A Few Virgins and a Few Beers

Scott, one of our sailing instructors, had the chance to hike up the local volcano, La Soufriere, recently with two of his students. He took some great pictures and did a nice write-up on their adventure. I thought we would take the opportunity to share it with all of our B(oss)LOG readers – enjoy!

Coastal View of St. Vincent and the GrenadinesStudies have shown that 91% of the human population wants to hike up a mountain, look into a big hole, and throw something into it. Sometimes that might be a rock, a golf ball, or some ashes. Sometimes it’s a virgin or two. After much discussion as to what might be the most appropriate way of pleasing the mountain gods, I decided to go have a look.

La Soufriere is the volcanic mound which makes up the northern half of St. Vincent. After a hundred or so years of activity, it last erupted in 1979. Luckily I didn’t feel any tremblers or witness any explosions of red hot magma when I decided to hike up with two students from my last sailing class. We decided towards the end of their stay on Andato that the journey would be a suitable Sunday Service. We arranged for Kashorn (I don’t really know how to spell his name)to drive us up to the trail and for Dennis to be our guide on the expedition. An interesting thing about the island is that there are marijuana farms all over the island and the farmers use the mountain trails to move the herb. They aren’t necessarily dangerous but are skeptical of small groups of white guys walking up the trail.

Trail to the top of La Soufriere VolcanoThe trip up began a little after eight in the morning from a nice trail head parking lot and we were instantly surrounded by thick jungle. The trail quickly started rising uphill as we followed several ridges. After about an half hour we came up to a rocky clearing in the forest with a stream and a few small waterfalls running into a gorge. It was a sweet spot and a great place to go swimming or cool down part way through the walk. After the water stop we started climbing again using the many giant sized steps cut into the trail. There is so much water coming out of the clouds that the trail would easily turn into a river if it wasn’t for all the bamboo steps and rocks holding everything in place. The walk up was tough, mostly because of the steep incline and the heat. It’s almost always about eighty five degrees with a heat index around ninety five. Needless to say its a hot and wet hike up the “road”. After about another hour hiking we reached another good rest area with a little bamboo cover. This spot is usually at the base of the clouds when they roll through. It also marks the end of the jungle and the beginning of the low shrub which continues almost all the way to the top. After a quick snack and some water, the four of us pushed on for the summit. The remainder of the trail was loose rock and volcanic gravel and made each step slide back a little bit. Soon enough we were standing up on the ridge of the volcano (vulcano if you’re german or a trekkie) and were looking down into the crater at the center of the giant mountain. I was now 4,049 feet taller than I used to be and it felt great. The air was a nice seventy degrees and felt just like standing on a peak in Glacier during the middle of the summer. Our packs contained several rounds of Hairoun beer and a few snacks. Nothing beats reaching the summit and grabbing a heafty bottled beer to celebrate.

View from the summit of La Soufriere VolcanoOur summit activities involved talking with a few “farmers” and playing a quick round of putt putt golf along with the required photo shoots and stone throwing. We decided to opt out of throwing a virgin into the mouth of the volcano and threw in a few rocks instead. Hopefully that will keep the mountain confused or satisfied until I leave.

We spent about an hour up on top, enjoying the high life, and re-fueling for the haul back down. The decent was fast and easy until we ran into a pack of German tourists crawling up the steep middle portion of the trail. After standing aside for awhile all thirty of them, some barely responsive, made their way past and the quiet hike down resumed. We came up to a stray hiker who could go no further and our guide helped her down the rest of the trail as we went ahead, sometimes almost running down the trail back to the water falls to cool down. We all reached the trailhead again a little before one in the afternoon. Not the fastest trip ever, but we spent a lot of time on the top and at the waterfalls. Our driver told us a story later about an eighty seven year old couple that did it in a hour and half round trip. Not sure if I believe that, but it’s certainly possible… We crawled back into the minibus and went into Georgetown for a quick drink. It was a nice cold beer this time, not the warm beer we had at the summit.

Entrance to Black Point TunnelThe next stop was the Black Point Tunnel which they used slaves to create and slaves to move sugar cane through. It was made to transport the cane through three hundred feet of rock to get to the bay on the other side. Pretty neat spot with a great park beside it and surprisingly there was hardly anyone there on a Sunday. The rum shacks were full though of course.

Sunday Services concluded at the Surfside Bar in Calliaqua with two very nice pizzas and some more Hairoun. A successful trip all around and it was great to see the more natural side of St. Vincent and get away from the busy, dirty, southern coast.

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What Scotty did on his summer vacation!

Hey everyone! Scott, one of our main sailing instructors wrote up an article on what he did over the summer along with some great pictures – so I thought I would post it up. Enjoy!

Voyage to the End of the World Raft-Up on Flathead Lake Montana

Voyage to the End of the World Raft-Up on Flathead Lake Montana

My first season at Barefoot Offshore Sailing School ended with a bang. After spending a week having a great time sailing in the Bequia Easter Regatta it was time to return home to the states. I left St. Vincent at the end of April and flew to Utah to meet up with my sister. It was a drastic change of climate going from hot tropical weather at sea level to spring/winter weather at seven thousand feet of dry desert. I spent a few weeks exploring the desert and then drove up to Idaho for my other sister’s college graduation. After a few more weeks in Idaho, I hopped in a truck and drove out to Seattle, Washington to race J24s in the NOOD Regatta. That’s the National Offshore One Design Regatta, which is put on by Sailing World. It was great to be back sailing in northern waters, but certainly was a whole lot colder. We ended up in fourth place after an epic fail in the last race of the series.

Lite Air Racing on Flathead Lake, Montana

Lite Air Racing for the POETS Race (Piss On Everything Tomorrows Saturday).

After Seattle it was time to head back to Montana for the summer. Little did I know that Montana had different things in mind for the weather.  I arrived at the yacht club a few days before Memorial Day which is the end of May and it was raining hard and about fifty degrees. The next few weeks brought on the same weather and even had a few episodes of snow which came almost all the way down to the lake. I worked for North Flathead Yacht Club which is in northwest Montana about sixty or so miles from the Canadian border.

NFYC Youth Sailing Program

Junior Sailing Classes - Working Hard!

I am in charge of running of the weeknight and weekend races and also teaching the junior sailing program. There were fourteen kids in the classes this summer which was a record number and even included some high school kids. A highlight from the beginning of the summer was that there was a new powerboat for the race committee, a 23 Seapro, which turned out to be fun to drive around and a way more efficient boat for running races.

Auxilary Power - Scotty Rowing his Boat

How many 25' boats out there have oars?

Since the yacht club didn’t really get rolling until mid June I had a few weeks to work on boat projects and get my own little boat in sailing shape for the season. It’s a Pacific Seacraft 25 that I bought the year before and left for the winter on the south end of Flathead Lake where I spend the summer. With all the rain and late winter weather that spring, it was hard to get much work done on the boat as it was a marsh all around it and the crane couldn’t get to the boat until almost the end of June. I ended up getting in the lake the last weekend of the month and participated in a race back up the lake. I didn’t finish. So because of the late start, adventures on Looking Glass were minimal, with only a few overnight trips around the lake, most of the summer was spent working on upgrading bits and pieces and trying to get her ready for eventual cruising in a year or two.

Some major highlights of my summer was skiing in Glacier Park on August 1st. The hardest part of being in the Caribbean all winter, other than being away from family of course, was not being able to go skiing. It was great to go up to the park and spend a day playing around in the snow and getting a few summer turns in. I’ve skied up there before during the July 4thweekends but never so late in the summer.

Spinnakers flying at  Montana Cup

Montana Cup Racing - J24s

Another highlight was running a very successful Montana Cup, the biggest regatta of the summer, which brought almost thirty boats from three states together for very competitive racing and good parties. We had great wind over the weekend and got nine races in over two days, and even threw in some good parties and an epic game of putt putt at the local bar. The great thing about working at the club is the flexibility of the schedule which allows for me to get away and go sailing for a few days or spent time up in the mountains.

Back at the Yacht Club

What are Yacht Clubs good for? Probably not the sailing!

It was another quality summer in Montana. Late night sailing, afternoon golf, morning kayaking. Studies have shown that it is the perfect place to spend the best time of year, an amazing arena to sail in, and full of good people to spend fun time with. Although the boat went to bed too early for my taste, and the junior sailing program was too much fun and ended too early, the times were great and the summer was shut down with a trip back to Idaho for their big regatta of the season, the Spud Cup. Usually people go racing a win a fancy plate or an expensive watch. Here you win a gigantic baked potato trophy and beer glass. It’s a good thing and now it’s time return to island life and another great season in the Grenadines.

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Barefoot Webcam

View of the Barefoot docks from our Webcam

View from our Webcam

We have installed a new “webcam” at the Barefoot offices. So, if you want to get a preview of what it looks like around here, or just want a reminder from you time here, you can check out our Webcam. Due to the angle of the sun, the picture usually looks better in the morning. You can probably catch images of the guys bringing boats into the dock starting around 8:30am local time. Click here to follow a link to our webcam page. Check it out and let us know what you think. If I’m on the dock, I’ll be sure to wave!


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Spot GPS Tracking

Spot GPS Tracking Device

Here is a cool feature on our website – Spot GPS tracking. We have a couple of Spot GPS tracking devices. These things are cool! I used them on several West Coast deliveries I did and always thought it was fun to have friends, family and boat owners follow along on our adventures from home. We have one on each of our school boats to allow our student’s friends and family to follow along on with our sailing adventures. You can find the link to this page in the bottom right corner of our home page (www.barefootoffshore.com) or you can just follow this link. This feature is also accessible from our Facebook page. When you are looking at the map, click on the “Satellite” button for a more interesting view of the islands. Just be sure to tell everyone following along from home not to get too excited if we forget to press the button that sends out our position!

 Just give your friends and family the link to our Facebook page and tell them who your instructor will be (Scott or Chris) so they know which track to follow. Ok – everyone enjoy following along for now and come on down soon to make your own tracks!
Caribbean Sailing

Making Tracks!

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We Just Had To Get Back To The Islands!

Scott and I just got back down to our home base in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We both had quite a summer back up in the States and I’ll be sure to put up a blog entry soon detailing our summer adventures.

The party before the party

Parrot Head Party!

I decided a long time ago that Jimmy Buffett was going to be my career counselor and have been doing my best to follow his advice on life for some time now. It’s been awhile since I have checked in with him though – so Scott and I decided to catch Jimmy playing in Las Vegas before we came back down to the islands. We met up with a good friend of ours, David Kilmer and his wife Rebecca in Las Vegas and took in as much of the Parrot Head Party scene as we could manage.

David is a former Barefoot sailing instructor and a big part of why Scott and I are down here. Our career counseling session was well attended! David once told me, “Be careful what you wish for – if your not careful it will come true.” Well I guess he was right – because here I am living in the Caribbean and making my living sailing boats!

Margarittas from Margarittaville!!!

Can you believe the size of that Margaritta?

Well, come Monday (ha ha) – we flew out from Sin City and landed in St. Vincent that night. We are getting settled back in and planning out our trips for the season. My first trip takes off on Saturday and Scott will be doing a class for some local students here all next week.

We have some exciting things planned for this season down in the islands – so stay tuned for more Caribbean sailing adventures!


Sailing in the Grenadines

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What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been

Representing Barefoot Offshore Sailing School in the PNW!

Representing Barefoot Offshore Sailing School in the PNW!

I made it back to the Pacific Northwest! Liat (one of our local Caribbean airlines) lived up to their reputation and caused me to miss all my connections from Puerto Rico. My flight from Antigua was delayed by almost three hours, which messed up the rest of my flights. Big tip – make sure that if you book any flights with Liat, try for the fewest number of plane changes possible (none would be best!). I had three which was a disaster waiting to happen.

So, instead of making it to Seattle Thursday evening, I spent a tortured, sleepless night in the Miami airport and got in to Seattle Friday afternoon. I was planning to make my way up to Friday Harbor for the Latitudes and Attitudes annual Northwest Cruisers Party on Friday – so when I got picked up at the airport – we drove straight up to Anacortes and jumped on the ferry to Friday Harbor!

A boat crashed into our Cabin!We were staying at the Wayfarer’s Rest in Friday Harbor which is a very cool little Hostel right there in town. We figured that if we couldn’t stay on a boat, we would stay in a cabin that was made out of a boat!Sailboat in our Cabin

Pirates at the Lattitudes and Attitudes NW Cruisers Party!The party was great! Lots of pirates, cannon fire and rum! We saw The Eric Stone Band play Saturday night which was lots of fun – though freezing cold for this Vincentian! For any of my former students – you might remember me playing Eric Stone’s song “Bequia Kind of Day” which is a nice tribute to one of my favorite anchorages in the Grenadines…

Monday morning, we sailed back from Friday Harbor to Bellingham on my friend Dan’s Erickson 29. The wind was light and we ended up motor sailing the entire way, but it was a nice trip all the same. It was a good re-familiarization to the islands of the San Juan’s as I will be heading out for a week long Learn-N-Cruise in the San Juan’s this Saturday for San Juan Sailing (my home in the Northwest).

Stay Tuned for some pictures from my San Juan’s adventure!

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Skippered Charter Gig

Chris Under Sail on AndatoThis week I’m out on a skippered charter gig with two families from the states. I’ll give you all a report when I get back in. As I am writing this on Sunday, we seem to have some “weather” developing here. If you are interested in seeing what’s going on, check out this link to the Crownweather.com Atlantic Tropical page. It looks like we have a large Tropical Depression forming to the west. It should mostly track to the north of us – by the time you are reading this, it should be out of our area. This is part of the fun of sailing the Caribbean this time of year!

After this trip, I will be heading back to the Pacific Northwest of the US for a couple months to do some sailing and catch up with friends and family back home. I will do my best to keep the updates coming on any news from the Grenadines and on what’s keeping me busy back home. It looks like it will be a great couple of months – probably just enough Seattle cold and rain to get me ready for some more time sailing in the Caribbean!

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Caribbean Sailing

Sails set on the Caribbean SeaI spent this last week out with a group of four students sailing in the beautiful Grenadines! This week was an all guys trip. I’m not going to lie – I missed having the ladies from the week before on board. Not to be too chauvinistic, but the boat seemed tidier and the meals seemed tastier when we had Emily and Kasia on the crew… All the same – no one starved and for the most part, we kept things ship shape.


Caribbean Sailing Class Our crew this week included Julian who you will recognize from my previous post featuring Julian as our Vincentian student learning to sail with Barefoot. We had an opening for this trip so I invited Julian to join us on this weeks Learn and Cruise to finish up his ASA Bareboat Charter Certification. Hunter and Elijah were our father and son duo from Northern California. They had both always wanted to sail and took this opportunity to lean about sailing while cruising in the Caribbean. After spending the week out Caribbean sailing, Ian and Julian on MayreauHunter says he is moving back to the Grenadines to live! Our crew was rounded out with the last minute addition of Ian. Ian lives to travel! He says that after visiting the Grenadines he has now been to 109 countries. Ian’s job allows him to work from anywhere he can get an internet connection, which works out great with his passion for traveling. Next, Ian said that he just needs to get a boat with an internet link so that he can start traveling the world under sail!

At anchor in Salt Whistle Bay, MayreauOur weeks cruise included visits to Bequia, Tobago Cays, Petite St. Vincent and Mayreau. This was everyone’s first time sailing from island to island and exploring new places. It was really great to be able to introduce Julian to parts of his homeland he had never visited. He really enjoyed seeing Curve of the Baythe Tobago Cays and Mayreau both of which he had not previously visited. Of the Tobago Cays Julian said “Real nice mon – I’m going to come back next time with my girl – real romantic”. 


Julian taking a cross bearing fixEveryone shared in the boat duties while working together to complete the course. From cooking to navigation, everyone pulled together to make things happen and by the end of the week – we had a great crew all ready to work together and jump in when problems needed solving. It was great to see Ian plotting our courseeveryone come together as a crew working to help each other figure it all out. Best of all was Julian’s positive attitude and words of encouragement. My favorite compliment of the week was Julian complimenting one of the other students on their sail trim saying “Ya mon – dem tell tails flyin’ real sweet now!”Dem Telltails Streamin' Real Nice

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Class Video

Charting our courseHey everyone! I am out sailing again this week with another group of students. I recently was sent this YouTube Link from some students who were down here this last year between Christmas and New Years. They set some of their pictures and video clips to music and put them up on YouTube! Check it out and let us know what you think – Enjoy!

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Learn – N – Cruise Class, 16 July to 23 July

We had a Learn – N – Cruise (LNC) Class scheduled from 16 July to 23 July. The Learn – N – Cruise class is a great way to get a feel for what it is like to charter in the Grenadines, living aboard the school boat for a week, sailing among the beautiful islands of the Grenadines and learning along the way. It’s a great ‘learning vacation’.

Ryan in for a swim!This class was scheduled to be one day longer than our normal LNC classes, which is a great way to fit in a little extra time on the water to explore the islands along the way. Unfortunately, as it turned out only one of our students was able to make it to St. Vincent on time… One student had a scheduling conflict (Ryan), and the other two Ben and Emily enjoying the sail(Ben & Emily) ended up missing their connecting flight in Puerto Rico. So – Kasia (the one who made it here on time) and I took advantage of the extra day to go out and do a little day sailing while we waited for the others to arrive that evening.Captain Kasia

The next day (17 July) we spent the morning taking the first of three written exams, getting familiar with the boat, loading gear and provisions. We had lunch at Driftwood and sailed out in the afternoon for Bequia. In Bequia, we met up with another couple (Ian & Ellen on La Mouette) who were enjoying a bareboat charter in the Grenadines for their honeymoon on a charter boat from Barefoot Yacht Charters. We all had a great time on shore visiting the Frangipani for a sundowner and then on to one of the other local restaurants for dinner.

Nicely Making Way!The next day we got up early for a morning ‘cockpit learning session’ followed by an afternoon of sailing drills out in Admiralty Bay.  Everyone did great and had some good fun learning to steer and trim sails through the different points of sail as well as tacking and jibing the boat. Nice Crew WorkWe came back and anchored next to our friends again just off of Princess Margaret Beach. 

Kasia working hard!The next day we decided to visit shore for breakfast at the Gingerbread Restaurant, then hit town to pick up a few supplies before we headed down into the southern islands. After a short lesson on basic charting and navigation, we headed out and sailed down to the Tobago Cays where we found our friends on La Mouette again. We set our anchor just before sunset – Beautiful!

Kasia and WalterWednesday morning just as the coffee was about ready, my friend Walter (one of the original “Boat Boys” in the Tobago Cays) stopped by with fresh chocolate croissants for our breakfast – great timing Walter! After breakfast we spent the morning in the cockpit learning about the ‘Rules of the Road’ – the regulations that govern who has the right of way between two boats and other fun things like that. Being as how we were in the Tobago Cays, we had to take some time out of class to go do some snorkeling with the turtles and explore around a little bit! After lunch we headed out of the Cays to go practice our Man Overboard drills and then sailed around Union Island to Chatham Bay to anchor for the evening.

Ryan and Emily ChartingThursday morning we had our “classroom” learning session in the cockpit of our yacht, Andato, surrounded by the beauty of Chatham Bay. We talked about the practices and equipment required for boating safety. After our route for the day was charted, we motor sailed out from Union Island on our way to the lee of Mayreau where we could practice our Man Overboard procedures.

Ben and Kasia checking the oilOn the way we had a wonderful opportunity to practice our troubleshooting skills with the engine! As we were motor sailing along the engine alarm went off. My first thought was that it might have been an issue with the oil pressure because we had needed to add some oil that morning so we shut the engine down immediately and continued to sail. Emily and I went below to take a look at things and add some oil if needed – however when we checked the oil level, it was fine. We noticed was that the engine seemed hotter than normal and had that hot engine smell so we started looking at the cooling system and noticed that there was no water in the raw water strainer. This made me think that we might have a blockage in the raw water intake, or a failed impeller. Impeller ComparisonWell the easiest thing to check was the impeller, so off came the impeller cover revealing an impeller without any fins on it – that’s a problem! So we replaced the impeller. Then just to be sure, we pulled the raw water intake hose off and checked for a blockage. It was clear, so we buttoned everything back up and fired up the engine – sure enough water started flowing through the raw water strainer and out the exhaust. Success!

View from the church on MayreauWhen we reached Mayreau we found that the other boats in Salt Whistle Bay had left us a nice spot right up front with plenty of room to swing. That’s one of the nice things about visiting the Grenadines this time of year, it is way less crowded than in the high season. Robert Rightious playing drumsWe organized a shore party with our friends from La Mouette, who had been there waiting for us, and hiked up the hill from Salt Whistle to the village on Mayreau. We checked out the great view of Mayreau Gardens and Tobago Cays then went to visit Robert Righteous at his restaurant for ice cold beverages and some good conversation. 

Late night examThat evening the students took their second written examination – it’s never a good idea to do exams in the evening – but that’s just how it all worked out. To spite two of the students and the instructor falling asleep during the exam – everyone passed that hurdle!

Ben's Big SCUBA AdventureFriday we had a big day – we sailed from Mayreau up to Bequia as fast as we could so that we would have time to go for a dive with the crew from Dive Bequia. Ben, Ryan and I went for the dive while Emily accompanied us from above snorkeling and getting some pictures – we will be looking forward to seeing those pictures when they come around! This was Ben’s first dive and from all reports – he’s hooked!

Crew enjoying diner at Mac's PizzaFriday evening found us at Mac’s Pizza for dinner. Mac’s Pizza is a Bequia icon – best pizza in the West Indies!!! We enjoyed our pizza and then headed back to Andato. The next morning Ryan made us all breakfast and then the students had a go at their final exam. Ryan cooking breakfastThey all passed with flying colors – great job everyone! After the exam, we dinghied in to town for some last minute souvenir shopping and then weighed anchor for the sail back to the Barefoot base.

Ryan rinsing dishesWe had a great week out with some really fun people. I’m glad I had the chance to sail with you all and hope that our readers enjoy the trip report! Hope to see you all back down in the Grenadines soon!

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