GRENADA – MIAMI – 2006 After a great week of cruising the Grenadines with Kya and getting her off on the flight from St George to Houston, it was time to head north and island hop towards Miami. Kya was really upset that I hadn’t called anyone to help with the trip, but as I explained to her, I really wanted some one on one time with the boat and felt as though I could handle the boat alone and really wanted to just take my time and work my way slowly through the islands. As I left Prickley Bay, I could see the plane Kya was on fly over. As she flew over, the porpoises came to swim with the boat for the next 20 minutes. I kept telling her about the porpoises swimming with the boat and we looked for them the whole time she was there and they were a no show. Now, as she flew out, they were back. I couldn’t believe the timing. For the next couple of days the porpoises were back sometimes twice a day! The first day was a nice sail up to Bequia where I anchored and went ashore for dinner and a relaxing evening. There was a good steel drum band playing with lots of people out for the barbeque on the waterfront. The next morning I left for another easy day up to St Lucia where I was able to pick up a mooring bouy at the base of the Deux Pitons which are the two volcanic peaks seen from miles away as you approach. They form a beautiful landmark which St Lucia is famous for. This is a nice place with the luxury hotel complex, Jalousie Plantation, in a lush tropical setting with nice beach. The next day, I didn’t get very far, finding another great spot to moor in Marigot Bay. I was immediately met by the guy in a small boat offering fresh fruit. This was ok, but became a little frustrating when others just kept coming up to the boat wanting to sell stuff. I was ready for some relaxation in a postcard perfect spot and these guys kept coming over. Finally, I just waved them off before they could get to me and they stopped coming over. Nice waterfront bar and grill with steel band, of course. A little further north on St Lucia, I pulled into the Rodney Bay Marina and found a nice slip with power and water hook up. The marina is full service and has everything thing you need to just hang out awhile, which I did for two days. I was able to get the boat clean, inside and out, as well as recruit some help in adjusting the screecher, which was not furling properly. The guy on the boat next to me was installing a new furling system on his sailboat and making final preparations for his trip to Venezuela, where he would spend the hurricane season. After helping him for awhile, we sat and talked about his prior experiences with Venezuela. I was very concerned about the pirate stories I had been hearing about, but he seemed to feel very comfortable with the place. He loves the outer islands there and highly recommends cruising the area. I met another couple on a nearby catamaran who were just finishing a year off from work while they cruised the Eastern Carribean. They said that it was the best year either of them had ever had. We exchanged stories for over two hours over dinner. Very interesting couple. As I was crossing the parking lot heading back to the boat from dinner, I was approached by a local guy with the really wild looking hairdo and I thought to myself, oh great, what does this guy want. As wild as he looked, it turned out to be just friendly conversation. In fact, he was probably one of the most down to earth coolest persons I met on the entire trip. The guy had lived his life on St Lucia and just loved the place and everything about his life there. He told me a lot about the island and himself and how blessed he was to live in such a beautiful place. This guy didn’t have a lot, but he was so happy and at peace with his place in life that you just couldn’t help but feel good for him. On to Martinique. I had planned to meet with a guy here who I was told could take care of some minor warranty issues on Free Spirit as I passed by. I pulled into Le Marin and the place was full with hundreds of sailboats which was very intimidating with me singlehanding. I decided to stop at a fuel dock to top off the tank and make my call to Phillipe. I had my lines all ready with fenders out as I approached the dock. There were two local French guys working at the fuel dock, standing there watching as I approached. I thought how lucky I was to have some help, until I realized at the last minute that they had no intention of helping, only watching. It was one of those, what do you mean help, I only work here, moments. They actually just stood there and watched me run front to rear tying up the boat. Then, to top it off, although they could speak English ok, they seemed put out having to use it with me. Oh well, I did get the fuel and ice I wanted and made my phone call. I was told that Phillipe would not be available to speak with me until the next day. All things considered, I decided the warranty issues would have to wait and decided to press on to the north. I have heard many good things about Martinique and I am sure that if I had stayed that I would have probably loved the place. I was just feeling as though I needed to get moving north a little faster, as I was making very little progress since leaving Kya in Grenada. I was already beginning to see that it would be really easy to spend several months exploring the islands here and I just didn’t have the time now. This feeling would just intensify as I moved on. There is just so much to see and experience out here and I now realized that all I had time to do was just get a quick look at several cool places. The next island was Dominica, where I found a nice mooring for the night and a good night of sleep. The next day I passed just to the west of Guadeloupe on my way to Antigua, where I planned to spend a couple of days. As I was approaching Antigua, I was picking up a huge thunderstorm on my radar which, as luck would have it, was moving on a collision course with Free Spirit. The wind started to really intensify and I could see the lightning in the near distance, at which time I started thinking, I am really not in any big hurry. So I just luffed the boat up to an almost complete stop and waited and watched the storm pass on my radar screen. Arrival into Antigua was at night but luckily it was fairly well marked and I was able to pick up a great mooring bouy right by the marina. The next morning, I woke up to see Richard Branson’s big catamaran tied at the end of the dock near where I was moored. I went ashore and right away ran into Branson’s deckhand who Kya and I had talked to in Mustique. He helped point me in the right direction as to all the places to go and see. They were going to be there for at least a couple of more weeks and he said this was one of their favorite spots. I agree, really a cool place. I ate dinner the first night with 3 girls and a guy that I met at the local bar. This was a very fun and interesting evening because these guys were raging liberal democrats, very politically outspoken, and very much Bush bashers. They were there on some government sponsored program that I never really understood or got a straight answer as to what is was all about. At any rate, they were highly educated and well traveled and there was never a dull moment on this night talking politics and world travel experiences for probably 3 hours. After a couple of days, it was time to move on to St Barts. The sail to St Barts was another easy downwind run which once again resulted in a night arrival. I hate these night arrivals, but luckily again, I was able to get in with no big problem and pick up a mooring bouy. I did a lot of sightseeing on foot here. The shops and waterfront restaurants were really nice as well as the beach across the island. I must have walked ten miles here, but it was very enjoyable. Didn’t meet one person on this island, but it was still a really cool place. Would have definitely been better with Kya or another friend along. Next it was on to St Martin. Same thing, lots of walking, nice place, but not really much going on while I was there. Most boats had already cleared out for the season. I had the marina pretty much to myself. I did rent a car one day to go to the other side of the island and to track down some marine supplies and groceries. Again, nice place but I was ready to move on to the Virgin Islands. First stop in the British Virgin Islands was at Virgin Gorda. I arrived extremely tired and in bad need of some rest. I arrived at the lower end of the island at “The Baths” which is the famous spot here where the huge granite rocks spill over into the crystal clear water at a white sand beach. I picked up a mooring bouy here and was going to go to sleep for awhile after a quick swim. It was such a beautiful spot that a quick swim turned into 3 hours of snorkeling and rock climbing before returning to the boat. I had totally forgotten about being so exhausted. I finally did get the rest and stayed 2 days. A quick sail over to Tortolla, where I found a nice mooring in Soufer’s Hole, and I was sold on the BVI. This place is nice! After a couple of days pondering whether to leave the boat here for a few weeks and get some friends in to enjoy the place with me, I finally decided that with the hurricane season bearing down, I had better keep moving and save this spot for another time. The rest of the trip to Miami was nothing other than long and hard. From the BVI to Provo in the Turks and Caicos, there was no where to stop and I was just plain tired. After a little rest in Provo there was no rest all the way to Nassau in the Bahamas. I fueled up and rested for the night offshore and then sailed to Chubb Cay which is at the entrance to the channel across the Great Bahama Bank. After overnighting here, it was a glassy calm motor across the bank to Bimini the next morning. Another overnight at Bimini and on into Miami. Finally!