// Views from the Helm
The Crew's December 2015 voyage to Saint Barthelemy and Anguilla was highlighted by unseasonably flat seas, steady winds and sunny skies. Our enthusiastic group never tired as we pushed to eleven different anchorages in just six days. Lounging around deserted beaches became a daily affair, with interesting food and friendly locals awaiting us each evening. The seas grew on our final day, giving the crew an exciting taste of this region's typical winter swell pattern as we steered back to port. Read more about this epic voyage below in the Captain's Log.
ready to go? exciting destinations await this winter:
// Captain's Log
Saint Barths to Anguilla, December 2015
Day 1 // Oyster Pond, Ile Fourchue, Gustavia
Arrive: 17°53'58"N // -62°51'31"W @ 16:30hrs - 12.14.15
Seas: Choppy and inconsistent. Windswell 2-3', occasional 4'
Winds: ENE at 15-20 knots
The crew arrived the previous evening, allowing them time to get acquainted with the boat, stowaway their gear and get to know each other over some welcome cocktails. After some final provisioning, our safety orientation and boat overview, we set sail to Ile Fourchue, a brisk reach about 2 hours to our SE. We had the anchorage to ourselves and enjoyed a leisurely lunch, went for a swim, and took a short a hike up the hill revealing incredible views. Back onboard, another hour had us to Gustavia, St. Barths, where we found good holding by Les Gros Islets; prime position for the approaching sunset. While the Captain cleared the group through French customs, an unbelievable sunset unfolded – a true “painted sky”. The group was abuzz, floating in the now-still water as the sky twists from orange to pink. Most of the group immediately recognizes the merits of showering on deck, and once ready we head to Gustavia for cocktails, followed by dinner at Crew favorite Black Ginger. Back on the boat, the group can't resist another dip before saying goodnight. Extremely calm conditions prevailed, as the lull between wind/swell events nears it bottom. 12/15 01:30 - AU.
Day 2 // Anse de Colombier
Depart: 17°53'58"N // -62°51'31"W @ 13:00hrs - 12.15.15
Arrive: 17°55'24"N // -62°52'9"W @ 14:30hrs - 12.15.15
Seas: Choppy and inconsistent. Windswell 1-2'
Winds: ENE at 15-20 knots
Notes: The group decided on a leisurely day exploring Gustavia, followed by a short sail around the corner to Anse de Colombier for beaching and chilling. From burgers to crepes to lobster, our small group had a fantastically diverse brunch before weaving our way through the field of superyachts en route to Colombier, where a near-deserted beach awaited us. A short afternoon walk yielded more spectacular sunset views before grilling steak and chicken kebobs back on our boat under a sky full of stars (and a meteor shower). While cleaning up from dinner, a group of 3-4' tarpon joined us off the stern to help pick at the leftovers. One of two boats in the anchorage and without a whiff of wind. 12/16 00:30 - AU.
Day 3 // Tintamarre, Sandy Island, Road Bay
Depart: 17°55'24"N // -62°52'9"W @ 07:30hrs - 12.16 .15
Arrive: 18°12'5"N // -63°5'36"W @ 17:30hrs - 12.16 .15
Seas: Calm/ Inconsistent. Windswell 1-2'
Winds: E at 5-10 knots
Today would be one of our longer travel days, so we got an early start shortly after sunrise. Limited wind kept our engine on en route to Ile Tintamarre and its pristine beach for an abbreviated lunch stop, some snorkeling, and beach exploration. We then cruised around the top of Sint Maarten and followed the southern coast of Anguilla, rounding its western corner and pulling into Road Bay to clear customs. Having made good time on our passage, and our group being insatiable for more, we took a late afternoon trip 1.5nm offshore to Sandy Island, where we caught the restaurant staff just in time for one drink before they left the island to us for an unanticipated private sunset viewing - pictures didn't capture the moment. Feeling the excitement of life, our lively crew pulled back into Road Bay at dusk, set the anchor, and showered up for dinner at Roy’s… where fun photos and cocktail shaking commenced. Our order was easy to keep straight - five lobsters – all around. A departure from champagne-saturated St. Barths, the group indulged in their first taste of some tropical beverages. A walk down the beach to Elvis’ famous beach bar landed us in conversation with some interesting characters as we gathered around the bar which had been carved out of an old sloop. Juxtaposing this classic scene was a big screen TV streaming an NFL game, two cornhole courts, and a live music stage w/ a curated playlist being blasted by owner Brett (now local to Anguilla by way of Catalina Island - we enjoyed the irony). Many games of cornhole and rum punches later, we said goodbye to Rich and Brett, and our new friends from Germany, Russia, France, and of course, Brooklyn. Stunningly calm (bath tub) conditions continued, as the lull bottoms out. 12/17 01:30 - AU.
Day 4 // Prickly Pear, Crocus Bay
Depart: 18°12'5"N // -63°5'36"W @ 10:30hrs - 12.17.15
Arrive: 18°13'11"N // -63°4'10"W @ 17:45hrs - 12.17 .15
Seas: NE swell building, 2-3'. Choppy and inconsistent.
Winds: E at 15-20 knots
Staying around Anguilla and its offshore islands, we ventured 6.5nm NW to Prickly Pear – a stunning piece of coral with a pink-white sand beach. After a fun and short sail over from Road Bay, we were surprised to find all 3 of the “rare” mooring balls available (no crowd!). After a slow dinghy ride through the reef-rimmed pass, we approached the beach to yet again find ourselves the only guests on this immaculate scrap of coral. We are introduced to Allan – the owner of the restaurant– who took over for his Mother, Agatha, some years ago. Born in London, Allan’s island ways and thick British accent gains our admiration. Our circumstantially private lunch consisted of BBQ ribs, chicken, shrimp, and not one of us is unhappy. Rum punches are poured, and after some banter w/ Allan about everything from international affairs, to his drinking plans that evening – we embark on a short walk around the corner to a coral-laden strip of land where our vessel sits, pulling gently against her mooring bridle. Amazing photos are snapped of this raw but tropical landscape before departing for our new port that evening in Crocus Bay, back on Anguilla. Chasing the setting sun, we drop our hook as the sunset (yet again) puts on an amazing display. We marvel that (yet again) we are one of only a handful of boats in the entire bay, as we begin our nightly outdoor shower routine before heading ashore. One building exists in Crocus Bay – Da Vida – an Asian/Caribbean fusion marvel which often receives top marks for Anguilla as a whole. The staff, the food, and especially the music blew us all away, as we walked in from the beach with sandy feet. Bathtub calm water in Crocus, including its rim of white, pristine beaches impresses all – noted for future visits. 12/18 00:30 - AU.
Day 5 // Dog Island, Grand Case
Depart: 18°13'11"N // -63°4'10"W @ 11:00hrs - 12.18.15
Arrive: 18°6'30"N // -63°3'24"W @ 17:45hrs - 12.18.15
Seas: NE swell continues to build, 3-5'. Choppy and inconsistent.
Winds: ENE at 15-20 knots, gusting to 25 knots.
Dog Island is the final of Anguilla’s three offshore islands (that you can safely get on). It’s mentioned in the cruising guides as for the “adventurous”. Our group, having proved that to be their travel style, was unanimous in the decision to visit. Somewhat on our way to the evening’s port in Grand Case, Dog Island lies about 12nm NW of Crocus Bay. A less than ideal wind direction, increasing weather, and a large # of miles to cover before nightfall kept our engine on full bore en route. Dog Island is spectacular. Private, empty, and rimmed w/ such a surreal white/pink beach, that it is not even worth trying to describe. The “toll” for visiting such a place is an exposed and somewhat sketchy anchoring location. Short on time, and tentative about the anchor hold, the Captain had already scouted and rejected the idea of landing the dinghy on the beach (due to swells and surge), and with the dinghy bobbing up and down 3-4ft. behind the boat, he opted to have guests board the dinghy from the water (instead of the stepping onto it from the boat). Time onshore was quite short, with hours yet to cover, weather coming in stronger, and darkness not far off. Even though brief, Dog proved to be a highly pleasant and introspective highlight for all, as we (again) trotted along our own private stretch of perfection. We departed Dog safely, beginning a 3-hour beat to windward, soaking the crew in sea spray as we went. As this long day began to set in tune with the sun, the group still found a moment to enjoy a salt-encrusted sunset off the stern as we pulled into Grand Case, Sint Maarten. A weary group enjoyed their final meal oceanside, and we closed out a delightfully French evening w/ a sucre Crepe along the the road before heading back to the boat. 12/19 02:30 - AU.
Day 6 // Tintamarre, Oyster Pond
Depart: 18°6'30"N // -63°3'24"W @ 08:30hrs - 12.19.15
Arrive: 18°3'16"N // -63°0'51"W @ 12:30hrs - 12.19.15
Seas: NE swell builds, 4-6' occasional 8'.
Winds: ENE at 15-20 knots, gusting to 25 knots.
Acting off suggestions (rumors), the Captain took a 7AM walk to the “sketchy” part of Grand Case (in France, or a French Island all the same, 7AM on a Saturday does not exist), where he indeed found the only boulangerie (bakery) open in the entire town. Wiping out her entire supply of pain-au-chocolates (chocolate croissants), he dinghy’d back to the boat to present a salty crew with an early morning treat. We pulled out of Grand Case into growing 3-5’ swells and a fresh breeze. A fun cruise back to Ile Tintamarre left us alone on the popular beach for a final hang out. With the breeze increasing and both sails reefed, we enjoyed a full sail home to Oyster Pond. The large, now 4-7’ swells, were comfortable on our quarter, and the group all got in on the sailing action. Our approach into Oyster Pond’s marina, while always hairy, had an exclamation point on it as aforementioned swells turned into 9-10’ faces hovering over the shallow reef that rims the marina pitch. Some exciting dips and near-surfs dumped us safely into the protection of “the Pond”. It will take a number of weeks to absorb all that this group accomplished in only 6 days – it’s honestly quite staggering. A sprint from beginning to end, with abbreviated portions of relaxation and amazement. A vacation? – that depends on your definition. An adventure? – Yes. An experience never forgotten? – Absolutely. We did it, and we did it with serious style. Cheers. 12/19 20:30 - AU.