Caribbean Holiday – St. Lucia to Bonaire

We had 9 souls aboard Verbena for the holidays! The Kohn family (Stephanie, Dave, Caleb (12) and Elio(10)) and Vera’s friend Ruby Flaherty joined from Boston for the winter break.

We started with a win in Rodney Bay! At the ARC awards presentation, Vera and Ben were the first kids to arrive from across the Atlantic and Verbena was second in class. Also nod to Verbena for best photos (photo credit, Bill).

Vera and Ben getting award for first kids across the finish line on Atlantic passage
St. Lucia to Bonaire Route

From Rodney Bay, we spent a couple of nights between the Pitons on St. Lucia. We climbed the “Petite” Piton (though it’s VERY steep, think ropes) and had dinner at a mountaintop resort with an amazing view.

Climbing Petite Piton
Ropes and sweat on the way up
Bill at top
Ruby was the most positive hiker/climber on the trip
Between the Pitons
Ruby and Vera on deck
At Ladera restaurant for sunset!
Halyard jumping in St. Lucia

From St. Lucia, we headed south to Bequia which was about 50 miles. It was a bit windy and wavy and most of the crew remained on deck. We did drop behind St. Vincent where the wind and seas calmed down for lunch.

There were lots of boats in Bequia, including many family boats we met from the ARC. Also joining us was the Cahill (John, Rachel, John (14) and Claire (10)) family from New York on Claire Sea, a Beneteau 60. Kristin, from our Atlantic crossing, was aboard Claire Sea as well.

We celebrated Christmas in Bequia with a beach bbq with many different boats, followed up by some Christmas caroling by dinghy to boats in the harbor that evening on our way back (Jingle Bells:).

Ruby driving to Bonaire
Dave was spreading the Christmas spirit in style with rum punch.
Christmas on the beach
Cahill’s brought the ham!
Elio and Ben (in gift from Dane)
Christmas pineapple
Hanukkah candles. We celebrated with a rhyme each night.
Dinghy ride back from dinner with Claire Sea

From Bequia, we headed to the Tobago Cays. The water is clear and gorgeous. We snorkeled with turtles, organized another beach pot luck, and played a trivia game organized by SV Mokara.

Turtle swimming behind the boat in Tobago Cays
Verbena swag for passage makers!

The Tobago Cays marked the end of a couple of months of sailing and hanging out with the family boats we met on the ARC Atlantic crossing. We hope to see many of them again in the Pacific but for now, we were continuing to head west while they were spending some more time enjoying the eastern Caribbean.

Bill with Bella from French Canadian boat Y Knot

After the Tobago Cays we anchored in Saline Bay on Mayreau and walked over the beach bar on the windward side of the island. From Mayreau, we did a quick hop over to Union Island and picked up a mooring. Although we went there hoping to do some provisioning, many items were quite scarce. We visited many small markets to stock up for 400 mile passage to Bonaire. Provisioning was more like scavenger hunting.

Playing in the water in Mayreau
Visiting an animal shelter in Union Island

From Union Island, we we did a short sail over to Petite St. Vincent with Claire Sea. We had a great lunch with the Cahill’s at the beach bar on the island. We celebrated New Year’s on Claire Sea with grilled lobsters and pasta. Thanks for the celebrations, ham and sailing, Claire Sea!

With the Cahill’s at Petite St. Vincent

We set out fairly early from Petite St. Vincent for Bonaire on New Year’s Day. The first day we had settled winds and set our symmetric spinnaker on a starboard jibe. After our first evening’s meal (for 9 people!) Bill realized that on our present course we’d be coming closer than comfort to some Venezuelan islands. Given what’s happening in the region, prudent guidance is to give Venezuela a wide berth. We decide to take down the spinnaker and run for the night with a poled out jib on the other jibe. On the second day we went back to our gennaker until the breeze dropped off even more as evening approached and we began to motor-sail. In the middle of the night, Bill could not get fuel to transfer properly and we decided to start sailing again – slowly. By morning the problem was solved but the breeze had picked up by then and no more need for the engine. Kids took turns doing day and night watches and it was fun to have many people to share the passage.

Crew for passage to Bonaire
Elio at the helm during passage
Sunset on the passage – no land in sight!
The adults trying to strike a cool pose;)

We arrived in Bonaire in the evening on Friday in time to go out for dinner at the Brewery – yum! The next day customs/immigration and pack up day. Thanks Kohn’s and Flaherty’s for epic fun filled holiday we will not forget!

Made it to Bonaire mudslide!
Nice dinner for tired crew.
Kids’ Hanukah gift for parents was a song in Bonaire before heading to airport

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