Winward Islands, Caribbean Sea/ West Indies   November/ December 2011                     Vessel: Janneau, Sun Odysee 42i, COLARGOL Equipment: VHF, Barbecue, Dinghi 5BHP, 3 Cabins (no EPRIB) Provider: Sea & Sail in Guadeloupe (France), Broker: Windward Islands Journey:: 401nm, 14 days Guadeloupe - Antigua - Barbuda - St. Kitts & Nevis - Antigua - Guadeloupe We (Britta and Jan) were looking for a break, combined with water, sun and sailing. November proved to be tricky as there is the monsun going on in some areas in Asia or Seychelles. Hurricane season is just about finished in the Caribbean waters so it turned out obvious where to go. One other factor was that some areas are quite restricted in terms of the cruising territory (such as was last year in Australia), This one is wide an open. For Jan it was an other point to do the next step in sailing: open waters with oceanic swells and winds. We found Guadeloupe as being ideal for various reasons: easy to access via Pairs, relatively short distance and cheap flights. Plus it’s an area of huge competition for the chartering industry thus it was easy to find a suitable boat even on a relatively short notice (we booked just 2 months in advance). Initially we wanted to go up north to Anguilla but found the distance as to challenging after we lost 2 days because of technical problems (one was the collapse of the domestic batteries which we got to be replaced and the other one was that the dinghi engine got water - twice - in the tank which needed to be cleaned). The boat was not well kept. It had a number of technical problems which were not nice and at times serious: Withholding tanks were spilling back the waste water into the toilet. One toilet smelled terrible even without having used it once. The same water emerged in the shower sink, the pump didnt work there either. Withholding tanks valves were stuck and we couldnt close them. Batteries did have some bobbles in the plastic hull right from the first day and didnt hold any energy for more then 1-2 hours after a full charge. Outboard engine got water into the tank on rainy days and needed to be professionally cleaned. Likewise was the spare tank spoiled with water. Front sail reefing line jumped out of the front box always when hoisting sails (not cool when setting sails in a reefed manner) Ropes were stiff because of salt water and low maintenance No strong torch/ spotlight on board One winch (for the mainsail) didnt get the rope properly anymore (i.e. we were not able to pull up the main to the last 3cm which caused problems in getting the furling main back into the mast) No courtesy flags on board In a nutshell: it was a great journey. We had empty beaches and found some good restaurants in other places. The pros and cons are below: Pro - area: given the fact that the islands are vast spread, we had long trips of 40-66nm in one day which was an important experience for us. Tradewinds were kind of regular from the east and made sailing easy Oceanic swell was easy to ride (2meters high with a period of 7-9seconds, much better then the choppy stuff in less deep waters Grate water (clear and warm) Phantastic Beaches (esp. Barabuda) Great natural harbors (like English Harbor in Antigua) Friendly people Very easy to get there Good value for money (boat hire) Secluded anchorages Deep waters give some peace while on the way Easy navigation Small tides only Good anchor holdings everywhere Cons - area: Pricey area for all food/ restaurants/ services (similar to Europe) Long cruises between islands did require a rel. high speed which required us to motor on several occasions In Guadeloupe its very difficult to find anybody who speaks English (incl. at the airport) Caribbean means some rain Oceanic swell is getting nasty on more shallow waters Abundance of fisher nets in areas which are less then 50m deep (very difficult to see at times) Checking in and out in each country was very time consuming But have a look at th pictures which are making all problems to disappear... Guadeloupe Antigua & Barbuda St. Kitts and Nevis Other sailing pictures