Spring is a beautiful time in the Caribbean. The trade winds become more gentle and the persistent northerly swells found in the winter boating season, formed by storms “up north”, subside. This general calming of conditions opens up a plethora of anchorages throughout the islands just when most cruising sailors are beginning to leave the Caribbean for home. Even the more popular anchorages become less crowded as a result. So why is everyone leaving?

St. Maarten is one of the tiniest islands in the Caribbean; for its 37-square mile size, it packs a huge punch in tourism, with duty-free shopping, 37 beaches and 325 restaurants. With so many places to eat, you can find a wide range of cooking styles and ethnic food, including French, Italian, American, Mexican, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese and Chinese. St. Maarten boasts the highest concentration of fine restaurants per square mile in the entire Caribbean — don’t forget the roadside stalls with their focus on local farm to fork. Their offerings are authentic Caribbean and downright delicious.

altThe horn signals the start of the Round-the-Island race in the 31st running of the Heineken Regatta.

Our boat incises the waters off Sint Maarten’s south coast with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.

On every side the white triangles of other boats decorate the horizon line; in the distance I can see the misty blue heights of Saba.

altIt hits me as hard as the waves crashing into our bow just outside the shelter of Sunsail’s St. Vincent base, strong as the thirty-knot winds gusting out of the east, that I have not planned this trip as well as I should have.

We ship two good friends as crew – both relatively experienced sailors – but they aren’t ready for this. Nor am I.

Supposed to be a bucket list adventure but it starts as a romp from hell.

destinations-caribbean-grog-smallFrom the ubiquitous red shirts and baseball hats with the yellow map of Barbados emblazoned on them – the secret code of serious sailboat racers worldwide – to the Royal Navy tradition of serving up a thick, syrupy and brain-befuddling concoction daily to her sailors, it seems like rum and boating are synonymous.

For what sailor worth his salt doesn't savour a ration of grog? Almost a moral imperative.

destinations-caribbean-grooves-smallIt is so hot in Codrington, Barbuda, even the chickens are napping. Then the afternoon explodes in sound.

Around the corner come people swaying their hips in time to a band, one musician grinding out chord roots on a bass, a drummer pounding cross-rhythms.

destinations-caribbean-bvi_dreamin-smallAll the leaves are brown and the sky is grey. Is it time for the BVI Spring Regatta yet?

This summer was a wonderful one – I put a lot of water under the boat, had a ball and it didn't seem to rain on a single weekend! But now the boat is under its tarp and my deck sneakers have that wandering feeling. The pull is stronger than in years past because just before launch last spring, I started my season extra early by taking in the BVI Spring Regatta.

destinations-caribbean-skinny-small"IC24's have a crew weight limit of 850 pounds and there are five of us," said Tyler Rice, a high school senior from St. Thomas, USVI, and my skipper for the 2010 Rolex International Regatta during a pre-race phone call. "We did some math last night and we all need to loose some weight before weigh-in."

Thus began a time of thirst and hunger but the trade off was compelling: ten days of sacrifice for the serious fun of sailing in a legendary Caribbean event.

destinations-caribbean-vinci-smallJust outside the elegance of the reception office at Young Island Resort in St. Vincent, crown jewel of the Grenadine Islands in the southern Caribbean, are two perfectly happy Vinci parrots, perched lazily on tree trunks in very nice cages.

Just as happy as you, these birds, lodged – like you – in a luxury resort that Johnny Depp used as a pied-a-terre while filming the first УPirates of the CaribbeanФ, that Bill Gates fully booked for his millennium celebrations.

destinations-caribbean-champagne_cruising-smallIt's 11:59 p.m. on New Years' Eve and I'm ensconced like a king on his throne in the cockpit of a sailboat.

The clock strikes twelve and a hundred ships' horns shatter the night. Cheers echo across waters that shimmer with the Christmas lights strung from the railing of the candy cane lighthouse.

Lifestyle

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DIY & How to

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The new editions of PORTS Cruising Guides, from the publishers of Canadian Yachting will be ...
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On the Friday before a weekend with a gorgeous forecast, I heard on the news that a boat had ...
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For less than US$2,500, Jim Leshaw, a lawyer who lives and works in Key Biscayne, Florida, ...
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Leasing a YachtBy Andy Adams

When I first saw the display at the Toronto International Boat Show saying that you could lease a new yacht, it stopped me dead in my tracks. While I had never considered leasing boats, we are certainly seeing growth in boat rental organizations, so leasing didn’t seem out of line. In fact, I wondered why it had taken this long to see boat leasing come to the market.

However, I have a reasonable understanding of how leasing works compared to financing a purchase and I wondered how the numbers could work for something like a yacht. The sign was in front of a 60 foot Princess Express Cruiser – about $3,000,000 

Read more about Leasing a Yacht............

 

  

Boat Reviews

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The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...
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Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
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To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
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Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...

Beneteau Oceanis 30.1The Oceanis official US debut will be at the upcoming Newport International Boat Show in September and will be featured at the United States Sailboat show in Annapolis in October.

With an overall size under 30 feet and a light displacement of less than 8,805 lbs., the Oceanis is easily trailerable without a wide load permit. If you prefer to access your sailing grounds by canals and rivers, the lifting keel and rotating mast open a world of endless possibilities. Perfect for sailing on lakes or for coastal hopping, this new Oceanis is, nevertheless, a robust category B sailing yacht, fitted for offshore sailing. The smallest of the range offers the biggest choice of programs! 

Read more about the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1............................

 

Grady White Freedom 235 Dual ConsoleBy Jill Snider

Once again, I had the pleasure of joining CY’s test guru Andy Adams on a boat review. This time, out on Georgian Bay, we put the Grady White Freedom 235 Dual Console to the test. There are so many great things to tell you about this classic beauty.

Andy
If I were required to compare Grady White’s Freedom 235 Dual Console to an animal, I would tell you that she has the character of a Labrador Retriever. Here are a few reasons why...

Read More about the Grady White Freedom 235 Dual Console......................

Port Severn's Lock 45Blake Marchand


As the final link between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, Port Severn’s Lock 45 is the gateway to the beautiful Trent-Severn Waterway. The first and smallest lock to be constructed on the Severn portion, Lock 45 is entrenched in Canadian History and is worth the trip in itself. However, it is the waterway and its idyllic surroundings that will keep you coming back.

The canal connects Lake Ontario and Lake Huron with an eastern terminus in Trenton and a western terminus in Port Severn. Its amazing natural waterways include the Trent River, Otonabee River, The Kawartha Lakes, Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching and Severn River.

Read more about Vancouver...........

 

Marine Products

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Blue Guard has announced the general availability of the BG-One, a solid-state bilge pump switch, ...