How to keep your shirt dry in the ( not very) Windies.

In Cadiz we met a nice Dutch couple who tried to dissuade us from coming to the Carribean as they had found it to be far too windy , and we would be much better turning left with them into the Mediterranean. Others who had sailed right around the world told us that some of the roughest weather they ever encountered was in sailing between the Carribean islands.
So what has happened ? The trades seem to have disappeared and for the last two islands we have sailed up the West sides (usually the lee side ) propelled by light onshore sea breezes from the SW , whilst night time has often been dead calm! Many of the islands have acute shortages of water and only Dominica , an island of high “mountains” which feed many rivers from the clouds which form around their peaks , seems unaffected by the associated drought. Meanwhile , whenever I see an Atlantic weather chart it seems that all the systems are still a thousand or so miles south of their “normal “ position and I cannot help wondering what is behind it all .
Normally we would expect to sail on a reach or fetch between the islands , but these strange conditions have led to us frequently being able to use a spinnaker . Surely you are not complaining about this , I hear you ask ! Well no , but whilst In Europe , down wind passages are warm and pleasant , here they are in some ways too hot as the apparent wind is reduced to a minimum. It makes for a very relaxing time however and we haven’t had to reef for ages.

From martinique to the saints

Life is very sociable , as in every anchorage we meet friends we have made on the trip over . At present we are spending a few days in the Saintes – a little archipelago just South of Guadeloupe – where we have teamed up with Dereck Ides who is making his way back South. Its a nice little place with a charming little French town and plenty of less busy anchorages in the surrounding islands. In the middle of the sound between the islands is a huge bizarre superyacht with a wave piercing dreadnought bow and all sorts of opening ports from which emerge a series of ever more whacky marine toys. When we are tired of ogling that , there is the strange little Belgian boat nearby to look at – long thin and ultra light with an owner to match . She is even skinnier than her boat and she wears nothing but a pair of pants and long hair. If someone anchors too near her she stands on the bow with her hands on her ( non existent ) hips scowling silently. We often hear highly vocal “anchor rage” exchanges from other boats – but this formidably scary sight is much more effective and she always has clear water around her!
The boat itself is an interesting minimalist design and I eventually plucked up the courage to go and talk to her. In fact there are a couple on board , and they were charming. The designer was down below and he proudly showed me round what was in fact a clever , ultra lightweight keel- less skiff with twin asymmetric daggerboards and rudders . Check it out on the internet ( Boheme 37)
Derek is a mine of information on where to go and what to avoid , but perhaps the most important thing he has taught us is how to swim back to your boat after a social visit without getting your shirt wet. You put it in your hat! Gradually we are getting the hang of this Carribean lifestyle!

From How to keep your shirt dry


  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the Saintes. I have seen Derek use this idea before. I recommend another idea for the girls – tying your pareo round your head to keep it dry when swimming back!

  2. I see you have met up with that wandering sailor, Mr Ide, Tell him that if doesn’t come back to the uk soon, I might just have to launch his “other” boat for him and take it sailing, since I have now sold mine!

    take care


Leave a Reply