Cruising on a small sailboat isn’t the glamorous vacation that some people think it is. It’s dirty, hard work with no sleep. But totally worth it.
Here’s a summary of my much-anticipated return to sailing, taking a nice easy stroll through the southern Windward islands.
Imagine a dark, mysterious river flowing through a Caribbean jungle. Like something out of a movie. Chances are the Indian River is what you’re thinking of.
It was a difficult decision to leave Bequia, but I had to take advantage of the weather and make a quick stop in Dominica, next year’s major destination.
The Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary in Bequia is criticized for some of its practices. But there’s no doubt turtles have more of a chance here than in the wild.
I try to be carefree here in paradise but there are just some things…some things that, well, you know. And I know others agree with this list.
Union Island is only three square miles but it sure was hard to leave this island. I can’t believe how much this beautiful place has to offer.
If you’re anywhere near the Grenadines at all, the Tobago Cays marine park needs to be on your list of stops.
The northeast side of Carriacou seems to have been isolated for centuries – the town, the beach, and the boats are all throwbacks to the early Caribbean.
I followed a dirt road with no idea where it led. To my surprise I found some completely secluded beaches – small, beautiful, and seemingly untouched by anyone!
I had no idea the historical background of the Carriacou Carnival – this colorful festival is full of history – here is some of it with photos!
What image comes to mind when you hear “desert island?” I’m willing to bet it looks a lot like Carriacou’s Sandy Island. Make a great day out of it!
That time I was trying to fall asleep but something kept telling me that the boat anchored right in front of me was about to hit me. And it did.
It was just one of those “why am I doing this” days! I got my ass handed to me during this daysail but at least it ended on a high note.
Seven Sisters Falls is arguably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Grenada – the hike isn’t difficult and you’ll be rewarded with a refreshing dip!
The Grenada Sailing Festival is one of those “must-do” activities in Grenada – experience their rich sailing heritage tradition and party on the beach!
Of all the waterfalls in Grenada, Annandale Falls is one of the easiest to get to. It also offers a short nature & agriculture interpretive trail.
Description of the Grand Etang Lake Shoreline Trail in Grenada. A great jungle trail for the adventurous types with a few hours to spare!
Almost all cruising sailors have their “spot” that they call home in the Caribbean – I think I just found mine in Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
One of the staples in Grenada is the Friday fish fry that takes place in Gouyave, the fishing center of the island. Great food, drinks, and steel bands!
Small sailboats don’t have many easy options for getting the dinghy out of the water at night – the hip hoist seems to be the only practical option.
It seems the bottom of my dinghy has been harvesting an entire ecosystem the past few weeks. Time to clean that dinghy bottom!
My rental car plans fell through so I bit the bullet and joined a Grenada bus tour with some other sailors. I’m sure glad I did it this way instead!
I’ve been in Grenada for a month now but it sure doesn’t feel like it…thanks to the ability to work from my boat. Technology ruins everything once again.
Simple ways that you can stretch every penny while out cruising on your sailboat – of course budget-dependent – but these are some things that work for me.
Think you don’t have the means to support yourself if you went sailing off into the sunset? It is possible, and this is how I and others go about making money while cruising.
My depth sounder failed on me the day before hauling the boat out of the water – great timing! Replacing it was a little more work that I thought it’d be.
Grenada is home to the first “underwater sculpture park” in the world, just off of Moliniere Point, and the unique sculptures can be accessed by snorkelers, divers, and boaters.
What’s your criteria when you select a boatyard for storage? Price? Location? Party opportunities? St. Kitts Marine Works is by far cheaper than anything else I’ve found and central to most islands.
After keeping the boat in storage for 2.5 years, why not choose 325 miles offshore for the shakedown cruise? How bad could it be? Oh, let me tell you…
Boatyard Fever: like Cabin Fever, but while living aboard your boat in a boatyard. It’s been five weeks and I can’t take it any longer – I need to get wet!
My first voyage sailing offshore from North Carolina down to Antigua was a little rough – fortunately I kept notes to better myself, and hopefully you too.
The earliest, most well-preserved colonial fortress in the New World is on the island of St. Kitts. Brimstone Hill is not to miss.
Bloody River, St. Kitts – the site of the 1626 genocide of thousands of Amerindians, and 1,500 year-old petroglyphs hidden on the canyon walls.
A description of hiking the many trails in Quill National Park, the first national park in the Dutch Antilles on the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius.
Wonder what kind of charity work goes on in Haiti? This video offers a glimpse of what the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti does, during an April trip.
Time to get my medicine – as they say, “vitamin sea”. I’ve been gone from my boat far too long, and this is what I’ve been going through thinking about it.
Most small cruising sailboats have both a house battery bank and a dedicated starter battery – is this the most efficient way to use your limited space?
Obtaining fresh water is one of the biggest pains of cruising on a small sailboat. Here we’ll look at how to make potable water out of seawater.
People often ask me how I rest while my sailboat is still sailing and I’m all alone. A wind vane is the answer – and Cape Horn is the model I’ll swear by.
If the wind and swell are out of different directions, chances are you’re not sleeping at all! Use these swell bridle diagrams to align into the swells.
Looking at the key features of the two most popular GPS satellite messengers – SPOT Gen3 and the DeLorme inReach SE. Which one is the best travel partner?
I took this portable solar phone charger with me on my last sailing adventure, and it exceeded my expectations! And for an amazing price as well!
A rundown of the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti’s March-April 2015 “Cruise For A Cause” to Ile A Vache, Haiti.
Work in Haiti got off to a bit of a rough start, all due to things out of our control. But we’ve finally reigned in everything, and ahead of schedule!
I haven’t returned to the small Haitian island of Ile A Vache for two years, yet the boys who guided me around the island then still remember my name.
When and how to keep your camera dry, with rain covers, waterproof camera cases, waterproof camera bags, and a few other important things to remember.
For a long time I ignored how I would handle a family emergency while I was out cruising…and then that day came when I had to address it.
St. Eustatius is probably one of the most interestingly beautiful and historically significant islands in the Caribbean.
Snorkeling on one of the most prominent Antigua shipwrecks, with pictures and a history of the wreck.
Isla Culebrita, a small island near Isla de Culebra, Puerto Rico, is a pristine escape for cruisers looking for that postcard Caribbean beach.
Anchored for a day at Puerto Rico’s nature reserve of Isla Caja de Muertos. Exploring the island while I was the only one there.
Despite Haiti’s reputation, I found one area that is more hospitable and welcoming than I ever would have expected, in Ile A Vache.
My first encounter with the Dominican coast guard, and a possible brush with pirates near Haiti.
One of the Bahamas’ oldest churches, built by the Spanish over 200 years ago and quickly falling to the elements.
The Cat Island Hermitage is no doubt one of the most unique buildings in the Bahamas, modeled after a medieval monastery.
I had the pleasure of “tagging” along with a couple who spends their retirement capturing, measuring, and tagging green sea turtles for a research center.
I was living in an electrical deficit using just my marine solar panels. So I had a portable wind generator delivered to the Bahamas – it works great!
Life on a sailboat…wake up, make coffee, work on the engine, do laundry, run into town… Here’s a quick rundown of a day in Marsh Harbor.
Rookie underwater photographer mistake – don’t preflight your underwater case before a dive. Resulted in the probable loss of a camera body.
Marsh Harbour held its ninth annual Christmas Festival on December 8th. Very popular with the locals, yet I couldn’t help but wonder where the tourists were.
In previous posts I shared some problems with my fuel system and my temporary fix. Now it’s completely shot and I’m contemplating if I even need an engine.
Still haven’t moved more than ten miles from where I was almost two weeks ago. I knew that my schedule would be dictated by the tides and the weather.
Seventeen days, 70 hours of sleep, 810 miles, and one hurricane…this trip was supposed to take only one week but I’m finally enjoying some Bahamian air.
After one year of preparation, we’re off. The water, fuel, and propane tanks are topped off and I have enough food to last months.
It appeared to be just a myth when I bought my boat. I was warned that I shouldn’t fall into the trap of just tinkering on the boat the rest of my life.
We’ve been through this before…I get focused on boat projects and no one hears from me for weeks. This is what I’ve done since my last update.
I just purchased a Technautics CoolBlue DC holding plate system to replace my engine-driven holding plate system. It’ll be powered by my solar panels.
Well, I think next month is it…when I’ll be back in the water and headed south. Like really far south. For those who have been wondering where I’ve been, here’s an update.
Day one as in, my first day as a civilian. This was my last week as an active duty Air Force officer. Now on to the boatyard working on my sailboat!
Well it’s been one week since Saoirse came out of the water for some final projects before taking me around South America. Living in a boatyard is definitely…different.
I think it’s safe to say that hardly any boat owners look forward to taking their boat out of the water. Especially liveaboards, who make their home aboard. I’ll be “on the hard” for potentially a couple of months while I do some work on my vessel, getting her ready for my long cruise.
People (mostly women) often wonder where I could possibly keep all of my clothes on a small 27′ sailboat. The answer always seems to surprise them.
The only way to always have fresh bread and tortillas while cruising is to make them yourself – here I attempt to make flour tortillas from scratch in a galley barely big enough for one, using only flour, water, oil, and salt.
Can a guy who loved drinking beer and dining out sustain himself on flour, beans, rice, pasta, and canned vegetables for an indefinite amount of time? Time to start figuring it out!
It’s a question I get every day: “Where are you sailing?” I do need some direction in mind to know where to point my bow once I leave North Carolina, and I’ve had plenty of time to ponder it in the last few months. I think I have it figured out.
Probably the biggest project of “Electrical Month” – wiring and power distribution – was finally completed today.
I bought a Sailrite heavy-duty sewing machine to make a new dodger for my sailboat, and after putting it off long enough out of fear of sewing, finally bit the bullet and made it.
Upgrading sailboat cabin lighting…specifically, converting all of my 15-watt incandescent bulbs to new, fancy, and energy-saving light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. And while I was at it, why not replace the actual dome lights as well?
March is Electrical Systems Month, and these projects include: an inverter, new electrical distribution panel, batteries, solar panels, and rewiring. Let’s start with selecting an inverter.
My whole reason for ditching life “on the hard” one year before setting out on my “Big Trip” was to work on projects and get Saoirse ready just as much as getting myself ready. But right now my checklist doesn’t have very many checks next to anything.
Looking at all the options while trying to decide how to repair my lifelines – those strands of wire designed to keep you from falling off your boat.
I don’t know which of the following was more difficult: buying a sewing machine, using a sewing machine, or admitting that I have/use a sewing machine. Just wait til the guys at work hear about this.
My first experience with diesel engine problems – it won’t start! Fortunately I had some help finding this very easy fix. Bleeding the air out of the lines.
Cleaning my fresh water tank was my final big project to finish before S/V Saoirse would feel more like a “home”. You wouldn’t believe how dirty it was.
My thoughts on a recent magazine article I read titled, “This is your brain on nature.” Side effects: overall great health. I couldn’t agree more.
One of the problems with sailboat refrigeration systems is efficiency. Excessive heat transfer requires more energy to keep it cold, and energy is precious.
First order of business is to figure out the sailboat renaming ritual – there are some superstitions with renaming a boat, so I had to do it properly.
I just bought a sailboat! Which projects need to be done first? Where do I start? I think I’ll start with this six-pack of beer. I’m in over my head.
I’m buying a sailboat! I’ve wanted one for twenty years and it’s about time! I found one I like but before I hand over the money it needs a proper survey.