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2017 Caribbean Sailing Season – Best Of

May 28, 2017

Best Food – The French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe win this category hands down.
A difficult category as there are innumerable food categories but here I am being very general and making this statement for general overall impressions from purchasing the raw products to restaurant experiences.
Of course who can compete with imported items such as magret du canard, unpasteurized cheeses, baguettes and croissants (heavily subsidised eg. Baguette for €1, 8 different types of ham, saucisson by the truck load – need I go on?). Of course these are all imported from France but the islands themselves have thriving market gardens as well as their own locally raised meat.

Best Historical Harbour – English Harbour, Antigua
They are trying. The renovations are ongoing and painstakingly slow. Although a UNESCO World Heritage site they have a long way to go to match other UNESCO sites in the same category. Of course we did see it at what would be the height of the season i.e. the Classic regatta and Antigua race week.

English Harbour in the foreground with Falmouth Harbour in the background

Best Marina – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
It’s rare for us to use a marina but in this case we actually spent a week at the dock. It’s a new marina with very friendly staff, a great boatyard with some good expertise and a place that has potential for being a good place to hold up for the hurricane season. Apart from this it’s a short hop across to Carrefour Market in Martinique for a little french shopping!

There is a proviso here in that I think the marina is safe for hurricanes up to level 3 but after that not so sure. As the hurricane season is upon us and as we watch a disturbance in mid atlantic safe anchorages/harbours are primary considerations.

Best Beach – Bequia

We liked Bequia but let’s face facts. We have seen some incredible beaches in the Pacific, the South China Sea, the Andaman Sea, Australia. Ok I’ll stop. Yes, Bequia has had the nicest beach we’ve seen so far in the Caribbean!


Best Anchorages – Antigua

The Caribbean anchorages mostly lay open to the west and as such are susceptible to westerly swell and often nights are spent trying to stay in ones berth. It’s not really that bad but…Anchorages are also very crowded. One is always looking for the secluded spots. As it gets later in the season and the hurricane season approaches anchorages are becoming quieter.

Antigua was the last place we expected to find quiet and peaceful anchorages with very few boats. Green Island is close to a favourite kite surfing area on the south-west side of Antigua. It’s not often boats head to the east side of any of the windward islands. The east side is where one feels the full force of the Atlantic swell and wind. It’s much harder sailing and if one makes a mistake it’s easy to end up on the reef.

Antigua abounds with beautiful beaches and both secluded and crowded anchorages. It’s easy to find the anchorages that are quiet and little visited. They are usually a little open to the ocean or on the east side of the island. Green Island stands out as a special beach area although at times the main anchorage where the best kite surfing is crowded but there are other anchorages very few boats visit.

 

Best Natural Island/Most Scenic – Dominica
There are only two anchorages in the whole of Dominica – Portsmouth in the north-west and Rousseau in the south-west. Portsmouth is a very large bay often plagued with westerly swell and in many areas poor holding. This season we anchored in both anchorages and for the first time in many years we dragged anchor in the night crashing down on a French boat causing a bit of damage. We have never done that before and only one other time in 30 years of sailing have we dragged anchor.
Rousseau, being at the southern end of the island is pretty much always a rolly anchorage. We only stayed one night and didn’t go ashore. However in Portsmouth we made a day long trip hiking in volcanic craters, cooling off in bubbling sulphur springs, touring a chocolate making enterprise and learning about all the medicinal local plants and finished off with a great river swim.
There are no large resort complexes in Dominica, only the occasional small cruise ship, beautiful beaches with no-one on them and an overall relaxing ambience with friendly people. From a land perspective I would return but from a boating one it’s not the best choice but good for a short stop in settled weather.

 

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PAYS (Professional Association of Yachting Services) member picked us up in the morning for a van tour of the northern part of Dominica

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Portsmouth Anchorage, Dominica

This is a typical anchorage on any of the islands in the Windward chain. It faces west providing a wind protected anchorage but the swell does sweep around making rolling a persistent problem. This anchorage is also dubious for its holding. We dragged here in the middle of the night for the first time in many years.

 

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An incredible piece of Dominica’s east coast. A barren rock area descending steeply into the ocean and scarred by gullys caused by runoff rain

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After a day of hiking and driving around Dominica the river provided a great respite with cold fresh water pouring down from the volcano

Best Saturday Market – Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
We had long discussions on whether or not Trinidad was in the Caribbean. It’s part of this list so I lost the discussion.
The market is wonderful – colourful, reasonably priced, varied and high quality. A great morning’s outing if you get there by 0600hrs.


Best Natural Phenomena – Scarlett Ibises, Trinidad

Wow, something to remember for a long time – see previous posting

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Not many ibises in this shot but like the setting with the coastal mountains in the background

 

Best Cemetery – Guadeloupe

I was blown away by this one in the picture. I came around the corner and there before me was what I thought was a chess player or checkers player would love to spend eternity.

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One other comment to make on Caribbean cemeteries. They always seem to command the best views in the community. Started several centuries in the past I guess land was not at a premium and views over the ocean were a major consideration! The one above though was not near the ocean but I guess with the numerous chess board like graphics there was enough to keep people’s minds occupied.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Wayno permalink
    June 17, 2017 15:27

    Best blog?

  2. June 17, 2017 18:44

    Tony:
    Wonderful blog …as ever. Was Connie trying to buy that dude’s hat? Hope hurricane season goes well and that your Caribbean adventures continue unabated.
    Fred

  3. Donald Innes permalink
    June 18, 2017 16:24

    Thanks for the tour Tony! I hope you and Connie find the wind, Cheers and much Peace!!! Don

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