Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Carriacou

    We dropped anchor in the bay off the capital Hillsborough on the island of Carriacou. We are now in the Grenadines but not those governed by St. Vincent but rather by Grenada. This small state consists only of three islands, Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The Amer-Indians called this island “Kayryouacou” which meant, “the land surrounded by reefs.” It is tiny at 13 square miles has a population of about 6000 and the highest “mountain” on the island is High Point at a perilous 955’ high. Like St. Lucia this island went back and forth between French and British overlords but was finally ceded to the English in 1783 and achieved its independence from the mother country in 1974. The island’s name means the “land of Many Reefs” and is the Arawackian Indian name for the island.  There are no rivers on the island and it is clearly arid. If they do not get sufficient rain they have to bring water in from Grenada by ship. We boarded tenders at 9 for our exploration of the small but charming capital.

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  • Bequia

    Sunrise at 6:04 over the mountains of St. Vincent the largest island and capital of the Grenadines. By 7 we were motoring the channel (4.5 miles wide) separating St. Vincent on our port from the more southerly Bequia on our starboard. We were making 4 knots. The wind about 15 knots was in an easterly direction and our heading was 112. The temperature was a delightful 28c or 82f. Brown boobies were flying just over the tops of the waves looking for an unwary fish for breakfast. A frigate bird was circling about 100’ over our main mast. These are most “prehistoric” looking of birds but great soarers. Sailors went aloft at 8. By 11 we had a 20-knot wind and we had a heading of 355. Our captain decided to set the skysails – not an easy task in a 20-knot wind and we were scudding along at 6.5 knots. Ian went up on the fos’cle at 11:30 with guests for a great photo opportunity. Tom Heffernan gave a lecture on the Rastafarian religion at 9:30.

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  • St. Lucia

    The sun cut through the clouds in Martinique at 6:02 a.m. We had a steady wind of some 17 knots off the port bow. Sailors went to sail stations at 9:00. It took nine crew to furl the spanker jib. When that sail gets wind it is difficult to rise. At 9:30 Tom Heffernan gave a lecture on the creole languages of the Antilles, showing how these were unique creations of the collision of European and African, with a small amount of Amer-Indian language words.  At 11:00 Ian Strachan and Susan Strubert offered a camera workshop, answering a host of questions and assisting people to use their cameras more effectively. I was standing in the Blue Lagoon when a beautiful 70’ sailboat came abreast of our port side. They shouted “Bonjour”, assuming since we were in St. Lucia that we spoke French. I spied an Irish flag on the boat and replied in Irish shouting “Slainte” and a great shout came form all of them “Cead mille falte” (A thousand welcomes). They were from Dublin! We live in a small world. 

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  • Iles des Saintes

    Welcome to France. Sun rise over the north west of Dominica at 6:06 a.m. and we dropped our anchor in Iles des Saintes at 7:09. This small archipelago of seven islands is a dependency of Guadalupe and is a distinct region of France and is “Départment of d’Outré Mer.” It has the same relationship to France as Hawaii has to the US. The inhabitants are French citizens, vote in all elections, and have all the perquisites of being French citizen and a member of the European Union. As such the official currency here is the Euro. And the shops are not inexpensive but have beautiful goods. I saw many of our guests at the lovely shop “Mahagony”—famous for its indigo blue clothing and panama hats. Bourg’s two most imposing buildings are a lovely Catholic Church (The Assumption) and the town hall, proclaiming “Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité”—ideals which emerged from the French Revolution. 

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  • Dominica

    The sun rose over Morne Diabolotin at 6:03 a.m. We had a cool northerly breeze of three knots. We dropped anchor in Prince Rupert Bay on the Island of Dominica at 7:09. We could see Fort Shirley off our port and Portsmouth directly off our bow. We boarded tenders for the short ride to the pier at 8:15 and were shortly in the wonderful melee of the market with a great reggae band playing its heart out. We then boarded our vans for the 40-minute ride to Morne Diabolotin at 4775 feet. Our local guide this morning was the well-regarded naturalist Glenn whom I have known for many years. Hurricane Maria has decimated the tree canopy of the rain forest and after six months one can see the efforts of the plants to regrow. We passed breadfruit, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, manioc, yam, coffee, oranges, and grapefruit trees in a wild profusion. Dominica is indeed the “nature island” and during our walk we saw a wealth of tropical trees with colorful creole names. We saw no parrots but did see one of the very shy Zandolin, a local species of salamander. Dominica has the highest concentration of active volcanoes anywhere in the earth—nine active volcanoes in an area slightly less than 300 square miles. The mountainous spine of Dominica sits atop a vast molten lava chamber. 

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  • Sailing to Dominica

    The sun rose majestically at 6:30 a.m. We had an easterly wind at 17 knots from the quarter starboard beam. Three of the staysails were set earlier, providing some additional power and help to keep us on course. At 8:45 Tom O’Brien gave an informative talk on the sails and lines of the Sea Cloud and how they function. Staff introductions took place on the Lido at 10:15. At one point during the late morning we were making 8 knots under sail. Imagine a ship over 360’ long and displacing 2600 tons moving effortlessly under wind power alone at 10mph. Our sails are made of a very durable synthetic material in Poland and have an average life of about five years. The Sea Cloud carries almost 28 thousand square feet of sail (2650 meters). 

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  • Becquia in the Grenadines

    We dropped anchor in Admiralty Bay in the Island of Becquia at 6:50AM. Becquia is an Anglicized pronunciation of the ancient Carib name which translates as “Island in the Clouds.” Hamilton Battery was on our port side and the town Port Elizabeth directly in front of the bow. Alexander Hamilton’s father received a small parcel of land from the British authorities and relocated to Becquia from Nevis/St. Kitts. Despite entreaties from his son Alexander they ever met while the father was on Becquia. After breakfast, we boarded tenders for the short ride to the quayside. There our redoubtable open pickup trucks awaited us. Indentured servants from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, England and France were among the earliest Europeans here. Their heritage is evident in their faces. Of course, as with all the other islands there is a majority African-American population on the island.

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  • Off the Grenadines – Union Island

    We sailed out of Soufriere in St. Lucia last night on our way south to the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Sunrise was at approximately 6:09AM and the weather was a balmy 81 degrees Fahrenheit at 8AM. We had a 13mph breeze off our port beam and under sail we were doing 3.6kts. We were almost under full sail or as they say from “Royals down.” At 9:30 Tom Heffernan gave a talk on the religion of the Rastafarians. After Tom’s talk we hosted engine tours of the Sea Cloud and saw the very modern engines and some of the wonderful brass hardware from the original engine room of 1931. We had a good wind for much of the morning and sailing was superb. We decided that sail conditions were so favorable that we would put in at Union Island instead of Carricaiou which was a further 10 miles south.

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  • St. Lucia

    The sun rose this morning over mountainous St. Lucia at 6:10 a.m. We were making 5.7 knots with a wind 18mph on our port beam. The temperature was a balmy 82˚. Captain Nemerzhitskiy brought us within an easy view of the lush green west side of the island of St. Lucia. St. Lucia is approximately 212 square miles and has a population of 182 thousand. The earliest inhabitants likely reached here sometime around 600AD and called this island Ioüanalao which means “Where the Iguanas are Found.” We motored past the Hess oil distribution center just inside Grand Cul de Sac Bay. The oil is brought here in large tankers from Venezuela and then distributed throughout the islands. By 9:15 a.m. I could see the majestic Pitons rising directly off the forward port side of Sea Cloud. The Pitons “Petit and Gros” are volcanic plugs and have now been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for exceptional natural beauty. St. Lucia is called the “Helen of the Caribbean,” reminding us that she is as beautiful as Helen of Troy. Sailors went to their stations and we were under sail by 9 a.m.

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  • Bourg, Terre de Haut, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, France

    Only 30 miles separate our Sunday destination at the Iles des Saintes from Prince Rupert Bay and Fort Shirley on Dominica yesterday, but these islands are politically, culturally, and geographically worlds apart. While Dominica was rugged, wet, mountainous, forested, and somewhat basic in its development, the French Iles des Saintes are a dry lowland archipelago with a more refined French Caribbean architecture and appearance. In fact, while Hurricane Maria in September 2017 devastated Dominica and left 90 percent of the houses and buildings roofless, Iles des Saintes has most of its rooftops intact despite the same “direct hit.” And one of the most important and decisive naval battles in new world history was fought in those 30 miles that separate Dominica and Iles des Saintes.

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