Cruising Notes from the Caribbean

Thu 29 Jan 2009 13:33
Position 15:34.84N 61:27.80W

Greetings All,

We’ve now been cruising the Caribbean for just over a month now and are
currently in Prince Rupert Bay in Dominica. We have cruised around the
northern (or Leeward) group and visited most of the islands up to Anguilla.
We had planned to also cruise the BVI’s (British Virgin Islands), but given
our fairly tight schedule to make it down to Panama for our transit around
15 March and the dominant easterly winds, we didn’t make it there : perhaps
we will do it on our next lap of the world!!

The islands have been an interesting mix of scenery and culture. Each has
its own unique flavor and appeal. Some are very yachting orientated and
ostentatious like Antigua (which is a base for many international
superyachts), and others, like Barbuda and Anguilla, are quite rustic and
have little development. We have found the French islands to be a bit more
classy; as you would expect from the French : the food in particular is
better than on the British islands.

All of the islands are heavily reliant on tourism and you can already see
the impact of the global economic slowdown (or recession as most here are
calling it). In one bay we visited there was a beautiful 5 star resort only
3 years old. When I asked the locals how it was going they said it was
running at only 20% occupancy and the forward bookings were dire. The local
Sunsail dock had a lot more yachts in than out… and this is the busy season
for them. The upside for us is that we can nearly always get a marina spot
when we want one and can always get a table at a restaurant.

On-board we have settled into a cruising regime that consists of
home-schooling, fixing things around the yacht, buying groceries and
provisions (which are extremely dear in the Caribbean - except for the
rum..), socializing with fellow yachties, updating emails etc.. and then
travelling to our next island harbor. We generally spend 1 or 2 days in a
marina each week and then the rest of the time exploring the little bays and
coves around the islands. Life has slowed considerably and we are settling
into the “take it easy man” Caribbean rhythm. Things just tick along very
slowly here so you need to change your expectations about when they get

We’ve been amazed by how many Australian yachts we have seen here; not heaps
but quite a few just the same. Most are doing the same thing as us and quite
a few with kids. Just the other day at St Kitts we arrived late in the
afternoon and were on the radio trying to get a spot in a small little
marina (which was full); when we were contacted by Peter and Sharon Crossley
on Bella Vita – we last saw them in Rabat in Morocco. Then in Guadelope we
moored just down from another Australian family on their catamaran going the
same way… we are doing an Indian River jungle cruise with them today.

The sailing has been very good with the winds very consistent from the
southeast through northeast at a steady 20-25 knots. Some days it blow a
little more and can reach 30-35 knots, but that it is not the norm. But as
you are generally sailing either north or south, it means you are beam
reaching and enjoying an exhilarating and fast passage : like yesterday when
we blasted across from Guadelope to Dominica at an average speed of 9 knots
in 3-4 m seas. Great fun; if you like sailing that is….

Til next time…

Ian and Jenny (and Nick and Georgina)
S/Y Mikado