// 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 11 different anchorages in just six days! Lounging around deserted beaches became a daily affair, allowing for a rare opportunity to interact with friendly locals minus the crowd. The seas grew on our final day, giving the crew a 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
Depart: 33°27'33"N // -117°41'54"W @ 11:30hrs - 12.14.15
Arrive: 33°26'37"N // -118°29'40"W @ 16:30hrs - 12.14.15
Seas: Choppy and inconsistent. Windswell 2-3', occasional 4'
Winds: ENE at 15-20 knots
Final provisioning at nearby French market. Safety orientation, boat overview, final prep. Brisk sail to Ile Fourchue, 2 hours. Had lunch, went for a swim, followed by a hike – incredible views. Aaron falls into cactus. Dinghy floats away, Andrew chasing down mountain to swim and retrieve… but a good samaritan brings it back in for us. Another hour to Gustavia, good anchoring position by the two rocks, customs cleared, unbelievable sunset ensues – “painted sky”. Epic photo shoot and sunset swims. Excitement about the first night onboard. Head to Gustavia for cocktails, then dinner at Black Ginger. Secret photo shoot. Back to boat for a bit more swimming and a good night. 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: 33°26'37"N // -118°29'40"W @ 13:00hrs - 12.15.15
Arrive: 33°25'40"N // -118°30'29"W @ 14:30hrs - 12.15.15
Seas: Choppy and inconsistent. Windswell 1-2'
Winds: ENE at 15-20 knots
Notes: Breakfast in Gustavia, town exploration, short motor around the corner to Anse de Colombier. Beach day, sunset walk and view. Kebobs onboard, late night tarpon feeding. 12/16 00:30 - AU.
Day 3 // Tintamarre, Sandy Island, Road Bay
Depart: 33°25'40"N // -118°30'29"W @ 07:30hrs - 12.16 .15
Arrive: 33°27'33"N // -117°41'54"W @ 17:30hrs - 12.16 .15
Seas: Calm/ Inconsistent. Windswell 1-2'
Winds: E at 5-10 knots
Many miles to cover, so the day starts early. Limited wind results largely in a motor sail over to Tintamarre for an abbreviated lunch stop, snorkeling, and beach exploration. Tons of day boats, anchor on the outside, beach is still amazing. Cruise around the top of Sint Maarten, and along the southern coast of Anguilla, rounding its western corner and coming into Road Bay to clear customs. Having made such good time, and Road Bay being hazard free and empty, we take a later afternoon trip 1.5nm offshore to Sandy Island, where we catch the staff of the restaurant in time for one drink before they leave the island to us. A private sunset on Sandy Island – pictures won’t capture it. Pull back into Road Bay at dusk, set the anchor, and shower up for dinner at Roy’s… where photo opps and cocktail shaking commence. 5 lobsters – all around. First taste of tropical beverages. Very full, some nearly nauseated. A walk back down the beach to Elvis’, met some interesting characters around the old sloop bar structure, backed up by a big screen streaming NFL, two cornhole courts, and a live music stage w/ a curated playlist being blasted by owner Brett – born and raised in Colorado, lived on Catalina for many years before making the switch to Anguilla. Aggressive cornhole games, many, many rum punches – our man Rich on the drinks, weird family from Buffalo NY (slash Brooklyn), Germany, Russia, and France. Good fun! Stunningly calm (bath tub) conditions exist, as the lull bottoms out. 12/17 01:30 - AU.
Day 4 // Prickly Pear, Crocus Bay
Depart: 33°25'40"N // -118°30'29"W @ 10:30hrs - 12.17.15
Arrive: 33°27'33"N // -117°41'54"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 offshore to Prickly Pear – a stunning piece of coral with a pink-white beach – usually a favorite of massive day charter boats from SXM. Not an ideal location for deep-keeled monohulls like ours… as a vicious reef rims the entire island. After a fun and short sail over, we were surprised to find all 3 of the “rare” mooring balls available. Increasing swell/wind off the bottom of the weather lull makes for a challenging mooring pick-up (zero protection, and an ill-advised anchorage in any sort of adverse conditions). Our first mooring rope was shredded, so after several attempts on #2, we secured ourselves with two ropes, quite tenuously, with a nervous Skipper spending extra minutes observing his boat bob in the exposed spot. Skippers’ blood pressure elevates slightly as he notes the lengthy dinghy ride required to reach the beach around and through a reef pass, in 2-3’ wind chop, with a full dinghy-load + gear, and under a half tank of gas. Slow going with a light spray results in a quiet but softly giggling group. Turning the corner to windward, large sprays and an entirely soaked crew, gear included (while expected!!), silently exposes mixed feelings around our destination and any potential fruits it may bear. One day boat is pulling out, while our dinghy gathers water and blasts its way towards the beach. A relatively uneventful landing on the beach releases the crew to a somewhat solemn relaxation period on a number of beach chairs scattered about this phenomenal stretch of sand. Yet again, we are left alone w/ the staff on the only outpost on this scrap of coral. We are introduced to Allan – the owner – who took over for his Mother Agatha. Born in London, Allan’s island ways and thick British accent gains our admiration. Then our circumstantial private lunch is served, consisting 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 raw, coral-laden strip of land where our vessel (still) sits, bucking like a bronco against its mooring bridal. The Skippers’ trepidation, and silence, is noted. Amazing photos of this raw but tropical landscape, and then a quick urging to leave, as our new port for the evening is looming as a post-dusk arrival. Not a problem given the conditions and lack of navigational hazards, but always good to have the hook down w/ a bit of light left! All-star guest/full crewmember Aaron takes some liberties w/ the diesel inboard, getting us quickly to Crocus Bay, just North of our previous anchorage in Road Bay, Anguilla. We are pleased but also dismayed to see we have two neighbor boats for the evening. My, have we gotten used to a private existence on these exquisite stretches of coastline! One building exists in this 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 after leaving our dinghy on their questionably private dock (the gate was open…. What are we supposed to do???). Game night follows into the wee hours, where a sudden squall sends everyone below for the evening. Bathtub water in Crocus, including its rim of white, pristine beaches, impresses all – and has been noted for future visits. 12/18 00:30 - AU.
Day 5 // Dog Island, Grand Case
Depart: 33°27'33"N // -117°41'54"W @ 11:00hrs - 12.18.15
Arrive: 33°26'37"N // -118°29'40"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 onto). 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. A less than ideal wind direction, increasing weather, and a large # of miles to cover before nightfall, kept our engine on en route to Dog. Dog Island is spectacular. Private, empty, and rimmed w/ such a surreal white/pink beach, that it is not even worth trying to describe to those who haven’t seen it. The “toll” for visiting such a place is a highly sketchy anchoring location, broadly exposed to swells and wind, with several recommendations to drop two anchors, or simply give this destination a pass. Short on time, and tentative about the anchor hold, the Skipper tried to prevent his serious demeanor from affecting what would surely be an unforgettable stop. The Skipper 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 boat, and dinghy from the water (instead of the stepping from one to the next). Time onshore was quite short, with hours to cover, weather coming in stronger, and darkness approaching w/ a new port awaiting. Even though brief, Dog proved to be a pleasant moment, and highlight, for all, as we (again) trotted along our own private stretch of perfection. Without so much as a building, Dog was by far our most private of several private beach encounters. We got out of Dog safely, albeit a bit behind the clock, the Skipper drowning one of two phones in a quick (but urgent) dropped dinghy rescue….. and then (fate returning the favor for the private beach experiences) things started to break. Missing mainsail attachments - a blown out topping lift - leaky halyward clasp - bent and nearly cracked jib mast bracket --- all combined did not allow for the pleasant sailing experience to Grand Case originally intended. Engine running, sails down, we endured 3 hours of constant boat “bang and spray” as we were all drenched in salt water from a building 3-5’ wind chop, futher increasing weather (wind), but none the less found some moments to enjoy a salt-encrusted sunset off the stern as we pulled into Grand Case just as darkness dominated. Early season benefitted us in finding the anchorage relatively empty, and a beautiful hook-drop had our engine off within minutes after anchoring. Sighs of relief and excitement for the evening’s festivities in the culinary center of Sint Maarten were quickly “iced” by a drop in water pressure. No problem, just meant we needed to switch to our 2nd or 3rd (both full) water tanks. Early failure indicated a problem, and the gentle, disgruntled crescendo of 4 bodies full of shampoo and soap, unable to rinse, soon reached its climax. The frantic efforts of the Skipper proved inadequate to resolve the issue – two full tanks of water being usable causing quite a bit of exascerbation – but the Friday evening timing would not bring technical assistance. Abbreviated cleansing attempts and “Evian showers” allowed for clothing to be donned as we headed in for our final night. Grand Case was the biggest city we would visit, and as such, our dinghy and boat required certain locking procedures, further adding to an unwelcome sense of final night angst. Difficulties w/ the ordering (and receiving) and correctly ordered meals added to the agitation, as our first taste of “things going wrong” encompassed the group. But – such are the lives of adventurers, especially those who venture by boat, and the overall sentiment remained positive as we closed out a French evening w/ a sucre Crepe along the the road. 12/19 02:30 - AU.
Day 6 // Tintamarre, Oyster Pond
Depart: 33°27'33"N // -117°41'54"W @ 08:30hrs - 12.19.15
Arrive: 33°26'37"N // -118°29'40"W @ 12:30hrs - 12.19.15
Seas: NE swell builds, 4-6' occasional 8'.
Winds: ENE at 15-20 knots, gusting to 25 knots.
Our first crewmember left early this morning, w/ a dramatic dinghy departure set against a muted sunrise. Both Skipper and traveler were pleased to find the arranged taxi driver on the dock awaiting our arrival to shore. After a farewell to Tiffany, and acting off suggestions (hearsay/rumors), the Skipper 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 – used lightly - and only building for that matter) 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. A final morning full of optimism brought more challenge, as a suspected “seabather’s eruption” appeared more likely, leading to another night of limited sleep and increased agitation. No access to appropriate anti-itch creams did not ease the discomfort. Said crewmember continued her slumber as we pulled out of Grand Case into growing 3-5’ swells and a fresh breeze. A fun cruise to Tintamarre left us nearly alone on the popular tourist beach for a final hang out. Fears of sea lice, while still present from the itching, did not prevent a group powwow in the crystal clear turqoise waters. Rigging up a reduced a sail setup, the group was able to fully sail home to Oyster Pond, in about an hour. The large, now 4-7’ swells, were comfortable w/ the sails trimmed 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 threatening to break onto us over the shallow reef that rims the marina pitch. Some exciting dips, and almost-surfs, dumped us safely into the protection of “the Pond”. An abbreivated departure time, while initially stressful, worked itself out as an adjacent boat presented a wonderful fresh water shower opportunity. 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? – Yes. We did it. And minus one night of fully luxurious and warm showers, we did it with serious style. Cheers. 12/19 20:30 - AU.