We are taking off from Antigua and are tightly belted into our twin-engine, seven-seater Britten-Norman Islander – operated by Fly Monserrat and captained by John, formerly pilot to the Toronto Blue Jays. Minutes later, we catch site of our tiny destination...
Glancing down into the water as I prepared to furl in the genoa for the approach to the Tobago Cays, a group of five uninhabited Caribbean islands in the Grenadines, I was struck by the incredible colour of the water – a sparkling sapphire blue that slid into astonishing hues of turquoise and aquamarine as the water grew more shallow near the entrance to the Cays. We could have been floating on a swimming pool.
The pristine water over the white sand bottom reflects the sky here and the clarity is so amazing that nearby reefs pop out visibly in hues of greens, reds, oranges and gold. With the sun high over your shoulder, the reefs are easy to spot and steer clear of. Fish fly in diamond-like showers and turtles raise their heads in a relaxed fashion as you cruise by. No worries. Be happy.
We’ve bridled our bowline to a mooring ball in Trellis Bay just off Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
My friend, Dave Anschuetz, fires up the Force 10 on the pushpit of our chartered Moorings boat, a Beneteau 43.3 named “Teranga.” Down below, my wife tosses a salad while Dave’s wife, Barb, marinates chicken.
Topside, I survey our surroundings while I concoct my own take on the iconic (and insidious) Painkillers we were drinking like water two nights ago on Jost Van Dyke.
We’ve dropped the anchor in the northwest corner of Pillsbury Sound, hard by a channel bisecting two lush islands. Waters rush through the passage, lured by the beauty of St. John, an island that reclines in the afternoon sun like a Renaissance courtesan.
Our skipper today, Captain Wilson, knows these islands like the back of his hand. He should – he’s boated here almost daily since 2008. “I will take you where you want to go,” he promises. “I will show you what you want to see.”
I’ve cruised the British Virgin Islands numerous times but I’m just getting my feet wet here. Today’s the perfect introduction.
I was ruined...completely and utterly ruined. At the young age of 22, my very first trip to the Caribbean was to Eleuthera, which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on earth. It will now be an uphill battle for me to surpass my visit there.
An opportunity to go to the Bahamas presented itself to me because I spoke French and I was available. I will be forever grateful to my parents for enrolling me in a French Immersion program.
The trip was arranged by Michel Sacco of L’Escale Nautique – Canada’s French-language yachting magazine); the charter was booked through a Quebec-based company, Navtours, so French was a necessity. Needless to say, my French sailing vocabulary was limited so I came prepared with notepad in hand, ready to learn how to sail in French.
Dominica has been on “the” list for quite some time now and when I actually get to do something on “the” list, my heart skips a beat!
Although Dominica still remains somewhat off-the-beaten track for boaters, it is located right in the middle of the chain of Caribbean islands and can be easily accessed from Antigua and Guadeloupe to the north or Martinique and St. Lucia to the south. Chartering boats from any of these islands is easy.
It’s just so easy to get to Antigua with direct flights offered by Air Canada and West Jet several days a week in season, Antigua also offers one of the best kick-off points for exploring so many other Caribbean islands…if you have the time and the winds are prevailing in the right direction.
However, don’t get me wrong. There’s lots to do in Antigua and since it’s pretty much a year-round destination, you could customize your charter vacation by planning it around Antigua Sailing Week in late April or the annual carnival in late July.
It’s an awkward fact of life for us at Canadian Yachting magazine that while we know the majority of our readers are power boaters, the majority of people who want to write about their cruising experiences are sailors! In addition to that, the greatest attraction seems to be far-off and exotic locations that can be both expensive and challenging to anyone’s skills as a skipper. So, we wanted to offer the power boater’s perspective too and to remind our readers that some of the most memorable and spectacular scenery is really closer than you’d think.
As the result of some scheduling issues, career commitments and just bad timing, our sojourn to Holland became a guys only trip. Here is what we would tell our wives that they missed by not joining us on our Le Boat trip in Holland.
Roster for the trip:
* Captain John Armstrong on the wheel * First Mate Robin Ball, navigator, tactician and sous chef * Deck Crew Greg Nicoll, lines and bollards, plus some cooking and storytelling...
The express cruiser style in this boat is refined in a number of interesting and unique ways. The distinctive bow styling serves an important purpose as does the attractive transom treatment while the rest of the yacht in between is an outstanding expression of the contemporary express cruiser style.
Our guide through the boat was Derek Mader, President of Executive Yacht in Toronto and our Azimut 55 S was, at that time, the only 2016 model available in Canada. Derek had ordered the boat in because he believed it had some unique features and indeed, it's unexpected to find a 55 foot express cruiser that includes both a private crew cabin and an enclosed dinghy garage.
As summer becomes a distant memory, see if you can close your eyes and recall those glorious days when you spent more than one lazy day hanging around the general store at the cottage. Not only was it a great place to purchase some penny candy, but also the place where you could eavesdrop on conversations that your parents said you should know nothing about. It’s where countless members of small communities seemed to blend seamlessly when they sailed, laughed, danced, swam, had ice creams, paddled, and shared cherished memories in a casual, summer atmosphere. C and Stony Lake Yacht Club comprise this community which has existed for some eight generations on Juniper Island in the ‘Jewel of the Kawarthas’. Many say that if Stony Lake is a community then Juniper is its hub. In the late 40s, Swatty Wotherspoon came to the lake and has been returning ever since. For him, life-lasting friendships were made where he vividly remembers square dances at the Pavillion, which became a very important place for his family growing up. He still treasures the spoons he won in the races sailing with everyone out of the yacht club.
DIY & How to