Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Return via Bahamas, or via Bermuda?

Reprinted from
My post:
Ok, so I have decided to go offhore all the way down from New England to the Leewards leaving in late Oct. I want to have weeks to explore the leewards, hang around and kiteboard. I have about 5 months for the trip. The question now is: do I come back via the Bahamas? I wanted to hopscotch the Bahamas on the way back, but I am not sure that I have time, and don't know if the sailing is good. What should I expect sailing across the Mona passage in late Feb, and what would it be like to head from the northern Bahamas to the East coast up around North Carolina in March? I am beginning to think I should get a crew together and sail straight back via Bermuda? Also, I am tempted to make landfall further east, like Barbuda, as opposed to tortola so that I have less weatherly work to do, and so I make the big hop from Tortola SE while I have a larger crew. Does this make sense, or am I worrying too much?_________________Walter S/V Madness
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DefJefJoined: 24 Jun 2006Posts: 200Location: NYC
Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 8:50 pm Post subject:

If you intend to explore the windwards I would make land fall at Antigua or Guadeloupe. Sailing down the windwards islands from there is a decent beam to broad reach usually. The same applies on the way up. Barbados is a beat to windward. I don't the sail from Antigua through the Bahamas. We were pretty much running before the wind until we hit FL. It was easy and pleasant sailing. I prefer the mountainous windward Islands for "cruising". The sail up from there to Bermuda is about a week or some and the conditions can be anything once you get above the trades. You can also sail up the stream which will give you a boost as long as you don't try it in a northerly. ICK. Get Chris Doyle's cruising guides for the Windward and Leeward Islands. Everything you need to know is in there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

RE: Odyssey

Hi Ken,

Thanks for getting back to me.

I am so sorry for your loss. I have no real frame of reference for what
you must be going through, though I do know how hard it is to reach
someone who is depressed. I know how hard the loss is, and imagine that
it must be very frustrating and not without some anger. Take good care
of each other through this.

You are right, the way I am approaching this it is not exactly a lark,
but I think the effort will pay off as long as I can go with the flow
once the planning is done and the flow begins.

WPB = West Palm Beach Fla.

That is great information you gave me, just what I need to keep
planning. I am not sure that the kiting will be that crowded by other
activities, but it is good to assume that it will, and if I can work out
more time in one location, it will be a pleasant surprise.

One question for you: If kiting a beautiful side-onshore beach day after
day in 80 degree water is a 10, then what is the score for these
1) Kiting a week around one island, doing an offshore passage day and
night for 4 days or more (probably beam reach), then kiting on another
island for another week (1-10)
2) Sailing every day or two moving vaguely in one direction, and kiting
every afternoon in many spots with just two of us (1-10)
3) Sailing every day or two, and kiting every afternoon in a new spot
with us and two other kiters (I think that would make a huge difference,
just having more hands) (1-10)
This will help me know what is going to be appealing to you.

I hear you on the budget...we own two houses just at the wrong time. We
never meant to own two but the housing market has not really
participated in a helpful way. I am doing all I can to keep this a
budget trip. (A little odd when you think about it; budget yachting to
the Caribbean is like discount champagne ...but why not?) I think that
will add, not detract from our experience; it forces you out of the
cocoon, like traveling without a map.

If the schedule get too crowded, and I have to keep a schedule measured
in units smaller than two weeks, I will reduce the scope of the trip. If
I have to I will arrange for a crew to sail her back straight to New
England, to preserve a period of great flexibility in the tropics. (That
would eliminate the bike trip, but we could do one later in New England)
That would give me 4 months during which I don't have to be anywhere.

And BTW - it is Captain Walnut to you! Walnut comes from college. I
always wanted to be Waller, from my first job, but Walnut has been more
persistent thanks to Dana.

Capt. Walnut

P.S. Two remote but cool possibilities for keeping your transit costs
down - first, If we pull off the bike trip, and you are game for several
contiguous days at sea, you may not have to take a return flight. Leann
could drive down for the bike trip and pick you up. Second, Once we get
to the Bahamas, we will be in range of my brother's airplane. If you
don't mind flying in a 1964 vintage 4 cylinder aircraft (he is a GREAT
pilot; and instructor, multi-engine, turbo prop and small jet rated)

-----Original Message-----
From: Ken Emery []
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 12:27 PM
To: Piescik, Walter
Subject: Re: Odyssey

Hi Walter,

We are still twisting in the air re: my friends suicide but I want to
respond at least generally to you to add what info I can into the mix
as you say.

No update from Eric. He returns from his current assignment in early
March and Carolina will be coming to the US later during March so
perhaps this will result in us hearing more specific plans.

Regardless of Eric's plans, some updated background I need to share
with you... My "simple life" retirement is based on living off
interest from retirement and savings, which has plummeted recently at
a time when 3/4 of my liquid worth is rolling over in CDs. Social
services (in Vermont especially) is a tough field to salt away enough
to avoid having to carefully budget even if you stay the course to
conventional retirement age. Lee and I made the time (vs. more $)
choice in the early 70s and have continued that course with our
decisions to retire early. So long as we keep things simple and plan
carefully we do fine but we do have to be careful and creative with
toy purchases and in planning our life beyond Vermont.

With that in perspective, the best I will be able to swing is one trip
to and from the boat. Just the reality of one-way flights to meet up
with and return from the boat would alone be a significant expense for
me. I want to meet up with Kris for snow recreation as well next
winter. It looks like the kiting opportunities on the Carribean trip
will realistically be sandwiched into relatively brief periods within
the itenary. That doesn't look like it will work for me. It might be
more helpful to you if I thought more along lines of assisting with
your return passages, bringing a kite and board along for a Bahama
layover day, etc. The closer to spring the better in that case (as
close to April as possible). By the way I don't know what "mainland
down in WPB" meant...? The amount of time will be dependent on how
late in the year so perhaps 2-4 weeks might be the updated time range
to consider at this point.

I'll bet this isn't feeling exactly like a laid back Carribean
adventure at this point. If the old adage about pay now - pay later
holds sway then all your hard work planning should certainly pay off

Take care. Hi to Dana.
(I like the Walnut sig... is that new or have I not been observant?)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Piescik, Walter" <>
To: "Ken Emery" <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 11:48 AM
Subject: Odyssey

Hi Ken.

I am putting another update together for the larger audience (~30
who were asked if they were interested in the trip, not just the
offshore team) and realized a few things about the trip.

For one thing, I have to get back. That simple fact seems to have
escaped my notice. (wink). What I really mean is that the return trip
had visualized as a series of 10 hour hops that were manageable either
by myself or with novice crew, as I hopscotch from BVIs to USVIs to PR
to DR, to Turks and Caicos, through the Bahamas and then back to the

In reality, I would have to do 4-5 hops just to sail past the DR.
in order to keep the hops short, I would have to go to the mainland
in WPB, instead of just riding the gulf stream north to SC or NC. That
would take serious time.

At that rate, I will use up too much of the time on transit, and not
enough on staying cool places and kiting.

I am going to ask who is interested in crewing for VIs to Bahamas, and
for Bahamas for the east coast. Even if you were to decide to spend
months onboard and accompany me all the way back, we could use the
help, and I need the extra assurance of having backup.

Worst case, I hire the dockwise transport service to load my boat on a
specially designed freighter, and they deliver it home, but that is

Thoughts? Do you have any refinements on your level of interest and/or
ability to commit? Have the wedding plans become clearer? I don't need
anything specific right yet, but any info to add to the mix will make
that much easier to plan.

I will send you the draft I was working on. It is not at all finished,
but you should see it.


Island Hopping - small airlines

This is an outstanding resource link for planning to visit Madness:

It includes a listing of many small airlines. The article makes it sound like moving from island to island can be easy and inexpensive. An excerpt:

"For travelers visiting smaller and more remote islands of the Caribbean there is a good chance you will be flying in on one of the small airlines of the Caribbean.? Inter-Island travel is relatively easy and for those looking for a Caribbean adventure try island hopping and create your own multi-island adventure.? It's less expensive than you may think!? Some short island hops are as little as $30 or so one way running up to $150 depending on the distance.? Or, check?out one of the Island Hopping programs offered by regional airlines.?To plan your trip start by booking your international flights first. One example might be to fly into?San Juan?and book your return flight out of St. Lucia.? Then hit the islands in-between."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Caribbean kiteboarding locations info

email from Ben Findlay of Caribbean KiteSurfari...

hi ken,
Anguilla has some goodies, St Martin (crowded), St Baths (good waves), Guadaloupe (sick spots allover, check it on ) almost forgot the bahamas, so many sick places too list, eluthera and elbow key in abaco we enjoy alot.
Martiniques east coast, Green island in Antigua, St lucia has Cas en Bas and sandy beach not far away from yacht harbours but you cant kite right off the boat in st lucia, yet still worth checking out the spots.
The Grenadines have some great spots, i have put a couple of my favourites on the kitebeaches website.
One important thing is a good dinghy, at least 10ft hard bottom rib with minimum 15hp to get around places (good place to buy one if needed is in st martin......all duty free), not just for kiting but snorkling and exploring too.
Hope this is of some help, if you want more details just ask.
keep in touch, let me know when you're down here next season, we shall be here for sure