Caribbean diary of Alexey Mikhailenko
Charter company: Dream Yacht Caribbean
Base: Marina Port la Royale
Yacht: Catana 47 "Mont blanc"
January 3 flew from Kiev to Paris 2.5 hours, stopped at a pre-booked airport hotel, of which there are many. There is a free shuttle service to the hotel.
Night in Paris - we rented a car, so we managed to drive around the center of Paris and dine at a restaurant on one of the streets adjacent to the center. It is clear that everything that is close to the center and does not belong to fast food restaurants is not cheap, and if it is still possible to find a dish for 15-18 euros, then a small glass of beer is 8 euros - we decided to drink beer elsewhere ...
4 January... In the morning, take a flight to St. we arrived in the afternoon (14:50 local) on the same day - fantastic
We rented a car right at the airport - a minivan from Chrysler (there are a lot of us - 7 people now, there are 9 in the team), $160 per day.
Traffic on the island is normal, right-hand (France and the Netherlands).
Marina is on the French side of the island. We slowly got to 17:00.
We checked in on the yacht, but the check-in was postponed until the morning.
The team went for a drive around the island. The skipper stayed to study the yacht ...
The yacht is not simple, the Catana 47 catamaran is in a developed configuration, in addition to the usual set, there are: a generator, air conditioning, heating, and a watermaker.
5 January. The check-in was easy and fast, the algorithm was as follows - here is the inventory sheet (I received it the day before), go and study the boat, then call a technician, he will answer all your questions about the equipment ...
So they did it, I figured out the main one yesterday, calling a technician, clarified how to use additional equipment (generator, watermaker), asked where the safety switches of all electrical systems are located, and went to the office to sign the documents. Everything is ready to go, but you need to arrange an exit - border, customs ... Here each pair of islands is a different state ... Customs procedures here can be done in any large marina, there is an office where the agent will kindly offer you to sit down at the computer, fill out a cru list ... Registration cost depends on the number of crew members, and it cost us about $80 for 9 people.
Three yachts (catamarans) went to sea, two other participants were in another marina on the same French side. To get out, my crew had to cross two bridges, because we were in the marina, inside the big bay of the island. The bridge on the French side either did not work, or with east winds over 20 knots was considered dangerous for the passage of our Katana, but the manager of the marina insisted that we go over the bridges on the Dutch side, I did not mind, it was on the way. But the exit time was tied to the opening time of the bridges.
We left at 15:00, the first bridge was raised at 15:45, the next one at 16:00, they are nearby (communication with bridges on VHF12), 15 minutes later we headed for the open sea (it is worth mentioning the passage along the bay, to the bridges, the fairway is narrow, the depths are extremely small, the buoys are plastic, if you hit it, it's not scary, but they are not equipped with light, how they go there at night, I can't imagine, the aisles are shallow, outside the fairway there are many yachts anchored and barrels, yachts of travelers, which, judging by their appearance have been standing here for a very long time).
Initially, it was planned to make the transition to Saint Bars (20 miles), east wind, 25-29 knots, a wave of 2-3 meters, you need to tack, after two hours at sea, the team (clearly not ready for such transitions) looked, to put it mildly, exhausted. Yielding to the requests of the "green" crew, I decided to return to St. Maarten, in a spacious and cozy bay on the Dutch side near the city Philipsburg... At this time, the sun sets at 18:00, at 18:30 it is already dusk. They went in and anchored at night, and again, the buoys marking the fairway inside the bay are not equipped with lights, it is probably not customary to walk along the fairway at night, the depth in the bay is fairly uniform, 3-4 meters, an excellent place for anchorage.
6th January. Not getting up early. At 9:00, after a light snack, we set off.
Heading to the island Saint Kitts (60 miles). The wind did not change either speed or direction, but it was possible to go to St. Kitts on one tack of a steep side haul. They say that catamarans do not go very well steeply to the wind, but our Katana did not know anything about this: 40 degrees to the apparent wind and 8-12 knots jumping along a 2-3-meter wave, flew in 6 hours.
At about 15:30 we approached the town Basseterre, the marina was filled to capacity, the cities are small, the marinas are small and they are small, the agitated sea drove most of the travelers to the marinas, we did not have enough space. We anchor opposite the beach near the marina, wait for the rest of the flotilla members (after all, the Katana is faster than the others), the waves swing the kat, it's uncomfortable. Having waited for the rest, I propose to go to a more protected bay for the night. Deep water bay, there is less wind and no waves. No exoticism, the town is far away, but for an overnight stay that's what you need.
Jan. 7. In the morning, we move to the anchorage to the beach, where the city is close, the teams go to inspect the town. There was a place for one kata in the marina. While at anchor, the naval police approached, checked the documents, examined the boat, so, normally, calmly. The rest of the formalities were completed later, on the shore, for this it is not at all necessary for the skipper to be present, a sufficiently competent crew member and all the documents for the yacht and passports, the cost of registration is $47.
They stayed on the island until the next morning, by the evening the sea calmed down a little, and for the first time I was able to go ashore.
January 8. Leaving Saint Kitts, heading for Manserrat... The probability of a call is not great, after the eruption of the volcano and the death of the city on the island (look in the internet, I do not remember the date of the eruption), there is no marina, most of the island is closed to the public, because the volcano is still active and can wake up at any moment. Crossing 45 miles, we arrive at Manserrat in the dark, in the evening. We anchor. The island is under British subordination, they do not want to let them in without visas, they say that even if we register (it costs $40), then it is impossible to go further than the port, and they have nothing in the port, and it can be called a port at a stretch ...
In a word, melancholy ... We decide to go into the night on Antigua, 35 miles, we plan to leave so as to arrive at dawn. Town Falmouth in the south of the island it is located in a cozy and spacious bay, but it is better to enter there by the light, because the fairway is again narrow and the reef maps are not reliable. This is the same town where it is located nearby English harbor - the residence of Admiral Nelson in Antigua, and where the marina, which gathers the annual regatta of classic yachts in Antigua, is located.
You need to enter the bay along a linear alignment, it was planned to get into the "Catamaran Marina", the direction of the alignment leads directly to it. At 7:00, I moored our Katana in the marina, the security guard immediately warned that the price for a catamaran was 1.5, for us it cost $85 per day, before paying you need to carry out customs clearance. This is best done in "English port", all three services (port, emigration and customs) are located in one office, several computer terminals are allocated for clients, you fill out an electronic crew list form, you receive your login, then you are served in turn, there were a couple of crews during our registration, the whole procedure took about half an hour, cost $90. Attention, do not forget your login, you will need it when registering an exit, you will not have to recruit a crew list again, no fees will be charged when registering an exit.
And yet, in many Caribbean islands, the local currency, the Caribbean dollar, is circulating, the rate is about 2.5 to the American one.
And then the rest began, fabulous Caribbean beaches, delicious and light local beer. Good restaurants are not cheap, most establishments are closed after 22:00. But the main thing here is not beer or restaurants, and not old colonial towns, the main thing here is nature and beaches, white sand, ocean roll held back by reefs, sangra thickets ...
From a historical point of view, the most interesting place is English port, where the residence of Admiral Nelson was located.
We spent two days in Antigua, on the third day they planned to move to Barbuda and a day in Barbuda. Attention, there is nowhere to close the border in Barbuda, so it is recommended to close the border in Antigua (best and fastest in the same English port), and you still have a whole official day on the territory of the state Antigua and Barbuda... These rules are inherited from the British rule over the islands.
By the way, traffic on all islands except Saint Martin is left-hand
11 january, we are planning the transition to Barbuda (47 miles) at night, the sea has become a little calmer, the wind of the eastern points is 17-20 knots, the wave is 1.5-2 meters. At dawn, we anchor near the western side of the island of Barbuda, opposite the only hotel in these places, the hotel resembles a heavenly place, with tall palms and the same prices There are no marinas on the island. And there are no mountains on the island, it is flat.
The whole island is gorgeous beaches, where you can not meet a soul for kilometers ... Of the planned entertainment, except for the beach:
1.a walk through the national park on the northeastern side of the island, a wild coast from the open Atlantic, a grotto and other wild beauties (a guide with transport is ordered),
2. excursion to the nesting places of frigate birds, fishing for lobsters. Tours cost $10-15 per person, lobster fishing 100-120 per guided boat. Attention, in order to get to the civilization on the island and order all these excursions, you need to cross the salt lake inside the island, for this you need to hire a couple of local water taxi drivers, who then took us to the frigate nesting site ...
After enjoying plenty of beaches, exotic and caught lobsters, we set off on the return journey, ahead of 80 miles to St.Maarten, so we go out again into the night.
January 13 at night... Passage to Saint Martin. Backstay course, the wind is still east, the speed is 20-27 knots, by 11:30 on January 14 we were near the first bridge on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. We passed the bridges, refueled with diesel before entering the marina, during the last trip we used up 180 liters of diesel, in my opinion, not bad. By noon we were in the home marina.
The checkout went easily and calmly, the materiel was safe, both parties have no complaints, in general, there is a very positive relationship between us - clients and the charter company, I want to work with them further. By the way, they have bases all over the Caribbean.
Then - a walk around the town, in the evening a trip to a restaurant and lights out, tomorrow home ...
January 15... A taxi was waiting for us at the appointed time, it was time to return home ...
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