Monthly Archives: April 2018

Atalante and the spirit of tradition.

It’s been a real treat being here in Antigua during the Classic Yacht Regatta as there are so many magnificent yachts.  In my last post I mentioned that the Tot Club met aboard a classic schooner, the beautiful Ashanti.

That evening I also met the owner of a much more modern yacht, the recently launched Atalante.   The next day I was fortunate to get a personal tour of the boat by here owner.   Atalante was built in the Netherlands at the Classen shipyard.  This yard is known for a remarkable level of craftsmanship and even though the local waters are very shallow, they still find a way to turn out really massive superyachts.

Atalante, draws her name from Greek mythology. Legend has it that she was abandoned and left to die by her mother, who wanted a son, and was raised by a she-bear.   I am always interested in how an owner chooses a name for their boat and am particularly interested in names with a mythological origin as my wife and sailing partner was a classics major so we tend to be drawn to such things.  Our own boat Pandora’s name, and her dink Hope, are steeped in mythology.    Aboard Atalante is a lovely stylized sculpture of her namesake and her “mother”. She has a graceful and classic sheer to her deck. A fore-deck that goes on and on. Her aft deck house is immaculate varnished teak.   Notice the fitting that controls the main sheet on the house.  I should have taken a close up of that.  It’s a remarkable piece of stainless work. Extraordinary attention to detail in the deck hardware.  Need to check your lipstick?  “Mirrors” everywhere.  We should all have a nav station like this.   As an interesting note, the crew quarters are as opulently appointed as the owner’s areas, not that common on many yachts where most crew live in fairly spartan cabins.
The binnacle is a work of art.  I understand that the compass base, engraved with her name was formed from flat stock with the name and logo carved into the surface and then formed into a cylinder to fabricate the helm framework.  It’s a spectacular bespoke piece of work.  This bar makes me want a nice gin and tonic.
And, speaking of food and drink.  A beautiful galley.   I’ll bet that some great meals come out of here.   Interestingly, the chef and captain are a husband and wife team.  That’s nice. A soothing traditional lounge.  No salty swim trunks here.
Love the linens in the owner’s suite.  Brenda and I are going to order new bed linens this summer.  Stripes like this would be lovely.
I mentioned earlier that she was built in the Neatherlands, not a spot known for deep water.   This video is a great look at what’s involved in constructing a yacht like Atalante.  It goes into some detail to show the level of detail that goes into building up an aluminum hull as well as getting the finished hull to an area with deep enough water to float her when the keel is in place.  The short video is worth looking at. Atalante is a beautiful piece of modern engineering, steeped in tradition.   What a treat it would be to feel the power of her under sail.   Want to learn more about her.  Follow this link to her site.

Day sail anyone?   Yes, and a G&T would go down nicely as well.  Perhaps Pandora will get some striped sheets too.

You never know where things will lead. To Ashanti…

One of the best parts of being here in Antigua during the Classic Yacht Regatta is seeing the remarkable boats that congregate from all over.

About a year ago, I wrote about a group, the Royal Navy Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda, a group that meets every evening to carry on the discontinued tradition of issuing rum to members of the British Navy, sadly stopped in 1970.    I wrote about this group in a post last spring when I first became familiar with them.

Anyway, fast forward a year and I am in the process of trying to become a member.  This involves drinking “tots” for a number of nights, 7 actually, and passing a rigorous oral exam on British maritime history.    This is tougher than it sounds, both the drinking and remembering, and I have to admit that I am stressing over the test which I have to take in the next few days.  Just how many ships went at it in the Battle of the Nile?  What’s important about the Battle of Copenhagen?   Inquiring minds have to know to be a member and that’s just the beginning.  

One of the most fascinating aspects of cruising and visiting islands like Antigua is that I am able to meet some really interesting people.   Case and point.  One of the most magnificent yachts that competed in the Classic Yacht Regatta last week was Aschanti, a wonderful schooner that was built in 1954, one year before I was “launched”.   Not that old, right?  However, I have to say that she’s in somewhat better shape.   Funny but I can’t recall being described as a “classic”. The connection is that her owner, a very nice guy, was also working on membership to the Tot club.   It seems that he decided to host one of the evening meetings of the Club aboard Ashanti.  It was a wonderful event and very well attended, as you might imagine.    The club organizers set up shop in the cockpit.  She’s a big boat so there was plenty of room to hang out.   Love the kiddy pool bar. She’s a real stunner down below.   Forgive me for trespassing.  I also heard that she has an awesome bathtub.  Oh well, I didn’t see that as even I am not that bold.   “can I peek into your bathroom”?  Yeah, right Bob…
Acres of varnish and it’s all perfect.  I wonder how often they have to pull the spars and varnish them?  I wonder if they varnish them in place?  What a job that must be.
I had to ask what this device near the helm was for.  It turns out it was used to display the course that the helmsman is to hold.   the pegs are removed and set in place to display the course.  Pretty neat.  In the day of autopilot I guess it’s not as vital, perhaps.   A lovely artifact of a different time.
And speaking of holding a course, they are headed toward the Panama Canal across the Pacific and expect to complete a circumnavigation.  And, that’s in addition to a fascinating “figure eight run” that they made.   That’s a cruise rounding both north and South America as well as passing through the Panama Canal, twice.  Sounds awesome.   I wonder if they ever need relief crew?  I would be TOTALLY available.

I’ll bet that Ashanti spends much of her time at sea under sail.  So many megayachts motor from place to place, only putting up the sails when they are on charter or when the owner is aboard.  It seems that Ashanti isn’t like that.  She’s a boat that sails well and sail she does.

The owner told me that “Ashanti picked me, I didn’t pick her.”  When you are talking about a boat with this sort of pedigree that’s probably the way it happens.  It seems that she picked well as this chapter of her life seems to be working out very well for her.

As an interesting note, I had forgotten that I had seen Ashanti when I spied her in Le Marin, Martinique earlier in the season and discovered a video of her recent Atlantic crossing.  It’s really well done and worth a look.Yes, it is indeed a small world and you never know where things will lead.  I never imagined, when I gazed longingly at her in Le Marin that I’d soon be aboard and meet her owner here in Antigua thanks to the Royal Navy Tot Club.

Ashanti is headed to the Panama Canal soon so I guess our paths won’t cross again for some time.   However, if history is any guide, the answer might surprise…

Antigua, it’s just classic

Yes, yes, I know, it’s been a long time since my last post.   Nine days actually but I have been busy getting from point A to point B.    But now I am here, Antigua that is.

Brenda flew out of St Lucia and Craig joined me for a 200 mile run with lots of stops over nearly 10 days and flew out on Sunday.  The sailing was fabulous and true to form, we were on a starboard tack for the entire time.   Have I mentioned that the wind is ALWAYS, well nearly always, out of the east?

A few of the days were pretty “sporty” and some of the anchorages were, shall we say, a bit rolly, but that goes with the territory.   Yes, Brenda, I know that that fits under the “not your favorite” category.   But hey, we visited some neat places this season, Pandora goes plenty fast and we get there fairly quickly.  Right?

I should mention that one of the reasons that I have been “internet deprived” is because my cell phone got wet.  Not very wet but wet enough and now it’s not much more than a paperweight.  How did it happen, you might wonder?  To find out, you’ll just have to stay tuned as I can’t get into that just now.   Oh yeah, in keeping with the “bad things come in threes” along with my cell phone turning into a paperweight, I also lost my prescription reading, computer screen viewing and seeing-things-far-away glasses and someone swiped my American ensign and flag staff.

So, the point of all this is that I have been pretty distracted and, “technologically challenged” and thus way behind on posts.   Not to worry as so much has happened that I have plenty of material to work with so keep that browser pointed toward Sailpandora.

While plenty has happened between then and now, I’ll jump right into the Classic Yacht Regatta here in Antigua that just wrapped up last evening with lots of awards and fun.   Perhaps a shot of the stage with all the “silver” isn’t that exciting a way to begin but here goes. It was a beautiful evening with classic yachts providing the perfect backdrop.  Every April, as the season winds down, beautiful yachts from all over the world converge on Antigua to spend a week racing together.  It’s a remarkable sight, with some of the most iconic yachts afloat today battling it out, although in the most civilized way, of course.    To see the big girls blasting toward the finish line was quite a sight.  This is Columbia a replica of a cod fishing schooner by the same name.  She’s beautiful, and powerful. Right behind her Aschanti.  She’s almost as old as I am, but not quite.  Although I did not sail in the races aboard one of these beauties, I spent lots of time hanging around the docks, parties and enjoyed watching them as they made their way home after the races.   And, there were lots of parties.   Mount Gay Rum provided free Dark and Stormy drinks for all.  Later in the evening some of the crews competed in a sea shanty sing-off.Each act was terrific and in the end everyone got a prize, a jumbo bottle of Mount Gay.  Of particular note was this little girl who played with her parents on her fiddle.  They are getting her off to a good start.  No stage fright for her.   I wonder if her parents shared their rum with her.  Perhaps not.  However, for those of us that were unable to find our way aboard one of these beauties, perhaps the highlight was the parade of sail into English Harbor.  To watch these magnificent machines make their way to the finish line was a spectacular sight to behold.

After finishing off of Falmouth, each boat came around the point and paraded into the Dockyard.  One by one they entered, careful to avoid collisions in the narrow cut.  The first to finish, Columbia led the way.   She’s a spectacular yacht and only a few years old. She’s quite a boat.  If two shots of her are good, three are even better. The other evening I was lucky enough to be invited to join a party aboard this beauty, Aschanti.  She was built in 1954 and is still in perfect shape.   Her current owner purchased her a few years ago.  He told me that she’s headed to the Panama Canal as she makes her way on an around the world cruise.   I’ll share more about her soon.  She’s beautiful. The crew lined up on the rail.  Quite a sight. The mighty TI, Ticonderoga, is always a standout.  She flanked three Carricou sloops on her way into the harbor. Built in Bristol RI in 1936 she is in better than new condition after all these years.  I  was lucky enough to sail aboard her many years ago when she was in Stamford and I just happened to be “at the right place, at the right time”.  Carricou sloops are widely raced in the Windward islands and the fleet was well represented for the series.   They impressed the crowd with their enthusiastic crews.  One after another, fabulous yachts entered the harbor after a hard day or racing.  Mah Jong, which I wrote about when we saw her in Bequia is quite a boat. Perhaps this one displayed the spirit and enthusiasm of the day best with three huge Antigua flags flying in the fresh breeze. There were plenty of impressive moments but Mah Jong and this “dancer” doing her routine in the rigging was something to see.
I wonder about the wisdom of hanging from a “scarf” over a hard deck.    I’ll bet she was pretty daring in her youth.  Wait, she still is.  While I am sorry that Brenda isn’t here with me and am totally bummed that my cell phone is mort, it’s been great to be here in Antigua for such a spectacular event.

In a few days the “go fast” modern racers arrive for a week of racing so it will be interesting to see what that’s like.  After that, my crew arrives for the run to Bermuda.

One thing for sure is that I have a lot of catching up to do to get Pandora ready and provisioned for the trip north and there’s lots of posts just waiting to be written.

I can say with certainty that it’s been truly classic to be here for all the fun.

Stay tuned as there’s lots more to come.

I woke up alone today. And, the boat that bras built.

Yesterday Brenda flew home to CT and I my friend Craig flew in to join me.  Don’t get me wrong, Craig is a great guy but I have to say that it was tough for me to say farewell to Brenda as she passed through security at the airport yesterday, knowing that I would not see her again for at least five weeks.

No, it doesn’t take that long to get from “here to there” but it’s sill early in the season and way too cold to be heading to New England.   Setting aside the cold conditions, there is also too much of a risk of gales in the north Atlantic for me to leave the Caribbean and head north.

Most cruisers don’t head north until mid May so my plan to leave around the 5th is already cutting it a bit close.  However, I am planning to stop in Bermuda, nearly 2/3 of the way home, to be sure that we don’t encounter bad weather as we get to the colder waters north of Bermuda.  I’ll work with Chris Parker, our weather router, to determine the best/safest time to sail the remaining 600 or so miles from Bermuda.

Anyway, Brenda’s gone and Craig is here.  It’s going to be fun to show Craig all the great spots we’ll stop as we make our way to Antigua where I’ll hang out for a bit waiting for my crew to arrive in early May.  There will be plenty to do getting the boat ready and certainly there will be folks around that I can hang out with, but it won’t be the same without Brenda.  It’s ironic that the time we are apart, now that I am retired, is longer than we experienced when I was traveling for business.

In an era of tremendously annoying air travel, I sometimes fantasize about what it would be like to travel on a private jet but am completely clear that I will never know what it’s like.   If I could, I’d just wing my way home for a week or so and come back to begin the run back.  No wait, if I had a plane I’d also have a proper yacht “Bob, Bob, get a grip, you are the only one who is available to bring Pandora north.  Get with the plan.”  Oh, OK.

Speaking of private jets, we ran into the crew of one of those here at the resort in Margot.  It seems that the three of them were hanging out for a few weeks while their employer was vacationing with his family on a nearby island.

So, here’s how the whole private jet thing goes.   Imagine going to the airport, having your car pull up to the stairs of your jet and have only to take two steps to the gangway and up you go.  The doors close and ten minutes later you are on your way.

Once you land in a far away place, a car shows up a few steps away and whisks you to your final destination.  Of course, your luggage follows in yet another car and appears magically at your final destination.

Think that your plans during your three week holiday might change. Changed your mind about spending time with “the wife” and want to find more fun elsewhere ?  Not to worry as your jet and crew are on standby and available at a moments notice, waiting to take you to the destination, that liaison, of your choice.

As your departure time arrives, the head stewardess, captain and co-pilot return to the aircraft and prepare if for your arrival, with our without your family.  Your choice.  They make up the beds and prepare the cabin, catering food and drink, to make your trip back “across the pond” as seamless as possible.

Sounds unbelievable?  No really, it happens, as long as you have the coin.   You do?  Well, this could be you.

Anyway, these same people are the ones that have the magnificent yachts that seem to be in every harbor.

How about the 245′ yacht Cloud 9, launched last may in Italy.  It’s owned by Brett Bundy, one of the richest guy in Australia.    He has started and sold a number of very successful businesses, some sort of related, to me at least, including one that raises cattle for high end beef production and a company called Bras and Things as just two examples.  So, along the way he’s made loads of money, try $650,000,000 or so, some say billions.

Well, Cloud 9 showed up here in Marigot a few days ago, complete with their 25 or so crew.   Nicely done Brett.  As they dropped the mooring holding her bow out from the dock, the guy who does such things looked positively insignificant working under the bow. There are plenty of impressive yachts in this harbor including plenty that are larger than Pandora.  However, it’s hard to believe that this yacht even fit.

She’s sports an impressive profile. As she left the harbor she went by our friends on Endless Summer.  Endless Summer isn’t a small yacht but looks tiny-winy compared to Brett’s boat. The passengers, about 12 in total, verses the 22 crew, looked pretty cool and collected on the afterdeck.  We heard that the “charter” included the board of directors of the University of Texas.  I sure hope that the university, a state school, didn’t foot the bill for the $800,000 weekly charter fee.  I expect not.  Perhaps an “in kind” donation to the university.   All the guys were wearing matching caps.   Hmm…Not sure what this guy does but he looks really official with his headphones on.   So, off the went into the sunset, bound, we later learned, for the Pitons.  The next day Brenda and I stopped there overlooking the harbor where we had taken a mooring only a few weeks prior.  The view of the Pitons from so high up was spectacular.   That tiny dot.  Cloud 9.We had a very nice lunch.  I  wonder what “the board of directors” had?  Ours was great.   Well, this photo is only of one “course”.  We don’t just drink wine all the time.  Well, perhaps we do.Everyone looking for a handout.  This guy landed on our table seemingly about to say “what you looking at?  Pass over a fry!” Here’s the view of where we sat.  It was perhaps the most spectacular vantage point we have ever seen.
One more view of the place where we had our drinks.  Pretty amazing. Oh yeah, the resort has an infinity pool.  Perhaps the only one you will ever see where you might get a nose bleed from the altitude.  On the way back to Pandora, another view of the Pitons.  Really amazing. The road had a remarkable number of twists and turns and always an amazing view around every hairpin corner. Green landscape. By the time we got back to Pandora, switchback after switchback, I  was ready for a nap.  No, it wasn’t the wine.  We shared a single glass knowing that the drive was going to be a challenge.

Well, that’s it.  The “end” of our cruise together this season.  Our last stop, St Lucia is really a beautiful country but right now, it’s the place where Brenda flew the coupe and that makes me sad as it’s going to be a long time till I see her again.

I am so bummed.  I woke up alone today.  But I did get to write about bras.

“OH Bob, get over it.  That’s so sick.  Just shut up!”

Sorry for being whiny.

Starboard tack from now on.

Well, that’s it.  We are officially heading north and home to CT as of two days ago.  While we didn’t make it all the way to Grenada, our plan early in the season, we made it very close, less than 50 miles.  Next year, perhaps.

With the consistent easterly trades, we have spent most of the winter on a port tack, always heading south.   So, now it’s time to “tack” and head north again.

As if to say “don’t forget us”, we were greeted by a fabulous rainbow in Bequia as we left to head north yesterday after clearing out.  As I write this we are on a mooring in Marigot, St Lucia, where Brenda will head out on Friday and my friend Craig will join me for ten days.  Craig and I will make our way up to Antigua and I’ll be joined by crew for the run home.

It’s going to be tough for me to be left behind when Brenda heads home as it will be about 6 weeks until I arrive home.  It’s too early to head north with Pandora, it snowed in CT last week, I am told, so I have to hang around for a few weeks before heading out.  To head north any sooner would be dangerous, with the threat of strong late season “nor’easters”.   Not my first choice.

However, on a positive note, it’s been great visiting so many new places which will make our run south next winter easier as we will already have a better feel for which spots to visit again.

One of the best spots where we spent time was surely Bequia, with many places to eat out as well as being a terrific spot to have work done on the boat.  We will surely be back next season to have more varnishing work done by Winfield and perhaps some more canvas work too.

We enjoyed our time meeting up with the many couples that we met through the Salty Dawg Rally.  In Bequia we participated in a “dinghy drift” organized by fellow “Dawg” Lynn on Roxy.  She’s a high energy girl and to spend time with her is always fun.   Alas, she’s not in this photo.  As if the evening wasn’t fun enough already, we were treated to perhaps the most spectacular tropical sunset of the season.  Made even better with Sea Cloud II in the frame.  After a bitAfter Bequia we headed south to the Tobago Cays, described by some as a lot like the Bahamas with beautiful turquoise waters.  And great snorkeling, if not great pictures.  I guess it’s time for a new underwater camera.   With this camera I guess I have to say “you had to be there”.

Iguanas guarding their turf. This guy stuck his head up near Pandora as we were weighing anchor as if to say “see yah!”We also visited nearby Mayreau, an island that I had never heard of, ,like many in the Greandines, until we decided to head the short distance there from the Tobago Cays.    It’s a tiny island with lovely brightly painted homes on the steep hillside. A Catholic church occupies the highest point on the island.Charming. The view of the Cays from the back of the church was fabulous. 
And south toward Union Island and Carriacou beckon for next season.  While nearby mountainous St Vincent gets lots of rain, only a few miles south, Mayreau is very arid.  The locals work hard to collect water in cisterns, this one behind the church is the largest I have seen.  The runoff collects at the bottom of the half acre stone and cement catchment area. In this arid climate cactus was everywhere.  These flowers were very showy and fist size.  Nothing says “I am not for lunch” like a cactus. Of course, what’s a post without a view of Pandora in the harbor?  We were anchored with “buddy-boat” Roxy, home to our friends Lynn and Mark.    They plan to summer in Trinidad and head to the western Caribbean next winter.  We hope to see them again soon.
This is the view of the nearby beach, the best we have seen in the Caribbean.   We had it all to ourselves.
The beach was well kept, free of litter and wonderful soft sand.   The four of us spent a long time soaking in the clear water off of the beach.  We decided to break up the 80 mile run from Mayreau back to Marigot into two legs.  We had to return to Bequia to check out and then continue on to Marigot, another 60 miles north.   We had heard that the run between St Vincent and St Lucia is among the roughest in the islands and yesterday’s passage was true to that legend as it was when we headed south.   As we made our way north,  we encountered steep waves on a close reach.  The relentless trade winds push water past the islands, into the Caribbean sea at speeds of up to two knots and always to the west.

Fortunately, in the lee of St Vincent the waters were calm.    It’s a beautiful island but crime is a problem so almost nobody stops there.  It’s unfortunate that the authorities are unable to do anything to make it safer.   The nearby mountainside was spectacular and lush. It was alarming to see this boat, with what looked like a machine gun go roaring by.  It looked like a harpoon.  Glad that they didn’t come close.  I know that they do hunt whales in St Vincent but thought that the weren’t able to use motorized boats, only rowing and sail.  Hmm.  I wonder what else they can hunt that needs that sort of firepower? On the other hand, this fisherman, a long way from shore, was decidedly low tech.   He waved as we passed him. One of the best parts of cruising the eastern Caribbean is that the wind, while pretty strong at times, amd consistently from the east.  Sometimes ENE or ESE but just about always from the east.   So, as we headed south we were ALWAYS on a port tack.

So now, on a starboard tack.  I guess we must be heading home.  Time to move all the loose stuff down below to the leeward side.   Well, at least until we get far enough north to loose the trades.

Brenda hasn’t even gone yet and I am feeling a bit “peckish”.   I’ll miss here.


The final leg south. Northbound next…

As I write this we are anchored in the Tobago Cays in the Grenadines, the furthest south that we will go on this trip.  At 12 degrees south it is the farthest south that we have been aboard Pandora.   Perhaps next season we will go as far as Grenada which would put us at nearly 11 degrees south.   For sure, 12 degrees north is a lot closer to the Equator than it is to home at 41 degrees north.   It feels like an accomplishment to me.

Just before we left Bequia, and after the regatta was over, there was a mass exodus from the harbor of many of the boats that had come there to participate.  Most of the transient boats left under their own bottom but this one, a Shield I think, was lying along side a tramp freighter.  I wonder where she was headed?A little while later they fitted her with lifting straps. And up she went.  And speaking of going places, I have mentioned in past posts that my plan is to run Pandora north for the summer and do the Salty Dawg rally to Antigua again this November.

After that, it’s possible that we will opt to leave the boat in Grenada or Trinidad next summer as it may not be worth the time and wear and tear on me and Pandora to continue to do the run.   I will say that most of the cruisers I have spoken to about this leave their boats in Grenada or Trinidad during the summer, in part for convenience and also because the cost of labor in the islands is so much less than in the US.   In addition, the craftsmen are first rate.

That has great appeal as there are some projects that I’d like to get done that I just would not be able to afford in the US.  I was very pleased with the canvas work done on my dink as well as the varnishing below at rates that were quite reasonable.  Frankly,  we could not afford to have varnish work done in the US as it just wouldn’t make sense.

We loved the varnish work that Winfield did for us in Bequia.    Some of the finish below was getting a bit scruffy so we had him update some of the trim in the forward head, galley, chart table and companionway.  It turned out to be more disruptive than we had expected with work breaks for Good Friday and Easter, but the finished product is beautiful.  Winfield suggested that we go with bright varnish for the trim and other areas below as it’s a lot more durable than semigloss.   Good call.

It looks beautiful.  Trim that looks too nice to touch The chart table is so shiny I am afraid to use it.  And, now a shiny compaionway that was looking very scruffy. Winfield clearly takes pride in his work.  No surprises and we are very happy with how it turned out.  The bad news, now the rest of the boat looks rough by comparison.  Well, there’s always next year. And, speaking of varnish.   I expect that this beautiful grand lady, Shemara, circa 1938, has plenty.  At over 200′ long she surely has plenty to keep her crew hopping.   Love the classic canoe stern.  How’s that for a swim platform?The refit consumed one million hours of labor over several years.  That’s a big number and it doesn’t even count the massive amount of “stuff” that went into the job.  She’s still a real throwback to a different era, but under her classic skin she is totally modern.  Check out this article, which I recall seeing a while back, to learn more about this magnificent yacht.  She’s got some pretty exotic systems aboard.

And speaking of modern,  this carbon cruiser, Sorceress, recently launched in South Africa, passed us smartly yesterday as we sailed from Bequia where she had been for a few days.  She’s all business.    While designed for cruising, she is a fast racer with a deep draft lifting keel.   She’s quite a boat. Where we are now is a national park, is protected from fishing so the reefs are teeming with fish.   Beautiful beaches too. 
This morning I went snorkeling with some friends.   I took lots of photos and videos with my GoPro but, as usual, I was disappointed with the results.   Somehow, the “high resolution” is anything but.  I saw lots of turtles. This is a beautiful spot and I expect that we will stick around for a few days and then begin our run back up to St Lucia where Brenda will head home. My friend Craig will join me there for the run to Antigua where I will meet up with my crew for the run north to CT.

So, it’s been quite a ride south but soon, it’s northbound for Pandora.


Yachting in Bequia. Easter Regatta 2018

One of the best parts of cruising the Caribbean is the opportunity to see iconic yachts and lots of sailboats.  Unlike US waters where it seems that powerboats are dominant and sailing is ever so slowly fading from the scene, when you get to the Caribbean, especially the southern part, the vast majority of yachts are sailboats and sailing is where it’s at.

In addition to the great variety of yachts, in some of the harbors that we visit we often see some of the smaller cruise ships drop anchor for the day.   Most of them are not memorable but a few days ago Sea Cloud, the largest private yacht in the world when she was launched in 1931 for Marjorie Merriweather Post and her then husband E.F. Hutton of Wall Street fame, came in for the day.  While she was a private yacht in Post’s day, she’s now a very exclusive cruise ship.

During WWII Sea Cloud was requisitioned by a US Navy, for $1 a year and put to work as a weather ship off of the east coast.  After the war she was returned to Post and converted back to a sailing yacht.  However, the cost of the yacht, with her 72 full time crew members proved to be a bit much for her to keep up so Post sold the yacht.

Sea Cloud has had a number of owners since then but beginning in the early 80s she has served as a cruise ship, carrying only 60 passenger and an equal number of crew.  Today she is the oldest cruise ship in regular service anywhere in the world and remains in remarkable condition.

I took a run out to see her.  She’s quite a sight.  Her bowsprit goes on and on. If you want to learn more about this iconic ship, check out this link.

As the Easter Regatta, a pretty big deal in this area, is going on now, a wide variety of yachts, classic and contemporary are here to race.  Everything from J24s to beautiful classics are out making their way around the buoys.    Mah Jong, a teak planked beauty, designed by Sparkman and Stephens, built by Choy Lee and launched in Hong Kong in 1957 is in these waters for the winter.   She summers in Marta’s Vineyard where she was recently rebuilt at the Gannon and Benjamin yard in Vineyard Haven.   She’s a beautiful yawl.  What a lovely stern.  I caught her rounding the weather mark today just behind another classic, Galatea.And around she went. She was hot on the tail of Galatea and they approached the mark, twice that I saw, and still very close together after miles of racing.It was quite a site to see Galatea pass me by.  I don’t know much about her but she’s a beauty.  There are many classics by that name and without fast WiFi I ran out of patience trying to find out more about her history. And off she went to turn down wind.   She’s a lot bigger than she looks in this shot, probably about 80′.  Just behind them were a few of the Carriacou sloops.    These are traditional fishing boats in the Grenadines and are still raced as yachts today. This is a go-fast locally built double ender.  Impressive speed with big sails and a large crew to serve as “rail meat” to keep them upright. And, of course, no race is complete with out the classic J24s and there were plenty racing today. Ok, enough of the race stuff for now.

Yesterday Brenda and I went for a short walk up to an old fort overlooking the harbor.  I feel sorry for whoever had to lug these cannon up from the beach.  The view was impressive.   This is the western part of a large harbor with room for hundreds of boats.  There’s Pandora in the lower right.  The homes on the hill overlooking the harbor are brightly painted in Caribbean colors.  I always get a thrill out of watching the Frigate birds fly by.   They have a huge wingspan, in excess of 6′, the longest of any bird, relative to their size.   I understand that they can sleep while they fly and although they can be seen great distances from land they are unable to land and take off from the water.   One thing is certain, if you love boats and being on the water, Bequia and especially the Easter Regatta, is the place to be.

Perhaps I’ll sign off with a shot of the sunset last evening, a beautiful way to cap off a day in the tropics.  Sure beats snow.
No wait, it’s May.  No more snow up north and I am looking forward to being back in New England for the summer.  Winter in the Caribbean, summers in New England.

It doesn’t get better than that.