Category Archives: Windward Islands of the Caribbean Lesser Antilles

Cruising the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles – The Plan

The goal was to spend at least two months sailing the Lesser Antilles – first the Leewards and then the Windwards – from Sint Maarten to Grenada.  We were to have left SXM the first of February, then March  – the time kept getting pushed further and further out until, we finally said – we are going in mid-April and work and home will just have to take care of themselves.  Thankfully, we had two non-negotiable deadline—  we had to make Grenada to have the boat hauled before the beginning of hurricane season and  our two grown children and their spouses had scheduled a week sailing with us to celebrate Richard’s birthday – their carefully scheduled vacations could not be moved. So, we had to get to SXM at least a week before to get the boat organized and be ready to greet them. Part of the deal was that we would have fairly good communication and that we would fly home for six days in the middle to make decisions on an on-going renovation and attend business meetings.

I had planned to write and shoot every day, post on my two blogs, and on FaceBook Pinterest and Twitter.  After all this was going to be a sublime cruise –  trade winds blowing a steady 15 knots out of the east, blue skies streaked with white clouds, turquoise water and calm seas.  We would cruise from island to island stopping at white sand beaches shaded by rows of palms, exquisite reefs teeming with fish and fauna, interspersed with charming laid-back villages and energetic history-rich small cities.

It didn’t turn out quite that way. The winds were unseasonably high (regularly hitting the mid twenties), which wasn’t such a problem since our boat likes strong winds and delivers 8 or 9 knots in exchange, but the seas were often seven or eight feet – sometimes more. And that kind of roll was, for me, a problem – even in a cat which rolls less than a monohull. For the overwhelming majority of the trip we were double-handing (or maybe one and a half handing) because, frankly, at times I was more than a bit uncomfortable although I got more and more used to the large seas as I learned to trust the boat. Still it’s no fun.

Weather changed our itinerary somewhat.  We generally have had good wi-fi in harbors, so we checked in with Wind Guru and Buoy Weather twice a day and with the local cruiser nets and weather stations. We often stayed in a port longer than anticipated to wait out the weather – or skipped some ports when we had a clear run or because they were too rolly to be tenable. But sometimes we had to go even if the conditions were not ideal.