Sunsail charter

This is a lesson I’ve learned before: when sailing with children in the West Indies, the most desirable point of sail is to windward. The most desirable place for them to sit is on the bow, clinging to the lifelines, where they will scream in rapture as they are plunged into steep tradewind seas… over and over and over again.

(As you can see in the photo up top, there are also some adults who enjoy this.)

So this is us (me, wife Clare, daughters Una and Lucy, plus our good friends Lindsey and Denise) sailing from St. Maarten upwind to Ile Fourchue on Thursday aboard our rented Jeanneau 44 Tintamarre.

Sunsail charter

Sunsail charter

(And yes, again, I am the only male onboard.)

Fourchue is my favorite place to visit when cruising out of St. Maarten. It is tantalizing desolate (having once been nibbled to the nubs by goats) and uninhabited and offers decent snorkeling (by current standards) and some excellent hiking/hill climbing. Whenever I go ashore there I think of the island in E.F. Knight’s classic yarn Cruise of the Alerte, where Knight and his crew dig (in vain) for buried treasure and do battle with an army of voracious land crabs.

Sunsail charter

Sunsail charter

Arriving this time, I was confronted by a coincidental cast of characters out of my very recent past.

Gunboat 66 Phaedo

Phaedo: The bright orange Gunboat 66 I met on St. Lucia after the ARC. Clearly (for the time being at any rate), she is indeed in cruising mode. Lucy and I were just climbing in the dinghy to go over and say hello when she upped anchor, hoisted sail, and rocketed off toward St. Bart’s.

Alibi 54

Difference: The Alibi 54 I visited with Gregor Tarjan during the Annapolis boat show in October. I don’t think the skipper was aboard (who I met with Gregor), as the crew had trouble picking up a mooring and I didn’t recognize anyone when I inspected her with binoculars.

Cambria 44 Katahdin

Larry, Becky & Cathy Clough
Larry, Becky & Cathy Clough

Katahdin: The Cambria 44 I did not sail south on in the Caribbean 1500. We had Cathy and Larry (and daughter Becky, who was visiting) over for dinner and had a fine time learning of their adventures since they arrived in Tortola in November. They also did us a huge favor by loaning us some dishwashing soap and some Stugeron.

We also, of course, spent some time in the afternoon hiking the island. Before we all went ashore, Lucy and I first checked out the wrecked catamaran on the west side of the anchorage.

Ile Fourchue

Ile Fourchue

Lucy, characteristically, was both attracted to and frightened of it. She was worried there might be ghosts aboard, but was determined to peer inside anyway. We saw the boat was full of water, with wreckage and an oil sheen all around, so figured the wreck was recent.

Boat wreck on Ile Fourchue

Back at the Sunsail base in Oyster Pond, before we set out, they had warned me that several moorings in the vicinity had failed of late and boats had been blown ashore. I wondered, of course, if this was one of those casualties.

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2 Responses
  1. Larry Clough


    We’re anchored off Water Island in St Thomas, hooking up with our good friends from Portland, Stew and Barbara Hart, who lived on board in Portland Harbor for 10 years, then uprooted. Check out their web site,, which details the reality of a couple on board.

    We’re heading back. Autopilot, “dripless” shaft seal, AIS, etc. problems all resolved – a 29 second period of peace with the boat gremlins. 4 months to go.

    Larry Clough

  2. Charlie

    Hey Larry! Good to hear from you. Keep fighting those gremlins! And thanks for sharing that web address. I’m heading there right now. charlie

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