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.

destinations-caribbean-historys_harbour-smallThe sun breaks over the cactus-studded slopes of Shirley Heights, spotlighting the wooden crosses of a two-century-old cemetery, bathing in a scarlet-hued glow of the crumbling battlements that still stand sentinel over the opening to Antigua's English Harbour.

It rises higher, illuminating villas and a beach that fronts on waters that glitter like a sugar-glazed donut.

destinations-caribbean-sun_sea_sand-smallYou have shovelled snow from more than enough driveways. Your parka feels like a straightjacket. The only ice you want to see is in a glass of rum punch. And you have had enough of wind chill minus a million. Celsius.

Little do you know that your recipe for happiness needs very few ingredients, that with a cornucopia of island paradises and a brisk cruise thrown in for good measure, you too can increase your happiness quotient.

destinations-caribbean-leeward_station-smallAs the sun died in the western sky we strolled across a cobblestone parade ground, following its path like the faithful.

We watched it burn a pink and orange penumbra onto a harem of undulating mountains. We watched it etch deep shadows into east-facing slopes, silhouetting the palms that surmounted their heights.

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Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54By Zuzana Prochazka

Beneteau saw an opportunity to add a little thrill to any cruising adventure, so they took the hull of the First 53 racer (introduced just last year), and with a few fashionable changes, created the Oceanis Yacht 54, the new entry-level of Beneteau’s swanky Oceanis Yacht line. The result is a performance cruiser that sails like a witch and looks like a grande dame.

Design

Roberto Biscontini is the naval architect and Lorenzo Argento created the details of the exterior and interior design. 

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Riverest MarinaThe new owners of L’Orignal Marina offer boaters a new destination. Located in a charming francophone village in Eastern Ontario, this joined marina and restaurant venue is the ambitious initiative of long-time entrepreneur André Chabot and biologist Alexandra Quester, both residents of L’Orignal.

The purchase of the L’Orignal Marina was made official in November 2020. The new year was barely underway when all 50 available slips were already reserved. No wonder the addition of member and visitor slips is already planned for the 2022 season – the 2021 count is up to 62 power and sail already. At the moment, the Riverest Marina offers boaters a stop where they can launch their boat...

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Mia and Caleb's EngagementOn July 23 last year, CYOB published a piece on a beautifully restored 1967 Trojan 42 Motor Yacht in Oromocto NB. (That piece was also expanded in CY magazine later in the year.)

One of our Canadian Yachting contributors, Denise Miller, had shared the article on my social media and a young man reached out and asked if she could connect him with the owners of the boat, Dave and Barb. Denise leapt into action and Dave and Barb were thrilled. They concocted a plan that the young lady, Mia, thought she was coming to model for a sales brochure for Dave to do charter tours.

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