Off Again - The CaribbeanPosted: October 5, 2007
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This past October Heidi and I left Maine with a perfect, but cold, NW wind at around 25 knots that carried us all the way through the Gulf Stream on our way to Bermuda. It is not often one gets to sail this course with the wind behind them all the way.
We have always felt that there are two Bermudas: the cruise ship Bermuda, which is trying its best to ruin this jewel of an island, and the 'other' Bermuda, a beautiful place where the island population is welcoming and polite and truly make Bermuda one of the world's great stops after a long offshore voyage.
Ted and Rachel Gosling were once again our hosts with a mooring and great food -- and yes, plenty of very good rum. Dave Bridges, a friend from the Pacific, helped us sail down and stayed on the boat in Bermuda while we went to a family wedding. Dave is one of those guys who attracts bad weather and true to form a hurricane brushed the island while we were away -- as usual he took good care of everything.
We spent Thanksgiving in St. Barth's with our version of the obligatory dinner at a good French restaurant -- did you know frog had breast meat? -- with Eric Urbahn and his family. Eric has been a long time friend and built FINBACK and GREY WOLF with us. They all arrived in a chartered cat and for several days we enjoyed listening to Eric complain about this production built boat. As an architect who has dealt with design and quality construction issues his entire professional life, Eric has always owned outstanding boats and exceptional homes. He was, perhaps, not the person to have chartered a boat like the cat. However, the result of this experience was a decision to take FINBACK, easily one of the best boats available in the world, off the market.
Over 200 mega-yachts arrive in Antigua for the Charter Boat Show and then congregate in St. Barth's for the New Year festivities. St. Martin's has become the place of choice to get work done, for supplies and general service.
After Christmas with Alex and Drew on board -- kite boarding being the only thing of interest to them on Green Island -- Heidi and I flew home for six weeks hoping to avoid the worst of the Christmas winds. This did not work out exactly as planned as it ended up being windy and squally in the Eastern Caribbean all winter -- or maybe its just that I'm getting too old? With one foot in the cruising world and one foot at home we never really got going after returning to CHEWINK. Although we had a good time this trip seeing old friends, and meeting new ones, we will probably not return to the Eastern Caribbean again. The anchorages are simply too crowded and over developed.
I am often asked, "why is the Caribbean so expensive for boats now", and realize that there probably isn't one single answer. But what I do know is that their hourly rates are now higher than Maine yards, even with their limited infrastructure and skills, and the Euro's inflated value comes into play. Many places pay their employees per day what we pay per hour, yet they still charge more per hour than we do. It makes service work with us here in Maine look pretty attractive. Maine has become the most skilled and least expensive place in the world to have quality work done.
CHEWINK is now laid up in Grenada (one of our favorite places) and we will point her West or North next Fall -- Heidi wants to go west to Cartegena and the San Blas, but perhaps Cuba will open up after the election.
Where to now?Previous Log Entry: Maine or Bust!
Next Log Entry: Avoiding "Caribbeanitis"
Have questions or want to share experiences?
If you have questions about their voyaging, or would like to share similar experiences, email Cabot.
What is Cabot's Log?
The following log and pictures are from Cabot and Heidi aboard CHEWINK, their Lyman-Morse Seguin 49 which Cabot built in 1987 and has sailed more than 62,000 miles. The log follows them as they began their second circumnavigation in 2000 through their current adventures in the Caribbean.