This time of year is an unknown when it comes to the wind. Which means hit or miss. We keep getting
rather marginal forecasts but somehow get lucky. From Antigua we sailed out of Falmouth Harbour, launched Bruce off the back of Discovery, (something we’re getting quite adept at) and sailed 6 miles downwind to the SW corner of the island, below Jolly Harbour. These boat downwinders are a bit of pain and pleasure for me. Pleasure because I get to share in the smiles and fun, pain in that I’m always the one at the helm. Job hazard.
The crew of Discovery has been thinned down to a very nice number for the next 10 days. Nico and Jody, the permanents; Bruce, who with 8 shares is certainly semi-permanent, and my sister Lesley and her boyfriend Dagan. Another major drawback of running an offshore expedition is that I rarely get a chance to see my family so this was a period of time to be relished. Nico cooked up the first of many spectacular meals (Duck breast with a ginger reduction, nicoise fresh sashimi tuna salad, and bread and butter pudding) at anchor Thursday night, then we sailed south for Guadeloupe just after midnight with solid winds out of the East.
As we were hard on the wind I decided to alter course for the lee side of Guadeloupe and sail straight for Isles de Saintes rather than make the long haul back up to the SE coast, hoping we’d find some good kiting on one of the windward beaches. Isles de Saintes turned out to be a wonderful stop with a quaint little town, lovely locals and very scenic vistas which made for remarkable walks. After the long night sail Bruce was the only one who could muster a kite, but even he gave it up for a long nap later in the day.
From Isles de Saintes we had a short and fine sail to Prince Rupert Bay on the spectacular NW side of Dominica. Dominica held little possibilities for kiting but we were keen to explore it’s wild interior. Dominica has mountains over 4,000 feet and the most volcanoes of any Caribbean island. The fertile forests have been largely left untouched, and are host to a myriad of rivers, waterfalls, immense tropical trees, and a wide range of amazing fauna, including iguanas and parrots.
We hired a guide, “Lawrence of Arabia” and took a canoe trip up the Indian river, early Sunday morning then traveled inland for a hike to Chaudiere pool, a pristine pool with adjacent cliffs which made for a great cooling swim.
Hoping to teach Lesley and Dagan to kitesurf, as well as the need to stay at least marginally attentive to our itinerary drove us on to Martinique, some 50 miles south but a world away. One of the great things about traveling in the Caribbean is not only it’s ease of sailing, but enjoying the vast cultural differences from one island (country) to the next. Where Dominica is wild, and almost exclusively native in population; Martinique is bustling, manicured, and very French. Both have their charms and attractions. The crew rented a car and spent the day enjoying the windward beaches, where Nico, Lesley and Dagan all got to fly their first kites, while the skipper had the joy of part searching in scalding temps and raucous and filthy traffic. Another job hazard. Discovery has been getting her share of use and maintenance is a constant factor.
We finished the trip with another good sail south to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, our end to another journey,and the start of our next Epic on the 26th. Dagan and Lesley both got their first board rides at Cas en Bas, which was incredible considering the short time they both spent learning the sport. Two more addicts in the making.
Always too short, we saw Dagan and Lesley off early Saturday morning and scrambled as always to prepare for our next guests, arriving from Singapore (Rogier Brand), Angola (Jason Brown), and the US (Ethan Kerber). Bruce stays on for his 4th trip of the season, now really part of our crew and a wonderful personality, not to mention incredible kiter (this is his 8th year) to have onboard.