Rumble: One Month in the Caribbean

I marked the area we travelled to this year with a red frame:

Zoomed in a bit:
Last year, we sailed a west from this area, in the British Virgin Islands, and the year before, we were further south, sailing from Martinique via St.Lucia and St.Vincent, to the Grenadines...
In the next posts, I want to give my impression of the different islands we visited this year.

Here is a summary of our trip: We flew via Paris to St.Martin (or Sint Maarten as the Dutch call it), and stayed for a few days in a quiet and nice resort. Then we sailed with a bareboat charter to Anguilla. Sailed and drove around the island for a week, and then sailed to St.Barthelemy (or St.Barth for short). Sailed and drove around there for a few days, and continued to Eustatia (or Statia as it is called more commonly). Continued a few days later to St.Kitts (or Sint Christopher, but nobody calls it by that name anymore), to return back to St.Martin via St.Barth's.
We ended the holiday with a few more days in the Esmeralda resort in St.Martin before flying back home.

All in all, one month, of which three weeks sailing. For the sailing buffs amongst you:
Above is the GPS track. We sailed nice and easy, as the purpose is holiday-ing, and sailing is the mere means.. I already had my pure sailing fun 6 months ago when we sailed from the UK to the Canaries, onwards transatlantic to St.Lucia and onwards to the BVI, as you can read
in previous posts...
Nevertheless, we still ended up sailing about 190 nautical miles (appr. 340 km). The weather was really great, with only occasional showers and a minor storm (a 'tropical wave' it is called there). The winds were steady trade winds, with an average of 15-20 knots coming mainly from the East, so most sailing trips between the islands were a comfortable reach. The swells were about 2 meters in average, though on our last leg, we were exposed to the Atlantic swell pushing nice long waves of about 3 meters high, in a 25 knots winds under our keel.
Our boat was a 36ft mono-keel, chartered from The Moorings, called "Berengere".. And yep, that gave us a lot of questions in the English speaking islands 'how do you spell that?', 'what does it mean'. Well, it is the first name of the wife of the owner.. Would have been easier if she was called 'Judy' or 'Ann', or something. Anyway... She was not the fastest to sail. The foresail was only a 110% genua, and the boat itself is mainly made for cruising. Still, we did a comfortable 6-7 knots in most passages, and had one trip averaged 8 knots in 25 knots wind 60 degrees off. The GPS said we peaked 14 knots, but I guess that was when we picked up a wave and surfed off it.

The main concern going to the Caribbean in July and August are the hurricanes, even though it is only the beginning of the hurricane season. Still we prefer July/August to the (safer) winter time as 1/ the weather is not that much different 2/ there are far fewer tourists 3/ everything is much cheaper.
We had the tail of one hurricane, and a direct hit of another when sailing in the more Southern part of the Caribbean two years ago. Last year, a really nasty tropical wave hit us in the Virgin Islands. This year, we were spared from all of the nasty stuff. It hardly rained, and if it did, it was for just a few minutes. Phew... Always a worry when sailing with the family, especially as I am the only 'sailor' on board. Tine and the kids enjoy being on the water, but are not particularly experienced sailors.. So it is always a bit of a worry 'if something would happen to me'. So we're extra careful not to take any risks...

All in all, it went well. In the next posts, I will write a bit about the individual islands we visited. A closing picture of our boat anchored in Road Port, Anguilla.


bethanyzylstra 10 August, 2007 03:11  

wow, Peter, it sounds like an amazing trip! glad the weather bahaved nicely for you and your family!! i can imagine it is well worth it to skip the touristy season...

also, just wanted to say I really appreciated your advise, and am trying to take it, in my own unique way, I suppose! it was insightful.

take care - welcome back to the real world... :)


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