On Nov 2nd, Nautilus Sailing alumni converged in the Grenadines for our inaugural flotilla. 20 adults, 8 kids, 3 monohulls and 2 catamarans embarked for a fantastic week exploring this stunning destination.
Students who had earned their formal sailing certification (ASA 101-104) on our week long liveaboard courses in the Grenadines and Sea of Cortez, seized this opportunity to captain their own vessels. They brought along friends and family, and put their new sailing skills and experience into practice. For many of our captains, this was their first charter and a great way to take the helm, in the company of an experienced guide.
After in depth briefings with Horizon Yacht charters (systems briefings, boat equipment inventories, and a chart briefing) we popped sails, enjoying our first taste of the warm trade winds and headed for St. George, the historic capital of Grenada. We anchored off Ross Point, under the old fort guarding the harbor entrance. It wasn’t long before dinghies were in the water, and everyone was headed ashore to the fish market, the local farmers market (beautiful tropical fruit and fresh produce), buying West Indian spices (these islands are known as the “Spice Islands” after all) and sipping delicious nutmeg shakes.
Passage day! We woke early, grabbed coffee and breakfast, and, with much anticipation, began the journey north. We motored up the west coast of Grenada, enjoying the view of lush jungle cascading down to brightly colored fishing villages. As we neared Gun Point, the northern tip of Grenada, we raised sails and had a fantastic sail up to Carrioucou. 18-21 knots of wind meant that we were all close hauled, with the monohulls averaging 8 knots and the cats hitting 12 knots. We dropped anchor off picture-perfect Sandy Island (the quintessential uninhabited Caribbean island). A finale of drinks on the beach as the sun dipped over the Caribbean, made for a rewarding end to our passage day.
Onward to St Vincent’s Grenadines! We cleared out of Grenada in Hillsborough (the capital of Carrioucou), grabbed a morning ice cream and set sail for Union Island, to clear customs into St. Vincent. We trailed fishing lines, hoping to catch some fresh Blackfin Tuna or Mahi Mahi for the grill, but the fish weren’t cooperating today. After stocking up on some more fresh fruit and veggies in Clifton (the port of entry for Union Island), we sailed up to spectacular Saltwhistle Bay on the Island of Mayreau. As soon as we picked up our moorings, the kids were in the water swimming for the amazing beach. They were intent on gathering any debris they could, to build their sailing boats, for the much anticipated coconut regatta (coconut husks form the hulls of the sailboats, and whatever material you can find on the beach can then be used to craft your masts, sails and rigging).
After a leisurely morning we set sail for the Tobago Cays, one of the most scenic spots in the entire Caribbean. A horseshoe shaped reef protects numerous tiny islands. Azure waters lap deserted white sand beaches, and the waters are teeming with sea turtles and rich marine life. We anchored in less than 10 feet of water in this breathtaking setting.
For two days we enjoyed exploring the tiny islands in the Tobago Cays, snorkeling with the sea turtles, and dinghy trips to the reef to snorkel through the coral gardens. Some of the group went diving and were blown away by all they saw. What an amazing place! To end our time here, we arranged for a beach barbecue for the entire group. Grilled lobster, blackened fish, and Caribbean jerk chicken were accompanied by delectable West Indian side dishes. After some light entertainment from the coconut boat race and hours of feasting, we dinghied back to the boats in the moonlight.
It was tough to leave the Tobago Cays, but we weighed anchor and sailed towards Petit St Vincent, a luxurious private island that often hosts movie stars and celebrities. After clearing out of customs at Clifton, we stopped at Mopion Island (a tiny spit of sand with one lone umbrella, often featured in VISA adds). Once anchored off Petit St Vincent we tidied up, put on our best clothes and headed in to enjoy the sunset from the luxurious restaurant on the beach. We didn’t see Oprah this time, but a good time was had by all…
Up at dawn. Cleared back into Grenada at Hillsborough and then began the long passage south. We skirted Kick Em Jenny, the underwater volcano that guards the northern approach to Grenada. One of the boats caught a BIG barracuda, and we all enjoyed some good sailing before we got becalmed off the west coast of Grenada. Safely back at the marina we had long showers and headed out for a final celebration dinner at Le Phare Bleu, a lovely cove on the the south side of Grenada.
What a week! The first inaugural flotilla was a HUGE success, and we are very much looking forward to the next one in fall 2014…