The Caribbean islands that run like a loose, wiggly string from Puerto Rico southeast toward Grenada and Barbados, are situated perfectly for the meandering ways of a sailing ship.
Most distances between island anchorages are relatively short, so hurry is not a factor, and there’s little need to put into the bustling ports where big ships plop.
Private motor yachts, sailboats owned and chartered, and larger sailing ships — with motors for battling capricious winds — ply this island route. With a relaxed itinerary, days whiled away exploring islands and shallows, a sailor might need several years to experience the entire swath of islands.
More often, though, vacationers get only a week or two aboard one of the sailing cruise vessels such as the three Windstar ships, the 148-passenger Wind Spirit and Wind Star and 310-passenger Wind Surf.
Sailing close to Montserrat
In December, I was aboard Wind Surf for a week out of the bustling port of Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, with stops at Le Marin, Martinique; Pigeon Island, St. Lucia; Roseau, Dominica; and Les Saintes, French West Indies. You won’t see many big ships on that route.
On our first morning out of St. Maarten, the captain maneuvered the Wind Surf, under full sail, close to the island of Montserrat. We could smell sulfur, that rotten egg odor that shoots from the volcano that has been active since 1995.
We were so close that the sails caught a wind shift that sent deck chairs and side tables sliding, though I heard only one china plate shatter. We all held onto our towels, hats and loose clothing until the captain wheeled the ship back out to sea.
Read David’s cruise blogs at his Travel Mavens site
Photos by David G. Molyneaux