OCSC SAILING – Leewards Flotilla

2013 Leeward Islands Flotilla

Wonder what our CEO Rich Jepsen has been up to? Well- you can read all about it in this post he wrote for us… But be prepared to get inspired…

Hmm, Turquoise waters, porpoises, flying fish, barracudas, green vervet monkeys, whales…. These are the images I’m holding close to my heart as I sit in reverie about our 2013 OCSC Leeward Islands flotilla. In addition to seeing great wildlife, we sailed, we toured, we ate and we drank and we had a spectacular time! Six boat of OCSC members, family and friends spent 10 days cruising various islands, including St. Martin, Sint Maarten, St Barth’s, St Kitts, Nevis, St Eustatia, Saba and Anguilla.

Our experiences ranged from window shopping Cartier in St Barth’s to screaming along in the trades winds at 8-9 knots with 82 degree water spraying up around our bows. We toured an 18th century fort and a resort made from an old sugar plantation on St Kitts, walked through small Caribbean towns like Charlestown in Nevis and drank at Le Select, St Barth’s, where Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” was inspired.

Our first few days were more calm than the expected 15-20 knots of easterly trades that are normal in March. However, that made for quieter anchorages and easier anchoring. Because of a strong storm that moved through the Southern US, we had northerly swells, sometimes as large as 11 feet on our passages between islands. These were awesome swells to ride as they were really long period (gradual) and made for a comfortable but exciting ride.

Two of our boats saw whales; each time, the boat reported several minutes of tail slapping that made for great photos.. we’ll post some once everyone has shared their best.

Our boat was a nearly new 46’ catamaran from The Moorings, with a generator, A/C, blender, TV, coffee maker, freezer and fridge. All the comforts of home, a huge cockpit for dinners and lounging and lots of speed on any reach. I had a wonderful crew, with my BBC certified brother Bill and his wife Karen, my wife Cecilia, veteran of over 15 flotillas, OCSC members Mike and Judy Sawyer, who had chartered the Leewards more than once before, and Richard and Linda Hoffman, veterans of a prior Leeward Islands trip as well as friends of Mike and Judy’s (and now ours) on board.

Bill did nuch of the vessel operation as I stood back, often with a beer in my hand, providing kibitzing when it struck me. What a luxury! Bill collaborated with Mike on all of our arrivals and departures, whether mooring or anchoring so all got plenty of practice with the twin engines and the windlass.

We only had one major breakdown on a boat.. Spike Anderson’s Moorings 43.3 ripped a fan belt and had their engine overheat on Day three, between, St Barth’s and St Kitts. Spike and crew showed excellent seamanship protecting the engine (they sailed into the anchorage by short tacking, turning the motor on only long enough to pull up along side our boat so it wouldn’t overheat again).

Meanwhile, Spike informed The Moorings who were Johnny on the Spot and gave us the number to Percy, of St Kitts, who fixed the problem in ten minutes. Not only was Percy the Moorings repair contractor, but he turned out to be an excellent island guide, filled with the history of St Kitts, including a short war between St Kitts and Anguilla late last century.

He also took us to a marvelous lunch at the Golden Rock Inn, a converted sugar plantation into a full resort with fabulous restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 19 of us went on his tour and had a blast, with the aforementioned 18th century fort and a visit to a whole bunch of monkeys in another corner of St Kitts.

We spent the night in some great harbors; Gustavia Harbor in St Barth’s was spectacular, with several hundred boats of all shapes and sizes moored or anchored. We saw 20’ fishing boats and 400’ megayachts. We spent time talking to Don~a and Richard from Latitude 38 (yes, they spend their springs in St Barth’s) We even observed the current ‘ultimate’ water toy in action from one of the super duper yachts. A man in a water jet pack, towing a jet ski providing propulsion, lifted out of the water 20 feet and jetted about the anchorage like a trooper from a science fiction show. Wonderful to watch, especially when he crashed!

We spent lunch and a snorkel at a state park island just off of St Barth’s called Ile Fourchue (pronounciation was debated vigorously, even among French speaking people!) wonderful snorkeling and the wreck of a cruising catamaran on the beach that was a cautionary tale for us to double check the mooring!

The anchorage at Nevis was special because the volcano of Nevis rises up directly from the harbor up several thousand feet and is covered with greenery. Very beautiful sight.

In the southern anchorage of St Kitts, we saw the Maltese Falcon, owned by Venture Capitalist, Tom Perkins, one of the most technologically advanced sailing vessels in existence, with square sails on yard arms, but with incredible speed and windward ability.

Finally, at the Moorings Base, we had rooms at Captain Oliver’s, in Oyster Pond, St Martin. After surrendering our boat to Vincent,of the Moorings, we retired to the beautiful bar-side pool to relax and reminicse, sharing anecdotes with other crews from other boats as we downed our Pain-Killers and soaked in even more sun. The harbor was filled with all manner of charter and cruising boats and made us feel right at home.

So, you can get the sense that the Leeward Islands were one visual spectacular after another. I encourage you to consider a sail down there if you get a chance.

Richard Jepsen
OCSC Sailing