Windwards

Sunday, 1/12/97
Itís my brother Dougís Birthday! Canít really call him in Colorado, though.  Anyway, we set off at 8 a.m. for Montserrat and then Guadalope. Bill makes it out to be around a 70 mile sail.

The six of us head out of Jolly Harbor and set course for Montserrat. We have a nice broad reach and make good time and average 8 knots. We see a lot of flying fish but no dolphins.  Iím still waiting to see my first dolphin!

Sunset off Guadalope

We pass within about Ĺ mile of shore at Montserrat and see the volcano spewing smoke. The volcano burps a few times, sending small trails of  lava down the hillside.

We angle away from Montserrat and head towards Deshaies, Guadalope. The wind starts to veer and we find that we need to put in a second reef and beat to windward in 25 - 30 knot winds and 4 - 6 foot seas. The ride is very lumpy and Bill Noble, Karen, and Scott feel the effect by promptly turning green.

We get to Guadalope and anchor.  Deshaies is a very cool little harbor.  We clean up a bit and head into town on the dink. The six of us watch the sunset as we sip a concoction called ďPunch CocoĒ.

Monday, 1/13/97
Around 10 a.m., we all head to shore to check things out.  We want to go on a tour to see the 350 foot waterfall in the forest.  We quickly find that their is no tour but we can take the local bus to the capital (2 Ĺ hours away) and then get on a tour there. Oh well, back to the boat.

So, back on the boat, we decide to move about 2 miles north to a small beach. We fire up the engine and winch up the anchor. As we round the mountain that separates Deshaies from this beach, we all get very excited.  The beach is absolutely beautiful. We anchor about 20 yards off the beach and spend the day swimming back and forth from the boat to the beach (I nearly lose a lung in the process).

Scott, Alex, and I take the dink and do some snorkeling  in the late afternoon and then return to the boat.  We move Out of Bounds back to Deshaies and get ready to go to dinner. We pick Chez Racine and enjoy a fine meal.

Wednesday, 1/14/97
We leave Deshaies and head toward Isle de Saintes, a group of small islands south of Guadalope.  The sail starts at around 8 a.m. with no wind, so we motor and make water for the first hour or so. As soon as we round the Southern tip of Guadalope, bang!, 25 knots of wind right on the nose. We sheet the sails in tight and beat uphill. One thing about the Swan, she sure can point high into the wind.

one more rep...

Alex keeping in shape with dive weights

Iím able to point just 28 degrees off the wind.  We can point even higher if we resheet to the inside track. No need to, however, as we are sailing at over 7 knots boat speed.

We pull into the small harbor to see a number of boats at anchor.  The bay is beautiful with a steep mountain to the south and a large mountain to the north with an old fort at the top. Just in front of where we anchor is a small airport. The approach the planes take to land is pretty scary.  They have to skim over all the masts, bank away from the mountain, and then drop to the airstrip. Whoa!  I would definitely need sedation to make that landing as a passenger.

We spend the night exploring the small town in Isle de Saintes.  Very small but very lively.  We find a small bar and spend some time winding down .

Thursday, 1/15/97
Spent the day snorkeling with Bill & Karen while Bill, Alex, and Scott explore the island.  We meet Ed and Therese Stott from Boston. They are sailing a Swan 441 and are spending their time going North through the islands. Bill and Ed swap Swan stories and associated talk.

We decide to leave around 5 p.m. and night sail down to Martinique. It should take around 14 hours to reach Marin/St. Anne.  We clean things up and head out.

cocktails

As we are sailing through the channel heading towards Martinique, we foul our prop on a stray fishing line.  The engine shudders and makes some strange noises. Bill immediately shuts down the engine. Alex volunteers to nip over the side and check out the condition of the prop shaft. Alex takes a rigging knife and cuts us free, slicing his fingers on the prop in the rolly waves. 

We get back under way and settle in as Bill assigns us our watch schedules. Itís pretty easy as we all take 2 hour watches. There are tons of flying fish skirting the waves but no dolphins yet. The night passes uneventfully and we pull into Marin at around 8 a.m. on Friday.

Friday, 1/16/97
Bill, Alex, and Scott head into shore to get some laundry done as well as check on provisioning.  Karen, Bill Noble, and I take the dinghy over to Club Med at the entrance to the bay to check on things.

I talk to Charlie, the assistant manager of the Buccaneerís Creek Club Med.  We can get day passes as well as night passes that will allow us to use the club facilities.  We head back to the boat with the news.  I also have some friends that are staying at Club Med for the week starting this Sunday.

When I get back to the boat, we discuss the options and decide to move the boat over in front of Club Med and spend some time ashore.  Around two years ago, I spent a week at this club with six buddies and we had a great time.  We anchor and swim to shore and spend some time lazing about the beach.

At around 7 p.m., we head into shore and towards the dining hall.  Weíve picked the right night as there is shrimp, prime rib, and grilled tuna steaks to our hearts content. We then finish up and head down to the night club.  But first, there is a show staged by the people who work at the club (the people who work at Club Med are called GOís, which stands for Gentils
Organisateurs).  The show is very entertaining and well done.  We cap our night off with a little dancing at the disco.

Saturday, 1/17/97
We decide to stay at Club Med for the next week. We go to see Charlie to see if we can work out a deal for four people to use the club until the following Friday.  Bill Noble and Karen are due to fly back to the US on Sunday, so they want to spend Saturday on their own.

We have a quick meeting with Charlie and we are now official residents of the club until next Friday.  They give us plastic wristbands to wear so we can use the facilities (everything but the water-skiing). We head back to the boat and get our beach gear. We spend the day lounging in the sun and swimming.

In the evening , we get dinner and then head to the lounge.  After that, on to the nightclub for some dancing.  I start to see a pattern developing.

Sunday, 1/18/97
We bid good-bye to Bill Noble and Karen. They have to catch a 7 a.m. flight back home.  They head off the boat to shore at around 5 a.m. in the pitch dark.  Club Med has arranged a taxi for them and itíll be waiting for them when they hit the shore.

Later in the day, after suitably tanning and relaxing, we meet up with my buddies that have flown in from the US.  Mike Hardesty and Eren Erdem are going to be staying at Club Med for the next week along with Erenís roommate Uyigor.  We make plans to meet for dinner.

That day on the beach we end up meeting a number of people and decide to have an impromptu happy hour on board. Giada from the UK, Natalia from Argentina, Phillipe and Daniel from Montreal, Stephanie and Delphine from Paris all join us as we watch the sun set from cockpit and deck.

We decide to all meet for dinner and then go out from there.  We meet at around 7:30 and form our own little group. A couple of GOís join our now large group and a party ensues.  After dinner at the table, we head down to the nightclub.

Natalia

Natalia

Happy Hour
Melissa

Melissa, what a cutie!

Giada on deck

Giada

Monday, 1/19 - Saturday, 1/24/97
We spend our days relaxing in the sun and going to the nightclub and disco at night.  Our group of friends has grown and we generally show up for dinner with 15 - 20 people each night. We all get together on the boat each day at around 6 p.m. and then head towards shore.

Some highlights of the week:

On Tuesday, we pile into Club Med buses for a beach party at Les Salines beach. The GOís then organize a number of games. Our personal favorite was were we got divided into teams of around 25 people each. Just like a big relay race, each person runs about 50 feet, puts their hands on top of a bottle, and spins around 10 times.  You then run back and tag the next person. Sounds simple. However, your equilibrium is just about shot and people veer off into the water as they canít run in a straight line. Plenty of wipe outs and good laughs.

Thursday we take about 8 people out sailing for around 2 hours.  Of course, the weather is perfect as we leave, but we hit a small squall about 3 miles out.  Forty knot winds are not what you want with people out for their first time on a sailboat.

Friday Scott and I decide to participate in Club Medís guest night show.  We are to be in a small comedy skit later that night for the village. Scott gets to play a priest (I guess hell has finally frozen over).

For the finale, all the guests that participate in the 15 or so skits do a musical number from Grease.  Scott and I get a huge surprise when we come on stage and find Bill playing the John Travolta part of Danny.  It seems they just picked him out of the audience.  We remark later that it is a miracle that no one is injured as Bill jumps around the stage and dances to the music (Billís dancing style involves numerous body contortions and flailing arms and legs).

We bid adieu to all our friends that we had made at Club Med.  Our next stop: Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.  As we are pulling away from Club Med, I hit my wrist against the bow pulpit as I am dragging the anchor aboard. With a sickening pop, the wristband on my watch breaks and sends my watch to the bottom in around 100 feet of water.  Ouch! I grumble for around 2 hours. Just as I start to regain my good attitude, a squall whips up and we get blinding rain and 60 knots of wind.  The squall lasts for about 30 minutes and vanishes.  It's really very remarkable how quickly they come and go.  We simply reef down, fall off down wind, and run with the squall.

We make it to St. Lucia about 2 hours later. We head for a slip and glide gently in. Our biggest worry now is finding a place to watch the Superbowl tomorrow night.

Superbowl Sunday, 1/26/97
Scott is going out of his mind.  He HAS to see the Superbowl.  Calm is restored when we find that a local pub with 4 big TV's is showing the game.  We spend the day doing maintenance and meet Karl, a young guy looking to crew when Expo 98 comes through St. Lucia in a couple weeks.

The five of us, Bill, Alex, Scott, Karl, and I head over to watch the game.  Patriots lose. We end up meeting the crew from "Affinity", a 98 foot motor yacht. We also meet Alle, Chip, Leslie, Alice, and Richard from Scanhalla II. We end up going back to Affinity and enjoy the hospitality of rum & cokes and steak stew with biscuits. We wander back to the boat at around 5 a.m., stomachs full.  A great Superbowl Sunday!

Monday, 1/27 - Friday, 1/31/97
We are still on the dock on Monday and head off to reprovision in town.  The four of us hop into a cab and two hours later, Alex is stowing 15 bags of groceries.  We have found that bread goes bad in 2-3 days in the heat. We have a fairly large freezer, so we can stock a good deal of meat and poultry. That will definitely come in handy in the South Pacific.

We invite the crew from Scanhalla II over for a video and some burgers on the way out of St. Lucia. We clear the breakwater and anchor about 5 yards off their stern.  Johno, Inje, Alle, Alice, Chip, Leslie and Richard bring over a macaroni salad and Al cooks gourmet burgers as we watch the sun dip below the horizon. The video that night is Independence Day.  Scanhalla II being an all Brit crew, frequently makes comic jabs at us over the American mind set.  We give as good as we get and the night ends as we wave good bye and they putter back in their dinghy.

Scanhalla II has a quite interesting background. Alle's Father hand built the 53 foot steel ketch in the family's back yard over a period of 7 years.  Alle has been on the boat since she was 9 years old (she's 21 now).  Her father ended up selling the boat to a friend in the UK.  Alle stayed on as crew on the boat instead of going to college in England.  When you look at Scanhalla II, it seems hard to believe that someone built it in his or her backyard.  The finish is fantastic.

The next morning, we plot our course for Bequia and leave around 6 a.m. Between St. Lucia and St. Vincentís, we run into some real big swells.  The swells are topping out at around 20 feet or so. One swell combined with a wind gust rolls us so far to starboard that the water comes all the way up into the cockpit. The sailing term for this is a "broach".  The water cascades into the aft cabin through the cockpit portlet and Bill's cabin is awash with 300 or so gallons of water.  Scott and Alex remove all the bedding, closet contents, and start bailing water out of the shelving. All of Bill's photos are wet, so they get sorted out to dry individually.

The best part of the passage occurs as we are passing St. Vincentís. We see our first pod of dolphins! I am very psyched. A pod of around 50 dolphins pass us. A smaller group plays in our bow wake for 10 minutes before rejoining the bigger group. All of us are on the foredeck hooting and hollering as these graceful mammals jump out of the water and splash back in off the bow.

Coming into Bequia, we end up having to point pretty high into the wind.  Bill is on a mission not to tack and sheets us into the wind. We have 25 knots of wind right on the nose.  It's a wild roller coaster ride as we head into Bequia chasing a 60 foot Swiss boat that had passed us on the way down from St. Lucia. The Swiss boat can't point as high and throws in a tack. We pass the boat and head into the harbor to anchor.

Our egos massaged (as Sergei says, ďWhat constitutes a sailboat race? Two sailboats in sight of each other.Ē), we drop anchor and get set for the night. A woman in a small dinghy comes over and offers to do our laundry and have it returned the next morning.  She looks stunned as we toss four huge bags of laundry into her dinghy, plus all the wet bedding and bunk covers from our broach incident.

We receive a cell call from Julia, a friend of Alex and Bill's from Greenwich. Julia married a good friend of theirs, Chip, that they have known since grade school. Julia grew up on Bequia and suggests some places to go.  We end up meeting a good friend of hers from Bequia that runs the Gingerbread House.

Since Scott has to catch a plane out of Grenada on Saturday, we leave Bequia the next morning headed towards the Tobago Cays and some good diving.  We end up anchoring in Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau. The island and beach are absolutely stunning.  It is the most beautiful beach that I have ever seen.  We hop in for a quick swim.  We take the dink into shore and have a look around.

We're in luck! Thursday is steel band night with an all you an eat buffet.  We return to the boat.  I show my joy by bounding up onto the stern rail and positioning myself for a back flip. As I execute an Olympic quality back flip (right!), I hit the flagpole and it shears off and lands in the water.  One more thing to fix.  That night, we enjoy a great pig roast and fantastic music. This is the best place we've been to so far.

The next morning, Bill and I hike up the small trail to the village. It takes about 30 minutes and winds up a fairly steep mountain. The view from the top is beautiful.  We have breakfast at a small cafe and return to Salt Whistle Bay around lunch. At around 2 p.m., Bill, Alex, and Scott head off on a drift dive off the Tobago Cays.  The dive boat picks them up and heads off. I stay on board and do a load of wash.

My method for washing on board a boat: Minimize your wash load by wearing everything you have until your crew mates refuse to sit near you.  Drag a large bucket on deck and fill with salt water and Wisk.  Throw all the laundry that will fit into it and start stomping around.  Rinse with as little fresh water as possible and still get the detergent and salt water out.  Decorate the lifelines with your handiwork to dry.

The next day we pull the anchor and head towards Grenada.  We reach St. George's harbor at around 8 p.m. The approach into the harbor has a very narrow channel on the right that we have to navigate to anchor amongst the other yachts. Using the night vision monocular, we misjudge the color of a buoy and end up sliding the keel into the soft sand bottom.  A quick touch of reverse frees us and we proceed very slowly to the correct entrance.  We anchor and decide to have dinner ashore.

We cable lock the dinghy and walk a short distance up a hill to Momma's. We have read about this place in our cruising guide and were anxious to give it a try. The first thing we notice is how homey the place looks. Momma herself walks over and tells us what we will be having.  That's it.  No menus or anything. What the heck, we'll try anything! Of course, when the curried possum arrives, our resolve flickers, but we overcome and try it. At this point, we can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone reading this journal to stay away from this dish. When the bill comes, we find that they don't take plastic.  We also don't have enough to pay for our dinner in cash.  No problem. Momma says she will send Patrick, the chef, out to our boat tomorrow to collect the bill when we find an ATM.  Stuff like this just doesn't happen in the states.

Saturday comes around and Scott has to fly home. We also have to get some cash from an ATM.  Bill and I head off in the dinghy towards town.  We're lucky to still have the dinghy. As we returned last night from Momma's to the dinghy dock and hopped in, we noticed the cable was out of place. Someone had tried to hack through the cable while we were eating. Thankfully, they didn't have enough time or a big enough cutter and were unsuccessful.

I drive Bill into the center of town and he hops off the dink and searches for an ATM that will take our card. He can't find one and we are told by a local police officer that no ATM's on Grenada will take foreign ATM cards.  And we still owe Momma for our dinner.  Our search for cash takes us to Foodland, a grocery store right by our anchorage. We ask if we can buy food on our Visa card and have them overcharge us and get money back.  They can't do it. We talk to the manager and she says that we can get money wired to us at her store using Moneygram.  Bill calls his brother and asks him to wire money down using the service.  Four hours later we get the money. All Bill's brother did was call up and relay Bill's Visa card number and Moneygram sent the money.  Bill was pissed that all we really had to do was call Moneygram ourselves from the store using his own card and then the manager could have given the cash to us.

Back on the boat, we decide that as soon as Scott leaves for his flight and Patrick shows up to collect for our dinner, we will head towards Venezuela.  We haven't had the best experiences in Grenada. But, to Grenada's credit, we didn't pick the best place to anchor.  We should have stopped at Prickly Bay, which we heard from a lot of you via Email was the place we should have gone. Keep those Email recommendations coming!

Jeff Johnson 1997

Leewards, Caribbean

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