Feb 11

Sailing in Guadeloupe video

My next sailing trip to the Caribbean is less than two weeks away and I have only just now managed to process my video from last year’s trip to Guadeloupe. I thought it would be appropriate to post it before I set sail for this year’s trip. To read more about Guadeloupe and my week of incredible sailing there you can check my Sailing in Guadeloupe article.

The video below is almost all of the video I took while sailing last year. If you are thinking about sailing in the Caribbean but are unsure what it would be like, this video should give you a taste and possibly wet your appetite to pursue this thought, and remember nothing can compare with actually being there.

Sailing in the Caribbean was one of the most exciting trips I have ever been on, with the exception of the massive airport disruption near the end due to Montserrat belching while we were down there. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video, hopefully I’ll get some more great video of Sailing in the Grenadines this year.

Oct 10

Sailing from Toronto to Port Credit in high winds and big waves

A couple of weeks ago I went on my last sail of the year with friends. The trip was on the Initram, a 35 foot electric powered C&C. It was a cold and windy Sunday and we left the Toronto Harbour around 10:30. Our destination was Port Credit and this would be my longest sail on Lake Ontario to date.

As we left the Toronto Harbour, the words uttered out of my mouth were, “There probably won’t be large waves today”, since I had been racing the day before with almost no wind. The days waves were reaching 2 metres, the largest I had ever sailed while on Lake Ontario. Apparently this was due to the direction of the wind and of course it had been windy all night.

Our crew minus me: Claudia, Pamela, Birgit, and John

After a lot of excitement we quickly got into our alternating rolls and jibbed our way downwind towards Port Credit. I am used to the smaller J24 boats which can get tossed around pretty easy in waves, but even the C&C was feeling these waves. At times the entire boat would surf a single large wave, and when hitting waves dead on the bow would shoot up into the air, it was exhilarating.

Cold, very cold

I also learned why Ontario sailors pack it in so early each year. Even with a lot of layers on, by the end of the day I was starting to feel the chill creeping in. I had several layers on, but that said I could have always thrown on better pants, or even snow pants. I would still love to try sailing further into the colder months.

Final destination

We finally reached Port Credit, which was further than we had anticipated. Getting into port credit was a bit tricky with the huge waves still unrelentingly trying to push us where we did not want to go, but after overcoming a few challenges we finally managed to dock. Time was short so we quickly went into town and grabbed some food. Most of us, myself included were feeling a bit green. Unfortunately my girl friend who was the most sea sick took the train home. Birgit, another one of our crew who was also feeling a bit green bought some Gravol and gave me one. About an hour later I was feeling like a new person. Gravol is definitely going onto my list of must have’s before going on a longer sail.

This was my second time on Initram, and my opinion of this boat remains the same, it sails like a dream. It handles incredibly well, even in large waves, and the electric engine held it’s own, especially on the way into Port Credit. The trip was an excellent end to the sailing year, many thanks to John for inviting us out again. My next time on a boat will be in the Grenadines this winter.

Oct 10

J24 racing in the cold rain on the Toronto Harbour

This past weekend was cold and wet in Toronto, it was also the most sailing I think I’ve squeezed into a weekend yet. Saturday tried our patience and two people managed to fall over board while several others including myself had a few close calls. Surfaces were very slippery and wet and this only re-enforced my need for proper deck shoes. Luckily Mike, our team skipper lent me a pair for the day.

The race started early in the morning at 10 am, okay early for me, and went until about 3:30 in the afternoon. The morning saw a bit of wind but later in the day it dropped off to what felt like zero knots and there was almost always a slight drizzle in the air. One of the racers, Luke Sutherland, managed to snap some really awesome photos of the day, and even though we hoped for a little more wind, it’s always fun to get on the water.

The Toronto Skyline always looks great even in gloomy weather.

J24 Toronto Harbourfront

This was probably top speed for the day.

J24 Toronto

The next day a few of us went out on a 35 foot C&C electric powered sailboat. Sunday was the polar opposite to Saturday, strong wind huge waves, what a difference one day can make, but that story is for another post.

Sep 10

Sailing a 35 foot C&C electric sailboat

Tonight I had the privilege of stepping aboard the Initram, a 35 foot C&C, but not just any C&C, this boat has had it’s old engine removed and replaced with an electric one.


The owners of the Initram are John, his wife Leigh and father Ian. My friend Pamela and I had met them last year on a Sailing trip in Guadeloupe. John is passionate about sustainable energy. His house is a straw bale constructed, solar powered home with a green roof; literally with grass growing on top, so it only makes sense that he would be a pioneer and convert his sailboat to electric. He’s also planning an ambitious circumnavigation to promote renewable energy.

John Wilson and his son Ian will sail around the world in a 39-foot catamaran to raise awareness everywhere about the most pressing issue in the world today: the urgent need to shift to renewable resources. This ambitious circumnavigation is the first component of the Sun Challenge.

Yes there are three different Ian’s mentioned in this entry including myself. You can read more about his house and his sail around the world and information about sponsorship on the Sun Challenge website.

One of the most amazing things about this electric sailboat is how quite it is. You do hear a quiet whirling noise, but it can be hard to hear over the wind, sails, and water. When going head to wind I wondered if it was even on, but then realized of course it is, I am holding my course just fine.

Myself at the helm.

The C&C is a 35 foot 1974 sailboat and it can really move. I have not sailed a lot of big boats, but this is probably the fastest and most responsive one I’ve been on yet. The wind read 17 knots at the airport with gusts to 24 knots so we had a great night. The boat felt rock solid in those winds and could turn on a dime, the entire evening was fantastic.

C&C heeling

Entire crew can’t be seen, but consists of Ian, Pamela, Leigh, John and myself.

To read about the conversion from diesel to electric check out John’s Sun Challenge blog where he has detailed all the trials and tribulations he went through.

Some video of the evening

Caught unprepared for a tack

Sep 10

Vacation along the North Channel

I was recently on vacation exploring various places along the North Channel, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The North channel stretches approximately 160 nautical miles from Sault Ste. Marie to Killarney. I was not sailing, but I was taking mental notes and stopped by various bays and Marina’s along the way. The North Channel is claimed to be one of the most beautiful sailing spots in the world, but of course that is subjective; it’s certainly on my list of most beautiful places and I must sail it sooner rather than later. While I had always toyed with the idea of sailing, it was Tobermory just south of the North Channel that originally perked my interest to take a sailing course. The entire are is just epic in terms of raw beauty.

Killarney Bay Light House

The trip started in Tobermory where we crossed over to Manitoulin island via the Chi-Cheemaun which is a large ferry that can carry many vehicles. Claudia and I spent a week checking out the worlds largest fresh water island and the various shore lines which are peppered with marinas. The first one was Gore Bay where I plan on chartering a boat in the near future for a North Channel sailing vacation. Gore Bay has bareboat charters through Canadian Yacht Charters and they have quite a large fleet of different sized boats. The other really nice Marina is in Little Current where you can also charter boats through Discovery Yacht Charters.

After our week in Manitoulin island it was time to drive right around Georgian bay back to Toronto, but along the way we had three days to kill so we had a quick stop in Sudbury to check out the Dynamic earth. After that we passed the Killarney entrance that evening and on a whim decided to venture down the 67 km road in the hope that there would be a spot to stay. We were in luck, Killarney was more beautiful than I had imagined and soon we were bringing our bags into the Killarny Mountain Lodge. The next day we headed out with a Canoe followed by an evening sail the next night. If I didn’t want to sail the North Channel before, I certainly do after this trip.

An evening sail on Killarney Bay

Stormy Night

The evening sail took place on a Cal 2-46 named the Stormy Night. This is a 46 foot boat with a really roomy interior. I got to helm it for a bit and hold our course. You could really walk away from the wheel and this thing would keep going straight, although it wasn’t all that windy, maybe 5 ot 6 knots.

Lots of rocks

The North Channel is full of rocks and islands and this is what makes it beautiful, but I’m sure it also makes it quite hard to navigate. We went out for a sunset cruise and on the way back I asked the skipper about navigation and said you must really know this area like the back of your hand since it’s so dark and loaded with hazards. We had been canoeing in the same area the previous day during daylight hours. He said “yes and no” and that’s when the big spot light came out; this was a first for me. Some of the channel markers are not lit, so he was scanning the surface trying to find the markers and the many shoals and rocks along the way. Suffice to say when I do go sailing in the North Channel I will not be doing so at night.

Here is some video taken from my canoe trip on a tiny island in Killarney Bay. As you can see it would not be hard to run aground if you were not paying attention. Sometimes we would be canoeing in water and we could not see the bottom and then suddenly the bottom would be there perfectly visible.

Ready to set sail

Here’s a short video of us going down the Killarny channel earlier that evening on the Story Night.

During our trip we managed to see a beautiful anchorage called Covered Portage Cove which was picture perfect. On the way in, there is a famous bluff which has an Indian head in the side of the rock. You must approach the cliff at the right angle in order to see the profile.

Covered Portage Cove Indian Head

And here is the same cliff only moments later, now you can no longer see the indian profile.

Covered Portage Cove

After the indian head you can take a look into the anchorage and you will likely see several boats. This was one of the most exciting points of the trip for me since this is my dream, being in the wilderness with all the comforts of home, a nice sail boat is a home on the water.

Covered Portage Cove

The Killarny Bay Sunset; in the distance you can actually see a rocky point sticking out.

Killarney Bay Sunset

And to get another idea of the area, here is a shot taken from Canoe the previous day.

Killarney Bay

Dreams of Sailing the North Channel

The entire trip was fantastic and all the while I was thinking how great it would be to sail this beautiful part of Ontario. Hopefully sooner than later my dream will come true. If you haven’t already visited Sailing s/v Island Bound in my side bar links check it out. It’s a blog about a families sailing adventures; their most recent trip was in the North Channel.

Google Map of the North Channel to Killarney Bay

View The North Channel in a larger map

Jul 10

Tall Ships Challenge at Toronto Waterfront Festival

I live at the foot of the Toronto Harbourfront, so today being Canada Day, I battled the huge crowds down there to snap a few photos from the Tall Ships Challenge at the Toronto Waterfront Festival. About ten tall ships have docked along the Toronto Harbourfront. Some of these ships are much larger than the the Pathfinder I sailed a couple of weeks ago, but they are all tall ships. The Toronto harbour usually has 4 or 5 tall ships at any given time, but this week there is about ten extra ones to check out. The Pathfinders sister ship Playfair is also on display,  although I did not see Pathfinder, maybe it was out sailing somewhere.

Beautiful boats

The boats are just beautiful, you can actually buy a boarding pass for $15 and go on each one, but I couldn’t bring myself to stand in line and battle the crowds. You can still see everything topside pretty well from the shore. The Festival runs from June 30th – July 4th. One of the most interesting boats was Europa. This ship was originally from Netherlands, built in 1911 and now sails around the world, including trips to Antarctica. The boat is pretty big and I can see it from my window. After visiting the Europa site, my interest is piqued! Maybe my next sailing trip should be to Antarctica. Check out their site for some fantastic photos and info on this ship.



There were about ten ships in total when I went and they are all participating in The Race to Save the Lakes.

2009 Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge

More Tall Ships

Jun 10

Tall ship sailing on the Pathfinder

Last weekend just before I got run down with a miserable summer cold and before all the G20 nonsense in Toronto I had my first tall ship experience. This was through the Harbourfront Centre Sailing club so it wasn’t a stand around and watch other people do the work type affair. We actually got to learn how this shipped worked.


The boat was Pathfinder, a brigantine along the Toronto Harbourfront. You may have seen this boat docked next to it’s sister boat Playfair and on the other side of the same pier the larger Empire Sandy. This boat is normally for youths, so it was a great chance to finally check out this boat which I have walked past many times. The boats belong to the Toronto Brigantine, a charity organization that provides Tall Ship Adventures for Youth.

“Toronto Brigantine Incorporated (TBI) is a Canadian registered charity mandated to provide experiential learning, develop leadership and life skills through tall ship sail training programs for youth 13 -18 years of age.”

We spent several hours on the boat that Sunday evening. The first 30 to 40 minutes was dedicated to boat safety. Then we were all assigned tasks and pushed off from the foot of Queens Quay and Spadina. The trip consisted of a lot of “pull this, no not that one, this one”. To give you an idea, take a look at the pictures below. Just some of the many halyards, sheets and lines aboard the Pathfinder.


Belaying Pins

All those wooden pegs with line coiled and tied around them are called belaying pins. There purpose is to allow us to make fast the many lines aboard the boat. There is a method of wrapping and coiling that allows you to quickly get the line off if needed. The pins are also replaceable, and when one asks why, the answer is they break sometimes as one did on our trip.

Here is some video of the sails being raised on the Pathfinder.

Climbing aloft

Not only did we get to hoist the sails, but anyone who wanted too, also got to climb aloft. This involved climbing up the shrouds which have rope ladders attached to them called Ratlines. The safety rule while climbing the ratlines was always have three points of contact. Two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. This safety rule should probably be applied to anyone climbing any ladder. I quickly volunteered to climb up along without about half the crew aboard. We each took turns climbing up and down.

Climbing Ratlines

Me climbing the ratlines

Climbing Ratlines

Some of the club members didn’t join us on the Pathfinder but thought it would be fun buzzing past us. Eventually this resulted in cannon fire on the aggressor which was a J24. A sling shot was quickly deployed and loaded with water balloons and the J24 took a hard hit to it’s port side. The J24 quickly halted it’s relentless pursuit and headed back to it’s home port.


The day was fantastic and I think we all learned a lot. While I would definitely go out on a boat like this again, I still want my 35 foot cruising sailboat, or even a J24, they are lot less work.

Of course this post wouldn’t be complete without some pictures of the Galley.



These doors must always be kept closed while under sail. If the boat has a hull breach it can actually stay afloat with one compartment filled with water.

More video and a gallery with a few more shots

May 10

Lake Ontario night sailing

I experienced my first night sail this week. It was a pretty gusty night and the winds were hitting over 20 knots, that’s around 40 km/h. The whole night was a rush and the air was crisp and cold. I was really thankful for my many layers of clothing. I had long johns, jeans, long sleeved shirt, fleece, winter jacket, life jacket and gloves which kept me relatively warm for most of the night, although I did duck down into the cabin once. Four of us (Clive, Pamela, Birgit and myself) had sailed together only a few months ago in the Caribbean.

Leaving the marina

Leaving the marina, SkyDome in the background, also known by the uglier name, Rogers Centre.

The Niagara

This was my second time on the Niagara 35 and this is a fine boat, although admittedly the range of boats I’ve tried so far is small, this one is ranking near the top. The boat handles extremely well and feels really safe even when a strong gust of wind kicks in and the boat starts to heel.

I was helping crew while another member of the club was finishing up his advanced practical test. This included crew overboard drills in the day and at night, docking while under sail, and anchoring while under sail at night. I got to be the windless (apparatus for lifting heavy things like an anchor) since this boat didn’t have one, but it was good exercise, the whole night was. I managed to snap a couple of videos while out, both are available in HD. These videos were shot in the harbour during crew overboard drills.

Toronto skyline

The Toronto skyline at sunset. (Birgit, Clive, Evgueni, Pamela and Cybele)

In the evening almost everyone was cold and heading down into the cabin so I got a chance to take the helm and steer us back into the harbour. This was unlink any helming I had done in the day. Everything looks entirely different at night and the buoy lights were difficult to see mixed in with the Toronto skyline. You have to really stare and look for the flashing lights. The Toronto island has a small airport and all boats must make their way around a ring of buoys before entering the channel into the harbour. In the day it’s easy because you can see the large white buoys as plain as day, but at night it’s a different story.

In the end it was another fantastic four hours of sailing. Sometimes you forget that you are actually just outside of Toronto and got off work only hours before. Sailing is an amazing escape, and I’m lucky that it’s right at my doorstep.

Big ship

A big ship docked at the eastern end of the Toronto Harbour.

Toronto skyline dusk

The Toronto skyline dusk at dusk.

Night sailing lake Ontario

Heading out into lake Ontario a nightfall.

Night sailing

Night sailing, taken with flash.

Night sailing lake on ontario

Night sailing on lake on Ontario.

Apr 10

Winter is over! It’s sailing time on Lake Ontario

On Saturday April 24 my sailing club (Harbourfront Centre Sailing and Powerboating) held a boat work party and first sail of the year event. I got there in the morning and throughout the day we prepared our J24 fleet for sail. Sometime after 2pm the fleet was ready to go and we were all eager to get on the water and there was a good strong wind. Luckily for me and this blog post one of the volunteers Ramy brought his camera and awesome photo skills to the work party.

A group of us preping one of the J boats.

The experience gained was invaluable and if you are a beginner like me you will learn a lot from an event like this, or even helping someone with their boat. Helping out will also make you feel great.

Me attaching the boom to the gooseneck on the mast

sorting sails

Sorting out the sails.

Adjusting the shroud tension.

Adjusting shroud tension.

Everything from sorting out the sails, removing shrink wrap from the boats and checking and adjusting shroud tension was done. We even stepped the mast of Defiance, the one J without a mast. This involved lining up two other J24′s on both sides and using their halyards to hoist the mast into the air from horizontal to vertical. It was almost like two cranes on either side of the boat. It was amazing how fast we got it up and fastened. The standing rigging was quickly set up, this included the forestay, backstay, and upper and lower shrouds. The speed at which everything came together really was impressive, but we had a great team of people to make things happen.

j24 boats

6 J24 boats almost ready to go!

Time to sail

It was finally time to test out the boats and see if our efforts would pay off. None of the J24 fleet had motors though, so each one was towed out into the harbour and my group quickly raised the sails while being dragged head to wind. Within moments our tow line was untied and we were sailing. The wind was strong, and it was cold. The day was beautiful on land, but I had not dressed properly for the temperature on the lake and I was cold within minutes.

sailing lake ontario cold

Finally on the lake, do I look cold?

Soon the wind really picked up and we had to take down our genoa and replace it with the jib. I volunteered for the job and crawled up to the bow. There was quite a bit of chop and it didn’t take long for a wave to splash up and hit me. After a few minutes up front I was really wet and very cold, but I got the genoa down and the jib up, and it was a much smoother ride from then on. I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite the cold and have vowed to wear a winter wind breaker next time. Little did I know that next time would only be several days later.

On Thursday April 29th I went out with Clive my instructor from the Guadeloupe trip to finish a few tests for my intermediate sailing certification. We took out the 35 foot Niagara. It was my first time on this fine boat, and I loved every minute of it. Everything inside was warm wood finishes and it was very cozy. Outside there was a cool breeze, but this time I had my fleece and a winter windbreaker on (lesson learned). The sail went perfect, and Birgit and I both passed all our tests that we didn’t get a chance to do in Guadeloupe. Now all I have to do is write the written exam.

wind and sail

Wind and Sail.

To see the rest of Ramy’s photos or if you need a photographer check out the rest of his gallery and his site Bright Lights Photography.

Mar 10

Sailing in Guadeloupe

So I’m finally back from my long anticipated sailing trip in Guadeloupe, which is located in the Caribbean. To say the trip was fun would be an understatement because it really was the trip of a lifetime.

Intermediate certification

The trip was an intermediate sailing course taken through the Queen’s Quay Sailing and Powerboating club in Toronto. We chattered two 47 foot Beneteau Oceanis 473 boats. This boat has four cabins and three heads and is quite spacious in the galley. It was my first time living on a boat, and my first time being on ocean waters. Everything up until this point had been day sailing on Lake Ontario just outside of the Toronto Harbour, usually on J24s. This was really a test for me to see if I was really interested in pursuing sailing in any serious fashion, and the answer to this question is a resounding yes.

47 foot Beneteau Oceanis 473

Day 1

It didn’t go so smooth at first, flights were late and we got off to a slow start. Part of the course was learning how to shop and stockpile a boat for a long cruise. The first night we stayed in home port and ate at a less than great restaurant, but that’s okay the crew we had aboard our boat were fantastic cooks, and our on board meals blew away anything we bought at restaurants. Throw in French cheeses and wines along with Caribbean beer in the evenings and you have a recipe for delicious.

The first full day was spent shopping in the morning for food, prepping the boat and knowing where everything was and where problems might arise. Things like where are your thru-hull fittings (holes through the boat) so you know where water may be coming through when an emergency arises. Checking where life jackets are, the engine and spare parts, water pump, water tanks, fuel, first aid and things like marking off the anchor rode at 30 feet intervals.

I should also mention that the crew consisted of two types of people at this point, which we referred to as patch people and non-patch people. There is an anti seasickness drug called scopolamine. This is a patch that you stick on your neck just behind the ear. It eliminates seasickness for three days. Three of us took the patch and three of us did not. I was one of the people who had stuck a patch on the side of my neck the night before. In the morning two of us actually felt sick and we hadn’t even left shore yet. This was a short-lived side affect of the drug. In short these patches were fantastic. Patch people would be laughing and staggering around the galley well under way, while non-patch people would try to keep their below deck time to a minimum.

About half way through the day we finally pushed off from shore and were headed to our first anchorage for the night.

Îlet du Gosier

The first day of sailing was the shortest of the entire week since we were running low on time. We arrived at Îlet du Gosier that evening before sunset. This is a tiny island very close to the Guadeloupe mainland. It consists of a small beach, a lighthouse and a bar. We set up anchor for the first time and then jumped off the boat and swam to shore, which actually looked a lot closer than it was. When we reached shore the bar had just run out of beer, but that was okay, we were stocked up back on the boat anyway.

We spent some time exploring the island and walking around. Clive, our instructor motored in on the dingy and had our cameras so we took some pictures.

Our crew from left to right: Ian, Pamela, Clive, Birgit, Leigh and John.

Soon we swam back to the boat to prepare dinner. Our crew got along very well and the first night set the pattern for all nights to come. Everything was a team effort, regardless of who’s turn it was to do something. Throughout the trip in the mornings and evenings it always seemed that someone was doing something to prep the boat for the day ahead or the evening.

That evening we sat back and looked up at the stars and pointed out constellations like Orion, chatted and slowly got sleepy. One by one someone would go below deck to sleep for the night. The first night sleeping at sea to a slight rock back and forth was wonderful and sleep never seemed to be a problem for most of the trip. Although it was very hot, I found if you aimed a fan at you and just relaxed without moving much, your body temperature would slowly cool down and you would be asleep in no time.

Day 2

This was my day to cook, and to be honest out of all the duties we had to perform on the boat this was the one I was dreading the most, but things turned out okay with the help of everyone on board. The crew seemed to like what I made, but then again everything tastes great when you are on a boat in the Caribbean.

Marie Galante

Before heading to our new destination of Marie Galante, we actually had to sail back to Pointe-a-Pitre to clear customs, but this wasn’t much of a detour and soon we were off. This was our first time feeling like we were really going somewhere. On the first day we were always very close to land, but today we got to see Guadeloupe slowly fade away while Marie Galante grew bigger in the distance.

Each day I felt myself becoming more and more in tune with the boat and the water. I could really feel that this is something I want to continue to do. The water rushing by, the land morphing into different shapes, the flap of the sails, it’s really hard to describe how wonderful sailing is without actually being there.

That evening we anchored just outside of a small town and watched a massive ocean ferry dock. Most of us went in and explored the town and stocked up on more food and drink. The harbour where we stayed was quite small and busy, so we tied up to our sister boat and after dinner ended up chatting the night away with some of the other crew.

Day 3 – Dominica

The third day was our best sailing day of the week. The wind picked up to 20 knots and we hit 8 to 9 knots at times. For a while the waves were swelling up close to 10 feet which was really a thrill sitting on the side of the boat, feet dangling off the edge. Every day was memorable, but this one really sticks with me. As we sailed closer to Dominica the mountains towered over us. These were by far the most spectacular views we would see of land.

Another boat passing by with some heeling.

The day was not without incident though. About half way through the sail a distraught woman in tears came on the VHF radio yelling “mayday, mayday, mayday”. This was a sobering moment and it really tugged at the heartstrings. She further went on to say they were sinking. There was a bit of commotion on the radio, but soon the coast guard came on asking more questions. It turned out she had a daughter on board too and soon a man came on the radio much more calm than the woman. The coast guard said to get the woman and girl on their dingy and go to shore. Apparently they had run aground. After the initial shock the situation seemed less dire and the man seemed more down about losing his boat, but at least they were near shore. They switched off channel 16 to another channel. The one thing that stood out was that the woman never gave her coordinates. If that was the last message she could have given no one would have been able to help her.

In the afternoon we anchored in a small bay and were instantly surrounded by locals trying to sell us country flags, coconuts and tours of the island. Dominica is not a French island, so the culture was much different than what we had experienced on previous days, the people were extremely friendly, even if it was usually to try and sell you something.

We had time to go ashore, clear customs and explore the island and go for a swim. Near the end of the day some of us actually swam back to the boat, which was an even longer swim than the first night, but less tiring by now. It’s amazing how quickly your body can adapt from a life of sitting in a chair in front of a computer to that of swimming, pulling sheets (ropes) and hiking.

Nature is always truly in control, Dominica ship wrecks from a past Hurricane

That evening consisted of another fantastic meal, more stars, and good company and conversation. This was also the day my patch came off. The others using patches applied another one, but I wanted to try going without one for the rest of the trip.

Typical breakfast aboard our boat.

Day 4 – 5 Iles-des-Saintes

On the fourth day we arrived at Iles-des-Saints and unanimously fell in love with the island. This prompted us to stay for two days.

Iles-des-Saints is a tiny island that you could probably walk around in several hours. It is the remains of a caldera or collapsed volcano. This makes the drop off in the harbour very dramatic so we ended up using almost all our anchor rode.

The main town or village was full of quaint little shops, restaurants and scooter rentals. For such a small town it was really bustling with scooters constantly zipping by. We all decided that we would eat out for the first time since we set sail. We chose this really warm looking restaurant, which was actually pretty good, but the restaurants atmosphere is really what sold it.

Another perfect sunset.

The next day we decided to hike around the island and check out an old French fort on the hill. It turned out to be a pretty good hike, but nothing compared to the challenges the following week would offer to me in St. Lucia. The fort was full of iguanas that really didn’t want their pictures taken, but we managed to catch a few off guard.

Iles-des-Saintes anchorage on the way up the hill

A stunning bay on the Atlantic side of the island.

After the fort we headed to the other side of the island with our snorkeling gear. This was a small extremely sheltered bay with no boats in it. It had small coral reefs on both sides and was fairly shallow. We had a great time and there were many colourful fish to see along with anemones and even a spiny lobster, which is a lobster with no claws, but huge antenna.

In the last evening on the way back to the boat we saw a huge storm on the horizon, or at least what we thought was a storm. The sun set before the so-called storm hit. We sat on the boat chatting away like usual when our eyes started to sting. The stars were also disappearing from the sky. Eventually the VHF radio squawked out something about extremely reduced visibility in the areas around Montserrat. Apparently there had been an eruption with a partial dome collapse on February 11th which even included pyroclastic flow activity.

Day 6 – Back to Pointe-a-Pitre

The next morning was spent lowering buckets on a rope into the water and lifting them up to the deck and splashing our boat clean, which was literally grey by now. The horizon was hazy and even the brightly coloured roofs of the town were covered in grey.

Iles-des-Saintes after Montserrat eruption.

Our boat after the Montserrat eruption.

Before long our boat is looking spotless again and we raise anchor and head back to Pointe-a-Pitre. For most of us the trip ends soon, but Clive the instructor still has another week of training a new crew, and I have a second week of vacation booked in St. Lucia. Even though I was excited about St. Lucia, I knew that nothing was going to compare to this trip.

Day 7

We end up getting our vacation extended in Guadeloupe as the volcanic ash cover has closed all Airports in the area. This is not great news for me, as I cannot get a hold of my flight Air Caraibes. By the end of the day everyone has figured out their flight arrangements for the next day except for me. I’m also the only one in the bunch that cannot speak French at all. We spent our last night on another boat that the Sunsail chatter was kind enough to lend us. Our last dinner was the best restaurant dinner we had. Different kinds of meat on swords.

The next day is almost a 12-hour nightmare in the Guadeloupe airport. It starts at 9 in the morning and ends around the same time in the evening with my bags flying to St. Lucia without me. The rest of the crew spent the day on the beach and met up with me around 4 p.m. They all ended up flying out later that night. My lesson in all of this is never to use Air Caraibes again, not because of the delay, but because of their utter lack of organization or care for their customers.

In the evening I take a taxi back to the docks and spend the night with Clive’s new crew and a feeling of Déjà vu as the crew does all the checks we did a week earlier. The new crew is friendly and keeps telling me that at least I’m in a tropical place. After a few beers everything seems better, and at least the next day I have a flight time and do not have to spend the entire day in the airport.

Day 8

My flight was set to leave in the afternoon, so the day is spent watching the new crew prepare for their sail, which sadly is already into its 3rd day due to flight delays for them also. I walked around a small town and met up with the new crew to say goodbye as they prepared to cast off. My last hour was spent in an Aquarium looking at puffer fish, and sharks.

On the way out of the Aquarium I checked out the docks one last time and see that boat has left and it’s time for me to get my cab back into the city. The airport was much less crazy than the previous day and at the end of the day I am treated to a fantastic view of Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. The view of the harbour and anchorage seen right off of my balcony is a constant reminder of my wonderful sailing trip the previous week. I can’t wait to do it again next year in the Grenadines.

My view the next morning in St. Lucia.

John, one of the crew members on this trip also wrote a fantastic blog entry on our trip.

Want to see more pictures of Sailing in Guadeloupe?

Below is the route we took in Google Maps

View Guadeloupe Sailing Trip February 2010 in a larger map