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The trip didn’t go entirely as planned. But, as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Everyone made the adjustment well, and an attitude of “everyday is an adventure” took hold.

Although one monohull was ready for boarding by mid-afternoon Saturday, the catamaran and Dufour were having repairs made, so those crews could not board until late afternoon. After provisions and gear were stowed, some crew members walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner, and several others remained onboard for a peaceful supper after a very busy day. Both groups enjoyed their dinners.

Sunday, February 16 our planned departure was no later than 11 AM. That time was abandoned as the Dream Yacht Charters base crew took much longer than anticipated to handle last minute fixes, supply missing items and do chart review.

Our crossing in rough seas and strong 20 knot east winds to Anguilla was a thrilling sail, but due to a late departure, we missed the afternoon jazz at Johnno’s arriving well after 4 PM. Rain showers and a cool breeze made staying on the boats for supper a good plan, and lights were out on all three boats by 9 PM.

Monday dawned overcast with some sun and temperatures in the 70’s. Too much wind! Wow, this is a great sail, can I take the helm? Rain, again! Forecast said 20% chance, not 20 times a day! Oh, look at the rainbow; it’s beautiful! That’s the way our first few days went.

The original plan was to snorkel at Prickly Pear Cays before heading back to St. Martin. However, the strong winds and time constraints changed that plan. With an early start, we made it back to Marigot to complete port clearances, and then motored the short distance to Grand Case.

Monday night’s anchorage in Grand Case, Saint Martin provided an option for dinner onshore. Only Seaclusion and Vuillard’s crews enjoyed walking through the town and dinner out at Cynthia’s Grill. The Nardis crew enjoyed a quiet supper onboard. Hurricane-damaged buildings were frequent, but many renovated shops and restaurants were doing good business.

John Francischetti

Isak and Laurie Kielmovitch

Tuesday, we headed for a lunch stop and planned snorkeling at Tintamarre. The snorkeling was not very good due to a lot of bleached coral. Calm, protected waters and free moorings made this a welcome stop for a stern shower, and several took advantage of that opportunity after the morning’s passage--which was a beat into five-foot plus swells with winds steady in the 20s and gusts far higher. Our planned anchorage for the night was Ilet Pinel. Nardis and Vuillard arrived ahead of Seaclusion. Steve and Mia determined Ilet Pinel was too shallow and crowded for anchoring and moved to the southern end of Orient Bay. Seaclusion arrived last and followed the monohulls to Orient Bay. The entrance to Orient Bay is between two reefs where the winter swells were breaking, which provided a very nice white noise for weary sailors that night.

Jerry and Corry


Mary Ann, David, and Linda

That afternoon, all three boats enjoyed watching the many kite boarders zooming around the bay, Nardis’s crew became aware of a man in the water a few boat lengths away who was shouting and waving. It was not immediately clear whose attention he was trying to get, but after a few minutes Mia decided to take the dinghy over to him--since the crew had just put on the outboard. Seeing her getting into the little boat, the man swam over and greeted the Nardis crew with “Didn’t you hear me shouting for help?” Because of the strong wind, no, they had not heard him. He climbed into the dinghy as if something was chasing him. As Mia drove him over to nearby Green Cay where, it turned out, his kite and board were beached, he explained that he’d swam out to take pictures of his son, who was also kiteboarding. But then he’d seen a shark. “They usually come around after dark, but not during the day,” he explained.

That evening, at anchor in Orient Bay, Seaclusion, the 40’ catamaran, hosted an appetizer party. The large salon and bow seating areas provided a perfect place for crews to mingle and get to know each other. Food and beverages were supplied by the three crews and no one went hungry! For dessert, Linda Baker had baked, packed, and carried through airports and on the plane, her famous Chocolate Rum Cake in honor of Izak's birthday on the 18th. After a rousing, and mostly on-key, rendition of "Happy Birthday," the party ended with a slice of cake for everyone - and a few managed two!

Corry, Hans, John, and Jerry


Jerry, Lou, Dave, Bob, David


Bob, Walt, Dave, Mia

On Wednesday, February 19, we headed to St. Barths, driven by more strong winds from the northeast and swells that appeared larger than their 3-4 feet. St. Barths’ Gustavia harbor was busy and crowded. It took a long time to find a place to drop anchor and get it to hold. Most of us felt there were fewer super large yachts than in years passed. After a few dinghy rides and the skippers’ visit to the harbormaster, all hands were on land. Dinner choices were many and crews separated for dinner plans. For the crew of Seaclusion, it was an easy choice. Seaclusion crew wanted to go back to Black Ginger, a wonderful Asian restaurant discovered on our last trip there. Although not the surreal experience we had in 2015, the food was still wonderful! Nardis’s crew convened at Le Bar de L’Oubli (bar of forgetting), joined shortly by the Vuillard crew. Nardis crew members Dave and Hallie ran into an old friend who was vacationing on the island. After a round of drinks, Nardis’ crew followed her recommendation for dinner at La Crepêrie where the savory crepes were fantastic. The Vuillard crew was too hungry to move, so remained for dinner.

Thursday, February 20 dawned sunny, with a light breeze. Our short sail over to Colombier and its lovely curving beach was a motor sail because the wind was almost on our nose. The bay is a natural marine reserve. We were pleased to find mooring balls available and all three boats quickly tied up. Steve graciously offered to include a few additional persons from other boats since he was making dinghy runs with folks from his boat. With the swells there was no beaching the dinghy. Rather, it was a quick jump into the water as we neared the beach for the short swim onto the beach. Those of us that went ashore found each other quickly. Most walked to the southwest corner of the harbor and found the snorkeling to be very good. Lots of tropical fish, purple fan coral and those in the lead saw a few good-sized barracuda. Snorkeling the northern side of the bay right from Nardis, Mia watched an octopus and his fish friends moving among the rocks, and said hello to the remora she found sheltering under the boat. Several folks on the beach also climbed the stone steps built into the cliff to view the windward side of the island and the island’s goat herd. David Rockefeller owned much of the island back in the 1960’s and built a large home there. The house is now abandoned. There are stone walls and steps built into the hills in what appears to be random locations, but clearly there were other buildings, now gone.

The fleet split for the return to the DYC base in Marigot, St. Martin, on Friday with Seaclusion sailing up the east coast of the island while Vuillard and Nardis went clockwise and to the west. The latter two crews especially enjoyed cruising along near the south shore looking into the various bays and watching the airplanes landing and taking off at the airport. Seaclusion enjoyed raising their main sail to its full height for the first time all week and spotted several pods of dolphin along the way. At one point, one dolphin swam to our bow which we interpreted as “Follow me!” And we did!

Saturday morning, February 22, was busy with packing, emptying cupboards, cleaning the refrigerators and many warm goodbyes. About half of the 20 participants headed to the airport and the other half took taxis to their hotels, having made plans to enjoy just a little more Caribbean sun before flying home.

For even more stories of the trip, you can view Joel Mack's blog and photos at here.

Photos by John Francischetti, Mary Ann Gordon and Joel Mack.