The Mystery of Determining Longitude
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Have you ever been to Greenwich? If you haven’t, make sure it is on your bucket list. Not only is it a delightful place with a spectacular view of London and the Thames River, but it is the real birth place of “Longitude” and home to some of the most amazing master mathematicians of the burgeoning modern times of the 17 and 18oo’s.
The zero degree line of longitude was selected and placed in Greenwich in 1751 and then later in 1851 it was moved a few feet to align with a new telescope placed at the now zero deg. zero minute, zero second longitude position. This designated line placed on earth is a humankind determined and positioned line. It stretches from the true north pole to the true south pole.
The zero mark could have been placed anywhere on earth. It was placed in Greenwich because of the incredible work being done by the Royal Observatory mathematicians and astronomers. They needed to set a zero point and what better than exactly underneath their telescope The axis of spin of the earth also passes through the north and south poles. This is unlike the zero degree latitude line of the equator. This line is a universally given line and can not by randomly placed by humankind.
In the 1700′s in bars and cafe’s all over the topic of the times was that determining Longitude on the ocean was akin to perpetual motion – it was seemingly impossible. Yet the challenge was there and £20,000 had been put up as cash incentives to inventors to help solve the issue. £10,000 of which was ordered by the King as prize money to the person who could solve it. Longitude was that illusive!
If you understand that in those days because of ships not knowing exactly where they were, there were many shipwrecks costing lives but also huge amounts of money. Thus global positioning was imperative. Latitude had been pretty easily solved much earlier. If you do a noon shot of the sun to determine its angle above the horizon then compare this with tables of the suns angle on a specific day of the year you get your Latitude. But longitude had no such luxury of determination.
I had the luxury of recently visiting Greenwich and was delighted to see and learn about one of my favorite topics. Longitude. Here I am with one foot in the eastern hemisphere and one in the western hemisphere.
The zero degree Meridian Line in Greenwich
What was particularly awesome about my trip was that the Maritime Museum in Greenwich was displaying a whole history tour of “Longitude” and I was actually able to see the time pieces that John Harrison invented to allow ships to keep time at sea and thus solve the Longitude problem and collect the Kings prize.
I highly recommend this short read of the book Longitude.
Variation aka Declination
We discuss Variation/Declination heavily in our NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course. This is the difference between the charted true north and what will read on your compass due to the earths magnetic poles not aligning with the axis poles. Interesting enough, one means used to determining rough longitude int he old days was to take a measurement of the variation. True North can easily be measured by the north star in the Northern hemisphere and magnetic north by a compass. This difference combined with a variation map of the world allowed approximate longitude determination. The method was rudimentary at best and provided no accuracy.
On that same topic and quite interesting also is that a very accurate global map of variation exists today and is programmed into every magnetic field chip used to determine compass directions. Your smart phone can tell you magnetic North and this is measured by the electronics measuring the earth’s magnetic field. To go from magnetic north to true north, the phone needs to know where on the planet it is. Once this is known (usually via GPS measurement) it applies the known table of variations and can then show also true north.
Here is also a great website resource to see your position on earth but also find your variation.
It’s astounding to know that these guys back in the 1700′s knew all this and were the discoverers of this knowledge. Another part of this whole story is bought to life by Cook’s first voyage in 1769 to Tahiti. He was sent there by the Royal Astronomical society to measure the times that Venus was to transit the sun. This was predicted by Haley more than 40 years earlier. By comparing the measurement of times of the transit from many different locations on the planet, the mathematicians of that time were able to calculate the distance to the sun. AND the nailed it within hundredths of a percent.
Here is the picture I took of Cook’s Monument in Tahiti at the place where he measured the transit of Venus across the sun in 1769.
Cook himself used John Harrisons Chronometer (Watch) on his second voyage around the world. Cook’s logbook notes about 6 months into the trip, said that he believed more and more that Harrisons time piece was to be the way of the future.
I really hoped you enjoyed this little trip through the discovery of knowledge that we all use today virtually in our everyday lives. Whether we are aware of it or not, Latitude and Longitude is touching us manytimes every day in our every way.
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Global Director of Education
P.S – If you are interested in Navigation, take our Coastal Navigation Course
Coastal Navigation Course
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Sailing the helm should be natural – like riding a bike
What do these have in common?
This past summer I invested some serious time into having my daughter learn to ride a bike and it paid off on the last day of summer break.
It’s very sailing related so read on – no really!
Here’s what I did. I took the pedals and training wheels off and lowered the seat so that both tippy toes could touch the ground. Then on a hard surface, with a very slight incline I had her sit on the seat and push the bike along with her toes. At first when the bike tipped to one side she would put her full foot down to catch balance. After about 10 different sessions I noticed that as the bike was tipping she would automatically compensate and steer the bike to account for the tipping. I did not teach her this – it was just automatic and becoming natural. She was keeping her feet up and the bike was gliding. At about session 15 she was doing this to the point where I thought she was ready. I took her to a grassy area with a slightly bigger incline – just to account for the friction of the grass. I put on the pedals and pushed her off and AWAY SHE WENT.
The key ingredient here is automatic compensation. She did not even know she was doing it. She would automatically turn the wheel to follow the direction of her imbalance.
Helming a sailboat is exactly the same. At first you are all over the place trying to keep a straight line but as with my daughter, the more time you spend at the helm the more automatic it is going to become. This of course means more helm time more helm time and more helm time.
If you need more helm time but don’t own a boat read this post about gaining experience on a sailboat.
I was speaking to my friend Robert Barlow at Texas Sailing Academy in Austin Texas yesterday. Robert is an excellent sailing instructor. He described a similar thing when he teaches. We were both talking about how students get distracted by the wind meter and the wind vane and the sails and waves and boats and… which keeps getting them off course. All we want the student to learn at first is to feel the boat and react accordingly to keep the boat sailing in a straight line – towards a distance house or tree on land as a reference. What Robert does is to blind fold the student so that they have to rely on their senses.
Some of the senses are:
- Boat heeling more or less
- Hearing the wind direction over your ears
- Hearing the flapping of sails
- Feeling pressure on the helm
All of these give an indication that something is happening requiring an adjustment.
BUT the big trick is to get to a point where the information by passes your brain and goes directly to your hand. Not really – your brain still does the processing, but assigns less and less processing power to the required action – like the riding the bike scenario. How much processing power does your brain assign to needing to turn the wheel to stay balanced. If it required any of the main Ram to stop and think – “Oh I am falling – now which way should I turn the wheel to make me stay up – um let me see if I turn to the right the bike will do ummm that or left it will do this – ok left it is”. No that doesn’t happen.
Back to sailing. We need to get to a point where if the boat say heels due to a wind gust then the HAND automatically adjusts the helm to compensate the boat wanting to turn upwind. You hand just goes into automatic mode and prevents that by turning the boat down wind WITH OUT THINKING. Your senses hear the sail flapping – your HAND turns the boat down wind. Your ears sense more wind in your upwind ear, your HAND turns the boat upwind.
It is like your hand is doing the processing not your brain. This point is well proven possible by the bike scenario.
A few months back I was out riding my mountain bike. I was angling towards a tiny rock ledge no more than 3 inches high. If the front wheel takes on that ledge, the ledge will win. It’s simple physics a force to the left at the bottom of the bike near the ground opposing my momentum centered 4 feet off the ground will create a tipping moment. One that quickly ends in the middle of a cactus in Texas. None of these thoughts went consciously through my brain as my eyes delivered the information. My right leg mashed the pedal down, both arms pulled and my back muscles tensed to shift my weight back – all automatically and in the correct timing to lift the tire up over the ledge. Having completed that maneuver the arms swung to miss a rock and so on. At the next water break I stopped and thought about that and said WOW – that brain process is cool. Any neuroscientist sailors care to pop me an email to explain this? – I’ll post it as a comment here. How does the brain assign the processing power initially at a conscious level then pass it down to the subconscious. Even years later, the subconscious remains – ridden a bike lately? It’s still easy.
Back to sailing. And this is a note to instructors and to captains teaching crew members to helm. Be conscious of the subconscious.Try to help your student move that reactionary process to the subconscious so that the “hand” is doing the processing not the brain. If you are thinking about it – you just need more helm time.
I always say:
Director of Education
Congrats Alexandra on your first ride without the training wheels.
Take the NauticEd Skipper Course now. A beginner to intermediate sailing course. Log time in our free online sailors logbook and begin to earn your sailing certification accepted by yacht charter companies worldwide. Signin/signup for free now.
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What is the ICC?
Wanting to go sailing in Europe? You’re going to need the International Certificate of Competence (The ICC).
The ICC is defined by United Nations Resolution 40 of which 22 member states in Europe have adopted the resolution. It is the only sailing certificate fully recognized by these countries. Additionally, many countries who are not signatories to the resolution still require the ICC via local marine laws. There is no other sailing certificate that is government issued and United Nations accepted.
Why do you need an ICC?
By it’s very nature, sailing is an international recreation. When sailing you will invariably interact with shipping lanes and internationally bound ships operating under international laws of the ocean as well as light houses, lights, buoys etc. One such set of laws is the International Rules of Preventing Collision at Sea. Another is the international agreements on lights and buoys known as IALA-A and IALA-B. As a recreational sailor YOU MUST adhere to these laws whether educated about them or not. In considering this and remarkably so, enough countries got together and developed a minimum standard of education a sailor must meet to be able to sail in their waters. This standard was then adopted by United Nations so that the standard would extend internationally. Wow what a great idea and huge kudos to the founding diplomats and promoters of this standard.
What is the requirement for the International Certificate of Competence?
The requirement is a demonstration of competence in all areas of sailing from the rules of preventing collision, navigation techniques, safety of lives at sea, understanding lights and buoys, meteorology, tides and currents, good seamanship etc. You must be able to demonstrate theory knowledge and practical competence.
How do I get an International Certificate of Competence?
This can be achieved in one of two ways but only through an approved ICC issuing training center.
(1) A one day assessment. This is an intensive one day on the water test out. There is no instruction. The assessor will merely ask theory questions and require practical demonstration in all the areas of requirements above. If you can’t quickly and effortlessly demonstrate how to calculate, plot and follow a series of courses, determine tidal heights and current flows, answer questions about day markers, cardinal buoys, lights etc etc - then more than likely you will fail the assessment.
The best way to prepare for this type of test is to complete the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Series of Courses.
(2) A five day on the water training combined with extensive theory training. At the end of the 5 days and given that you have demonstrated growing competence, you will more than likely be awarded the Certificate of Competence.
The best way to prepare for the 5 day training and so that you spend the time on the boat learning the practical aspects of sailing is to again complete the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master series of Courses. If you don’t do this type of theory onshore prior to the practical, you will not be able to demonstrate the competence required. For example, during the 5 days on the boat you will be expected to already understand the theory of navigation. On board you will learn how to apply the theory already known to the practical situation. Simply stated, if the theory takes 40 hours to go through at home, how could you go through this on board while also trying to learn the practical?
Who are approved ICC issuing training centers and where are they?
Signatory countries to Resolution 40 appoint their sailing governing bodies to issue the ICC to their citizens.
But what about non-signatory countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand?
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) through the government of England is the largest governing body appointed to issue the United Nations ICC. Approved training centers of the RYA worldwide are assessing and training centers able to issue the ICC to English and non-English citizens. Americans, Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis then are able to gain the ICC through an approved RYA training center. For Americans and Canadians the best place to go is the approved RYA training and assessment center Yachting Education in Annapolis, Maryland. Yachting Education’s chief instructor is Mark Thompson who uniquely holds a United States Coast Guard Masters Licence as well as an RYA Chief Instructor Licence. Mark also has over 20 years of sailing instruction under his belt. Strange as it sounds but, there is no other sailing school in the USA or Canada who focuses solely on recreational sailing training AND is able to issue the ICC.
Why is this? Well simply stated, the United States and Canada did not sign Resolution 40 and thus are not able to appoint any governing body to issue the ICC. This means that there is no certifying body resident in the USA or Canada who can issue the ICC. Other certifying private companies have tried to fake it by making up an international certificate. These are not recognized by the United Nations and are not government approved or issued and the level of tested competence is not to the standard of the ICC in any case.
So how does NauticEd fit into the ICC equation?
NauticEd through it’s Bareboat Charter Master series of courses provides the proper level of theory instruction as required by the standard to pass the theory knowledge portion of the ICC. NauticEd directs its North American students seeking the ICC to Yachting Education in Annapolis who is an affiliated practical sailing training school of NauticEd and an RYA approved training center. For other countries, after taking and passing the NauticEd theory, NauticEd directs its students to visit an RYA training school in their area to do the practical. As above, you have the choice of 1 day assessment or 5 day training.
Are you considering Europe for Chartering? Contact Yachting Education in Annapolis or visit your local RYA training Center.
So what about the Caribbean and Pacific etc?
As of now there is no government approved certificate required by any country in the Caribbean and equatorial Pacific Islands. While NauticEd still recommends the ICC under any circumstance, our Bareboat Charter Master Certificate without the ICC stamp is sufficient proof to Charter Companies of competence. The Bareboat Charter Master Certificate is not the easiest to obtain. It requires at least 50 hours of home based theory study with extensive exams plus it requires 50 days of logged sailing experience on the water – 25 at least of which must be as master of the vessel and 25 at least of which must be on a vessel 28 ft or greater. Other companies will issue a Bareboat Certificate after a weekend on a boat training – but we just say “come on everyone – really? One weekend? With the potential of all the what-if scenario’s at sea one weekend or even two is asking for trouble and is irresponsible”. Fortunately, Yacht Charter Companies require a practical resume even if a student shows up with one of these weekend or two certificates. If the experience is weak then the yacht charter company will not accept the charter reservation despite the “certificate” and will require a captain on board for the duration. This is exactly why NauticEd provides it’s cloud based sailing resume built automatically from experience logbook entires and eLearning courses passed in addition to practical instructor electronic signoff and NOW the latest – CrewMate Authentication whereby your sailing logbook can be fully authenticated and digitally signed.
Practical instructor sign off can be achieved through a NauticEd affiliated sailing school where instructors have been socially rated by pier students. And if 5 days on the Chesapeake Bay is out of the question for you, then get instruction at your local NauticEd Sailing school then do the one day assessment option in Annapolis.
Some students have asked us the obvious – if I can get a bareboat charter certificate easier through another company why would I not do that. Our answer is two fold (1) Yacht charter companies go off a resume not the certificate. It maybe so that they approve you anyway based on the NauticEd certificate we digitally produce for you based on your courses and own logbook entries (2) our personal belief is that if you have not yet achieved at least our standard of education and experience then we think you should prior to risking lives of friends and family at sea. What if … ?
Additionally, NauticEd is the only company in the world that produces a cloud based authenticated logbook. This gives charter companies the confidence that your stated time is more than just made up. It is living proof of your experience. Learn more about the authenicated sailor’s logbook.
Given all the time constraints and directional pulls in our lives, there are few things left for us to be able to achieve on a personal basis. What about achieving for yourself an International Certificate of Competence. It means that you will be approved by the United Nations to sail anywhere in the world. Let’s hang that on the wall in your office. Maybe even your boss might recognize it. But it’s going to take some work and sweat investment.
Start the process through NauticEd now – start by investing in the Bareboat Charter Master Series of Courses .
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Director of Education
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How to dock a Catamaran
Here is an email we received from a student asking about how to dock a Catamaran.
Good day Grant and team,
Your Catamaran Sailing Confidence course is great thank you and achieved for me the confidence you designed it to do. I am bare boat chartering a catamaran in the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia in a few weeks and, while I have reasonable keel boat experience, your course gave me the complete picture of catamaran sailing. Thank you.
I have one question which I would appreciate you answering: How do you dock a catamaran side on to a dock, for example, at the very end of a marina arm or alongside a long jetty?
Section 2.1 of your course explains manoeuvring under power (spin; slow forwards turn; vector) and sections 2.5.1 and 2.5.2 discuss getting out and coming back to the dock. However, other than the repetition of the vectoring animation, I don’t see an explicit description of how to dock the catamaran side-on to a dock.
Would you recommend vectoring and if so, where would you position the boat relative to the jetty (i.e. how far away and where relative to the two yachts you could be docking between)?
Alternatively, would you recommend approaching the dock forwards at a shallow angle, turn the wheel hard away from the berth when the bow nearest the dock is within (half?) a boat length of the dock and then, and when the bow nearly touches the dock vector the boat to the dock (or spin the stern of the hull closest to the dock towards the dock)?
I would value hearing your views which I will be putting into practice in the Hamilton Island Marina at the end of August. Thanks very much.
Kevin here is our answer. Dock the Catamaran exactly as you would a monohull. We’ve included an animation below of how we do it on a tight space. The advantage to docking a catamaran is the extreme awesome ability to maneuver. You don’t have to worry about propwalk either. Just steer the boat in at an angle. As the bow gets close, round the boat out to glide parallel with the dock and engage reverse to stop the boat. As below you can use springing with a dock line forward to drive the aft in. But you don’t need to lend on the spring as much because with the bow held by the spring the aft will naturally spin in with engines engaged opposite.
As with all our recommendations on maneuvering, try this out in deep water next to a floating buoy.
Thanks so much for the compliment on the catamaran sailing course – we get a lot and it is one of our most popular courses.
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Using a Breton Plotter aka Portland Plotter to determine a course
The marvel of eLearning courses is that when you do an upgrade – it is instantly live. No waiting for the next publication print run.
Here we have added an animation of using the Breton Plotter to determine a course in Long Island Sound from a buoy we are passing close to – to the entrance buoy to New London Harbor. We want to know the true and magnetic course. Note this is not equivalent to your heading. Heading will take into account leeway and current.
Have fun with this animation and please share with your friends.
Learn how to navigate like the pros with the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course.
Coastal Navigation Course
Stand-On and Give-Way: You just might have it wrong
FIRST If you think boaters should know the Rules of Preventing Collision please LIKE this post via facebook or g+1 it. Thanks it really helps get the word out there and help water safety.
(Jump directly to the FREE updated International Rules of Preventing Collision at Sea course it’s quick, easy and entertaining)
Two sail boats collide. One had wind over their port side and one had wind over their starboard side. The starboard tack boat saw the port tack boat and gave the port tack boat plenty of warning with a horn, but the port boat just kept on going straight. Who will loose the legal battle in court? Are you really sure? If you said starboard is the stand-on boat over port you could be dead wrong.
Below, the aft boat who is on a starboard tack catches up to the forward port tack boat. Port tack boat does not get out of the way and starboard passes close just to prove the point that port should give way because port gives way to starboard right? right? But there is a collision because port refused to move – who’d loose?
Starboard Tack Boat and Port Tack Boat – who gives way?
Power boats give way to sailboats right? So if a power boat collides into a sailboat the powerboat looses in court right? Well maybe not!
The above might have a few sailboaties jumping up and down wanting to pick up the phone and call us – first you might want to take a look through our new Navigation Rules Course.
Inspired by our Sailing School Instructor, Tim McMahon of Sail Quest in Thailand we have revamped our Navigation Rules Course. And because of Tim’s passion for explaining the dry – we were able to turn a completely dry topic into something interesting and engaging. In fact, we actually guarantee that you will love this course AND we guarantee you will learn something. If you do neither then we’ll give you money back on this course – well that’s slightly hard because the course is free. But none the less – OUR NEW NAVIGATION RULES COURSE ROCKS – thanks Tim McMahon of SailQuest Thailand.
What we did with the revamp of this course was to go through the International Regulations on Preventing Collision at Sea. We pull the rules apart and describe them with animations and example situations. Then we added a discussion about that rule to show who and why you might loose in court if there was a collision. What you say? But I was in the right! The discussion points out why even though you may have been the stand-on boat you might loose.
What this means is that everything you have learned from reading and learning the Rules of the Road might be wrong. This free sailing course is a definite must do and a definite must share.
Take the FREE Navigation Rules Course now.
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How to Understand True vs Apparent Wind
ahhmmm – if you like this animation please LIKE it or g+1 it. It really helps us grow.
Here is our latest wind animation built using html5 technology so that it works on computers and mobile devices. It means you can bookmark this page on your phone and use it to explain the concept of true vs apparent to anyone – even whilst out on the boat.
Slide the slider bar.
We are building this into our new basic sail trim iPad eLearning course. As soon as it is up we will link this page through to the App. In the meantime please enjoy true versus apparent wind animation explanation.
FREE SAILOR’S LOGBOOK ONLINE
The NauticEd Logbook has been greatly enhanced to add specific information about each logbook entry.
Previoulsy, you made an entry of a day of sailing in a specific month and identified which vessel you were on and if you were the skipper or a crew member. While this was great and served well to build up your legitimate logbook entries, we decided that you would be served better is you could add authenticity to this experience by having a crew mate verify this sailing venture actually happened. This necessitated that the actual day of the month is identified and this gave rise to the opportunity to add some more specific optional information about that sailing venture like sea conditions, miles travelled, crew mates present and other notes.
We also made the sailors logbook entry system smart and quick so that it would speed up your past history entry process. In addition, we made it easy to replace your old logbook entries with new ones. All you have to do is make a past history entry in the same month and the logbook will automatically replace any old style entries with new style entries. There is an edit your past history window page that allows you to see what still remains as an old style entry. Right now we are advising to not make entries using your NauticEd iPhone App, but to do them online instead – for now until the App is updated.
What is significant about the NauticEd Sailor’s Logbook is that it is unique. No other logbook in the world like this exists and especially no other logbook in the world allows you to gain authenticated entries through your crewmates who were present with you on the sailing venture.
Here is a screen shot of a logbook entry page for your Sailors Logbook below. Also see the article on Crew Mate Authentication ™
If you have not started your Sailor’s Logbook entry yet, Login now for free and get going. It serves as a permanent electronic Sailor’s Logbook stored in the cloud – forever – for FREE.
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Making a sailor’s logbook entry is incredibly simple
Sailing Vacation in Martinique
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The Lee family chartered a Dream Yachts Charter Catamaran for the month of June for an ultimate sailing vacation. They asked me to come with them to assist and enjoy their company for the first 2 weeks. Who can resist an offer like that? And besides – we at NauticEd needed some new chartering photos and some content material to write about. Thus for us it was a business trip.
Customer Service Calls with Beautiful Fort De France in the Background
Their loose plan was to start in Martinique and move south through the Grenadines and to just go with the flow of whatever sounded good. The only real agenda was to drop me off in St Vincent on June 14th to catch a flight back home. I’m writing this from San Juan airport in Puerto Rico in transit.
My following report on this style of chartering and what we did in my 2 weeks is going to be 5 star, 10/10. Read on!
Martinique was relatively easy to get to. There was a direct flight out of San Juan using Seaborne airlines. It arrived at 7pm and so because the base would be closed we pre-booked a taxi through Dream Yachts. This is the way to go because the taxi driver was informed of the boat slip and he took us right to the boat. The 48 foot Fountain Pugeot Catamaran was pre readied for us and we were delighted with its presentation to us by Dream Yacht Charters (DYC). We also provisioned the basics through DYC.
The next morning (Sunday) we lightly provisioned some perishables, got a chart briefing, a show through the boat, did customs and immigration paperwork (because we would be exiting the country via boat) and headed out.
Tides were not to be a problem throughout the whole trip. Here is the Navionics screen shot of the tides for Fort De France. They showed less than 1 foot if variation.
Tides in Fort De France
Without doing a complete day by day blow of all the events – I’ll give you the high level summary so that you can be convinced that Martinique et all is a definite must visit in your lifetime preferably sooner than later (just in case you’re run over by a car). One thing to note as you sail around is the incredible history that this whole area has had. For example, Napoleon’s Wife, Josephine, was born in Martinique and thus we visited a statue of her in the capital city of Fort De France. Fort De France itself is a wonderful city and while I’m not a big one on visiting a city on a sailing trip this is a must stop. The people there are all dressed impeccably, are extremely polite and all want to help. No one harassed us to buy things. We were left to ourselves to just enjoy. Thus, we ended up staying two nights in the bay right below the Fort Saint Louis area which was originally established in the Mid 1600′s.
Fort Saint Louis at Fort De France
The fruit and fish markets are wonderful and we stocked up, being grateful that we only lightly provisioned at the Base Marina.
Fruit provisioning in Fort De France Martinique
We moved up the coast to St. Piere and again were delighted by a wonderfully relaxing township. The town was destroyed completely in 1902 by the towering mass of the volcano, Mount Pelee, above the town with approximately 30,000 people perishing. Ruins of the previously extravagant theater still exist and are a tourist attraction blossoming with flowering Bougainivilleas. See the interesting Wikipedia story of Mt. Pelee.
We visited the rum factory in St. Piere which is a definite must visit as well. Local rum in Martinique is awesome some of it made by locals who sell in the markets and some more professionally made. Due to the microclimates created by the terrain, Martinique grows a lot of sugar cane – forming the basis of the rum.
Depaz Rum factory
Each day we downloaded the weather forecast onto our iPads with the PocketGrib App. It showed about 15-20 knots easterly. This is an incredibly useful App to have on a sailing venture like this. Read more about how to use PocketGRIB in our Electronic Navigation Course.
From Saint Piere, we decided to check out the windward side of Martinique. We set of about 9 in the morning. Upon getting closer to the north end the Atlantic swells came rolling in and winds picked up to about 23 knots. Whilst not that bad of conditions, the long tack we would have to do or to beat oursleves up heading directly into the swells lead us to a decision about 4 hours into it to just turn around and go back to St. Piere. The decision was not so much a chicken decision, but more based in that we wanted the crew to enjoy. Slogging it out for the next 2 days in a big swell when the leeward side offered nice wind and flat seas with frequent snorkeling stops seemed like a wiser decision. However – we heard that the windward side is awesome and so don’t let that discourage you from getting around there.
Back in St. Piere we snorkeled a wreck in about 25 feet of water. The bay there is littered with wrecks which were swallowed by the 1902 eruption. They provide a wonderful home for sea life including massive barrel sponges. For Customs and Immigration, we did an advance check out of the county in St. Piere.
St. Piere wreck
Heading south back down the coast we stopped at Petit Anse for an overnight. Ashore there we again found great markets and the local fisherman chopped off a kilogram (2.2 lbs) of tuna with his machete from a massive 60-70 kg tuna he had caught.
So that was one week – wow that went fast. Martinique people primarily speak French and they use Euros for money. Knowing some French will certainly help you get by – mine came in quite handy.
Next we moved onto St. Lucia with a stop in Rodney bay in the north. Here we checked in to Customs and Immigration, topped up with fuel and re-provisioned with Gregory the local produce man who shows up to your boat in his double decker dinghy. We asked for some cilantro to go with the ceviche we were making from the Tuna. Yes he said I have some and he promptly climbed onto the second story of his dinghy, picked some from a pot he was growing on top and gave us a little bag.
Gregory the Fruit man in Rodney Bay St. Lucia
The sail from Martinique to St Lucia is a good one. Winds were out of the East and we were heading south – a nice beam reach with 20 knots of wind. Sea state varied but certainly there were some good 2 – 3 meter waves rolling through. I did make some fresh ginger tea for one of our crew who was feeling a little sickly. That worked!
We stayed briefly in St Lucia – only two nights. The second we spent at the Pitons which is a must just due to the majestic sight they provide. There are mooring buoys in the may to the south. You have to pay for permission to enter the park and also for a mooring ball. Total is about $us40. I did a little separate right up on this area due to an attitude adjusting event.
The Pitons in St. Lucia
Next we crossed to St. Vincent. Here we also had some good winds – note the boat speed.
Crossing from St Lucia to St Vincent
Strangely most people had told us to skip St. Vincent due to the crime. We did however decide to stop in Cumberland Bay which was about 2/3rds of the way down St Vincent just because we felt that the 50 mile trip from the Pitons on St. Lucia to Bequia Island was too far for one day. I’m so glad we stopped over because we had a fantastic experience in St. Vincent. The people are so friendly and wanting tourism. People said yes there is crime but in isolated spots just like in your country – right? And right they are. Given our experience of St Vincent and even our last night there I’d put St. Vincent back on the must visit list. I did a separate write up on St. Vincent and Cumberland Bay see that here.
Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent from the hill behind
Next to Bequia Island – Ahhh Bequia – that’s what all the yachties who have visited Bequia say. Why – don’t know – there is just a special relaxing feeling about Bequia. Why – still don’t know – it just is. Partly because of Admiralty Bay (the main harbor) and how stunning it is and partly because every islander living there tells you so.
Right Before Entering Bequia, Local Photographer Kenmore Henville came out to greet us with his camera.
Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer
He shot a dozen or so shots of us – this being one of the best. Mainly because I am on the bow.
Our Catamaran in Bequia Island
We stayed two nights in Bequia just hanging out and visiting the locals ashore.
We did a scuba dive just out side the bay on the north end. I’ve done probably 100-200 dives in my life and I would have to say that was near the top. An unassuming little dive looking place with plenty of coral and tropical fish. We dove with Dive Adventures of Bequia. They had good equipment and friendly knowledgeable dive masters. Ashore there are some great restaurants, a fruit market and a few places to reprovision. We then headed back to St Vincent for my last night but went via the southern and east end of the island.
Either one of the following statements is true – we got up enough speed to ram right over the top of an island, there is a giant tunnel through this island or it doesn’t exist but is shown on the digital charts. See below!
Electronic Navigation East of Bequia
The truth is the island does not exist and for purposes of this article and electronic navigation discussions on NauticEd, I purposefully steered the boat right through it. There was no change in depth as we went through it. It is not named nor does it have a height listed with it on the chart as all the other islands do. In our Electronic Navigation Course we descibe this type of error and point out how it occurs.
Again because of the bad wrap St. Vincent had gotten with some guide books we were slightly reluctant to head back to St. Vincent but because my flight was out of there at 6:30 am we sailed back there and into Blue Lagoon harbor. There I arranged with Sams Taxi service to Pick me up at 5am. I was assured of his reliability and true to his word he was waiting for me at 5am. Blue Lagoon is a nice stop over and people there were friendly. There is a super market close by and a little bar there for some off the boat drinky time. The entrance into Blue lagoon is the smallest entrance to a bay I’ve ever experienced. The red and green channel markers are only about 50 ft apart.
Blue Lagoon St Vincent
Whilst I snuck off early in the morning the Lee family spent the day visiting Kingstown and reported having a good day at the markets with again friendly people.
That was 2 weeks – wow that was fast.
Overall, I’d rate this as one of the top Charter trips to do and certainly this is aided by the time I took to do it. The Lees still have 2 more weeks to go and they will visit Canoaun, Mayreau Island, the Tabago Cays, Mopion ( ahh mopion), Union and curiacoa then back to St. Vincent, St. Lucia with a drop off back in Martinique.
I applaud the Lees for this commitment to doing this. They are not crazy sailing people, they are just regular people who committed 6 months ago to “just do it”. They wanted a vacation where there was no rushing and could do what they wanted, under no schedule. And I myself will find it hard to enjoy doing a one week long trip ever again. Last year I did New Zealand’s Bay of islands for 10 days and that was incredible. This one week business due to our rush rush rush lifestyle is not good. By day 5 when you are just beginning to really relax and enjoy, you’re already thinking about how you’re going to catch the flight.
Even with 2 weeks doing Martinique, St Lucia, St. Vincent and Bequia, that was too short of a time to properly explore.
When you call us at NauticEd to Book a charter vacation, be prepared we will talk you into a minimum of 2 weeks. It will go like this – lets just say you’re zero years old right now. How many weeks would you like to design your life now spending at work versus how many weeks would you like sailing the Caribbean, Pacific or the Mediterranen? 2000/4? 2000/10? You pick! (perhaps the other way around – right?)
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The point is whatever you do – make sure you’re relaxing and having true fun on your vacation. To make a booking through NauticEd visit us on this page – we don’t charge a fee and will give you all kinds of advice. Chances are we’ve been there.
A couple of tools that we used heavily on this trip was the Marine: Carib&S.America HD – Navionics Navionics iPad Caribbean (and south American) Charting App. This is the best tool ever for navigation. You can buy it here. The App shows your projected track based on your heading, leeway and current and so to get to a desired harbor, you just start heading in the general direction and then adjust course until the projected track averages you right onto your destination. I’m not suggesting this and an alternative to learning proper navigation skills however. You need the valuable understanding in coastal and electronic navigation fundamentals else you’re going to make some big and dangerous mistakes – like assuming the electronic chart is correct for one. But the iPad App was just a delight to use. We used this exclusively almost over the onboard chart plotter.
The next App we used every day was PocketGrib App. We downloaded the weather via this App. It gives predicted wind, swell, clouds and barometric pressure. Being June there was little concern for a hurricane but using this app we were able to make sure that the pressure stayed above 1000mB. Pocket GRIB downloads an extremely small file via cellular data and reconstructs the data over the chart of the area giving you vital up to date and projected information in a easily readable format.
Prior to the trip, I arranged an international dataplan. The cost was $120 for 800Mb. I used 500 Mb over the 2 week period. I was fairly intensive because I stayed in touch with any student that needed customer service. I normal person (saying I guess that I’m not normal) would probably be fine with 100Mb per week.
I can’t say enough about this trip and what we did. I soooo much recommend it and I sooo much recommend Martinique. I’m not sure why it was left to be last on my check off list of all the island chain from Puerto Rico to Grenada. But a can say then that I must have left the best for the last.
For your first Charter trip I’d say the BVI’s is the one – hands down – must – just do it. 10 days minimum.
For your second trip or if you have not been there – go to Martinique. Don’t die with out this one. Pick up a little French before you go – stop listening to rubbishy morning radio on your commute and slap in a Pimsleur French learning audio for your morning drive. Why because once you’re confident at chartering – we’re going to send you to Corsica (ahh Corsica – done it twice) – then Tahiti and Bora Bora.
If you want true bareboat charter consulting, give us a call and we’ll lay out some plans for you, including getting you all the confidence you need to charter. Start here
A last note – it was such a pleasure chartering with Richard. He became my friend 10 years ago when he called me and said he wanted to not just learn to sail but make it part of his life. Prior to that he’d done a weekend school course followed by renting a boat for a day. When he called me he really had no idea how to make sailing part of his life and was disappointed at that point so far in that he saw no clear path to achieve what he wanted. His first introduction was my advice to join a club, then I took him to Belize on a sailing trip. He was hooked and began coming with us on trips, sailing with the club in between. He built up to skippering the charter boats on our trips and now look at this trip. He chartered a 48 foot catamaran for 1 month taking with him his 10 year old daughter. That’s a wow. I’m impressed.
Here she is at 3 yrs chartering with us in La Paz Mexico.
Driving the Dinghy 3 yrs old
And here she is at 10 yrs driving the dinghy.
Driving the Dinghy 10 yrs old
How well do you think this kind of stuff works for self esteem for a kid?
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Here’ my closing “Plato” shot
Hmmm I else can I help people realize their sailing dreams?
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The guide books give St. Vincent a bad wrap and many people have told us to give it a miss. Our plan to sail from St. Lucia to Bequia Island however was not quite going to work as it is around 50 nautical miles. While it is easy to do this in a day – it’s just a lot of sailing and not always desired by the vacationing crew. So we decided on a stop over about half way down St. Vincent. We picked a little bay called Cumberland Bay listed in the Guide to the Windward Islands as a good and safe stop. We also thought to conveniently time this with a Customs check-in at Wallylaboo bay just to the south the next morning.
Our guide Maurice, Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent
What a nice and special stay over we had at Cumberland Bay. First we were met by Maurice who is one of the local hosts for the bay. He met us at the entrance with his row boat. When we agreed to let him be our bay guide/host he rowed furiously as we followed with the engines on idle into the bay.
Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent from the hill behind
The bay is deep and thus requires a special type of mooring much like a Mediterranean mooring but slightly more primitive. For our Catamaran, we made an aft bridle from a dock line with a figure 8 loop knot in the center. Then tying 3 dock lines together we gave one end to Maurice who rowed ashore and tied to a coconut tree. At the same time we deployed the anchor into deep water (15 meters) off the front and backed the boat towards shore. Once Maurice had secured the tree we tightened up slightly on the anchor which held us fast. The steady of shore breeze kept us out from the shore whilst the anchor held us from swinging.
Aft Bridle tied to a coconut tree
Then began the market place (on our boat). One after the other friendly locals come up in anything that floats and try to sell us fruit, fish and local made jewelry. We embraced them all and were always able to find something to buy. Plus if you need something, the very resourceful locals will find it.
The Rasta man in Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent
Maurice suggested that we dine at Mojito’s Restaurant, the only one in the Bay during this season plus he organized a taxi ride to “the most beautiful waterfall in all of the world”.
Waterfall Cumberland Bay
Mojitos was an unexpected surprise. The food was the best you can get in any 5 star restaurant but in a delightfully primitive setting complete with local dog and cat respectfully watching over with weepy eyes. Complete with Mojitos, main course of curried fish for me and banana flambé for desert the bill was about $us20 per head. To dine under a coconut tree with a lapping sea shore with incredibly polite and attentive service was the just the treat we needed after a 5 hour double reefed mainsail sail from St Lucia that day. I shan’t forget Mojito’s.
“The most beautiful waterfall in all of the world” is a tall order to fill for me. Having grown up in New Zealand, I was interested in testing Maurice’s opinion. In my opinion he did not quite hit the mark. Still, the $us15 per person taxi ride through the local villages up up up and down down down the step well maintained skinny precarious roads in a modern Toyota van through the valleys plus the waterfall was a fantastic experience.
I asked about the crime and attitude of the people from St. Vincent. Maurice recognized the problem but also was positive in that things are changing for the better and that RESPECT is highly promoted. He was more complimentary of the government than critical. A local along the waterfall path greeted us smiling and said “Thank-you for visiting our country. Please bring more of your friends we welcome them”.
Overall from one data point of one bay in St Vincent we were overwhelmed by the respect that the locals showed towards the tourists and their $us500,000 boats. We felt welcomed and yes – respected.
I’d rate Cumberland Bay, St Vincent a must stop over with a Pleasantly Primitive label.
The Customs and Immigration office in Wallylaboo we found out is only open after 5pm. And so rather than backtracking we decided to do the Check in in Bequia Island instead which is the next island to the south in the Grenadines. Rules of the country St. Vincent and the Grenadines allow you to check in any time inside 24 hour after you arrive. In general, care must be taken in all these islands to follow the Immigration rules. It is a bit of a paperwork nightmare, but still sovereign respect must be given where it is due.
A few days later we sailed into Blue Lagoon, St Vincent. It is just to the south of the capital city – Kingstown. Again – we received a warm welcome and friendly people. The taxi driver who took me to the airport the next morning at 5am was reliable and friendly. His comment was also that there are good parts and bad parts to any country. St. Vincent has many good parts – and I agree.
I’m pretty sure if you visit St. Vincent, you’ll have a good experience.
St Vincent Map
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