Caribbean Down-Island Sailing Adventure Course
Embarking July 2. Detailed Down-Island Trip Plan.
Week 1 – Sunday July 2 – The British Virgin Islands to Guadeloupe, 300 miles
This first week of the down-island sailing adventure course is best suited to those who are after some high adventure. Those who can handle acceleration zones. Those who want to experience the broad gamut of conditions that are to be found in the Caribbean, mixed with quieter hours of trimming, reading, fishing. Then, once we make land, exploring the islands.
The trip starts in the West End of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, on a Sunday. We meet at the Fish N Lime Inn early in the morning and spend the day doing safety briefs and final preparations before departure. We clear HM Customs and set sail for St Martin.
Tortola to St Martin
This leg is usually directly upwind and takes around 24 hours to complete, depending on conditions. If sailing the entire way we will review such tools as Fastseas and Predictwind to determine the optimal route. Like any ocean sailing, we will time our departure for weather conditions rather than strictly sticking to clock. “Never sail to a deadline” is a sensible motto.
Once in St Martin we will check into the French side and enjoy some of the finest food in the Caribbean, in the quaint French village of Grand Case, located on the west side of the island. This is also a good opportunity to provision the boat. After wining and dining in great taste we will clear out of French St Martin and continue on our adventure.
St Martin to Antigua
This leg has us leaving St Martin and sailing upwind to the billionaires’ playground of St Barths. It is worth spending at least a day here as we enjoy the cafes and bars (including of course Le Select) of this formerly-Swedish, now French colony. The next leg, to Antigua, is usually the most challenging leg of the entire trip. We will time it for weather, then commit.
In Antigua we will dock at Lord Nelson’s old stomping ground, the impeccably-restored and beautifully protected English Harbour. This will be a shorter stop as we prepare for the final leg of the week, across the Guadeloupe Channel.
Gustavia, St Barths on Dusk
Antigua to Guadeloupe
Week 2 – Sunday July 9 – Guadeloupe to Martinique, 110 miles
Guadeloupe to Îles des Saintes
Îles des Saintes to Dominica
In Dominica we arrive in Portsmouth for customs clearance. Once there we can explore the Indian River, where the witch-doctor scene for Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. Thankfully the river itself retains its authentic, overgrown nature.
The second half of the Martinique leg involves our sailing to Roseau on the southern tip of the island. From there we can take a day to hike up to the Boiling Lake, an outstanding turquoise-coloured volcanic lake that literally boils with heat. For many this is a highlight of the trip.
Walking up to Boiling Lake, an 8-hour Adventure
Dominica to Martinique
The sail from the bottom of Dominica to St Pierre, at the top of Martinique, usually takes around eight hours. Being oceanic, the conditions can show anything from bluebell sailing day on a beam reach to a choppy 45 knot acceleration zone. “Either beautiful or epic” as we like to say.
Once in St Pierre we check into Customs and explore the town. This town is the scene of the single largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century – anywhere in the world. Here in 1903 the entire mountain exploded, killing all but two of the 30,000 inhabitants of the town. For the rest of the century no volcanic explosion came close to the Pelee eruption. A local museum shows the devastation wrought by this event.
Sailing along the west side of the island, we stop in one or two coastal villages before arriving in the beautiful bays of Anse Noire and Anse Dufour on the southwestern quarter of the island. Our final destination is the natural hurricane hole of Le Marin on the southeastern corner of this magnificent island.
We encourage both weeks to be booked and so offer a 10% discount for doing so:
This is a two week down-island passage through some fascinating, diverse islands. Bring your foul-weather gear, a camera and your sense of adventure. Entry to this sailing adventure course is by application only.
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