sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Cruising St Martin: an American Sailing Association Flotilla
Cruising St Martin: an American Sailing Association Flotilla

'Beach Party at Columbier'    ASA    Click Here to view large photo

This is how you arrive in St. Martin in the Caribbean: the 737 screams in over tin rooftops and a strip of yellow beach, then desperately brakes on the world’s shortest commercial runway; the taxi rides the perilous curves of the road, cut into the mountainside above sapphire seas and distant islands; and you are thrust, groggy and confused, into the bright mid-day sun at Oyster Pond Marina, where your vessel awaits.

From there, things slow down considerably–to a magical pace known as 'island time.'

ASA’s first ever St. Martin flotilla was held from April 20-28, 2012, and I got to go along for the ride. The Caribbean’s Renaissance Islands are separated from one another by only a few sea-miles, but are worlds apart culturally and geographically. Comprised of bustling, half-French/half-Dutch St. Martin, the distinctly European flavor of St. Barths, and rural, English-owned Anguilla, a week of sailing these islands is not just a lesson in the art of relaxation, but also a study in the remarkably varied history of the West Indies.

Approaching St Martin -  ASA   Click Here to view large photo

One foot in France, one foot in Holland:
With the island of St. Martin being divided in two, Oyster Pond Marina is a true geographical oddity. The dock, restaurant, and charter offices are all in France. The water and boats are all in Holland. Luckily, over a few hundred years these countries have learned to co-exist, and even co-operate, so there are no checkpoints or passport control stations between the shore head and the cooler of beer in the boat cockpit.

We spent one night in the marina, and the next morning, with the help of a local pilot, motored out of the marina and made the 10-mile upwind sail to St. Barths. The first thing that strikes you, if like me you’ve never sailed the Caribbean before, is the color of the water. Different from the bottomless blue you see in the South Pacific, or the steely magnificence of the Atlantic, the Caribbean is a marvel of aquamarine, with a white sand bottom that you can often glimpse in the shallower spots.

Lay days or lazy daze -  ASA   Click Here to view large photo

That afternoon ASA hosted a beach party at Columbier Bay, a perfect crescent of floury sand. The only buildings that can be seen are the abandoned remnants of the Rockefeller compound–low lying house and a weird, angular gazebo. We drank rum punch and got to know one another.

People had come from all over the country and from all walks of life to be there. Some were long-time ASA members and certified sailors, others were completely new to the water. Everyone was already stunned by the beauty of the place, and excited to see what it had in store. The group hit it off right away, and we returned to our boats no longer feeling like strangers.

A great flotilla needs a great flotilla leader, and we had Captain Bob Diamond. In addition to being an accomplished sailor and ASA instructor-evaluator, Bob is a jokester, prankster, and raconteur, with a sea story or salty limerick for every occasion. Some of his favorite catchphrases include: 'To err is human, to arr is pirate,' and, with deadpan irony, 'Just another rotten day in paradise.'

St.Martin - there’s always another idyllic anchorage -  ASA   Click Here to view large photo

Captain Bob’s itinerary took us the next day to Gustavia, the main town on St. Barths. Here we spent two nights in a rolly anchorage, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. I was filled in on the curious history of St. Barths by Eddy Galvani, the manager of the Wall House Museum in Gustavia. Originally held by the Swedes, it was settled 300 years ago by poor European farmers from regions such as Brittany and Normandy. These people made up the majority of the population until the 1980s, when it was 'rediscovered' by the high society of Paris and New York.

Gustavia Inner Harbor -  ASA   Click Here to view large photo

Since then, St. Barths has been the 'it' island in the Caribbean for the wealthy, and it shows. You can’t throw a stick around here without hitting a Cartier store, or a fashion boutique, or a very good-looking French person. The food is world class, from crepes to red snapper, and Gustavia’s architecture is distinct, with pitched red roofs and tidy, colorful streets.

For me, the appeal of expensive shopping and $80 dinners wears thin pretty quickly, but it turns out that St. Barths has plenty more to offer. A morning swim from the stern of the boat in the warm waters of the bay, an afternoon nap under the bimini, and an evening stroll on the waterfront promenade does the trick. Throw in a hike up to the lighthouse for a spectacular harbor view, and top it off with dinner at Le Select, a hamburger joint that’s been operating since 1949, which is a miracle of survival in the capricious Caribbean economy. The patio will be packed, music playing, drinks flowing–it’s no wonder Le Select is one of many businesses claiming to be the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s 'Cheeseburger in Paradise.' I’m inclined to believe them.

The rooster crows for a day:
After two nights in Gustavia, St. Barths, it was time to up-anchor and head for the British island of Anguilla. It was a marathon sail, 26 miles with several tacks and gybes onto different points of sail. Great practice for all of us, especially the three people on my boat getting their ASA 104 certifications! We had excellent sailing conditions throughout the trip, with consistent winds of 10-15 knots.

After a day of sailing we reached Road Bay, Anguilla, and it could not have been a sharper contrast from our previous stops. Anguilla is a flat, coral island, as opposed to the towering volcanic geography of St. Martin and St. Barths. It is also much more undeveloped and less frequented by tourists. For example, in Road Bay the roosters crow at daybreak. And at lunchtime. And during happy hour. And at midnight. The roosters crow literally ALL the time. It leaves you with no choice but to go out on deck and listen to them, admiring the numberless stars while Captain Bob explains the mysterious 13th sign of the Zodiac. Rough life, huh?

St.Martin - it’s a tough life -  ASA   Click Here to view large photo

Up until the 1980s, Anguilla’s economy was based primarily on picking salt crystals out of a large pond and selling them. Then, as in St. Barths, it was 'discovered,' and resort hotels now dot the coastline. However, Anguilla retains much of its undisturbed past and, despite its reputation for being finicky about visitors, we found it a very welcoming and friendly place.

The first night was spent in Road Bay, and we had a particularly special reason for being there. ASA had partnered with Hands Across the Sea, a charitable organization that donates books to underserved schools in the Caribbean, and we had a load of several hundred books with us. Around mid-morning we were met by Michael, a teacher at Adrian T. Hazell Primary School, who told us about the school and accepted our donation. It was a great feeling to be using our vacation as a chance to do a good turn for the people whose home we were visiting. (For more info on Hands Across the Sea, visit their website.)

From Road Bay, it was just a 20-minute jaunt to the next bay over. Crocus Bay is peaceful and mostly empty, with just a single restaurant on the beach–but what a restaurant! It’s called Da Vida, and everything about it is first class. The food, a mix of fine French cuisine and local Creole flavors, is truly remarkable. And the house band, a piano player and a woman with a gorgeous mezzo-soprano voice, had the whole place enraptured.

Our next sail was around the west side of Anguilla, squeezing through the gap between Anguilla and Scrub Island, and then southeast toward St. Martin. The highlight of this passage (and perhaps the entire trip) was the pair of whales, whose spouts we at first mistook for breakers, that swam right beside our boat. To see these gigantic creatures so close was astonishing–no photograph, video, or description could do them justice. They moved too fast for anyone to get a picture, anyway, but it was an experience we won’t soon forget.

Barbeque for every meal:
As a finale, we spent two days in Grand Case, on the French side of St. Martin. Grand Case is a narrow village of colonial facades facing a wide bay packed with sailboats, and bills itself as the dining capital of the Caribbean. Here you can get everything from fresh-caught snapper and lobster, artfully prepared by a master chef, to $2 barbeque. You can also get fine Italian cuisine, and at the Fish Pot, if you want to you can pluck your own lobster out of a pool, hold him up for a picture, and then have him for dinner.

The buildings are painted in bright yellows, red, and blues, just a bit faded from the Caribbean sun. One of the first places you’ll encounter as you stride up the dinghy dock is called Bar 24 — a little juice and cold beverage stand run by a Quebecois named Natalie. This is a great place to cool off and refresh before you hit the main drag.

Anchoring in Grand Case -  ASA   Click Here to view large photo

For lunch, I opted for the barbeque. For dinner, I opted for it again. I’ll admit that I even had steak for breakfast one morning. Sad to say, I can neither approve or deny the claim of Grand Case’s gastronomic supremacy, I can only report that the barbeque is INCREDIBLE. It doesn’t seem to matter which place you go to; just wander and let the smell of sizzling ribs guide you. You will not leave unsatisfied.

A number of other flotilla members did eat at the finer establishments, and reported back favorably. So, it seems, you really can’t go wrong in Grand Case when it comes to eating. At night the town comes alive with music and singing, throngs of people; a very festive and happy atmosphere.

But what about those pesky in-between times when you’re not eating? Well, I clambered out some rocks, past a few local fishermen, to the point of the bay, and took a video of the spectacular vista:

Everywhere we went, we seemed to be encountering these spectacular vistas. And after two nights and a farewell beach party, we departed Grand Case and our trip came to a close.

Made, Grand Case -  ASA   Click Here to view large photo

What I’ll remember most, aside from the place itself, is the tight-knit bond that developed among the group, and particularly within the crews of the individual boats. Sailing with people, and living aboard with them, is a share experience that you can’t replicate any other way. For me, that’s the greatest value of an ASA flotilla. I can’t wait to do it again!

Shirt party -  ASA   Click Here to view large photo

About the American Sailing Association: American Sailing Association is the leading authority on sailing instruction & sailing schools in the United States, responsible for certifying sailing instructors and students to international standards, and represents about 85% of the viable, commercial sailing schools in the USA. To find out more about American Sailing Association flotillas click here.


by American Sailing Association

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=97143

7:43 PM Sat 12 May 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Rally News

Related News Stories:

04 May 2012  Sail adventure from Cairns - the fifth Louisiades Rally, mid-September
28 Apr 2012  Brits - and others - cruise in company across the English Channel
28 Apr 2012  Cruise in company across the English Channel
13 Apr 2012  Double the fun at Pittwater Multihull Rendezvous
04 Apr 2012  British Virgins - perfect backdrop for Swan gathering
04 Apr 2012  British Virgins - perfect backdrop for Swan gathering
27 Mar 2012  2012 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers full - eight months ahead
23 Mar 2012  Swan Caribbean Rendezvous Round-up
16 Mar 2012  Scotland's Malts Cruise - Highland and island adventure
09 Mar 2012  Sail Ireland - the inaugural Fingal Family Cruising Festival
MORE STORIES ...






News - USA and the World

2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami - Bigger than ever in 2015, with an atmosphere crackling with adrenaline, the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella, was ground zero on Sunday as competitors from 63 countries made their final preparations. ... [more]  

The Chinese entry Dong looks set to create sailing sailing history when she finishes first on Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race, Sanya in two days time. Includes video Currently Dongfeng is 250 nm to the finish line in Sanya and the chasing pack with ADOR ahead in second place 55+ nm behind the Chinese team. ... [more]  

The first of the iconic Great Capes has been passed in the Barcelona World Race with Cheminées Poujoulat rounding the Cape of Good Hope earlier this morning. Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam passed 20°E around 400 miles south of Cape Agulhas – the southernmost tip of Africa – at 0935am (UTC) today and have begun the Indian Ocean leg of their race around Antarctica. ... [more]  

The Classic 18fters were racing again on Saturday on Sydney harbour. Michael Chittenden caught the action from a shore vantage point. ... [more]  

When race leader Dongfeng rounded Singapore 60+ nautical miles ahead of the chasing pack, it looked like the final 1200 miles of Leg three would be a procession but over the last day, the Volvo Ocean race leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya China appears to have tightened incredibly. ... [more]  

US Sailing and Rolex USA announced last week that the 2014 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year is Stephanie Roble. Her accomplishments on the water last year were recognized by the selection panel for her versatility; her accomplishments as a skipper and as a crew; and her competitive successes on a variety of platforms, sailing against both men and women. ... [more]  

Barcelona World Race - The first of the Great Capes is fast-approaching, with the leading boats in the Barcelona World Race expected to pass the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of South Africa tomorrow. As they pass 20°E, the Atlantic Ocean will deliver its verdict – did Cheminées Poujoulat’s east-bound track or Neutrogena’s southerly gamble pay off? ... [more]  

Mardi Gras may not be for another month but US Sailing’s National Sailing Programs Symposium (NSPS) kicked it off early for Oakcliff Sailing this year. This evening, Oakcliff received The Captain Joe Prosser Award, given to an organization that has made an exemplary contribution toward improving the quality and safety in the training or instruction of sailors. ... [more]  

The 35th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has already attracted entries from 20 different countries: Antigua, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Russia, St.Maarten, Uruguay, USA and the US Virgin Islands. ... [more]  

The world is watching. Can Dongfeng Race Team hold onto their 57 nautical miles lead to China for what will essentially be the ultimate home victory? Or will another team get desperate and make a bold decision that could cost Dongfeng their win? ... [more]  

Most of the marque classes at Quantum Key West Race Week 2015 came down to the last day of the regatta, which delivered the toughest conditions of the week. Howling winds and rough seas challenging the competitors on Friday, forcing the top contenders to raise their game in order to claim overall victory. ... [more]  

Barcelona World Race - Sport met science today on the Barcelona World Race when the pairs of skippers took the first opportunity to deploy their data monitoring Argo beacon which was given to them in Bareclona prior to the start. ... [more]  

2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - It really wasn’t our week. Two races were held today in very nice conditions and we finished third in both. Bella Mente won both races to win the class. ... [more]  

The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series, incorporating three days of coastal racing and the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race concluded last night at a sumptuous, Mount Gay Rum-fuelled prizegiving dinner and party. The final 300-mile Ocean Race to Antigua to tie up with the Superyacht Cup starts on Saturday. ... [more]  

Photographer Ingrid Abery was on the water again today at 2015 Quantum Key West Race Week, and provided this gallery of images from day five ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2015 - With a solid 17-20 knots from the north east, reducing the possibility of a distance sapping park up, the likehood of the Leg three leader the Chinese boat Dongfeng getting the gun in Sanya just 640 nautical miles ahead continues to strengthen. ... [more]  

The 2015 ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship set to be held in Swinoujscie, Poland from 15 – 19 September 2015 Notice of Race has been released. ... [more]  

Currently doing scheduled maintenance. Some elements of site may not be visible at the moment. ... [more]  

On 2nd January 2015, Team Vestas Wind announced that skipper Chris Nicholson had been tasked to review the team during the month of January. The objective is to ensure the right team for the come back to the race, which is now, for this team, of a different nature than the scheduled original route from Alicante to Gothenburg. ... [more]  

Beau Outteridge has compiled a video of highlights and interviews from the 2015 McDougall + McConanghy Moth Worlds completed recently in Sorrento, Melbourne ... [more]  

Former Oracle Team USA team member, Matthew Mitchell has issued a media release stating that he has lodged a complaint with the International Sailing Federation over the actions of a fellow crew member, Simeon Tienpont, and inaction by the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup, in San Francisco. ... [more]  

Photographer Ingrid Abery was on the water at 2015 Quantum Key West Race Week, and provided this gallery of images from day four. ... [more]  

2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami - Along with the rest of the 848 sailors from 63 nations currently training in Florida ahead of ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella (January 26-31), US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes and coaches have entered a period of intense focus ahead of the first major Olympic and Paralympic event of 2015. ... [more]  

2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - It probably won't be a late night on Duval Street for the sailors competing on Division Two and Three at Quantum Key West Race Week 2015. After doing three races in strong winds on Thursday, there are no doubt a lot of sore muscles, aching bones and tired bodies. ... [more]  

Children’s heart health continues to benefit from Team Alvimedica’s online auction now underway for two unique experiences during the Volvo Ocean Race stopover here. The Chinese Agape Foundation Inc. will be the recipient of funds raised for these unique team experiences in Sanya, the next stopover port of the global ocean race. ... [more]  

Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta overall by John Payne, Fort Lauderdale
The Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta was held January 17-19 in the Atlantic Ocean off of Dania Beach in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Open to Finns (it’s their Midwinter Championship), Lasers and Laser Radials, competitors came from twenty countries and Puerto Rico. They range in age from 14 to 79. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 Leg 3 update from Dongfeng Race Team: All hands on deck as Chinese crew suffer damage to their boat as the tack line of an important sail (J1) broke suddenly sending the 132 m² sail shooting up the forestay in a matter of seconds. The team have managed to set up a temporary replacement but the reality is, this is a rude awakening of how far away the finish line is. ... [more]  

The city of Cagliari , Sardinia - Italy, will inaugurate the 2015 – 2016 America's Cup World Series, the regattas preliminary to the 35th America's Cup. The event will take place in the Gulf surrounding the island's capital from June 4 to 7, 2015. ... [more]  

Based off early morning forecasts, it appeared a lay day might be in the cards for competitors at Quantum Key West Race Week 2015. Some sailors might have already been making plays to play tennis or go fishing during an hour-long dockside delay. ... [more]  

Bay of Islands photographer, Steve Western was on hand to catch the action on the on the first Day (and with a couple from Day 2) of racing at the Millennium Cup and Bay of Islands Sailing Week. The two events are being conducted in the picturesque Bay of Islands, Northland, NZ. Five superyachts are competing along with round the world race winner Steinlager 2. ... [more]  

Despite generally light airs with winds reaching no more that 15kts, three teams have won their skipper’s weight in rum for breaking records in the 79th Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race. ... [more]  

2015 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - There is no straightforward regatta 'formula' and many events around the world strive to improve the experience that participants have year after year. For the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta it is no different, and this year they are listening to the regatta sailors when it comes to on shore venues and locations. ... [more]  

Photographer Ingrid Abery was on the water at 2015 Quantum Key West Race Week, and provided this gallery of images from day three. ... [more]  

Millennium Cup: Racing in the picturesque Bay of Islands
Volvo Ocean Race - Up up and away
Barcelona World Race - 'Haves' and 'Have Nots'
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 update from Jack Bouttell onboard Dongfeng
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami - Game time!
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2015 – Ninth year ready to rock!
Foiling GC32s Key West Race Week images by Ingrid Abery
Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race - Crews prepare for big race
2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - Day 2
2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - A challenging day
America's Cup: Spithill leads Oracle reconnaissance team in Bermuda
Extreme Sailing Series announces new teams and venues for 2015
Barcelona World Race - Leaders enter the fastest section of the course
Martinique Surf Pro - Must attend event in the world surfing circuit
New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup preview
RORC Caribbean 600 proving irresistible
18ft Skiffs: Images from NSW Championships - Race 2
Volvo Ocean Race – Malacca Nightmare – now it’s a boat race again!!
2015 Annapolis to Newport Race - Battle for Surflant Prize
2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - Off to a great start
Volvo Ocean Race: Team Alvimedica - Enter the Dragon + Video   
Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series - Day 3   
World Match Racing Tour's title sponsor goes into administration   
Kieler Woche 2015 promotes Olympic sailing competitions   
Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía – Kiteboarding and Dragons return   
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami preview   
Audi Melges 20 Class - Miami Winter Series   
Barcelona World Race - The South is looming.   
Island Water World Grenada Sailing Week announce new one design class   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 Leg 3 position report for 19th January   
Pape Chevrolet North American Championships - Register today!   
Volvo Ocean Race: Sally Barkow - from the Olympics to the Volvo   
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 - The big casino *Feature   
C&C 30 Javelin makes West Coast Debut   
Quantum Key West Race Week - Flurry of activity   
2015 Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series - Day 2   
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 - Entering the Malacca Strait   
McDougall+McConaghy Moth Worlds: More Alex McKinnon images   
Quantum Key West Race Week - GC32 class joins the action   
Mount Gay Round Barbados Race - Racing underway in classic conditions   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT