Sailing the Caribbean

Overnight Sail from St. John to St. Martin

In retrospect, the weather, wind, and sea forecast for the evening was a bit confusing.  It forecast clear skies, moderate wind and seas, with winds from the east / northeast.  The conclusion of the report was that it was not favorable for our planned sail, nor would it be for at least another week.  We felt moderate winds and seas sounded good and, as we would be traveling southeast, the wind direction could work, if not ideal.  We decided to go – we were ready to get on our way.
Our passage was without event, albeit 26 hours, 19 of which were spent motor-sailing.  The winds were more out of the southeast – right on our nose – and varied from 5 knots to over 20 when we encountered small squalls of short duration.
Fishing remains a challenge due to the sargassum seaweed that catches on the line and hooks.  After less than a half hour in the water our planer popped to the surface with a load of weed it could no longer bear.  We ran a couple of lines right behind the boat that tend to be clear of the weed for a few hours and then called it quits.  You can’t catch a fish if you aren’t fishing, but I can’t find any recipes for sargassum.
George with the best catch of the day
We anchored off St. Martin in Anse Marcel, with a view of incredibly turquoise waters and the Riu Palace Resort.  We are not cleared to visit St. Martin.  Although we are on the French side of the island, the pet restrictions follow those imposed by the Dutch side, and Duhkxy will not meet those until next year.  The VHF wafts French and we are lusting after pain au raisons and croissants but we must be patient.  We are having pancakes with freshly made strawberry jam.  George is prettying up Duhkxy and checking (on-line) into St Barthélemy (aka St. Barts), and then we will be off.  
Dreadlocks are popular here, but not on dogs.  To keep them at bay, we keep Duhkxy’s hair short and he gets brushed at least several times each week.
Pancakes made with Mitch’s awesome sourdough.  He grew it from thin air in Flagstaff and we can revive it after it has been dried for travel.
Anchoring in the bay Anse Marcel

One of two hotels affiliated with the Riu Palace Resort, St. Martin

Off our stern, we see the heavily populated British territory, Anguilla, and a really smart-looking catamaran.  This 60ft cat is chartered and crewed.

Anguilla, viewed from Anse Marcel

Caribbean Islands

I have often referred to the Caribbean as a collection of islands I imagine to be tropical paradises in the general geographic region south of the United State mainland and east of Mexico.  As we travel I make small efforts to be a bit more informed and find that I am not alone in my vague understanding of both the definition of what constitutes the Caribbean, as well as, the diversity of this combination of independent Island Nations and islands “belonging” to or with various types of affiliations with, remote sovereign nations (ie territories, commonwealths, et al.).
I now understand the Caribbean to be defined as those islands either, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, or bordering it on one side with the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  However, some islands that fit that definition (ie those which are a part of Columbia, Honduras…) are not referred to as Caribbean islands and some islands that do not fit the definition (ie Turks & Caicos) are sometimes lumped in.
So, not so different from my original description.
This map was reproduced from (Graphics.com)
However, when sailing through “The Caribbean Islands”, it becomes very important to know where you are, as each island, or group of islands, has its own regulations concerning Customs, Visa requirements, visiting pets, length of stay, et al).
This is very different from our previous explorations in the Bahamas and the Mediterranean, where, as citizens of the US, our passport obviated any need for a visa and allowed free passage between all the islands that constitute the Bahamas, and all countries that are part of the European Union.  You simply checked in with customs and border control once when entering the designated region, and once when exiting.  BTW – starting in 2020 US citizens will need a VISA to visit countries in the EU.  I can’t imagine how that happened!!

Where we plan to visit this year (2019)

The islands we will be visiting this year has largely been determined by their respective requirements for visiting pets and the fact that our boat started out in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

Pet restrictions revolve heavily around concerns of rabies.  Britain and her territories have never had rabies and their requirements are the most restrictive (other than some which require quarantine).  Your pet need to be in good health, have all its shots up to date, be micro chipped or tattooed, have a UDSA certification of health.  This is pretty much the same for most of the islands.  However, those which like Britain, have not had rabies, require a rabies titre.  This is a measurement of the level of anti-rabies antibodies the dog has.  Dogs who have not had at least their first and second rabies vaccination, rarely mount enough rabies antibodies to pass this test.  We will not be visiting these islands until next year.  In addition, as previously noted, some islands require a lengthy quarantine.  We will not be visiting these islands at all.  

We will be heading east and south of the Virgin Islands to Grenada where Ice Floe will be stored on land throughout the hurricane-prone months.  Our current boat insurance policy requires you to store your boat further south in Trinidad / Tobago.  However, Duhkxy will not meet all the requirements to enter this country.  So we are switching to a company that, for a premium, will allow Grenada, which has rarely sustained a direct hit.  Along the way, we hope to visit the French islands (St. Barts, Guadeloupe, Martinique), Dominica, and St. Lucia. 

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