we have sailed the French West Indies, St Martin
, St. Barts and Anguilla
( one ten day cruise
on a 36 foot sailing vessel ) , as well as the BVI over many years 14 BVI trips. We always have a great time where ever we sail, but just keep coming back to the BVI. Great sailing, super anchorages
, good snorkeling, friendly people and loads of fun.
You have received some great suggestions, and it is pretty much up to you for your decision as to which will be your next cruising ground.
So, instead of telling you where to sail, I would like to share just one of our island sailing adventures. This will be Gustavia Harbor, St. Barts.
Entering the harbor under power on our 36 ft. Centurian sailing vessel, all of the moorings on the right side of the harbor will filled to capacity. Along with anchored boats in between the moored vessels. Not a good plan for us.
So, we anchored over on the left side in about 30 feet of water
. We had 150 feet of chain and 150 feet of rode
. And, yep a windlass
As we set the anchor
, with most of the scope
out. I could see a tall dark mass of black clouds approaching us. The plan was for Erica to take a shower
, and I would stand anchor
watch, then we would swap out an go to dinner and dancing ashore.
I told Erica that I really did not like that dark wall approaching us. Well, she now comes up and takes the watch, and I go below to shower
. Quick fresh water
wash down, and I come out of the shower. Just happens to be a
bottle of Mt. Gay rum
on the galley
counter, I pours some in a glass and I hear " DEN, WE'RE DRAGGING ANCHOR ! "
Pulling on a pair of cut offs, I tear up the companion way ladder, the wind
is howling, the rain is horizontal, and the vis is about 50 feet or less.
I figure with our monster anchor and chain, I get let more scope
out and the anchor will reset. We had the engine
on to charge the batteries, and Erica was at the helm
. " For'd Gear
, Full Power !" I yell while tearing up to the anchor locker
Shorts only, bare feet, and no gloves. I take the wraps off the windless to pay out some line rode
...now the wind
doubles in speed, the line is burning thru my hands. " Full Power ! Full Power ! She answers back the throttle is full ahead.
Know I know that I am coming to the end of the rode, we slowly start inching forward, and I get a wrap, then two more, and double cleat the rode to the port and starboard bow cleats
...using proper cleats
. Line left in the anchor locker
...three feet !
Time was 2:30 pm, we stood anchor watches until 2:00 am, and we were not moving. The VHF
was alive with Mayday Calls, from vessels who had not made port. Winds were recorded at 64 mph....just 10 mph below Hurricane
Next day the sun was out, we went ashore and checked with the French speaking harbor master. A un forecast
tropical depression formed over the islands. Winds at the airport in St. Martin were up in the 60's and the airliner that landed just before the winds hit, were unable to disembark their passengers. later in the trip, we ran into a couple on Orient Beach who were staying on St. Martin and told us their experience in landing at the same time the wind got really strong.
We had a marvelous time on St. Barts at Le Select, and several other very nice places along the harbor, and the weather
was beautiful the rest of the cruise.
Story is not over, however. A couple days later it was time to Haul up the Anchor and leave St. Barts. Erica at the helm
, I am up at the windlass
giving her hand signals. I can see the anchor about two feet below the surface, and it will not come up any higher. It is snagged on a line. Into the dink with a serrated knife I go....hand over hand.
One of the flukes is soundly wrapped by a 3 inch mooring
houzer, that had been laying flat on the sand in 30 plus feet of water. When that wind hit, our anchor drug, and slipping over the sand, the flukes caught the eye of that old , no longer in use mooring
No wonder we were not dragging in that storm, that houser could have held a battle ship. I cut the line, walked the hand over hand brought the dink back to the stern, boarded, hauled up the last of the chain and secured the anchor, raised the sails
and were off to the new adventures.
Lotta luck on that one, and we toasted to the good gods of weather
and the sea.