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03 Jun 2014 15:32
SME62 Class News - The Blandings' Sunflower Highlights, Bequia to Antigua, 8 April 
enfeedia RSS feed publisherSince we left Grenada, we have visited 11 islands and anchored in 16 different places. That is way too many for a short newsletter. In fact, we were so busy sailing, anchoring, and visiting, that our newsletter written a month ago never was sent!! For the more geographically curious, here are the islands that we have visited: Carriacou, Petite Saint Vincent, Union, Tobago Cays, Bequia, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Guadaloupe, and Antigua.

We can't help but contrast our prior cruising grounds with the Windward and Leeward Islands. These islands are so jam-packed with boats that moorings are required to get everyone in; and if moorings aren't available, people are swinging over their neighbor's anchors. "Boat boys" are buzzing ˝ mile to sea to get your commitment to "their" mooring plus the fee to hand you the line. This seems to be the winter home for European and East coast boats; there is a very nice variety to suit everyone's taste. If you refuse to speak anything but French, you can go to Martinique or Gudadloupe. If you can't spend your money fast enough, there are many restaurants and marinas to help. Despite all this, these are some of the most beautiful islands in the world with beautiful anchorages, tropical rainforests and historical sites that are enjoyable to explore - if you can avoid being inundated by the arrival of the daily cruise ships. We just need
to adjust our attitudes to the fact that they are too conveniently located.

Also, the wind really blows here! Not just the 15 kts of the lower latitudes but 20 kts and more almost every day. The islands have not been arranged in a respectable down-wind circumnavigation sequence; one must reach from island to island. Sunflower enjoys a brisk 8 kt reach in 6-9 ft cross-seas, but that does spill your coffee.

The Tobago Cays are a special place to us, with an anchorage that appears as though you are in the middle of the ocean. It was more crowded than our first visit 20 years ago. We swam with the turtles, watched them surface for just a brief sip of air, and then return to their grass. The reef fish were very colorful, and the fresh baked banana bread delivered to our boat was delicious.

Wallilabou, St. Vincent was the location for the filming of 2003 Pirates of the Caribbean, with run-down sets still intact for fun photo-ops . They served great rum punches, and our rasta-man, Gary, provided an excellent tour of Barroualie, Kingstown and Fort Charlotte.

The Pitons in St. Lucia are one of the most spectacular anchorages in the Caribbean, and there were only 12 other boats to clutter the view! The mountainside view of the Pitons from The Ladera restaurant was equally beautiful.

Anse Mitan, Martinique is nicely European and totally French - you're never out of sight of a Baggett shop - and seldom is an English word heard. This beautiful bay is near a ferry we used to explore Fort du France. And the next two days we rented a car to explore the interior. It is green, lush, and hilly. On the second day we climbed half-way up Mount Pelee. Afterwards, we ate lunch at a small café in Morne Rouge with a breath-taking view of the fog-covered Mt. Pelee. The French take good care of their possessions here, as well as in the South Pacific, and the roads are very well maintained.

The Saintes, in Guadaloupe was another nice, civilized, French place. The young man who came to collect our fees for the mooring delivered fresh, warm, croissants.

We've taken a nice break in English Harbour, Antigua and toured the island. The harbor has been nicely refurbished and includes a good museum depicting the efforts of Admiral Nelson to stop trade with the break-away American colony. While we were here, a fleet of Oyster boats were arriving to complete their circumnavigation in a little over 1 year.

Now there are only 10 days left before we must be in the BVI - which will be the completion of our circumnavigation. We are looking forward to a celebration with our friends Chuck and Katherine and later, with my sister and her husband.

Tomorrow we will sail to Montserrat, then continue to Nevis and Saba followed by an overnight sail to Virgin Gorda in the BVI.
Love, Dave and Kathie