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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Tight FitA new shrink-wrap promises more environmentally conscious

In Nov 2019, I was fortunate enough to attend the Boating Ontario conference in Niagara Falls ON. This conference is geared to members and suppliers of the marine industry particularly marina operations. One of the suppliers was Layfield Geosynthetics, offering a new shrink-wrap film called ‘Bioflex MarineShrink’. The Layfield rep that I spoke with described the new product as a more environmentally conscious option (more on what this means, below).

Read more about Shrink Wrap........................

 

  

Boat Reviews

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Pursuit DC 235A Great Boat for Canada and Mom Approved Too!

By Jill Snider and Andy Adams

Coming from two different directions, Jill Snider and I met up at Crates Lake Country Boats in Orillia, Ontario to run and review a new Pursuit DC 235, a deep vee dual console boat that is an offshore inspired bow rider with strong fishing overtones and a wide range of family features.

It’s what I would call a handsome, classically styled boat that I suspect will still look fresh many years into the future. Jill had a different take on it.

 

Read more about the Pursuit DC 235.....................

Moorings In BrazilWith an increasing amount of interest in South America as a charter destination, The Moorings has responded with a new base in Paraty, Brazil. Surrounded by towering jungles plummeting into the waters of Baia Carioca, this charter cruising region features bays peppered with islands and world-famous beaches.

Centrally located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Paraty (pronounced “Para-chee”) holds the key to many natural wonders you can only discover by boat.

Read more about Moorings' Brazil Charters......................

 

Marine Products

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