the wind, then turn almost straight north and raise the sails. It’s the first time this trip that we’ve sailed close hauled, into the wind as high as possible. It seems that Ginger does well until about 50 degrees into the wind, which is not that terrible.

When motoring into the wind, we were getting some 8-10 FT swells from the Atlantic, which we were launching off and landing with quite a splash. Kelley and I were at the helm and by the time we reached Mustique, we were totally crusted with salt from the spray.

We pulled into Mustique and grabbed one of their mooring balls, then everyone jumped into the water for a swim. We could see the mooring ball anchor below us in about 40 FT of water. Very solid rig, probably because they get some pretty big yachts at this island.

Shortly, a man from the Mustique Moorings company comes by in a skiff. He gives me a map of the island with a very small portion of the coast highlighted. He explains this is the only area we are permitted to visit, and the rest of the island is off limits. He also says that cameras of any kind are forbidden, including any type of cell phone that has a camera. They are pretty serious about that, and when we dingy to shore, a security guy searches our bags for cameras.

Although cameras were forbidden on Mustique, we managed to get this shot of Loren.  Photo by Sheven.
Although cameras were forbidden on Mustique, we managed to get this shot of Loren. Photo by Sheven.

Since it’s a private island, I figure that’s fine and it is a privilege to be able to visit.

One of the most famous bars in the area is Basils and we are moored right in front of Basils. They are also having their annual Blues Festival with musicians flying in from all over the world. We decide to splurge on the $60/person entry fee which includes lots of music and a buffet with suckling pig, grilled fish and other yummy stuff.

Basil is the name of the owner, and the ad we saw for Basil’s had a picture of Mick Jagger singing there. The Blues Festival is a benefit that Basil does for scholarships to kids from St. Vincent.

There were musicians from France, England, Australia, and Italy all playing/sings american blues songs, and doing it very well. It’s not a very big place, so it was fairly intimate. Lots of people were dancing, and we danced a little but we were quite tired.

It was interesting to watch all the eclectic very rich people who have property on the islands kicking up their heels. I found myself wanting to know who they were and what there stories were.

This was quite a cultural shift from two days ago when we walked through the village on Mayreau saying hello to dogs, chickens and goats. Not very far away geographically, but quite different in terms of material wealth.

Panoramic of Shore at Mustique.
Panoramic of Shore at Mustique.

We are surrounded by some amazing yachts and in the morning, I’m gonna grab some photos of them before we take off. We plan to head for the west coast of St. Vincent tomorrow as we make our way back north to Martinique.


Day 10 – Tobago Cays

Tobago Cays is almost unreal in its beauty.  It's a heaven for cruising sailors.
Tobago Cays is almost unreal in its beauty. It’s a heaven for cruising sailors.

Up fairly early because I needed to get some work done via Wifi. I have a USB Wifi extender ($40) that is hanging on the front of the mast. I was surprised that in Mayreau, which is the most remote place we have visited so far, I could actually get descent Wifi from the boat.

We are excited because today we are heading to Tobago Cays, which is something we have all looked forward to since we started planning this trip. It really is (literally) the picture perfect place we’ve seen in all the photos/videos. Turquoise water, reefs, white sand beaches, lots of fish, turtles, sun.


Passed this big ship on the way to Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven.
Passed this big ship on the way to Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven.
Photo by Sheven
Photo by Sheven


It’s quite close to Mayreau, so we motor over, through the cut and into the lagoon of Horseshoe reef. Horseshoe reef is a spectacular reef shaped like (guess what?) a horseshoe about 1.5 miles across. It kills all the swell/waves from the Atlantic, although there is nothing to stop the wind.

Boat boy selling something. Photo by Sheven
Boat boy selling something. Photo by Sheven

There are probably around 50+ vessels from all over the world anchored in this amazing place. We circle around, doing reconnaissance, then we swoop in and drop anchor only about 300 yards south of the turtle protection area on the tiny islet of Baradel.

On the beach at Tobago Cays
On the beach at Tobago Cays

We dingy to the beach by turtle area south of Baradel, and do a bunch of snorkeling. Lots of fish and it’s fun watching the turtles graze on the grass of the bottom. Probably 100s of turtles, from fairly small to quite large. An big Iguana (we think that’s what it was) grazed on some branches overhanging the water where we swam.


The beach on the the south of Baradel forms a little spit/peninsula of white sand and for a while we have this spit to ourselves. It’s like we are beamed into some kind of aquatic, nautical, sunny fantasy land. We will upload the photos when we get back to Wifi Land. We don’t feel like rushing back to that place, though.

Susan doing Yoga on beach.
Susan doing Yoga on beach.
Sheven frolicking at Tobago Cays.
Sheven frolicking at Tobago Cays.
Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven
Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven

The whole experience seems quite surreal. Perfect weather, perfect scenery, and there are scores of very nice cats and monos to ogle at as well.

Panoramic view of Tobago Cays
Panoramic view of Tobago Cays
Sunset Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven
Sunset Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven



Day 9 – To Mayreau, Grenadines

Everyone awoke shortly after sunrise, and prepared to get under way. We were in such tight quarters with the other vessels that none of us slept very well. There were a couple of bangs in the night that made us jump up, thinking we (or someone else) had dragged anchor. Lots of noises and the wind would periodically go from 0 to 30, which sounded like everything was blowing away for about 3 minutes then it would quiet again.

Motored out of Port Elizabeth, hoisted sails in Admiralty Bay and headed west around the end of Bequia. We are headed for Mayreau (prounounced My-Row). We were mostly double reefed with winds gusting to around 30, but mostly in the mid 20s.

Kelley & Loren.  Naps are important for busy sailors. Photo by Sheven
Kelley & Loren. Naps are important for busy sailors. Photo by Sheven

Saw lots of flying fish skimming above the water and some larger dolphins. We saw some little mini dolphins a few days ago.

As we approach Mayreau, the water goes turquoise in color. Most of our journeying thus far has been in quite deep water, which is a darker blue. One of the things that makes the waters around this area spectacular is it is more shallow and brighter blue.

We decide to head into Saline Bay, Mayreau and drop anchor. We need to get more potable water before heading to Tobago Cays, and possibly stay the night here.

There is a 1/4 mile long beautiful beach, and we dingy over and spread out on the beach, bask, then swim.

Panorama of the beach on Myrau
Susan & Sheven in panorama of the beach on Mayreau

While there are about a dozen yachts anchored in the bay, we are the only people on the beach. Quite idyllic and amazing.

Dock at Mayreau. Photo by Sheven
Dock at Mayreau. Photo by Sheven


Conch shells on the beach. Photo by Sheven
Conch shells on the beach. Photo by Sheven

We walk up through the village, this is the smallest populated island in the Grenadines. We are befriended by a couple of dogs, who guide us up the hill past the houses, “super markets”, restaurants, etc. One of our dogs is clearly the alpha, since when we approach other dogs, they totally cower in submissive mode.

The alpha dog of Mayreau. Photo by Sheven.
The alpha dog of Mayreau. Photo by Sheven.
Doggie tour of Mayreau begins with a walk up the hill. Photo by Sheven
Doggie tour of Mayreau begins with a walk up the hill. Photo by Sheven

The Supermarkets are really just 20 FT by 20 FT houses/sheds with stuff for sale. Pretty much everyone has some kind of business since other than fishing, it appears tourism is the main gig here.  So we don’t mind too much getting ripped off for a case of Heineken and some jugs of water.

Catholic Church of Mayreau. Photo by Sheven.
Catholic Church of Mayreau. Photo by Sheven.
Behind the Catholic Church at the top of Mayreau, was a great view across to the Tobago Cays, where we are heading tomorrow. Photo by Sheven
Behind the Catholic Church at the top of Mayreau, was a great view across to the Tobago Cays, where we are heading tomorrow. Photo by Sheven
Sunset from our anchorage at Mayreau.  That's Union Island in the distance. Photo by Sheven
Sunset from our anchorage at Mayreau. That’s Union Island in the distance. Photo by Sheven


Everyone sleeps pretty well in our nice anchorage.


Day 8 – To Bequia

Up at 6:30am, haul anchor at 7am and set a bearing for the west side of St. Vincent. Between St. Lucia and St. Vincent winds were 20-22 knt ENE. We had 10 FT seas/swells in the aft port quarter that at times looked a little ominous. We kept one reef in the main and jib, and hopped along at 8.5 to 9 knts.

That's the north tip of St. Vincent in the background
That’s the north tip of St. Vincent in the background. Photo by Sheven

We had been warned that the east winds really start ripping around the northern tip of St. Vincent, but today they weren’t too bad. On the west side of the island the winds dropped to 15 knts, so we shook the reefs out.

Passing the west side of St. Vincent. Photo by Sheven

When we reached the southern tip of the island, the winds dropped to 4-5 knts and in the interest of getting to Bequia, we started on of the engines. About a mile south of St. Vincent, the winds started picking up so we sailed again with full sails. A couple of miles later the winds perked up to 27 with gusts to 30, so we double reefed and skittered along at 9 knts, and once saw 11 knots surfing down a wave. There were lots of whitecaps and some of the swells got back up in the 10 FT range. An exciting ride into Admiralty Bay on Bequia, and into Port Elizabeth.

Photo by Sheven

The place was packed with boats, but we finally found a suitable spot reasonably near the Customs office so we could dingy in to get cleared. It took 3 attempts to get the anchor set properly and positioned with enough space between adjacent boats. The gusts come through the harbor with a lot of energy and we hang out on the boat watching our setting before convincing ourselves that we aren’t dragging anchor.

We lock up Ginger and all of us dingy to shore in search of the Customs office, then we stroll around the town and find a good restaurant (Coco’s) where we have fish, chicken and Conch (in chowder and curry). Excellent caribbean fare.

View of the crowded harbor at Bequia from our dinner table
View of the crowded harbor at Bequia from our dinner table. Photo by Sheven

It’s a nice town but a little more crowded than we’d like so we’ll head out tomorrow, probably to Tobago Cays, which is a place that we’ve all been looking forward to experiencing.

Veggie market, Bequia. Photo by Sheven

We’ve been getting doused with salt water on most days, and our clothes can pretty much stand up on their own. We will also seek laundry facilities in the near future. It’s awesome having a fresh water shower on the boat. It’s about the size of a phone booth and is also where the head/toilet is, but it is very nice to wash the salt and sweat off.


Dinner at Cocos. Photo by Sheven
Dinner at Cocos. Photo by Sheven

Day 7 – To Laborie, St. Lucia

Mark's dad Bill was supposed to join us on St. Lucia, but he get sick and couldn't come.
Mark’s dad Bill was supposed to join us on St. Vincent, but he got sick and couldn’t come.

Busy day. We move our mooring back to Soufriere in the morning. Goals include: getting water for Ginger’s tanks, attending the local farmer’s market, and do some provisioning of edibles/drinkables. Susan and I dingy in to the market. We are swarmed by all manner of people trying to sell us all manor of goods and services. After about the 20th person, we finally start ignoring people who approach. Rude of us, but we are a little overwhelmed.

Kelley, Sheven and Loren are picked up by Vincent for another scuba dive. We meet them back at the boat, where Vincent drops them off.

Dive crew returning - St. Lucia
Dive crew returning – St. Lucia

They had a great dive. While Vincent dove/guided them underwater the man in his skiff was supposed to follow along. But the current took them around the corner of the Petit Piton and when they surfaced, there was no boat to be seen. After a while, Vincent was able to flag down another dive boat by waving his fins in the air and splashing. That boat went along the coast and found Vincent’s driver, who then came and got them out of the water.

Sheven taking post-diving dip
Sheven taking post-diving dip

We motored Ginger to the fishing dock and filled the tanks with water. The tanks have 600 liters capacity and we had used about 3/4 of that over the last 7 days. Also filled the dingy fuel tank.

Getting some water in Castries. This is our hose-attendant.
Getting some water in Rodney Bay. This is our hose-attendant.

Someone tried call us on the Sat phone, and we missed the call. We are supposed to meet my dad on St. Vincent tomorrow, so I call him on the Sat phone. Turns out in the last 24 hours he’s gotten an upper respiratory infection. Doctor says no travel. We are bummed, but thankful he was diagnosed early. We think the medical care is probably not quite as good here, as it is in West Palm Beach where he is currently. We’ve been looking forward to spending time with dad on the boat, but understand the importance of getting good care quickly. A friend of mine recently died of pneumonia in Anchorage.

We decide we’ll head of the fishing village of Laborie on the south end of St. Lucia. From there we can launch south the next day, weather permitting.

Strong wind, we are double reefed and seeing occasional gusts to 32 knts. Sheven, Susan, Loren lay out on the trampoline. Ginger launches off of waves and when she lands, a good amount of spray shoots up through the trampoline and douses them. Lots of water/amusement park shrieks, laughter.

The trampoline roller coaster ride on the way to Laborie, St. Lucia
The trampoline roller coaster ride on the way to Laborie, St. Lucia.  This looks tame, but big waves were blasting up thru the trampoline. Photo by Sheven

A squall was spinning off of St. Lucia so we dropped the sails and motored the final 3 miles into Laborie. We needed to thread between some un-marked reefs to get to the area our guidebook said there were some mooring balls. There were two cats anchored between the reefs. We motored by one of them and grabbed the only mooring ball we could see. A british gentleman came out of his custom cat and warned us not to use the mooring ball (contrary to the guidebook) because they were not maintained.

As we were dropping anchor, it started to rain and quickly became a torrential downpour. I think that’s the hardest I’ve ever seen it rain. We got soaked, and it only lasted about 15 minutes then cleared up to sunny blue skies again.

During the squall
We got soaked by the rainstorm while trying to anchor. Photo by Loren
The dock at Laborie, St. Lucia
The dock at Laborie, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven
Sunset view from the dock at Laborie, St. Lucia
Sunset view from the dock at Laborie, St. Lucia. That’s our boat on the left. Photo by Sheven

We dingy to the town dock, and happened to meet the british gent from the cat, and his friends as they were getting into their dingy. We had some nice chats about his catamaran, and the strong winds coming in to the harbor. As we started to say goodbye, we found out he is Chris Doyle – the man who wrote the guide book we are using. Nice guy and we told him how much we enjoyed and used his book (we have two aboard). 

Sheven chillin with Chris Doyle, author of our guidebook
Sheven chillin with Chris Doyle, author of our guidebook

We wandered thru town, bustling with people, dogs, and chickens doing their thing. Laborie is an authentic, non-touristy (except for us) place. People were very nice and we were not harassed by one person trying to sell us something or get some money from us using any method possible. In contrast, when Susan and I went to the market in Soufriere, we were propositioned literally by over 20 people trying to sell us things, or asking for money, asking to be our guide, etc.

Our guidebook had mentioned Captain Kent’s Big Bamboo Cafe, so we sought it out.

Big Bamboo Cafe, Laborie, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven
Big Bamboo Cafe, Laborie, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven

Quite a rustic place with super friendly staff. Their menu was simple: our waitress when and talked to Captain Kent, who was grilling food over a 55 gallon barrel. She came back with the choices: Chicken, Pork, Fish or Octopus. We got Chicken & Fish dinners that were delightful, tasty creole creations. With beans, rice, and a little local veggie mix.

Kelley posing with the Chicken Plate.
Kelley posing with the Chicken Plate.

We met the owner of the other cat in the harbor – it’s a Fountaine Pajot Belize (2004) and he’s heading back north. One of his rudders fell off when we was sailing a few days ago. I hadn’t heard of that happening before. He’s not sure when exactly it fell off, so he never found it. To get a replacement from the factory would take a couple of months, so he’s headed to Rodney Bay hoping to find a craftsman there who can make a new one. Another nice thing about having a catamaran: two rudders, and if one falls off, the other one can work by itself. Not as elegant if you are on a monohull, you are fairly helpless until you rig a rudder using something like an oar. Doesn’t work very well.

Dingy back to the boat for another round of cards (Five Crowns), which is a nightly tradition. I finally break my losing streak, although I think my crewmates threw the game to me so that I would stop whining.


We plan to get up before sunrise, and haul south, past St. Vincent to Bequia.

Day 6 – Between The Pitons, St. Lucia

Susan and Mark at the resort.  The little dot off Mark's shoulder is our boat Ginger, and we hiked up here from the boat.
Susan and Mark at the resort. The little dot off Mark’s shoulder is our boat Ginger, and we hiked up here from the boat.

Wow, what a day. I get up early and Gregory, our chosen boat vendor delivers freshly baked bread. We settled on him because he wasn’t obnoxious and aggressive. He helped us grab a mooring last night, and motored in and got us some ice.

We drop our mooring and motor up along the north end of the bay to check out the Bat Cave. Thousands of squeaking bats in there and we could see them moving around. We grabbed another mooring right next to the Bat Cave to hang out while we tried to get in touch with Action Adventure Diving. They were recommended in our guide book, and Kelley, Loren and Sheven are going to go scuba diving. We tried them on the radio, to no avail. Finally, Gregory motors up and finds Vincent from the diving company. Vincent visits our mooring and we agree to meet over between the Pitons in about an hour.

We like this bay (and the Pitons) so much, we’ve decided to stay in the area, and just move over to a highly recommended spot between the Pitons. We motor in, and Gregory helps us again by grabbing a mooring – they are partially submerged and would be a hassle to grab from our high deck.

The view from our new mooring ball between the Pitons. Photo by Sheven
The view from our new mooring ball between the Pitons. Photo by Sheven

The setting is amazing. It’s pretty much perfect. We are on the shore between the two Pitons, and there is an excellent resort called Jalousie Plantation directly in front of us. They have a sandy beach, there are snorkeling locations next to the boat, the resort has a dingy dock, security to watch our gear and very friendly staff.

Vincent and two nice ladies (mom and wife?) arrive in his open boat with the gear for diving. Sheven, Loren and Kelly suit up, jump in the boat and motor about 1/4 mile away to an excellent dive spot called the Coral Garden. They have an excellent time with Vincent and schedule another dive for tomorrow.

Our dive masters on Saint Lucia
Our dive masters on Saint Lucia. Photo by Sheven

Susan and I go for a long snorkel along the shore going south.

We’ve read in the guide book that there is a restaurant/resort called Ladera on the ridge above our location that has the most spectacular views of any establishment in the Caribbean. We decide to check it out. The book doesn’t say how to best get up there, but we can see it, and it doesn’t look too far.

Beach Bar we hydrated ourselves for the uphill walk to the resort
Jalousie’s Beach Bar we hydrated ourselves for the uphill walk to the Ladera resort. Photo by Sheven

After some refreshments from Jalousie’s great beach bar, we begin ascending on the road, sometime around 3pm. This is a road that the guidebook says is among the steepest in the world. It is seriously steep and quite a workout going up. It’s a concrete road that has little ridges running across the road for traction.

Way up, then way down, then way up again on a super steep road.
Way up, then way down, then way up again on a super steep road. Photo by Sheven
Sheven and the Drive in Volcano
Sheven and the Drive in Volcano

We talk to various people on the way up, who are surprised to see us walking and ask where we are going. We tell them Ladera, and get quite a range of responses. Some say it’s 20 minutes walking, and others say we are crazy and we won’t get there before sunset. The latter group was most accurate.

After huffing and puffing up the road we finally reach what appears to be the top of the ridge, about the same elevation as Ladera (our target). However the road starts descending rapidly. One of the people who told us we were crazy said the road goes all the way up, then all the way down to the City of Soufriere, then all the way back up again. That ended up being a very accurate description.

Finally! Ladera Resort!
Finally! Ladera Resort!

When we finally got to Ladera, it was just before sunset and we were totally soaked with sweat. Clever co-travelers (Kelley and Susan) had brought along extra shirts so that we wouldn’t try to get into this world class resort drenched in sweat. Turns out that Conde Naste rated it as the best resort in the world about 5 years ago. It really is stunning.

Ladera Resort. Photo by Sheven
Ladera Resort. Photo by Sheven

We settle into their open air bar, with our table perched on a precipice that drops down to the bay where Ginger (our boat) is bobbing on her mooring. The sun is setting between the Pitons. Very magical moment.

Kelley & Sheven at Ladera.  Our boat is the dot off Kelley's elbow.
Kelley & Sheven at Ladera. Our boat is the dot off Kelley’s elbow.



Sunset at Ladera Resort, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven
Sunset at Ladera Resort, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven

After sunset, we taxi into Soufriere and ask the driver to help us find a local restaurant with good, local, non-fancy food. He takes us to a building downtown and up to the second floor. It looks promising, because its painting and decor look very local and festive (not touristy). We are the only people there (not a good sign, IMHO). Alas, the food was only average but it was our only “average” experience of this amazing day.

Taxi ride back to our anchorage, roaring up and down (and up and down) the roads we had hiked. We find our dingy still safely in the hands of Jalousie Resort and we dingy back in the pitch black with Sheven holding a headlamp in front so we didn’t ram anything.
No sailing today, but we had a blast and we are all quite bushed.

Weather permitting, we plan to sail south to Laborie tomorrow (Sat), then leave early Sunday morning to sail south departing St. Lucia and past most of St. Vincent to pick up dad in Kingston, St. Vincent, which is on the south end.

I have no idea how accurate the information is, but many cruising guides and blog postings say that there are security issues in St. Vincent, especially in the north and west portions. So we plan to sail by those areas for now.

Another nice thing about Jalousie resort is that they have an open WiFi and this blog posting is being piped through that connection. Giving the Sat phone a break.