Prickly Bay is wonderful. It’s huge, fringed by reefs around it’s edges and filled with a myriad of cruising boats of all types, from the two-masted steel schooner behind us, to the tiny European 26-footer we saw in at the dock. Beautiful houses with immaculate gardens surround the waterfront, and postcard-worthy palm-fringed beaches beckon just off the bow. A catamaran anchored near us has a rather noisy chocolate lab onboard who has a real disdain for passing dinghies - he sounds the alarm anytime someone moseys past within a few hundred yards. Mia thinks he is annoying. I think he’s cool.
It’s been a long time! Andy and I were first in Bequia and to the Grenadines in 2009 during our trip on Broadreach. We sailed a 50’ Beneteau with 11 teenagers, a month long sailtraining camp starting in St. Martin and finishing in Trinidad. We truly fell in love with the smaller islands in the southern Caribbean, but since then I have not been south of St. Lucia. It was about time!
Welp, we did it! Isbjorn, finally, and one year later, completed the brutal and exciting RORC Caribbean 600 race in Antigua! If we took it for granted and failed in 2016, we had nothing of the sort in 2017, and showed up more prepared, more rested and better equipped than the year before by a long shot.
The first trip of 2017! Crew members Kevin, Tom, Irena & Vlado joined Isbjorn in Trellis Bay, Tortola in the BVI! We knew going into it that it would be an upwind trip, and it was! After a quick sail over to Spanish Town where we cleared out, we set sail for Ile Fourche, a small island just north of St. Barth's. Ile Fourche is one of our favorite anchorages, nothing ashore except great hiking and turtles swimming around the boat! From there, we sailed the few miles to Gustavia and St. Barth's, enjoyed some cold drinks and a 'Cheeseburger in paradise'. The last leg of this trip was to Falmouth, Antigua and the sail was just spectacular, almost full moon and the islands of St. Kitts, Nevis and Statia to our starboard. A great start to the year!
This time last year was quite a different story. Mia was back in Sweden still, and I was reeling from the failure of our first two legs of 2016. We were meant to go from BVI-Grenada on Leg 1, only to make it halfway there (in similar, rough & windy conditions) when the roller-furler jammed and failed, forcing us to turn back. Then the mainsail split down the middle from luff to leech on the way back. We limped back to Tortola were we’d come from two days earlier, my pride wounded and the boat in need of repair.
Andy and I arrived back to Isbjorn and the BVI on Feb. 1st, a long day of travel from Sweden, via London and Puerto Rico. It was a long day, but probably one of the smoothest travel days I can remember and we arrived to Nanny Cay where we had the boat around 8pm. Andy cooked up a simple dinner of rice and beans and I crashed straight after. We spent a full day there, provisioning the boat and getting her ready for sailing.
We got underway around 1500, starting with just one reef in the mainsail and the small genoa. The forecast held true - easier trades closer to 15 knots, backing to the ENE as we neared Antigua and lifting us closer to the mark the whole way. The moon was one day from being full, so we had a spectacular night at sea, the best possible conditions you could hope for on an upwind sail - enough breeze to keep us sailing fast, but easy enough swells to keep the cockpit dry and a moon bright enough to read by.
Crew arrived next day. Mia & I had some last minute projects left to do on the boat, and didn’t want to go ashore to meet the gang until it was done. Our planned noon rendezvous turned into 1pm, and left our crew member Kevin on a wild goose chase! In the end, Kevin found Tom, and we found the both of them at the Loose Mongoose on the beach in Trellis as soon as we landed in the dinghy. Vlado and Irena turned up shortly thereafter and we started the shuttle service out Isbjorn.
Mia & I decided early on that we’d extend our time in Sweden - off the boat - right to the bitter end. We knew it’d make it slightly more stressful when we finally did return to Isbjorn, having allowed ourselves only two days to get the boat all setup before crew arrived. And that was if our long flights went to plan (they did). In the end it was worth it, but (almost) everything went smoothly.