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Summer or Winter

July 27, 2017

There’s quite a difference between sailing the Caribbean in the summer rather than the winter.

Winter is the favoured season for sailing in the Caribbean for the majority of sailors. On the positive side the temperature and humidity are at their most comfortable, the winds blow steadily, onshore services are at their best and rainfall is at its minimum.

On the negative side the cruise ship visits are at their maximum, the anchorages are crowded, boat services are in short supply as demand is high, locals are busy trying to make hay while the sun shines and have little time for personal service, tropical fruits and vegetables are out of season and the anchorages mostly have music blaring out of bars, restaurants and party boats of which there are many.

Summer sailing is quieter. Northern hemisphere people stay at home enjoying their own summer season at cottages or on boats on lakes. The Caribbean charter companies have lines of boats tied up at moorings in numerous ports making most anchorages a lot quieter. Local fruits and vegetables overflow the market tables, the local people have more time to chat and if one needs to get work done on their boat then marine services are more timely and accessible. Prevailing winds are also more gentle. Gone are the constant 20-25knot north easterlies blowing night and day. The winds are still constant but more likely in the 10-15knot range and the seas between the islands more moderate.

On the negative side summer sailing is fraught with possibilities of hurricanes. Everyone watches weather information with eagle eyes. No matter where one is the location of the nearest hurricane hole(s) is in the back of one’s mind. Winds can be variable and squalls more vicious and longer lasting with more intense rain. Calms are more frequent and increased humidity more oppressive.

We’re enjoying the summer sailing more than the winter. The other sailors are more than likely long-term sailors. They are people who have either remained sailing in the Caribbean for years and have intimate knowledge of the islands or they are offshore sailors summering over before moving on to further adventures. These are either waiting to move west towards the Panama or have arrived from points south like Brazil and waiting in southern climes until they can move northwards in the winter.

Here is the area we have decided to focus on for the hurricane season. Although we travelled north through here in the winter we never really saw much as we were trying to get to Antigua quickly. Now we have the time to explore and delve a little more deeply into each of the islands.

We hope this area remains hurricane free this year but we have one place in mind to run to if necessary while in the immediate area. It’s located on Cariacou and lies behind a mangrove area with enough area for a number of boats. Below is an excerpt from Compass Magazine’s article written about hurricane Ivan that hit Grenada in 2004 and the section relating to Cariacou. Here is the link to the full Compass article – Compass Magazine Hurricane Ivan 2004

Being even a few miles from Ivan’s eye made a big difference, as the following accounts show. Roy Hopper of Tyrrel Bay Yacht Haulout, Carriacou, reports: “The only damage sustained by the boatyard was damage to dock piers by a steel freighter which landed here. The boats hauled out in the boatyard and the ones we secured in the mangroves were not damaged.” Cruiser Jim Hutchinson of Ambia, who was tucked into Tyrrel Bay’s mangroves, estimates that there were 50 or 60 yachts and some 30 ships in the mangroves’ first bay, and about three dozen farther in. While the shallower-draft boats who could get into the far reaches of the mangroves fared very well, yachts in the first bay were menaced by a number of dragging freighters. Another ship was reportedly aground on the northeast corner of Carriacou. From Mayreau, Mark de Silva reports: “There has been a tremendous amount of coral rubble deposited all over with ‘islands’ forming on the reefs at Grand Tarchie as well as at Clifton and Ashton.” We are also advised that Grand de Coi reef off Union Island now uncovers two to three feet. A few yachts reportedly went aground at Union Island, and a commercial vessel which attempted to shelter at Spring Bay, Bequia, was blown ashore.

For now this will be our potential refuge from inclement weather should the need arise. Later we will head south to Grenada where we will have to find another safe harbour should the need arise.

For now we will continue to enjoy the summer season in the Caribbean.

Here for your entertainment a few shots of the Caribbean taken from a cell phone camera (blah!)

Castries – Carnival

Carnival – Castries

Putting in the earplugs at Carnival- Richard and Rowena

Carnival – Castries

Sailing between St. Lucia and St. Vincent and waiting to get clobbered by wind and rain. Luckily it wasn’t too bad

The marina – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Checking the rigging. Bird’s eye view of the solar panels that have fun our electrical system for 9 years without fail i.e. refrigeration, entertainment, lights, communications. Who says we can’t stop using fossil fuels?

Cinamon at the market. Lots of other spices as well but more rum than anything!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2017 15:51

    Thanks for the update, Tony. Looks like a good summer. Just got your postcard! We’ll look forward to you occupying floor space in either Campbell River (pull-out bed in the living room-luxury!) in winter or Cortes (Ian’s there in fall and spring and we’re both here in summer and school spring break). Keep staying safe! Much love, J

  2. Toby (SY Sangoma) permalink
    July 27, 2017 16:26

    Lovely blog, we love reading it. Keep safe during those hurricanes! Glad your solar panels are having fun!

  3. Sue Donaldson permalink
    July 27, 2017 18:21

    A welcome paean to the power of the mighty mangrove swamp!

  4. August 2, 2017 02:29

    Just back from the Kootenays which do NOT look anything like your pics.. just a bunch of old Italians sitting around a table eating pasta and drinking red wine!
    Ciao for now, Annie B.

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