Top Menu

When sailing through the Windward and Leeward Caribbean islands, either northbound or southbound, the Captain of a vessel has a significant decision to make, that being whether to travel along the western, leeward side of the islands or the eastern, windward side. For the laymen reading this, with the trade winds blowing almost always out of the east, the western shoreline tends to offer more options for shelter. This is important in the event that the weather or conditions turn out to be worse than expected, or the vessel encounters mechanical problems. The downside to a sailboat traveling on the leeward side of the island is that the wind is almost always affected by the land. Now in some cases, this might be desirable, if shelter from the wind is what is being sought. If you’re looking for “clean air” to sail in though, the conditions are almost always better on the windward side.

We have travelled up and down the leeward side of Grenada multiple times and to the best I can recall, at least a portion of every trip has been spent motoring. Additionally, if one’s destination is an anchorage on the southern coast, a very difficult beat straight into the trade winds will be waiting as soon as you round the corner of Point Salines. Believe me, we’ve done it, multiple times.

The only time we have travelled down the windward side of Grenada was on the southbound trip on the schooner Coral last August. It was a great trip and left us eager to find the same conditions on our own boat. Of course, sailing on our 32′ catamaran is not the same as sailing on a big schooner, but we were still willing to give it a go.

This morning we arose at 5:00 AM while our friends Kirk and Donna on the catamaran Ainulindale did the same. We were underway promptly at 6:00 and right from the get-go we were making excellent speed, even with our main sail reefed down. It was nice to be able to enjoy our morning coffee while watching the partially cloud-covered sunrise as we departed Carriacou.

Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, our starting point today.

We had of course checked the weather and knew that the seas might still be a bit bumpy, a “transition day” the Weather Guru called it. We were pretty confident that it would turn out to be nice though. There was, however, a short period of time where at least Rebecca and I had our doubts. As we made our way into the main channel between Carriacou and Grenada, heading southeast, we could see large whitecaps in the distance. When we spy something like that the first thing we do is check the charts because it often is caused by significant shallowing of the seabed, if not a dangerous reef. The chart showed no such feature and my knowledge of the area didn’t lead me to believe that one existed there either. Within a few minutes though, the waves built measurably. So much so that I was seriously reconsidering our decision to travel down the eastern shoreline. It’s worth noting that, although we could feel that it was rough, we could really tell how bad it was by watching our friends’ 44′ cat smashing through the steep waves. When we called our buddies to check in with them to see how they were making out, Kirk relayed that from his vantage point, high up in his flybridge, he could see the seas settling down in the distance. It was then that we realized that what we were experiencing was a build up due to the effect of the strong east-flowing current opposing the easterly winds. Once out of that funnel, the waves did indeed diminish and we continued on with our fast sail.

Shortly after this, as we passed east of Ronde Island and Diamond Rock, we entered an area with a ton of birds flying around and diving into the water. This is typically a sign of prime fishing territory and we quickly got our lure in the water*. No more than 30 seconds after deploying it we got a strike but as we reeled it in, we found no fish. A minute or two after that though, we got another hit which ultimately turned out to be a nice tuna. At almost the same time as we were bringing in our fish, our friends on Ainulindale landed a tuna of their own. Awesome! Although we continued to fish as we sailed quickly down the coast, we had no more hits. We’re not greedy though and are happy to settle for that one tuna which will feed us for quite a few meals.

The conditions remained constant for us as we continued southward, putting us into St. David’s harbor at 11:45 AM. I think this could very well be our fastest passage to date and if not, it’s definitely in the top three. Being back in Grenada is almost like returning home for us. Having spent all last summer here, we know both the island and a large number of people and are looking forward to meeting up with them again. Tonight though, we’re going to celebrate our friends’ arrival in Grenada. Good times with good friends!

*I didn’t mention this on the blog yet but the last fish that we hooked broke our rod in two AND stole our new lure! If I hadn’t had a tether attached to the reel he would have taken that too. #%#^! So today, we were just fishing with a yo-yo.


  1. That’s a nice catch with just a yo-yo. Duly impressed.

  2. Wow, a real Sailing post!!!


    Rebecca looks hot!

  3. Fast passage, fresh fish & fabulous friends. What a great day and fitting arrival in Grenada!

  4. We Notice the PDF on Rebecca.
    What is your rule for wearing? Sea conditions, wind, or always?

    • PDF = Portable Document Format, but I knew what you meant. 🙂

      We put them on according to conditions or what we are doing. Sitting on the transom, landing a fish in big waves is one of those times when they are required!

  5. A yo-yo’s just fine….you’ll see. A good bungee set-up and it, is really all that a cruising boat needs. Of course you might “want” more, but you’ve learned by now the difference! My, my, you guys have learned so very much…it’s a little weird that I might be “proud” of bloggers I’ve never met watching them learn the “ropes” of a cruising lifestyle, maybe even better than I have so long ago. Sea miles and cruising “are” a bit different!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Ken. As for the yoyo, we have caught as least as many fish with it, if not more. With a big yoyo you have a lot of leverage to bring the fish in.

  6. You might be interested to read Karen’s blog on their sail today. They had rather more spectacular weather a little north of you. Perhaps that bumpy part of your your trip was not just wind-against-tide.


    • It appears as if that was yesterday, not today. Yesterday was a bit more squally. Not a nice day to be sailing, especially later in the day.

  7. Jim Top O' the World

    Mike and Rebecca, I can depend on your page bringing me right back to cruising, thank you. You gave that rod a good life. If the reel still works you could strap it down as pictured in the “Cruiser’s Guide to Fishing” that you featured awhile back. Miss you

  8. Looking at your chart pic – thanks again – it is obvious that there is a very sharp edge to the 50m depth area. It suddenly drops past the 100m contour and down to the hundreds and the 1000m contour.

    Does this cause serious disturbance to the seas at the surface/

    And do you carefully keep well inside the 50m depth contour whenever possible on your inter-island hops?


    • I have looked at the chart and the shelving of the seabed certainly could be a factor. Personally I think it was the current vs. wind.

      As for your other question, I’m not sure I understand. “Inside” as in less than 50m? If so the answer is no. Quite the opposite actually.

  9. Sounds like it was fun! Cool pic of Ainulindale.

    And for your previous hiking views – thanks again for sharing!

    I’ve have been brushing up my memory reading “Sailing for Dummies”, and dreaming by “Yachting Monthly”. There was a catamaran test in December issue – guess who I thought of.
    We have scheduled us on a “How to Use a Spinnaker” course+sail soon.
    Sad news is our boat was already going to water, when someone noticed that when the boat was high on the linens, the bottom got wobbly. This had earlier gone unnoticed, when on hard/water.
    It turned out that the traverse support needs to be “beefed up” before launch.
    Otherwise the keel could fall off (!) and make a tear in seagoing or hitting something.
    It seems that the previous owner (or his son) has hit a rock or two (there are plenty here to find) and the wear and tear has not been taken care of. Insurance would have covered the repair (-deductible), if announce would have been made in time.
    The seller was an “old salt”, who has helped us with our later questions. It seems a bit odd he also sailed with all our family and crossed a windy bay with us too. The bilge was dry and bolts rostfree, but there are some hairlines which are easily kept as “old boat patina”. Maybe son didn’t tell papa everything or was just happy with only a “tiny kiss mark on the keel”?
    I would give a “medal for life saving in advance” for the guy who took notice.
    They will have time to fix it after next week and it will take about a week to put on new support and laminate it. After that it will be like new and safe to sail.
    In considering is that should we put that much money into it or just “push it into a bonfire” and swallow the damage. :/ On the other she is now very shiny with new paint and a new septisystem. 🙂

    About keels falling of p.38 ( no prob for cat people :))

    (Feel free to edit this post, I have no intention to “hijack” Your blog)

    • Having your keel fall off would NOT be a god thing. I’d recommend getting it fixed. 🙂

      Too bad it wasn’t spotted before you were launching it but it could have been worse, you may not have noticed it at all.

  10. Nico (fractionally of S/V Antares in the Chesapeake)

    Hi guys!

    I’m slowly but surely making my way through your blog from the beginning. Almost there!

    A quick question about your tuna fishing. Have you heard about histamine poisoning that apparently comes along with tuna? I came across this in my research, in case you’re interested (better safe than sorry):

    Cheers and safe travels!


Comments are closed.