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The second leg of our Colgate Sailing Adventures 2019 Windward Islands Flotilla Cruise brought great sailing from Grenada to St. Lucia. Hosted by Heather Hild-Atwater and Nate Atwater, here is their diary of a fun-filled Leg 2 of our 2019 Windward Islands adventure:

Day One: Saturday February 9

It was a quick turnaround in by 11am and board the boats again with the new crew arriving that day by 5pm.  Nate and I met with Sharon from The Moorings’ Grenada Base to go through the itinerary for the sail from Grenada to St. Lucia and to complete the customs sheets, etc.  Grenada is a well-oiled yachting community and they know what they are doing.  There is a lot to do in Grenada and we hope to go back some day to see more of it.

We were greeting Bryan aboard Jean Harr2 and getting ready for customs our first flotilla participants arrived.  There was a gentleman on the dock saying out loud in a Southern accent, “Well, who is going to take us?” After exchanging a few questions, we understood that they were in fact looking for the Offshore Sailing’s Flotilla.  We welcomed them aboard and into the AC and we quickly got them comfortable.  Nate and I finalized the customs sheets with passport info etc., then Nate set off to check us out of Grenada!

We all enjoyed a nice Meet and Greet dinner at the Victory Bar and restaurant.  We had a choice of mahi mahi, slow roasted pork, or chicken cordon bleu and dessert.  I was in bed by 10:30pm, exhausted.

Day Two: Sunday February 10

7am Yoga poolside was a good start to the day.  8am Skipper/Navigator meeting, then boat briefing on ‘All In’.  We managed to get off the dock by 10 am to climb North up the coast of Grenada.  We put up mainsails and power sailed 35NM to Tyrell Bay arriving around 4pm.  It was a rolly crossing and a few got seasick as we were hobby-horsing quite a bit. The mainsails helped but the wind was from the North at 12-24 knots on the nose.  Nate discovered half-way through the day that the port forward porthole had not been secured properly and there was water all over the forward cabin soaking the cushion and sheets.  When I came up deck after securing the hatch and gathering the wet sheets.  I said, “The bad news is that your cushions and sheets and soaked, the good news is your clothes are dry and we have extra sheets, so no worries.”  There had been discussion of Sandy Cay as a destination, but we chose moorings in Tyrell Bay for wind protection. Once we were moored, we enjoyed a swim to cool off.  I was feeling a bit guilty about the fact that we needed to cool off whilst most of my family up North were having very cold weather.  The swim was refreshing, and we ate dinner aboard our first night on the second leg, enjoying a lovely sunset.   Aboard JeanHarr2, I prepared marinated Chicken with sautéed veggies and seasoned brown rice.  It was quiet a first day for some folks and quiet a tenth day for those of us that did the first leg down.

Day Three: Monday February 11

Winds were quite brisk in Tyrell Bay to start the day.  After Nate and I go boat-to-boat we head out, leaving behind, heading toward Union Island to check into The Grenadines.  The wind was blowing around 20 knots on the nose, so we had to power and again it was pretty bouncy.  We arrive in Clifton Harbor on Union Island and planned to anchor while the Skippers dinghied into customs.  Well, it was crowded and blowing pretty good. To make a long story short- Catty Shack and All In got a good amount of practice anchoring. When they were finally set, I think there were a few lessons learned about anchoring.  And mind you there are books on Anchoring…. entire books…but here are a few things we saw that day.

  1. Picking your spot is critical: Choose a location with ample room to drift back as you are setting the anchor. Never right in front of another vessel- over compensate rather than have to reset.  Try to anticipate the drift back and pick a spot with room to swing side to side.  This was difficult to do in a crowded anchorage such as Clifton Harbor that day.  Also knowing what the bottom is sand, clay, mud, etc. is very important.  Here the bottom is sand, so we were good.
  1. If your spot is good then it is a matter of getting the anchor to set properly. I find it is important to make sure the anchor is facing the correct way to start, and to be sure the boat is stationary, not going forward or back before dropping the anchor. Then communication between skipper and the anchor controller is important. The skipper should say when to drop the anchor. I find it is best to drop the anchor to the depth of the bottom quickly and then depending on the speed at which the boat is being pushed backwards the crew needs to release the chain as fast or as slow to match the drift backward.  Diana, who was our chief anchor technician, did a great job and we hooked on our first try.

After we cleared customs, we picked up anchors and had a fast sail around Union Island in 20 plus knots breeze and showers to the lovely Chatham Bay where we anchored again. Second time’s the charm!  We dove to check the anchors anyway to be sure.  Ours was buried well in a good sandy bottom.  The snorkeling was good with plenty of turtles around.  That night we headed in to Aqua restaurant at the Chatham Bay Resort/Anthony’s.  It is a beautiful thatched roof, open-air bar, pool, restaurant overlooking the bay and the sunset.  We had the place to ourselves however after ordering drinks and seeing the speed at which we were served I knew we were in for a long evening so there was nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the company, the meal and the ambiance, all of which were excellent!  Just as we were ready to pay our bills, a process with 13 individual checks and an iPhone for the cashier, a microburst came out of nowhere and blew the table clothes off our tables and ruined the mega-yacht’s catered beach party, whom we had been amused by during dinner with their amphibious tender’s beach landings bringing first the supplies, then the guests, ashore.  We let the wind die down and the rain stop before walking back to the dinghy dock over the broken glass from the serving platters that blew off the tables from the mega-yacht’s ruined event.  We learned from talking with the mega-yacht chefs that they had clocked the wind at 55 knots in the micro burst.  Nate and I were thankful that all our boats had stayed put.  We got back aboard and headed to our bunks, never a dull moment!

Day Four: Tuesday February 12

Nate awoke me at 2:15 am, “Heath come up, we are dragging!”  I jumped out of our bunk in my Lily nightshirt and start to visually take fixes of our position against the lights ashore.  Nate looked at Navionics on his iPad.  We both determine that we are not presently dragging but definitely are not in the same position as when we went to sleep.  I set my Anchor app and Nate stayed up to be sure we were safe.

Later that morning after Nav. Rounds we were the first boats to head out of the harbor. No wonder, we hit some rain showers and 20 plus knots of breeze on the nose.  We powered the 9.4 NM to the Western passage and Tobago Cay, arriving at our mooring by noon.  We see “All IN” struggling to pick up the moorings so we quickly put the dingy in and Nate dashes off to help.  Turns out that they had left a swim line attached to the stern which blew overboard and then wrapped one of the two props, then as they maneuvered with just one engine to the mooring, they suddenly they lost power in that engine. Nate boarded and got “All In” to the mooring without further incident. Once we settled in, most of us snorkeled and explored the gorgeous turtle preserve. That evening John, Donna, Cindi and Gary hosted us all for cocktails aboard “All In”. A good time was had by everyone.  When we headed back to Jean Harr2, we cooked our steaks, pasta, veggies and enjoyed a chocolate dessert.  Then off the bunks we returned, happily exhausted!

Day Five: Wednesday February 13

We got an early start, leaving the moorings by 7am to sail 30 NM North to Bequia.  It was a great sail, close-hauled from Tobago Cay to Bequia.  We saw 30 knots of breeze and the seas were lively.  We were sailing at speeds up to 8.5 knots.  We took turns at the helm for some heavy air practice.  We arrived around noon, giving us plenty of time to explore the interesting island.  The Skippers did the necessary job of checking us out at the customs house downtown.  Scott, John and Nate did this without complaint each time it was needed and we “Thank You” Gentlemen.  Diana Dean and I headed toward town and got one building down from the dingy dock and stopped in an Art Gallery.  We got off to a challenging start when Diana picked up a piece of the Artist’s work in the backroom and asked Patrick Chevailler, a French Artist, “What is this Decoupage?”  He shouts back, “Decoupage, Decoupage, GET OUT!  GET OUT!”  Diana asked again what it was and he said a print on wood…I said, “So it is Decoupage.”  Realizing his error, he started to warm up a bit and long story short, Diana and I spent the afternoon with ‘Doc’ touring The Banana Patch Nautical Art Museum. It was on the other side of Bequia and the drive alone was magnificent…. the experience will not be forgotten any time soon.  Diana and I caught the local bus back to town for 2 EC and that too was a good, local experience.

That night we all did our own thing for dinner.  The crew of Jean Harr2: Diana, Bryan, Jane, Joe, Nate and I ate at the Fig Tree. We really lucked out, as the curried goat was excellent by Nate’s account, and the music, a local 22-year-old man playing acoustical violin, was great. The music got everyone out on the dance floor, well most every woman anyway.

Day Six: Valentine’s Day 2019

We set sail from Bequia in the morning with a forecast of more of the same winds…20-29 knots from the East this time so a bit more favorable direction.  Jean Harr2 sailed with a reefed mainsail and reefed genoa moving along at a top speed of 11.4 knots.  We arrived at the recommended Kearton’s Bay, next to the famed Wallibou Bay of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” fame.  It was the most chaotic mooring scene I have ever experienced.  Boat boys on all manner of floating vessel shouted all different directions.  Finally I had to outshout them saying, “I am only talking with the men from Rockside Café.”  Unfortunately, as it turned out Sydney and Quinn from Rockside, really did not know what they were doing and the more they gestured, the less I understood what they were asking us to do.  Again, I waved them alongside to ask them exactly what they had in mind. We Med-moored between two extremely long mooring lines with our stern toward land.  When all three boats were settled, all the boat boys/men in canoes with bamboo oars came by to sell their fruit, jewelry, etc.  We all took a liking to one particular enterprising young man named Frankie.  He told me that I had been given a nickname by the locals. I asked Frankie what my new nickname was, and he told me it was “Bad Ass.” First time for everything! After hiking to the waterfall that as advertised, was “Not Like Niagara Falls”, we all ate a yummy, home-style meal at Rockside Café.  This bay, although a bit hair-raising, had excellent cave snorkeling and good food and it gave us a real glimpse into the life the locals live in the towns that we sail past each day.

Day Seven: Friday February 15

Untying from our Med-mooring situation proved much easier than tying up.  Then we enjoyed a fast reach across the channel back to Saint Lucia.  We reefed the main and genoa.  Jane got some practice at the helm on Jean Harr2, which really proved the best remedy for seasickness. Diana tested herself this trip with lots of time on the helm both under power and sail. She proved a steady hand at the helm as well as a helpful crew all around and in the galley, mooring duty, sail trim and navigation as well. Bravo Diana!  We picked up three moorings at the Tetons and Jean Harr2, Catty Shack and All In enjoyed a relaxing afternoon as the puffs blew through the mooring field. A group went ashore to the sugar resort and their staff was very nice and extremely welcoming.  We ate dinner aboard for the last night.

Day Eight: Saturday February 16  

We made a quick hop up the West Shore of Saint Lucia to Marigot Bay in time to enjoy the resort amenities that come with the mooring fee. It felt as if we had really earned this luxury.  Sun, pool, relax, and repeat. We lost Gary Brace that day because he had to fly out, but the rest of our flotilla gathered for a final dinner at Chateau Mygo and we had a good time!

Day Nine: Sunday February 17

The final day, we powered the short distance back to Rodney Bay and The Moorings/Sunsail Base, arriving early to finish immigration and all that comes with disembarking from a flotilla. Now, we are at the end of what for some of us was a two+ week adventure of a lifetime, not to be forgotten any time soon.  We had Great Sailing, Great Scenery, Great Memories and shared many ‘Salty Sailing Stories!’.

For more information about Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruises, please see our Flotilla Holidays page here.