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:
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.
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
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!)
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!
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
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
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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…..
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. 🙂
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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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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…
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…
Please visit out PUBLIC FACEBOOK Page
We have many more photos, essays, stories and nearly live postings on our Facebook page, Again, you do not have to be a facebook iuser to surf the public web, it is just like reading the news or yahoo, or goolge, it is for all to see. So, if you would like to see more, then please click this link. Enjoy…..
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
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
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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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:
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.
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.
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!
The Map of Martinique
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!