The first half of our passage from Ascension to Barbados was just about as perfect as you can get. Six hours after leaving Ascension Island the winds were just right to raise the spinnaker. The spinnaker stayed raised for six days with minor adjustments once or twice, it was a very relaxing start to the passage. The rest of the two-week passage to Barbados was still relatively pleasant and pretty easy overall, but that first week goes down in the books as the most pleasant long-distance sailing we’ve done.
We headed to Barbados instead of the Grenada hoping for a smaller island feel but it turned out to be more of a pit stop for us. We rested, did some provisioning, met some new cruisers, and of course did some sight seeing on the local bus. The anchorage is right off the tourist beach so you get lots of music all night long and many jet skiers. We even saw one jet ski run into the catamaran right next to us. Couldn’t see any visible damage but still not what you want to happen. We also had some interesting swimmers come by every morning:
At this point we were “on a schedule” to get to Puerto Rico, so we quickly made our way to the Grenadines, which were lovely. We checked in at Union Island and then quickly left the very crowded main harbor and moved around to Chatham Bay. [A complete aside, it’s funny as you sail around the world how you run into the same explorer’s names. As we write this we are at the north end of Chatham Strait in Alaska. And just up the coast from us is Hinchinbrook Island, which we may recall from some Australian posts about a year ago. Of course Vancouver, Cook, and a few others are everywhere.] Chatham Bay was one of those rare things in the Caribbean, an uncrowded anchorage. A great stop, shallow blue water that was great for a nice swim, and a nice, long white-sand beach ready for a stroll.
We did share the anchorage with Graeme Hart’s 380-foot “boat” Ulysses. The small auxiliary boat was 65-feet, in itself significantly bigger than us. Then there were the ski boats, the runabouts, the jet skis, and of course the helipad. Cruising at a completely different level.
We also stopped at both Tobago Keys and Mustique in the Grenadines. The Keys are famed for their snorkeling, but our jaded palates were a little disappointed. There were, however, a fair number of turtles and we always like seeing them in the water. Mustique is a whole other experience, pretty much Ulysses on land.
Leaving the Grenadines we had some choppy upwind sails through the Caribbean but all of them were short day-sails which made it manageable. Our next stop was Martinque where we enjoyed watching the local sailboat racing. All the ballast is human, and in the nice, strong tradewinds of the Caribbean you need a lot of ballast.
We also, of course, did the tourist things, which includes taking in the local churches. This was one of favorite church objects anywhere.
The anchorages are a bit crowded, but going ashore to the beach for fresh baguettes and pastries at each bay makes up for it.
And the Caribbean flare for color was everywhere.
The tiny houses crowd should see some of the old places in Martinique (and wait until you see the similar photo from Bonaire).
Martinique led to Iles des Saintes (we seem to have a penchant for the French islands, even though we really mangle our poor attempts at the language) and St. Martin, both very brief visits as we headed toward Puerto Rico.