Monthly Archives: February 2016
Written by: Ltjg. An Young, USNR ret
In the spring of 2015, Frank invited a few of us to come to the Caribbean on a kiting trip on Let It Be. That was their first mistake. Mary Grace then asked me to write a guest blog of the trip. That was their second mistake. So here we go.
I joined Captain Frank, Executive Officer Mary Grace and the Hunter and Captain, Let it Be’s crew, in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia on February 3rd, 2016. After unpacking, we went paddle boarding at sunset. This was the start of something special.
The next morning we got underway for a leisurely sail down to St. Vincent. We had the main and jib full and Frank put up the big red spinnaker. I am sure we looked like a post card for the first few hours with winds in the 20+ range.
Frank and I were laying on the tramp and saw a storm in the distance. I proceeded to explain bearing drift to Frank that we used in the Navy and how the storm will roll down the port side. Fifteen minutes later we were in 28 knot winds and Frank and Hunter were furiously taking the spinnaker down. The winds went to 30 and in went a reef and the jib came down. Eventually the winds went to 35+ and we were rocking and rolling. So much for my Navy experience.
We arrived in Blue Lagoon in St. Vincent and Frank registered us with immigration. Hunter, Mary Grace and I went to town for some cash and to see what it looked like. Walking home we uncovered a jewel of a restaurant called the Driftwood. The views were wonderful and the food, drink and atmosphere were great. We would highly recommend it.
We departed Blue Lagoon and spent the next two weeks going around the Grenadines kiting and exploring.
The first week was the Stich’s and myself. Blaine and Jeff joined after a week. We kited in Frigate Bay (Ashton) and Clifton on Union Island and Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau. The wind blew like stink (a technical kiting term). I kited 12 of 14 days and Jeff and Blaine seven of seven. Each place was spectacular with different water.
Frigate was flat water behind an isthmus that stuck out from Ashton. The anchorage was calm and the water smooth for Hunter to show off his magic.
While I tried to show up Hunter, he was just a tad better than I.
Ashton was pretty and the water was beautiful. Not all was kiting believe it or not. We went to town and took a hike up the hills.
Next was on to Clifton and the JT Pro Kite Center. Again the wind blew and conditions were great with flat water and Blaine and Jeff took advantage.
But Frank won the prize. He did a 1 1/2 back roll. We are unable to show the whole thing because back rolls are supposed to be one or two revolutions, and because he was our host we didn’t want to embarrass him. Great try Frank!!!
Clifton was fun. It had a great kite scene with the JT Pro Kite center and a cute town. Frank, Mary Grace and I had a great time provisioning there with the little stores and the people were extremely friendly and helpful. We looked and looked but couldn’t find the Kroger or Walmart. We had dinner at the Yatch Club and it was really nice. But as you can see from the above, the water color was spectacular and flat. It got crowded and was a tight alley between the reef and the boats so if you fell you could get drug into the boats so it was a bit hairy. All in all a great place, but third on the Young scale of kiting we did. And who can forget Happy Island, a bar out in the middle of the anchorage.
And then there was Salt Whistle Bay! Without a doubt number 1 on the Young scale and I think most of us would agree. It was beautiful. There were almost no other kiter’s. It was great ocean riding with 1 – 2 foot waves to play in. I think all of our ocean riding improved. it is an isthmus on the north side of Mayreau with a protected anchorage on one side and the small waves on the other. You landed the dingy and walk 100 feet to the ocean. Really cool and what a great place. It was unbelievable. See for yourself.
We had a beach Bar – B – Que one night which was good food and fun. Mary Grace and I took a walk halfway to town when we encountered some French people who said it was Sunday and all the shops were closed. Who knew it was Sunday? We did encounter a classic Catholic church which was really fun. I snorkeled a bit and Captain had some great swims to shore. For me, it was the highlight of the trip and if you ever get a chance to go there , don’t pass it up. Salt Whistle Bay was wonderful!
Underway was as much fun as kiting. Just sailing in open water with no noise and great friends was really the coolest thing about the trip. I can’t say enough about sailing and how much fun it was. Everything about the trip was a great and fun experience. Here is just some of the experiences.
Sadly we had to leave. There was no getting around it. Frank and Mary Grace said they were sad, but I doubt it. We were running out of Gin and Coconut Rum and so we had to say our good bye’s.
It has been almost 50 years since I cruised the Caribbean. The first time was on a World War II destroyer, the USS Dyess. The second time was on Let It Be.
I think I prefer Let It Be. I can’t thank Frank and Mary Grace enough for the opportunity to do this. Along with everything else it was such a pleasure to meet Hunter and Captain. I have been home now for three days and am just now starting to get rested. I have never kited so much in my life nor kept quite as busy.
I suspect this is way too long, but be sure I shortened it considerably from expressing the gratitude I feel to the Stich’s for their hospitality.
Ltjg. Al Young USNR ret.
AL – thank you so much for this guest post! It is great to see the trip from your perspective. We so enjoyed having you aboard and look forward to your next visit. A special thank you for being our first guest to agree to write a blog. I am sure it is a nice change for readers to see a different writing style. And I love the collage of photos!
Al, Jeff, Blane and Frank
Next up for LIB was the arrival of two more kiting buddies of Frank’s; Blaine and Jeff. It was simply a blast having five kiteboarding fiends on LIB for a week.
I will say this, as a host, assuming the wind is good, kiters are easy to have as guests! Here are the things we needed to provide:
- Good wind.
- A launching/landing location.
- Transportation to and from the launch area.
- Food, water, alcohol and a place to sleep – not necessarily in that order.
No need to worry about what the islands had to offer, these guys were focused on kiting every day. Fortunately the wind was strong enough for them to kite A LOT. While Al was on LIB, he was able to kite 12 out of 14 days. Jeff and Blaine were here for a week and they kited every day.
Even with all that time on the water, it was hard for these guys to stop at sunset!
I think I took five million pictures and 99.5% of them were kite pics. (All kiting pics are posted at the end of this blog.)
Here’s a peek into last week on LIB:
Glad we chose a fairly large dinghy.
In this picture, I am taking the guys to shore at Salt Whistle Bay. Captain is along for a grass break and Hunter wisely decided to wait for the next shuttle to shore.
Can you guess where they are?
We anchored in the bay at Salt Whistle, then the guys walked to the windward side for some kiting in the waves. Apparently it was a great place to practice ocean riding because the waves were pretty consistently spaced apart.
Blaine and Al kite while Frank plays Rescue Ranger in the dinghy.
On days when the wind was light, someone would hang on LIB or shore with the dinghy available in case a rider was unable to gain enough power to go upwind. Frank rescued several folks but none of them were part of the LIB group.
Frank, Jeff and Al power napping between sets.
I’m not going to say life on LIB is hard, but I will tell you these guys managed to wear themselves out. These three all crashed while Blaine experimented with bread recipes because my loafs were not browning or rising well. Turns out my recently purchased flour was “off” somehow, thus the taste was less than yummy. New flour was opened and Blaine tweaked the Basic White Bread recipe so it would brown in our (not so great) oven.
It’s very nice to have a guest on board who just happens to own a food company! Thank you to Blaine of Bridgford Foods for sharing your expertise!
The last day we had a quick sail from Clifton, Union Island to Hillsborough, Carriacou. It was an easy sail and a restful way to finish the trip before taking everyone to catch the ferry to Grenada.
Frank, Jeff and Blaine at the helm as we sail to Carriacou.
Al and Captain enjoy the view while underway.
Hunter prepares his board for packing.
A little puppy time before Hunter leaves.
We are really lucky that Hunter was able to spend several weeks with us. He and Clayton have grown up on boats so having another experienced and capable person on board has been very nice. The fact that H is fun, easy to have and willing to help makes it that much more enjoyable to have him with us. This mom’s heart was very sad to see him leave. But I sincerely hope that he and his brother will manage to visit us very soon!
And now, on to the kiting pictures….
Jeff and Blaine in Ashton, Union Island.
Al scooting along.
Jeff is catching some air in Clifton.
Frank demos a grab.
Blaine and Jeff share a five on the fly.
Hunter mid-trick spotting the water.
Hunter with Frank in pursuit in Clifton.
Al boosting in Ashton.
Blaine’s signature move.
Jeff gets some height in Ashton.
Blaine – using a plane in the boost contest is cheating!
Hunter unhooked, mid spin, handle pass.
Let It Be seems oddly quiet with just Frank, Captain and I on board. A few of my girlfriends were scheduled to arrive in a week, but several family matters came up and we had to postpone their visit. I’m pretty sad about the delay, but hopeful that they will find another time to visit.
For the moment we plan on hanging around Carriacou, Union Island, the Tobago Cays, etc. This is a beautiful area and there is more available than kiting, so we will have to explore a bit.
If you have favorite places or activities in this are, we would love to hear your suggestions!
Our friend, Al is here visiting which means that we now have three avid kiters on board. The result is that we are die-hard wind seekers for the moment. Kiters love to see steady winds and, depending on what size kite they prefer, they like various wind speed ranges. Hunter likes winds in the 18-21 knot range so he can fly a 12 meter kite and do “unhooked” tricks.
Frank and Al prefer slightly higher wind speeds because they don’t unhook.
But regardless of the wind preference, every kiter I have met begins to gets jittery when the wind gets close to “ride-able” and once within a few knots of the range they begin watching the wind speed on the instrument panel like a dog begging for steak.
Here are several pictures of kiting for those who love the sport. I have taken a few shots from our different locations and those who don’t care about kiting can look to the background to get a feeling for the beauty of the islands and water.
Catching air in Ashton.
That is one jazzed guest.
Frank executes a grab in Ashton
Hunter scoots along in Clifton with Happy Island Bar to the right.
Happy Island Bar
Janti’s Happy Island Bar. This great little island was built by Janti in response to two issues close to his heart: first a problem of too many discarded conch shells in town and second too few customers for his original establishment in town. According to the guide book, Janti worked for the office of tourism and decided to resolve the conch shell problem by building this little island in the Clifton anchorage. His island with the prefect view for sunset and sundowners does not suffer from a lack of customers. Gotta love a man who solves problems and makes something great from them!
Frank cuts through the Clifton anchorage.
Hunter ~ planning his next jump?
The Method in Ashton.
Love this pic of Frank in front and Hunter tricking in the back.
We have actually done some things off the boat. While anchored in Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau, Al and I walked up the hill toward town. Since it was Sunday all the stores were closed, but we saw a very pretty Catholic Church and some rather stunning spots for pictures.
Tobago Cays make a decent backdrop.
After six straight days of kiting, Al and Frank were ready to stretch their legs so they took a hike with me in Ashton. This little town has more to offer than expected including the people who have been some of the nicest we have met along the way.
This steep street leads to a great hike.
Shaded and well defined, we enjoyed the hike.
Overlooking Ashton on Union Island
Goats wandered the town.
At first I thought I had turned into the pied piper and these four legged friends were going to come back to LIB with me. But they turned off into a nice green area between a couple of homes. I was told that because it has been a bit dry on Union Island lately, the locals allow the goats to roam looking for grazing ground. Not something I ever saw in Coppell, TX.
End of day seems to be the perfect time for a casual paddle or a swim before sundown. It’s pretty nice to throw on flippers and mask, hop into the water and watch the sea life as I get a little bit of exercise in.
Frank, Captain and Al on a sunset paddle.
This week two more kiters join us on LIB, so I’m pretty certain you will be seeing a lot more kite photos. Sorry to be so myopic in our news, but this is the focus on LIB for the moment.
Let me know if you have any kiting questions…. with 5 men kiting on LIB this week, I am sure they will have (or make up) the answer! 😉
Sunset from The Driftwood Restaurant, St. Vincent.
The last couple of weeks we have focused on two things: looking for kiting wind and getting down to St. Lucia where we were picking up our friend, Al.
The result is that we have spent a good amount of time making southern progress but I don’t have a lot of photos to show.
We managed to have a couple of great kiting days off Green Island in Antigua before the winds slacked off a bit and we began sailing south.
Hunter does a melon 180
Frank looking casual as he rides.
From Antigua we sailed to Guadeloupe where we stopped overnight in Deshaies. We first visited this quaint fishing village in June but this time we only stayed one night. It was fun to share it with Hunter and have him experience a bit of French culture.
Next we scooted down the coast to visit Vieux Habitants, Guadeloupe where we had heard of a beautiful hike that started near a coffee plantation and ended at a waterfall. Unfortunately, between our unspecific knowledge and our poor French, we wandered most of the day and never found the hike.
Still, we enjoyed the day as I had a chance to practice butchering my high school French and we had a picnic on the lawn of a pretty bed and breakfast on the edge of the river.
Sailing south on the western coast of Guadeloupe took us past the Pitons. I would have loved to stop, but it wasn’t part of our plan this trip.
The area looks absolutely beautiful, but I must say that the aggressiveness of the ‘boat boys’ makes me much less interested in going to The Pitons.
As we were sailing past the area, two boats zoomed toward us and tried to convince us to follow them to their mooring balls inside the anchorage. Neither accepted our “no” and they brought their boats way too close to LIB for my tastes! This was less than pleasant and is making me reconsider stopping on our way north. I will have to do some reading before I decide if I will stop when we work our way north again.
Anyone want to offer advice or opinions and/or experiences at The Pitons?
Regardless of that experience, you can see the area looks fabulous!
Iles des Saintes was the next stop. We had a very pleasant sail to Bourg des Saints on Terre D’en Haut.
Guadeloupe is easy to see on a clear day.
The anchorage was very pretty and on clear days Guadeloupe looked close enough to be just a long swim away…. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but it did look close!
The anchorage itself was charming and the dinghy dock one of the best we have seen in the Caribbean.
Frank and Hunter tried to kite, but the wind was too light. So we spent a day tooling around Terre D’en Haut in an electric car/golf cart.
The views from so many places were so pretty it’s tempting to post too many photos…
LIB in the foreground.
A prettier picture of Bourg des Saintes.
Cappy loved being free among the trees.
This stand of trees right by the ocean was shady and peaceful and I could have stayed here for hours just absorbing the serenity of it.
A colorful local.
We also visited Fort Napoleon which was built in 1867. The fort is well restored and held an eclectic assortment of displays. We began our tour too close to the lunch hour as the closing bells rang not long into our visit. I especially enjoyed the models of old wooden ships and seeing the interior cross sections of what the ships held and how things were stored to balance the ship.
I’ll stick with Let It Be, her modern equipment and two engines, thank you!
We barely touched Iles des Saintes and I really hope we will stop for a week or so on our return north, but this trip we wanted to skip on down to St. Lucia so we could accomplish a few boat projects, re-provision and prepare for some guests to arrive.
Arrival in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia marked our first Windward Island as opposed to one of the Leeward Islands. Once again we experienced only a fragment of St. Lucia as we only afforded ourselves of the conveniences offered such as laundry, groceries, chandleries and restaurants. This stop was more of an opportunity to repair and prepare than explore.
Hunter continued to spend a good portion of each day programming, since that is his job. Frank and I set to work cleaning, crossing off maintenance items and generally preparing LIB for visitors.
The best part of our stay in St. Lucia was meeting up with David and Amy of Starry Horizons. You may have already seen the beautiful pictures David and Amy took for us as we left?! Kind of makes us want a drone too.
LIB heading south to Vieux Fort, St. Lucia.
LIB on the left and Starry Horizons on the right.
A rare photo of Frank, me and Hunter.
David and Amy, these excellent pictures are much appreciated.
Starry Horizon and crew.
We had a chance to have dinner and catch up with Amy and David because of their incredible willingness to accommodate our schedule! Our time with them went much too quickly and Amy and I have since exchanged texts saying, “wait, I forgot to ask ….” or “Oh, I wanted to look at this on your boat…”
I just cannot tell you how much I enjoy the company of the two people and how hard it is to know that from here forward our Helias will take us in opposite directions!
SH looks pretty in the fresh morning light.
I have every confidence that Amy and David will have an amazing journey on Starry Horizons and we will follow their blog, FB and videos faithfully! Happy, safe and fabulous journey you guys. Our love and prayers go with you!!!
Next stop Vieux Fort where we pick up Al Young, the first of our 3 kiters to arrive.
Sunset in Iles des Saintes
As always, thanks for reading our blog…. sorry the s-l-o-w internet has delayed my posts!