Tales of Our Voyage
We started the 2015-16 sailing season with a rip-roaring Caribbean Milebuilder odyssey from St Martin in the North to Grenada at the foot of the Lesser Antilles chain.
Lucy and Sue from the UK were joined by Kiwi, Catherine, Debi and Jimmy from the US and Donald from Ireland; Dwayne from Canada, Mike from Netherlands and Trond the Viking from Norway completed our multi-national crew!
A few squalls during the first 24 hours of sailing soon gave way to perfect trade wind sailing conditions between the islands and although a daunting schedule made for some apprehension at the start of our trip, everyone agreed at the end that it had been an amazing adventure through the islands!
Distance: 486 Nautical Miles
Night Hours: 30 hours
Duration: 14 Days
Fish Caught: 5
Edible Fish Caught: 3 Mahi Mahi
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486 Nautical Miles, 30 Night Hours, 14 Days, 3 Fish Caught, 5 if you count the Barracuda and another small green fish.
Sue helped with an epic shopping session in St Martin; provisioning for 11 people for 14 days is a mammoth task and 4 trolley loads of food were loaded onto the boats in Fort Louis, Marigot. Crew drinks provisions added another 2 trolleys before we headed of, low in the gunnels!
First Stop St Barth’s
Our first trip was a teaser for the rest of the trip with some relatively nice sailing conditions from St Martin, close hauled up the Anguilla channel and a nice reach over to Anse du Columbier on the corner of St Barth’s. Neil and the BT crew were caught in a squall near Tintamarre which drowned his iphone and launched a mainsail batten over the side, followed not long after by a winch handle…there’s a lesson in there somewhere!
After a much needed recovery stop in the cobbled streets and designer shops of St Barth’s, we prepared for our night sail 100 miles down to Guadeloupe.
First Night Sail
In the pitch black of a moonless night, sailing under the stars can be magical, and much of the time was, however it was Ibis’ turn to be caught in a squall in the small hours and with white seas all around us we hove to for 20 minutes riding out the lashing rain. Poor Jimmy, who was night sailing for the first time and already feeling a little sick, curled in a ball in the cockpit whimpering for it to stop!
Fortunately Donald’s Irish humour saw him through it with ease and there were smiles all around the next morning as the dawn broke with clear blue skies and a calm sea.
A Northerly current had slowed our passage South significantly and we took the opportunity to duck into Montserrat harbour for a night’s rest before continuing on to Guadeloupe. Just as well as the night’s shenanigans had frayed Ibis’ baby stay and we winched Trond up the mast to fit a replacement!
Vive la France
A beautiful reach the next day down to the Cousteau National Park and we had the first hit on the fishing line with a nice Mahi Mahi. Reeled in and quickly dispatched by Trond we looked forward to a fish dinner later that day! Even a little aggravation from the French Dive Leaders in the Snorkel Park was cause for more fun and jokes.
An early start and another cracking sail down to Portsmouth in Dominica saw 2 more Mahi landed, one per boat, and at last some time ashore for some sightseeing. Everyone piled into the boat for an Indian River tour, followed by a long day in the minibus to swim in amazing waterfalls, explore old rum plantations and wander the windswept North coast.
We arrived into Martinique’s St Pierre on a Sunday morning and with the Rum Distillery closed that afternoon, sailed on to Trois Ilets near the capital of Fort de France for an hour at the beach.
Despite no prior booking, we lucked out on a bus trip – full sized tour bus complete with aircon – to the Clement Estate, also a respected and beautiful rum distillery but nearer to our anchorage.
Another Night Sail
We began our final night sail from Martinique to Bequia at midnight, and it was the best of the trip. Clear skies made for perfect starlit sailing and a small crescent of moon lit the water as the night progressed. Phosphorescence in our wash added sparkles to the sea as we hissed through the water at 8 knots.
We completed the 90 mile sail by 10 a.m. the next morning and dived off the boat into the turquoise waters off Bequia’s Princess Margaret Beach.
St Vincent and the Grenadines
After a lively session in Tommy’s Bar and a fajitas dinner aboard there were some wooly heads the next morning as we set off again for the Tobago Cays.
This amazing part of the Grenadines did not disappoint and we spent the day snorkelling with turtles, exploring deserted spits of sand and staring in awe at the stunning blue water all around.
Final Stop Grenada
After lunch and a paperwork session in Clifton on Union Island we made our final stop in Chatham Bay before setting off early for the end of the line in Grenada.
In light airs, Neil flew the cruising chute for the first time on BT and quickly put it away again when the speedo crept over 10 knots through the water!
Breaking the journey at Moliniere, Catherine snapped a few pics of the Underwater Sculpture Park and we motored on into Marina Port Louis for the night and a slap up dinner.