September 30, 2012
Saying Good Bye

September 15, 2012
Reflections on Our 27 Year Circumnavigation

September 01, 2012
Sea of Cortez Sailing

August 15, 2012
Back to the Sea of Cortez

August 01, 2012
After Circumnavigation: What to Take, What to Leave Behind

July 15, 2012
Mexican Booby Trap

July 01, 2012
Tackling the Tehuantepec

June 14, 2012
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico

June 01, 2012
Sailing northern Costa Rica and Nicargua

May 15, 2012
Costa Rican Cruising

May 01, 2012
New Found Friends in Golfito, Costa Rica

April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There

April 01, 2012
Hunting and Gathering in Panama

March 15, 2012
Money.... Money.... Money

March 01, 2012
Feel Free Transits the Panama Canal

February 15, 2012
Transiting the Panama Canal

February 01, 2012
Feel Free is Back in the Pacific

January 15, 2012
Charter Skipper for a Week

January 01, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef

December 15, 2011
Away to the Andamans Part 2

December 01, 2011

November 15, 2011
Sailing in a Freshwater Paradise

November 01, 2011
To Barf or not to Barf, that is the question

October 14, 2011
Remarkable Cruisers

October 03, 2011
The Sea of Cortez, Another World

September 15, 2011
Panama Canal Here We Come

September 01, 2011
Sailing for Humanity

August 15, 2011
A Hard Lesson on the Hard and Reflections on Boat Work

August 01, 2011
Here Come the Lion Fish

July 15, 2011
The Joy of Books

July 01, 2011
The Sailors of San Blas

June 15, 2011
The Good Life in Kuna Yala

June 01, 2011
The Dirt Dweller in Paradise

May 15, 2011
People of the San Blas, Then and Now

May 01, 2011
Cruising in Kuna Yala

April 15, 2011
Near Disaster in the San Blas

April 01, 2011
At Last in the San Blas

March 15, 2011
Chilling Out in Cholon

March 01, 2011
Ah, Cartagena!

February 15, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 2

February 01, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 1

January 14, 2011
Aruban Interlude

December 30, 2010
Hunkering Down for a Hurricane

December 15, 2010
A Day in the Life - Our Passage to Aruba

December 01, 2010
Stuck in Curacao

November 15, 2010
Stormy Night Sailing

November 01, 2010
Sailing In The Sticks

October 15, 2010
Safety, Security and Circumnavigating with some tips on how to stay safe

October 04, 2010
Feel Free Transits The Suez Canal

September 15, 2010
Red Sea Sailing

September 01, 2010
FEEL FREEs Voyage Into the Red Sea

August 15, 2010
And just a little further, to Curacao

August 01, 2010
Bonaire Diving

July 15, 2010
Then To Bonaire

July 01, 2010
Cruising Remote Venezuelan Isles

June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent

June 01, 2010
Right Place, Right Time

May 15, 2010
The Spice Isle

May 01, 2010
To the Grenadines

April 15, 2010
We Be In Barbados Mon

April 01, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part II

March 15, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part 1

March 01, 2010
Provisioning for the Atlantic Crossing

February 15, 2010
Atlantic Crossing Preparations

February 01, 2010
Cruising the Canary Islands

January 15, 2010
Out Of Africa

January 01, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............

December 15, 2009
Two Years Of Mediterranean Sailing

December 01, 2009
Moving On To Morocco

November 18, 2009
Leaving The Med

November 13, 2009
Reaching The Rock Of Gibraltar Milestone

October 15, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del Sol

October 01, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del High-rise

September 15, 2009
Sailing The Spanish Isles

September 01, 2009
At Sea Or On The Hook, These Recipes Travel Well

August 15, 2009
An Interlude At Menorca

August 01, 2009
A Pleasant Passage To Menorca

July 15, 2009
The Agony And Ecstasy Of The Tunisian Coast

July 01, 2009
Tripping Around Tunisia

June 15, 2009
Tales From North Africa

June 01, 2009
Dont Freak If Your Fridge Fails

May 15, 2009
Into Africa

May 01, 2009
Meandering Around Malta, Then Off To Tunisia

April 15, 2009
Low-Tech DIY Ideas For The New Economy

April 01, 2009
The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles

March 15, 2009
That Sinking Feeling

March 01, 2009
Thailand to Oman: Three Passages, Three Ports

February 15, 2009
Doing Hard Time in Malta

February 01, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 2

January 15, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 1

January 02, 2009
So Many Islands, So Little Time

December 15, 2008
Cruising With The Bear

December 01, 2008
Versatile Vinegar, The Boaters Friend

November 15, 2008
What I Did In This Summer -- Dock Masters In paradise

November 01, 2008
Over The Top Of Oz

October 16, 2008
The Tumultuous Tasman

October 01, 2008
Sweet Memories Of The Splendid Surins

September 15, 2008
And Then We Were In Malta

September 01, 2008
Feel Frees Siracusan Story

August 15, 2008
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

August 01, 2008
All Tied Up In The Ionians

July 15, 2008
A Greek Odyssey Our Journey to Ithaca

July 01, 2008
Anatomy of a Near Catastrophe

June 15, 2008
Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece

June 01, 2008
More Winter Cruising in Turkey

May 15, 2008
Winter Cruising in Turkey

April 15, 2008
Talking Turkey: Marmaris Marina Living

April 15, 2008
The Joy Of The Side Trip

April 01, 2008
Return to Marmaris, And The Budget

March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi

March 01, 2008
Home Sweet Home

February 15, 2008
A Little Working, A Little Cruising

February 01, 2008
Working Our Way Around The World

January 15, 2008
Welcome Aboard Feel Free

January 01, 2008
Liz Tosonis and Tom Morkins Feel Free

January 01, 2008
About Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni

January 01, 2008
About Feel Free

January 01, 2008
Voyage Itinerary

May 01, 2010
To the Grenadines

By Tom Morkin

Should have been an easy overnight downwind sail of 100 miles from Barbados to Bequia, but a big swell from the northeast had us rolling more than we ever did during our recent Transatlantic passage. Worse yet, we were a crew of two again after being spoiled with four watch keepers for our Canaries to Barbados passage and we whined like “Valley girls” about not getting enough sleep.

Then there was the near heart-stopper incident as I watched a cruise ship’s red and green navigation lights off our bow get larger and larger, fast. The cruise ship was going from Bequia (just south of St. Vincent) to Barbados and we were of course going from Barbados to Bequia. We were clearly on a collision course.

Thanks to GPS’s accuracy to a meter or two, the modern navigator has a greater risk of a collision at sea. Since all traffic between Barbados and Bequia will tend to plot the same course line, the risk of collision is heightened. The good news that night was that after a couple of calls on VHF radio channel 16, alerting the fast approaching behemoth of our petite presence off of his not so petite bow, I heard the sweetest sound I could ever hear- his response: “Yes Feel Free, this is the cruise ship off your bow. I see your navigation lights and we will alter heading to starboard to pass red to red” (meaning we pass each other on our port or left sides).

As we gratefully watched the floating resort pass off our port side we couldn’t help but contemplate how a collision with such a vessel would be so catastrophic for us and yet would probably be unnoticed by the cruise ship, the only evidence being maybe a couple bits of Feel Free’s paint stuck to the bow, detected by the ship’s maintenance crew weeks after the fact.

Even our better than expected speed couldn’t make us happy that night. We were going too fast and would arrive in the dark, something we don’t like doing in unfamiliar ports. To slow down, we had to reduce sail area. Yeah, you guessed it, the less sail up the more the boat rolls. It was like someone turned the dial on the washing machine to ON.

It was about that time when Liz let out with “I HATE sailing! I really do. I’ll be happy to be done with it!” Now, this declaration of despair and disgust would probably rattle a good many husbands. Images of packed bags on deck and a taxi to the airport etc. could really upset a guy. But I’ve seen this movie before. Seldom does a cruising year go by, in fact some years it’s more than once when this utterance or a modification on the same theme is heard from if not Liz, then me, or worse, both of us.

Like many long time cruisers and mothers of more than one child, we’re blessed or cursed with lousy memories. What’d ya bet- Liz can’t even remember her outbreak that night. The sight of the high hills of Bequia off the port bow and St. Vincent off to starboard as well as all the easy ‘off the wind’ day sails coming for the next couple of months, makes the memory of last night’s ordeal fade fast.

Better still, as we enter Bequia’s large natural harbour we see the boats of buddies on Djarrka, Ascension, Grace and Clementine. It’s always good to see familiar faces in unfamiliar places, like our little pal Sami here, from the Aussie boat Clementine.

But the number of boats was a bit staggering. Paradise has been discovered. Bequia is not the place I expected. My mental image of Bequia came from a Cruising World article perhaps 25 years old. At that time, the bay was filled with engineless working sailboats built from the local hardwoods. Beautifully painted vessels with huge sail plans plied the waters and outnumbered the cruising yachts. Those days are gone. During our stay we counted fewer than half a dozen and most of them carried aluminum masts and modern Dacron sails.

The Friendship Rose is an example of traditional style boat building and now acts as a charter vessel, taking tourists out for day sails to nearby islands, but for many years she was the ferry between St Vincent’s capital city, Kingstown and Bequia.









There is still some boat building on the island and evidence of it can be seen on the beaches.

Times have brought change to Bequia. At least 300 yachts lay at anchor.

Every day we were visited by local boats with diesel (EC $14.75 or US$5.70/gallon), water (EC $1.50 or US.58/gallon), fresh bread, fish, and vegetables for sale as well as laundry service (EC $30 or US$11.20/load, wash and dry), and garbage pick-up (EC $8 or US$3 for medium bag).

Like almost everywhere in the south eastern Caribbean, wifi connections were plentiful so Internet and Skype were available on board. For those who didn’t want to get their dinghy wet, there was a water taxi service. Even marijuana could be delivered. If you had enough cash, you wouldn't have to leave your boat for months on end. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we couldn’t afford those items at their delivered prices so ashore we did go.

Ashore on Bequia, one was immediately made aware of the importance of music to these folks. Everywhere were small bars, each serving up local rum and very loud reggae music.

The streets were abuzz with colorfully dressed men and women, stalls were scattered along the waterfront with odd collections of souvenirs for sale as well as fruit and vegetables at the “Rasta market” at rather high prices. Bequia is a dry island and farming is obviously not a productive pursuit. The situation in the three grocery stores was only marginally better, virtually no fresh meat and surprisingly, not much fresh fish either.

As expensive as we thought food was in most European countries, it was cheaper than many of the islands of the Caribbean and we would have done well to put even more food on board than we did while in Europe. We wished we’d doubled or tripled our purchases of canned foods- vegetables, fruit, olives, nuts, cereals, wine, beer- just about everything with the exception of rum!

The picture is not entirely bleak as the situation will dramatically improve in Trinidad. So, until we get to Trinidad, we’ll not be provisioning in any major way, we’ll be in ‘de-provisioning’ mode, living off the boat stores until the cupboards are bare.

When we left Bequia, it was decision time: do we go north or south? North would take us to St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, St. Maarten, maybe even the Virgin Islands. South would take us through the Grenadine Islands of Canouan, Tobago Keys, Union Island, Carriacou, Grenada and perhaps Trinidad for Carnival. I was told some time ago, that when planning a sailing itinerary of the Caribbean, even before arriving in these tropical isles, decide on your exit strategy. Unless you don’t mind sailing in and around hurricanes, you’d better figure out where your floating home will be from June to November.

You can go north to U.S. or Canadian waters, maybe up the Intracoastal Waterway, but we want to stay in the Caribbean, so that means somewhere north of 12 N Latitude. Grenada used to be considered far enough south to satisfy the boat insurance companies. Then Hurricane Ivan came along in 2004, destroying or damaging hundreds of boats in and out of the water.

Although Trinidad is only 80 miles south of Grenada, it is now the most popular summer home for boats and boaters in the Caribbean. Other options include Curacao in the ABC islands, Cartagena in Columbia, and Panama. Venezuela, a long time favorite summering destination, has been rapidly falling out of favor thanks to its burgeoning crime rate, which has taken the form of increased theft from boats at anchor to outright good ‘ole fashioned pirate attacks at sea (more of that to follow in a future blog).

So Venezuela is out and Grenada is unlikely. The others all look doable so we decide to head south and maybe later we might head west to Columbia and Panama, all the time remembering our trademark of maintaining a ‘rigid policy of infinite flexibility.’ Grenadines here we come!

The Grenadine Islands of the SE Caribbean consist of several islands and two countries: 1) St. Vincent and the Grenadines (St. Vincent, Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Mustique, Baliceaux, Union Island and the glorious Tobago Cays) and 2) Grenada including the islands of Grenada, Carriacou, Petit St. Vincent and a few tiny islands.

For a seven day period we cruised the islands St. Vincent and the Grenadines, finding ourselves doing exactly what the sailing brochures say you will. From Bequia, we broad reached a grand total of 11 miles under brilliant sunshine with 18 knots of ENE trade winds and best of all, seas flattened by the presence of islands, islets and reefs off to the east. Didn’t even raise the main, just rolled out the jib and got the fishin’ line in the water. I’m lovin’ this Caribbean Island sailin’, mon!

Extra pics