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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Aschanti rendezvous


We’ve always kept in touch with Kalle, the skipper of the stunning black classic schooner Aschanti.  It was on Aschanti that we first explored the Caribbean back in 2004 after crossing the Atlantic on her from La Spezia in Italy to Martinique.  The next year we returned as permanent crew (first mate and cook) joining in Brazil and sailing up to the Caribbean.  We left Aschanti in 2006 to buy Bandit and had always hoped for a rendezvous somewhere in the Mediterranean, Caribbean or Pacific but it took five long years!  Finally, we met in the beautiful Tobago Cays.


We had a very windy sail down from Bequia – luckily the wind was behind us.  We unrolled a little headsail and flew along at 8 knots.  Neither of us was feeling that sharp – thanks to the copious amounts of free Mt Gay rum we’d manage to drink the previous night at the opening of the Bequia Music Festival.  Why is it that free rum always tastes so much better than stuff you pay for?

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     Aschanti and Bandit         Under way in 25knots.

Tobago Cays is a group of tiny islands surrounded by several reefs.  The snorkelling used to be fantastic but hurricanes have damaged the coral somewhat.  It’s still okay with lots of fish and it’s wonderful to swim with turtles.  We spent most of our time there socialising with the Aschanti crew and it was wonderful to catch up with Kalle, Lily and their two children Carlitos and Lunar.

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We had a great night on board and sailed out beside Aschanti the next day – just magical!  She was heading upwind to Martinique to collect the owner and we were heading downwind to Mayreau.  As we watched her pitch into the choppy seas with 25knots of wind blowing, we were rather happy we weren’t on board!  They’d had a rough sail up from Trinidad with most of the crew seasick.  How we remember those days.

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From Tobago Cays we sailed to Saltwhistle Bay – one of the most beautiful bays in the Caribbean with silky soft white sand, crystal clear water and those ubiquitous palm trees.  After a picnic lunch on the beach we headed around to the west of the island to find a more sheltered anchorage.

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      Spectacular Saltwhistle Bay on Mayreau Island

It’s been windy in the Caribbean so far this year which means rolly anchorages!  I hate to moan about the wind because after all it is what sailors want…..but day after day of unrelenting 20knots plus does get a bit tiring.  Our wind generator loves it and it’s great for sailing downwind….but the wind pushes up a swell and it’s hard to find flat anchorages.  Never mind – the locals tell us it will ease soon.


Regardless of the wind, the Grenadines have been spectacularly beautiful and relatively deserted (compared to the northern islands such as Antigua and Martinique).  We’ve found some gorgeous anchorages and explored some very low key villages and towns.


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