Video Clips Sailing 400 nm

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After several computer issues, one crashed and I rebuilt it only to then have it crash again after a few days. Then I bought a used one from another boater and set that up and loaded my data onto that one.  NOW, I finally was able to download the GoPro camera and view my video clips shot during our 3 day sail up from Grenada.  Using a new program called Camtasia, I created this video. Our sail north from Grenada to St. Croix has been our best sail every in 19 years on sv Island Spirit. Grab a coffee and please enjoy this video:

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Sailing Grenada to USVI

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We decided to sail 400 nautical miles from Grenada north to the United States Virgin Islands. WHY? Bottom line, we wanted to reach an open airport. Radeen and I have been sailing and cruising Island Spirit since 2001. That is 19 years and we really love this life. At the same time, we have learned that taking a break off the boat is refreshing and renews our love of cruising. So, with the airport closed in Grenada and no information on when it would reopen, we took a weather window and set sail north.

Island Spirit pushing north on a 400 nm starboard reach doing 6.7 knots for 60 hours, Fantastic sailing

The Route, Isla de Aves

When you plan the route from Grenada to St. Croix, the southern most US Virgin island, the course of 330 degrees sails very close to an island called Isla de Aves. Now, this looks like a great midway place to drop the hook and maybe take a rest in the lee of this sandy beach. WELL….hold on there, pirate….this island is owned by Venezuela and they are not too friendly to cruisers sailing in for a visit. Matter of fact, you are advised to stay well clear of this island or else the officials might divert your vessel into shore for an inspection. NO, THANK YOU!  Here is the overview of the route.

With the winds at 090 blowing 20 knots gusting to 27 knots, we decided to set a waypoint almost 50 nautical miles SW of this island. That way, we could run a broad reach downwind to that point, 36 hours away. Then once made, turn due north on the lighter 15-20 knots of beam winds for 24 more hours to St. Croix. This is exactly what happened and exactly how it all worked out.

Thank you to weather routing by Chris Parker, see: https://www.mwxc.com/ who worked with us for two weeks to pick the best days to run. We told him we like to sail, not motor, and that 20-27 knots was OK with us downwind. We let the first window pass as the seas were 6-8 feet and the next one we took. This was one of the best sails in Island Spirit’s history! Here is a short video clip of autopilot set to wind angle hold. We love our B&G autopilot.

Life at sea

On a 400 nm run, this should take 3 days, with an expected 125 to 150 nm per day average run. So, we departed Grenada on Sunday May 17th, 2020 for our sail. With a full main and a full jib we reached beyond the lee of Grenada and soon were in the 20-25 knot winds. There we dropped in a single reef in the main and ran this all the way to sunset. At nightfall, we added a double reef in the main but kept the full 110 % jib flying strong. We were sailing at hull speed, which for an Island Packet 35 is 7.2 knots. We ran this way for 36 hours until we made our waypoint west of Isla de Aves. With just the two of us, we set a watch schedule as provided by our mentor, Captain Blaine Parks, as the best for two people:

  • 0600-1200 Hayden
  • 1200-1800 Radeen
  • 1800-2100 Hayden
  • 2100-2400 Radeen
  • 0000-0300 Hayden
  • 0300-0600 Radeen
Hayden on watch, autopilot sailing, watching the sea and with a safety harness on connected to the cockpit jack line

Sunset was at 1830 and the tiny crescent moon rose at 0300 giving us very little light. These two nights at sea were the darkest nights we have ever sailed. No horizon at all, dim stars, and a black sea. The black night sky blended into the black sea and we were sailing hull speed, 7 knots, around the clock. The only two vessels we saw were a container ship bound for Aruba and two friendly fishermen on a brightly painted boat who pulled alongside and asked which way to Grenada! (This is not a joke – it was very hazy that morning and the island’s mountains were not visible from 17 miles northwest.)

Lucky for us, we have great faith in our B&G 4G digital radar where we set a watch guard 4-5 miles in front with a full circle around the boat 1 mile wide. If any solid object enters this zone, then an alarm goes off and a line on the screen points to the object. This is the only way we can feel safe that we will not hit something. Your mind really messes with you when tired at night going 7 knots full speed into the black. (Do not even let it go there, you need to stop all those crazy thoughts!)

Sunset on the second night at sea with 15-18 knot winds, perfect sailing….all night long.

See our recorded sailing speed

Whenever our boat moves, we turn on our Garmin Inreach satellite tracker. This device sends our position to a live map every 10 minutes and shows where we are. It also records this track as an archive map. We use another service called Spotwalla which actually does a better job than Garmin, because it allows you to create trip maps. Garmin just records it all and does not separate your travels.

When you go to our Garmin map, please first click the VIEW ALL button in the top right corner and then you can zoom out and see our travels. For this trip from Grenada to St. Croix, click on any point to see our recorded speeds. Remember, on this trip we did not motor, we sailed 99% of it, we motored the last hour to beat sunset. We also ran the motor one hour each night for hot water showers and for recharging the battery bank. Here is our Garmin Travel Map, so fun to study….https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit
PS: Speed was 400 nm in 60 hours = 6.7 knots for the trip!

Click to see our Garmin travel map, check out our recorded speeds. https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

Spotwalla, our Travel Maps

We love this fantastic free service (which I donate to yearly) called SPOTWALLA. This genius figured out a way to create individual travel maps as we run around with tracking devices. You can do all of this with your cell phone if you are always in touch with a cell tower. So, for ocean sailing we need the Garmin satellite tracker. For land adventures, you can easily create travel maps with this service. Here are ALL the maps we have made with Spotwalla… https://spotwalla.com/publicTrips.php?un=IslandSpirit35

Here is a trip map via Spotwalla when we left Annapolis for Grenada in October 2019 https://spotwalla.com/publicTrips.php?un=IslandSpirit35

Now…USVI for June

We are now in the United States Virgin Islands, where we can re-discover St. Thomas, St Croix and St John. In the 80’s and 90’s we took some of our summer and Christmas vacations here for a week of chartering. Now, we are staying a week on one mooring ball, swimming the crystal clear waters and learning the reefs in Christmas Cove, St. James Island. Next up, the National Park on St. John and St. Thomas, followed by a return to St. Croix.

After June, we will move over to Fajardo, Puerto Rico and prepare for our haulout at Puerto Del Ray Marina. YES, we know this places us back into hurricane zone and, yes, we recall our previous hurricane damages there. Because we want to be in the Caribbean next season, we decided this was our best option to reach a working airport, where we know we can fly out and, more importantly, we can fly back to our boat. For now….let’s enjoy the USVI.

Here are some photos to show why we enjoy being here

The very cool Trunk Fish
Look at how clear the water is…
Blue sky reflected on the clear water over the reef
Radeen is a Pieces, the fish, she LOVES to swim

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Watching the sunset over St. Thomas from Christmas Cove off St James, USVI
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Grenada update photo essay

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We have been docked in Grenada at Port Louis Marina since March 24, 2020. It is now May 9th and we have not moved the boat. We have also not been in the water, on a beach, snorkeled a coral reef or socialized with other cruisers. Grenada is under strict lockdown with curfew and restricted movement and have hardly left the marina perimeter in all this time. In the month of April, we walked 175,000 steps! As you can imagine, we were still getting very restless! So, we kept ourselves busy with a 25 day varnishing job on all our exterior teak.

We have been waiting for our Spectra watermaker to be repaired and returned. That took 6 weeks, as we dropped it off March 25th and it was returned May 6! The parts were in one parish and the watermaker repair technician was in another parish. Road blocks between parishes even on shopping days prevented the delivery. Permission from the police was granted on May 4th, it was repaired on the 5th, and returned and installed the 6th. 

Now that the watermaker is back, installed and working, we can actually leave this dock and anchor out. BUT…now we think we need to sail north to the safety of USA via USVI and Puerto Rico. We have no idea how this pandemic effect will restrict the Caribbean islands, so we feel we need to move out and return first to the USVI. Of course, now the winds this week are at 20 knots gusting 27 and waves are 5-7 feet at 6 seconds, not great but doable. So, we are looking for an exit and an opportunity to sail out to USVI. We are so confused on what is best to do. After working hard thru all the options, we still cannot figure it out. Here is a chronological photo essay of the past few weeks…..

Our floating dock, with our full sunshade up
This is where we left off last….Radeen working on teak
On one of the days we may go to the store. Hayden heading back with a few groceries
We walk 5,000 to 7,000 steps each day. This wall is at the entrance to the harbor.
Where we are….
This day we walked 15,000 steps to the Ace hardware store
Every day for 24 days we worked on the teak, here is AM rain on the new varnish
New Teak Varnish job, half way complete
I love these close ups
Waiting for frozen food pick up dropped off by John Hovan, Fast Manicou
Radeen sanding varnish with 400 grit
Getting there….varnish looks so good, so light
Walks at 6pm to see the sunset over the Caribbean Sea
Treasures from the small rocky beach at the marina.
The closed sushi bar, YOLO, You Only Live Once
Another great sunset as seen from our daily walk. Radeen saw a green flash!
Baking whole wheat raisin scones
More varnish work
Putting the boat back together after varnish
Sunset as seen from our dock, the hill blocks it
My best small shell found
A day of collecting
Resting in the shade of a sea grape tree 
The landscaping at Port Louis is magnificent and so beautifully maintained!
Royal Palm tree
Radeen in front of my favorite palm
This is our food delivery. John of Fast Manicou drops off frozen food and beverages pre-ordered by boaters. He is amazing. I have tipped him well for his family.
Baking bread
1,100 ECD the repair labor for the watermaker, that is about $400 USD,
6 weeks later, we have our watermaker back installed and working!
There it is, 8 gallons per hour of fresh pure 250ppm drinking water made from harbor saltwater…now that is amazing
Radeen with my favorite shirt and best message for all….Do What Makes You Happy….
Doing laundry in a bucket onboard every other day to keep up, no laundry services, all were closed til last week.
Grenada distillery stopped making RUM and now makes this great hand sanitizer for the country. It is everywhere. USA could order some 🙂
Waiting to pick up a food delivery on the street
Every day a few ships dock and unload supplies! Every thing each island needs arrives this way
This is the Grenada Flag, so beautiful
This is Victory restaurant at Port Louis …closed. They may now offer take out 3 days a week. from 9 – 3.
This is our pub and pizza cafe….closed
This is where we are, nearly the last island in the Caribbean. We are looking at sailing north…but it is a long way non-stop. Most islands have closed their borders.

Thank you for following along

Thank you all for following along and for sharing in our sailing adventure. We are safe, secure, and working thru all the challenges that covid-19 pandemic has caused worldwide. Normally we plan our our every move and each year’s sailing goals. We are struggling with what to do now. On Facebook, we have posted about this struggle and we appreciate that many of you have given your input and ideas. The frustrating aspect is that every day, every few hours, we can convince ourselves that any one of the options is best. Then for the next few hours we work on that option. Four hours later, we think it is a bad idea and we work on another option. Next, we go to bed and wake up with another option and another viewpoint. It has been very unlike us because we have always had most things planned out. For this, we have no plan, like everyone. So, please recognize this and please try to understand. We will work it out, and we are sure it entails sailing out, sailing to somewhere. After all…… DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY….and sailing makes us very happy. 🙂

Thank you for following…Hayden and Radeen … on another Grenada walk

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Safe in Grenada LOCK-DOWN

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Where in the world is Grenada? The country of Grenada is the next to last in the eastern Caribbean chain. South of here is Trinidad. Many cruisers were concerned about the increase of covid-19 cases in Martinique and Guadeloupe. At that time, Antigua and Grenada had none. We sailed 48 hours non-stop from Antigua on March 16-17 with John and Nina of IP40 Sunkissed. We anchored shortly after dawn in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, the northern most island of the three island country of Grenada. That day, the country was placed under limited quarantine.

When we went ashore to check-in, it felt as if the world had changed in a blink. Social distancing was in full effect. For over 3 hours, we waited to give our medical and travel history and have our temperatures taken by a nurse in full protective gear.  One day later, stricter measures were imposed and we were not allowed to get off the boat or access shore or visit from boat to boat. So, since March 20, we have been under strict quarantine.  Here is a screen shot as we sailed south to Grenada to show where we are located now.

Grenada one of the southern most countries sin the Windward Island chain. Trinidad is south of here by about 90 nm.

Job #1 Stop the Sinking

After a week in Carriacou under full lock down, we decided to sail south one more island to the “mainland” of Grenada, where the rules were more loosely imposed. Here we booked a dock at the Port Louis Marina because we were very concerned that the country would lock down more.  If that were to happen, we decided we would want to be at a dock for water and safety. So glad we did! One day after arriving, a total lock down was imposed. Plus our water maker had stopped working and we knew could get it repaired here. 

Hundreds of boats are docked here, with about 40 people on their boats. Most are empty charter boats from Moorings and SunSail and Dream Yacht Charters. Four other Island Packets are in St. Geroge’s: Lars and Laura of IP485 Sweet Dream (who just completed the Round the World Cruisers Rally, Mike and Lizzie of IP465 Gratitude, Daryll and Lynn of IP370 Open Agenda (whom we have cruised with since Antigua. Barbuda) and Richard and Shelley of IP465 Ailsa. No Mini-vous yet!

Now that we were safely in dock, our first job was to stop the sinking. Our propeller shaft stuffing box needed to be tightened and this would slow the leak to a drip. If you have ever worked on this, it is not an easy job on an Island Packet. The best tools are a 30″ crowbar and a big hammer, plus PB Blaster. After about 4 hours of soaking and tapping, I was eventually able to free up the cap nut and turn it tighter, stopping the leak. Good thing as all the haul-out lifts were closed and no boat yards were working. If you are sinking, you will sink, it is that simple. So, fix it yourself! Here is a photo of working on the stuffing box!

Yoga mat required as you go face down into the bilge to tighten the stuffing box.

No Food Shortage in Grenada

Every day, ships arrive and offload supplies into this island country. There is no food shortage here and the government is announcing this daily, preventing panic within the population. Being in dock, we are now allowed off the boat as long as we stay on the docks and do not leave the marina. This is a very large marina and we have mapped out a 2,000 step loop which we try to do three times a day. We are getting in our steps, plus it is a good stress reliever. 

Shipping supplies arrive into Grenada daily. Here is a container ship being off loaded.

Keeping the Beer Cold, Frig issues

In September 2018, we replaced our original 1994 Adler Barbour refrigerator with an identical unit (still working, gave it away, wanted to be pro-active). Of course this new one has stopped working many times since the first incident on Valentine’s Day 2020. I have discovered this new unit has very loose fuse sockets. So, over time the fuses push out, fall out, or just lose contact and then POOF the frig/freezer goes off. We see the freezer temps rising. ERRRRRRR, so into the sail locker I dive after removing 10,000 items stored in there. Then I can reach the back section of the locker where the compressor is mounted. Of course the fuses are on the side back edge where you need a mirror to see and access them. I have now emptied this locker 8 times and to work on it. Now it seems to be holding the fuses. Frustrating, but at least I know the fix.

There it is, the way back Adler Barbour Frig Freezer unit that pushes fuses out!

Baking Bread, Scones and Great Meals

Radeen and I are both STRESS eaters, and this situation has potential to be NOT good for us, as we are eating more, baking bread and also scones. (Ignore the wine, bubbly and Crown Royal, we will not talk about that.) Our new oven works perfectly and Radeen is making delicious meals. Thank goodness we can go for walks, unlike the anchored boats.

It is known as “Hayden Bread” and it is half whole wheat and half white flour. See www.BoatRecipes.com that is Radeen’s recipe website..
Brown rice and Mediterranean chicken and red wine.
Brown rice, pan seared chicken with Dijon mustard and honey sauce, with local squash and cucumbers.

Zoom Meeting with US Consulate

We are attending Zoom meetings with the US Consulate as they try to track all Americans here in the Caribbean. There has been one extradition charter flight to get people home, with only 3 days notice. We said no thank you, as we are not sure it is better in USA. We are monitoring everything daily and are on the mailing list for the USA STEP Program, so we are well connected to any support the Embassy is offering. 

350 people in the Zoom meeting with Americans all over the Caribbean lead by the US Consulate in Barbados.

Food Delivered by SPRONKS Mega Yacht Services

We have now placed two orders with Spronks Yacht Provisioning. The public is allowed to go to the grocery store once a week on very limited hours. The lines are 5-6 hours long. We feel that is is best to not interfere and to not stand in lines, elevating our risk of covid-19. Several businesses have offered shopping and food delivery services for a fee of about $50 USD. You email your list to them and they shop before the doors open or on the days the stores are re-provisioning and then they message you when en route back to the marina. We feel this is best all around procedure.

Our first food delivery. We really appreciate this service.

Full Sun Shades

We are the shade masters. It might not look perfect, but it works. The sun is so hot down here between noon and 1600 that this really helps to keep the UV and heat off the boat. We have a shade over the boom that is about 10 feet x 14 feet with poles front and back. Then we hang Phyfertex side shades that block low sun angles. The bow shade was bought from another IP35 and designed to be lower on deck, but we rig it up higher so we can work under the bow tent.

Full Shade up
We have 3 side drops, 8 feet long and one bolt wide (54″) with grommets that allow us to tie them where we need them.

Sunset Walks

One of the many walks we do daily. This is looking out the harbor to the west towards Panama! Maybe we should make a run for it, but then again, that country is closed as well, so we cannot sail there. We can walk outt here and see the sunsets at about 1830.  Here is one of those many “selfies” we love to take. 

Hayden and Radeen at Port Louis Marina, Grenada. Locked down since March 16th, it is now April 15th!

Laundry via a Bucket!

This marina has a pool, wood fired pizza cafe, a bar, sushi bar, a full restaurant and a laundry, all of which are closed, yet we are paying FULL PRICE as if all services were offered. Heck, the water has been off for two days. They are gluing a PVC pipe, which takes me 10 minutes and then 30 minutes to cure. Its been two days, no water. With the laundry closed, we are washing our clothes in a bucket and then wringing them out and hanging them up to dry. It works, and we try to do a little bit every day, that is when the water is on! Did I mention that the air conditioning in the lovely bath house stopped three days ago and there are no opening windows in the building?

My new skill…laundry in a bucket hand washed.

Why Not Strip the Varnish? WHAT?

The third week in March, we had an appointment in Bequia to have the teak on our toe rail, hand rail and eyebrow refinished. We decided since that was canceled and we are locked down til April 20 with no where to go, we might as well strip the varnish and refinish. After seven days of work, Radeen and I have all the varnish off the boat, the teak is cleaned and it is all taped off ready to re-varnish with Ephifanes clear varnish. This would be the third time in 19 years we have taken the wood down to bare and started over. The last time was December 2013, when the boat was in a shed at Snead Island Boatworks on the west coast of Florida. This takes a lot of work and a lot of time. (We have the time, but our spines might not do well with this. We need more yoga stretching to ease the pain. ) We use 2 carbide cabinet scrapers and, when needed, we use a little of the Citrustrip to get around the cleats and chain plates, etc. This seems to work the best.

Stripping the teak and preparing for new varnish
All the teak is stripped and time to tape off
Radeen working hard on the hand rails under the shade

Sunset looking west off Grenada

Thank you for following along. Remember, you can see nearly daily live postings and updates on our public Facebook page. You do not have to be a member of Facebook to surf the web. Facebook pages are live public web pages that anyone with a web browser or a smart phone may view. This is where we post more often. Please check it out here…

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Caribbean Dream

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Our last post was from Marie Galante and now, after a month of Caribbean Dreams we are back in Antigua ready to sail south back to Guadeloupe and south to Grenada. We left Maria Gallante and sailed up to Guadeloupe then to Antigua. There we hosted dear friends Jim and Gail for a week of fun. After that we sailed up to Barbuda and fell in love with the pink sand beaches. from there  we sailed over to St. Kitts to rendezvous for a few hours with boat buddies Fran and Butch on mv Smartini. A quick ferry ride down to see Nevis and then a bashing back east 40 nm into the wind to return to Antigua and here we are.

We are now on the launch pad for sailing south to Guadeloupe and onward to Grenada for haul out May 8th. But for now, we have a lot to discover along the way. Here are some photos of the best along the way over the past month. NOTE: We are posting nearly daily to our PUBLIC Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/svIslandSpirit/ Please browse to this to see all the live action. NOTE#2, you do not have to be a member of Facebook to actually see a public web page, it is the internet, you may click on it and enjoy the content, even thought it has Facebook in the URL, it will not be a problem. Enjoy…

Going to town on Illes de Saints
Fun IPYOA rendezvous in Jolly Harbor
New Force Ten Stove installed in Antigua
Jim and Gail fly into to spend a week on Island Spirit
Shirley Heights is a required visit
Nelson Dockyard and Pillars is so interesting
Middle Ground Hike is a fun hike off Nelson’s
Birthday sailing was a dream off Antigua
Testing the new oven with homemade scones
Fun hiking Deep Bay Antigua with buddies
Off to Barbuda
Barbuda is AMAZING, this is a must visit place
Nevis via Ferry from St Kitts
Nevis and St Kitts are so different
Happy Birthday to Radeen, her 9th birthday on the boat!
Our travels

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Marie-Galante Carnival

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Radeen says today was her favorite of this season! With the weather calm for several days, we sailed 3 legs from Martinique to Dominica to Marie-Galante, on the southeast side of Guadeloupe. It can be very difficult to reach here in usual east winds of 20-25 knots. With a large weather front up north causing high winds in Florida and the Bahamas, our trade winds have been pulled to the south and suppressed. Luckily for us, we rented the last car available in St. Louis and went to a restored sugar plantation and then to the island’s annual Carnival celebration! 

My favorite Carnival photos

Woy Mi Mas Carnival parade on Marie-Galante Jan 25, 2020
Woy Mi Mas is the Carnival celebration on Marie-Galante, January 25, 2020

Enjoy our 27 best of 300 photos taken!

Habitation Murat and Woy Mi Mas

Marie-Galante was discovered on Columbus’ second voyage and he named it after one of his ships. The country side is small rolling hills of beautiful farmland raising sugar cane, bananas and cattle. As with larger French islands, roads are excellent and easy to navigate. Though there are vacant buildings in disrepair, we saw no poverty. The 12,000 residents obviously work hard. They can travel to the mainland of Guadeloupe via frequent daily ferries. We met several Guadeloupe residents who had traveled here for the weekend to watch the MG jet ski races.

Habitation Murat is a restored sugar plantation south east of Grand Bourg, a 20 minute drive from St. Louis. Though 90% of the information on the signs was in French, we learned a great deal about how sugar cane was produced using power from windmills. At one time there were more than 100. Now, there are 50 modern windmills on the east side,  producing electricity for the island.

Carnival is celebrated year round in the Caribbean. We were very fortunate to attend the annual Woy Mi Mas celebration in Grand Bourg. We stumbled on a traditional Ka drumming demonstration in the morning and enjoyed the market, where Radeen bought two new hats. Local street food vendors were making fish fritters and hand-cranked ice cream and selling home made baked goods. At 3:45, the parade scheduled for 2:00, finally began at the ferry terminal. 25 bands from Marie-Galante and Guadeloupe participated in the long parade. The band featured in our YouTube and Instagram video was celebrating their 40th anniversary. We estimate 95% of the crowd to be locals. It was all very festive and we felt welcome. It was exciting to be part of their enthusiasm!

Where is Marie-Galante?

Live Garmin Tracking Map…when we move, this updates

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Sailing to Marie Galante

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Making water while sailing to Marie Galante east of Guadeloupe on Island Spirit while under B&G autopilot sailing to a given wind angle. We thought there would be no wind, so we left the mainsail zipped in the stack pack. Well, there was a perfect 12-15 knot beam wind so we unfurled the jib and staysail.

We are never disappointed with the sailing capabilities of our Island packet 35. There tends to be this idea that these boats, Island Packet Yachts,  do not sail well, when they really sail very well.  No, it is not a J-Boat, but it sails well and it is comfortable.

Enjoy this short 3 minute video.

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Martinique Dreams

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We sailed into Martinique from St. Lucia where we always enjoy Marigot Marina and Resort. We only stayed two days there as we wanted to run the weather window to reach Martinique. The reason we ran for this French island is because Chris Parker was forecasting high winds and large swells and that everyone would be stuck and not able to move for maybe two weeks. We said, “if we are going to be stuck for two weeks, then it will be on a French Island!” HA HA, so off to Martinique we sailed. Check out this fantastic sailing day, I created these two short video clips and posted to our YouTube channel here:

Sailing St. Lucia to Martinique video #1

Fantastic Caribbean Sailing, video#2

St. Anne, Martinique

The most popular harbor is the anchorage on the south east side. This harbor has over 200 yachts on anchor and there is room for another 200 at least. The water depth is 10-20 feet, the bottom is sand and the holding is really good. Add to this, the town is cute with a beautiful church, bakery, grocery stores, cafes, crepe shops, gift shops and bus stops. Fresh fish can be bought at the fish market and all the fresh produce you need at the open air market. Cappuccinos daily, and beautiful sunsets, and you can imagine how difficult this place would be to leave. We stayed 10 days and could have stayed another 10. Here are a few photos:

Our first walk around St. Anne, Island Spirit is out there
Our beach is an easy dinghy ride 1/4 mile off our bow
St. Anne dinghy dock and waterfront
St. Anne waterfront
Grocery shopping is a joy in the French Islands
Plenty of fresh items all the time

We rented a car, off to Fort de France

With the high winds blowing, we decided to rent a car and drive the 1 hour to Fort de France. There we wanted to check out the waterfront and the town as well as the information to tour the fort. After our first run over the city, we did this again with boat buddies Fran and Butch on MY SMARTINI. We all four loved the tour of the fort and our walk around town as well as our fine savory crepes at La Savane, a wonderful street cafe,. So French. 

St. Louis Cathedral, Fort de France
Great times with boat buddies Fran and Butch of SMARTINI
The Fort de France anchorage as seen from atop the fort
Fort Saint Louis, at Fort de France

Anchored off d’Arlet, so cute

Moving north, we stopped into Grand Anse D’Arlet and walked the town and over the hill to the next town. These are small beach front villages where locals as well as French residents fly in for a week of beach and snorkeling and diving. The towns are spotless, very cute and very laid back. Coffee shops, bakeries, cafes, pubs, and small grocery stores are so common in these harbors. They are wonderful places to drop the anchor and simply enjoy the high quality of French life.

Sunsets are a daily joy

Mt. Pelee, Saint Pierre

Our final stop heading north was the interesting harbor of St. Pierre where in 1902, the volcano Mount Pelee, erupted and killed 29,000 people.  St. Pierre was known as the “Paris of the Caribbean.” Ships were sailing here from France in 15 day crossings, rounding the north end of Martinique and sailing into this harbor. The ships would drop off passengers, basic and luxurious fabrics and household goods and then load up with sugar, rum and tobacco and sail back.

The amount of trading was massive and the plantation owners were millionaires, and so it was, they build a thriving town on the slopes of an active volcano. St. Pierre was wealthy enough to have 12 jewelers and watchmakers! The three story theatre seated 800 people and was in active use for more than 150 years. It had marble floors that can still be seen in the ruins. The beautiful new museum was completed in 2019. We were fascinated to see many artifacts discovered after the explosion, such as porcelain plates fused together, a collapsed (but not melted) church bell and a distorted (but not broken) light bulb!

St. Pierre is so different. There are prosperous businesses but also many buildings that seem closed.
Climbing up to the volcano museum among remains of charred stones
400c to 1000c temperatures burned the town and killed 29,000 people in seconds
A dove of peace overlooks the ruins atop a cannon
St. Pierre is so interesting with the old and the new

The Map of Martinique

With constant east tradewinds, all the good harbors are on the west side. Never a cold front and rarely a wind change

Onward to DOMINICA, then Marie Gallante, then Guadeloupe, then Antigua! The weather is calm and we are running north as fast as we can. In general, ts easy to sail south, but harder to run north in the winter.

Here is our tracking map, LIVE DATA. When we move, this updates.
https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

 

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Bequia Hikes

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We have been enjoying Bequia while here thru Christmas and New Year’s.  IP 38 DreamCatcher, Kim and Dean, organized hikes around beautiful Bequia.  They have been here for several seasons and based here most of last season. So, they know the island very well and have hiked many of the peaks and trails. We are grateful to them for planning and including us on these adventures. Our last hike took us up to 700 feet in elevation above sea level and provided a beautiful view north to St. Vincent. Imagine, at 10 feet per flight of stairs, this would equal 70 flights up and 70 flights down!

Our hiking team atop Spring Hill looking north to St. Vincent.

Our first hike

Our first hike was to Sugar Hill. Along the way, we could look back down into the harbor and see our anchored boats. This hike was on paved roads and with switchbacks and hills that were super steep. The views were incredible and the exercise well needed as living on a boat tends to be lazy. So, we appreciate these hikes and the work-outs they provide.

The hike to Sugar Hill from the harbor provides a great view down to the anchored yachts.
Looking northwest into Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Our lil Island Packet 35 on anchor. It is the boat in the bottom center.

Our second hike was to Fort Hamilton

The hike out to Fort Hamilton is a much easier hike as we walked along the water’s edge to the point, then climbed the paved roads up and out to the ruins of the fort, named for Alexander Hamilton who was born on Nevis. This also provided a different view, looking east back into Admiralty Bay, Bequia, where we are anchored to the far southeast of the harbor, north of Jack’s Beach Bar.

Easy hike along the water to Fort Hamilton
Fran and Radeen strike a pose at Fort Hamilton
Radeen points to our boat, way over there
There we are, the top center, the small boat that is NOT white!
Fort Hamilton protected the harbor from American privateers and the French
Yes, it is named after Alexander Hamilton!

The third hike to 700 Feet

This hike was the marathon and Dean kept telling us to take our time, it was not a sprint, but a marathon. It took us about an hour and half to climb from the harbor up to the overlook at Spring Hill. This overlook is at an elevation of 700 feet, proven by several altimeters we all had on our phones! Most of it was on paved roads but some of the hike was on a shaded trail along a ridge. We stopped at an interesting pottery studio along the way. At the top, there is a small picnic pavilion and an overlook north to St. Vincent. This was well worth the effort.

The Hike up to SPRING HILL overlook at 700 feet
Keep pushing UP HILL all the way, hot and humid
Looking north to St. Vincent
Required selfie atop the 700 foot overlook
Our team: PRISM, DREAMCATCHER and SMARTINI atop the 700 foot hill with St. Vincent in the back ground. Notice the windjammer, STAR CLIPPER, under full sail. She later anchored in the harbor near us.
Going down hill was tough on the knees. Some hills, like this one, were so steep that we walked diagonally back and forth to save our knees. If you fall, it would be a long, long roll straight to the bottom.

The Reward, FIREFLY

After reaching the peak, we turned downhill to the other side of the island and enjoyed lunch at THE FIREFLY RESORT.  This was a wonderful plan and a real treat especially with the swimming pool for cooling off after lunch. Radeen LOVES to swim in pools and she got her laps in after a few plantation punches and chicken and tuna curry lunch with callaloo soup, sauteed red cabbage, diced pumpkin, rice with pigeon peas and tiny yeast rolls with cornmeal  in them.

Arrival at Firefly, YES YES YES….food, rum, and a pool
Sunday lunch of curried chicken or tuna, plus plantation punches in those cool bottles. The crew of CLARITY met us there.
Radeen swimming laps after lunch, while I hydrate with a plantation punch and count her laps for her, 🙂

Thank you Dean and Kim

Thank you to our friends on Island Packet 38, Kim and Dean, for organizing these hikes. Bequia is a wonderful island for lingering, as the people are so kind and they really want cruisers to be here.  The harbor is well protected and there are dinghy docks at many locations. Cafes, pizza shops, pubs, beaches, grocery stores and laundry services. The snorkeling is great, too. What is not to like? That is why we skipped a great weather window on January 1  to stay here longer. Next, we will like to Bequia Head at the northernmost tip of the island.

Our team with the owners of La Plage on the right. We had a delicious lunch there after the hike to Fort Hamilton.

More photos around Bequia

Enjoy these last few photos. I have hundreds, so will share a few of the best. I have taken over 2,000 photos since Dec. 4th. It is so beautiful here!

Radeen with the cactus at Fort Hamilton
Yes, it is arid enough here for cactus
A small abandoned home above the harbor, Most homes are very well kept.
Returning home to Island Spirit after a great hiking day
Enjoying the sunset off Bequia from our cockpit

 

 

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Sailing to Bequia

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With a great weather forecast for ESE winds, we left Grenada on Dec 24th heading for Bequia with a planned stop on Union Island in Chatham Bay. The sail north was fantastic, and like always, we bashed thru the currents and waves at the north end of Grenada. This being our second run past here, we are learning how the winds and currents accelerate at the north ends or south ends of the Caribbean Islands. The winds are compressed and bent around the islands and then accelerate as they compress to make it up or down and around the end of the islands. It can be 30% more wind as you come out from behind the islands, so we always have a double reef in the mainsail.

Sailing north from Grenada to Union Island Dec 24, 2019, double reefed mainsail and a full 110 jib.

Caribbean Sailing is fantastic.

Island Packets love 20-25 knots of wind and they really like this on the beam or downwind. On this leg, since we are in the Windward Islands, our sailing course is north or south on an east wind! That means beam reaching or close reaching and the sailing is great. Here are some sailing photos, please enjoy.

GoPro lens was dirty, but I love to take photos of Radeen sailing, she likes to sail
Day one of sailing, you can see my jib halyard is not hauled up tight enough, we are still rigging the boat. Sailing was still great
GoPro shot looking at the entire sail set
Fishing rod and cedar plug deployed, but no fish for these first two days.
Aggressive sailing for our first day, we are out of shape and we bounced around and tried not to get hurt.
Selfie of Hayden while sailing under wind vane autopilot steering
This is max speed, hull speed, for an Island Packet 35! WOW, looking goooooood

Rainbow, our first for this 2019-2020 season

It rains nearly every day for 5-15 minutes and that presents a rainbow as well. Here is a photo enhanced rainbow as seen on our first sail of the season. What a joy, this was actually a full rainbow, but my panoramic did not work out, so here is the closest end of the rainbow

Rainbow as we sail north out of Grenada heading for Union Island

On anchor off Union Island, Chatham Bay

Union Island, Chatham Bay was a great place to drop the anchor close and off the beach. We immediately jumped in for a Christmas Eve snorkel and swim along the reef. We saw our first “Snake Eel”  and a moray eel along with many colorful fish. Welcome to the Caribbean where the water is about 78 degrees and when you jump in, you try to decide if it is cold or not. 🙂 The next day, Christmas Morning, we up anchored and headed out for more sailing to Bequia. Our first Christmas Day Sail.

Sunrise as we sailed out of Union heading for Bequia

Sailing Christmas Day

What an unusual way to spend Christmas Day. Sailing! Our destination being Bequia where we arrived around 1100 with time to check in with customs and immigration. After checking in, we were off to the FIG TREE where the cruisers were having a pot luck gathering. Everyone brought a dish to share and your own meat to grill. Our hosts had the grills running and all the tables set up and we brought in our filet mignon and homemade iced pumpkin bars  to share.

Sailing for Bequia, Christmas Day
We are making great speed
Time to check into the country

Thank you John and Darcy and Lafayette

The Fig Tree has become the cruisers place to hang out because the owners, Sheryl and Lafayette, have made it so inviting to the boaters. This mother-daughter team opens their space for cruisers to come in and hang out for Christmas Day. Boat Buddies, John and Darcy, who got marrids here on Bequia, hosted and organized the pot luck. Tons of work for 80 cruisers to all have a place to sit and to have a buffet table and to share. What a great Christmas Day with everyone. We really enjoyed this.

My first Bequia Selfie with JOHN and DARCY, our cruising hosts for the event.
Our Filet Mignon with shrimp, veggies and couscous from the buffet
Sheryl, the owner of the FIG TREE and our gracious Bequia Host, with John and Darcy in the background. Thank you all!
The Fig Tree is large with seating for maybe 100. It has a popular bar and cafe and fun vibe.

Fun times on Bequia

We have now been here 5 days and we are really enjoying this island. Bequia has been a cruising favorite of ours since out first stop here in 1992. That was on a charter boat and like all charter boats, you only stay one day at a place because you only have one week and you want to see it all, so you move, move, move. Its so different cruising on your own boat. No schedule, no timeframe, so we can stay as long as we like an any location. That is what is so wonderful about cruising. So, we are hiking, walking, swimming, snorkeling the reef and visiting. Welcome to the simple peaceful life.

The Gingerbread House coffee shop on the beach at the dinghy dock, love it
It took two days, four different attempts and some extra cash  for clearing in on a holiday but we finally got checked into the country.
To our starboard, we have the coral reef where we snorkel with tropical fish
To our port bow are palm trees and the dinghy docks
Out for excellent steel pan music  at the Fig Tree

Up Next, Hiking…

We will write next about our wonderful three days of hiking Bequia where we have seen some amazing views. Thanks to our buddies on IP38 DreamCatcher, Dean and Kim, for organizing the hike. Here are a few teaser photos…..

Overlook back into our harbor, where Island Spirit is in the left valley
There we are, the tan colored boat, the closest bat and one of the smallest in the harbor 🙂

Thank you all for following along. Radeen and I really enjoy sharing our sailing wit you. Your comments are emailed directly to us and we try to respond to them all. Thank you!

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