I’ve never really been able to come up with a concrete answer for my favourite place that we encountered on our travels, despite the number of times I’ve been asked. After all, variety is the spice of life isn’t it? So, in lieu of a definitive answer here a few of the more noteworthy highlights to share.
The best place to anchor when you’ve run out of provisions:
Hands down this has to be Grande Case, St. Martin. From simple bbq ribs at the Lolo’s to exquisite meals by world class chefs that have the talent that produces that little extra taste that you can’t get from perfectly following a recipe.
The best Caribbean sailing:
The protected waters of the British Virgin Islands win here hands down. Weather forecast? What’s that? Numerous protected anchorages just a leisurely sail away. The only problem, is it isn’t exactly a secret so you won’t be alone.
The most beautiful marina:
Hard to beat the historic Nelson’s dockyard in Antigua. Despite being a popular cruise ship tour spot, it is surprisingly quiet through the day. But you will get about 3 business cards a day for locals that varnish teak.
Tired of the Caribbean crowds?
Then don’t miss Gravener Bay in Barbuda. Peace, quiet, solitude and healthy coral.
The most impressive Fort:
El Morro in old San Juan. Simply amazing how they did it without modern machinery. Granted it took a few hundred years, but still.
Most Adaptable Dog:
Admittedly we got very lucky with how adaptable Magnus is. Sand, surf, hot, cold, he does it all and takes it in stride. Still the only crew member to not succumb to sea sickness. Yes, he barks a bit (or a lot) when he doesn’t know what were about to do, but otherwise he is a quiet loyal sidekick.
A place you must visit at least once:
Eastern Canada is definitely high on the list of places I would like to explore in more detail, but if you can only spare a short time I highly recommend seeing Havre Aubert on les iles du la Madeliene.
The Worst Mooring that is Completely Worth It:
The 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan. You will encounter rats when you return to the marina gate at night, and the 3 knot river currents make the dinghy ride and boarding of your boat interesting in all but the calmest wind. But the location is Amazing.
Best 2 Weeks of Sailing north of the Caribbean:
The Exuma island chain in the Bahamas in the late spring is amazing when the easterly winds make the seasonal shift north. Sail for an hour or two in crystal clear water that is 10′ deep and sheltered from the ocean waves by the island chain. Each day can end with a stop for some of the best snorkelling or stunning and extensive private beaches.
The Best Day Sail:
We didn’t have to go far for this one, and actually sailed it the first week trip we did on Altera. The Waubuno Channel that takes you from the Massassauga Park north to Parry Sound On Georgian Bay. It is a relatively open channel through some stunning granite rocks with some impressive cottages. Stunning scenery and just enough navigating to keep you focused.
The Greatest Feeling of All:
After 12 days at sea, when the sun rises and reveals the Virgin Islands it is an amazing feeling of accomplishment, exhaustion and excitement.
The Worst Land Effects on the Wind:
Guadaloupe wins this award hands down. Strung gusts down the valleys which coincidentally on our south bound trip always seemed to be on the nose. On our trip north, we left a 15 mile berth to avoid these land effects…. Alas, no luck, our perfect sailing winds were blocked by the island until we cleared the northern tip. Did I mention this wind shadow was 15 miles west of the island?
Best Place to see Corral Growing on Boats:
Honeymoon Beach in the USVI. Most of these boats don’t move often. Some require towing to the mangroves for a hurricane because they simply have too much marine growth on the bottoms and propellers to move themselves. But it is an interesting place to get to know some folks and take in a few movies on the beach while you figure out what your next adventure in life will be.
Best Place to Live on Bread and Bread Alone:
St. Anne’s in Martinique. Great fresh bread and numerous types to choose from. Picking out the daily loaf was a nice treat after applying fresh coats of varnish to our teak rails. OK, so maybe we also enjoyed some red wines from France as well.
Worst Marina Customer Service:
Liberty Landing in New Jersey takes the cake on this one. We phoned in a reservation while en route after 4 days at sea for ‘5 or so days weather depending’. So they booked us in for 5 despite the 7 day weekly rate being $1 less per foot. When hurricane Joaquin was barrelling towards our next destination we needed those two extra days to wait out the storm. The Manager informed me that a reservation can’t be changed even though he acknowledged that his employee should have booked me in originally for the weekly rate…. Goes to show the importance of location when it comes to running a business.
Maybe one day I’ll get a shot of an iceberg off of Newfoundland. but we have to save something for the future.