I thought i'd write a quick review of the catamaran trip.
Ever since Jeff D. told me about a caribbean trip they did when I first bought my trainer kite from him I thought it would be cool to sail around the caribbean for a kiteboard trip. So I can cross this off the bucket list. The trouble is, I'd like to make this an annual now!
I'll start by saying this trip might not be for everyone. If you are at all susceptible for motion sickness it might be pretty tough on you. There were 6 paid passengers and two crew members and 3 of the six got sick at some point on the voyage.
We flew into St. Lucia and arrived around 4pm in the afternoon. My wife and I booked a room at the Reef in St Lucia which is a little restaurant and kitesurfing center 5 minutes from the airport. This is the best place to kiteboard in St Lucia, the winds are side on , there is a reef and an island that protects the bay. The water is pretty deep, can't touch, and I'd compare it to Keho type chop with waves breaking over the reef upwind. Cost is 65 bucks a night, accomodations are VERY basic, no air conditioning, a bed and a shower. The restaurant is actually quite good with the average meal costing about 15 bucks cnd.
The boat was late picking us up so we just overnighted in St Lucia our first night. This meant we had a BIG sail the next day. We sailed from St Lucia to Mureau the next day which took about 10-11 hours with a stop in Bequia to do our Immigration. If you do any research or have watched numerous grenadine kiteboard videos Mureau is on everyone of the videos. There is a super quiet bay where the boat anchors with a small spit of sand separating the bay from the kiteboarding spot. You can kiteboard in the bay but the day we spent there, there were too many boats. The wind in the bay would be offshore though but it would be butter smooth. The other side is great for kitesurfing with some very nice waves that break on the reef closer to where the boat is anchored. Farther down the beach the waves mellow out and it gets a little bit flatter with some really nice kicker type waves. It was a super fun first spot with a nice stretch of beach.
From there we sailed to Union Island. Basically the sail from St Luica to St Vincent produces the biggest swell and waves, after that it's similar to riding in a boat with big lake chop. The Union Island area was by far my favorite part of the trip. We archored in a little bay just down from Clifton which is the main port on Union island. It's just off of Friggate Island and there's basically a man made land bridge connecting Friggate to Union. The wind is offshore but because there is a 20 foot wide piece of land connecting the islands the water is butter flat. You need a dingy in case someone can't get back to the land as the next land pick up would be South America I guess... We kited there for a day or so and then went to Clifton which is a 10-15 minute boat ride from where we were achored. If you've ever watched a kiteboard video in your life you've seen this riding spot.
Clifton/Union island is where the JT kiteboard camp is. It's a side wind that is protected by reef. From the shore you can kite straight out about a 1/2km maybe? to Happy Island, which is a bar in the middle of the laggoon. You've seen lots of videos of guys kiting up to the island and drinking a beer as they fly their kite. The area is a bit tricky as there are boats achored everywhere down wind of the kiting spot. So if you can't stay upwind it's not a good spot for you. The water is pretty flat and relatively shallow, waist to shoulder deep in most of the spots. Awesome spot and you're sure to spot a pro if you are there during the peak kiting season... A super fun downwinder is starting at Happy island and heading down wind to Friggate. The entire kite pretty much smooth flat water.
From there we sailed an hour from Union to Petite St Vincent (just past Palm Island) where there is a little sand bar in the middle of the channel. It has one flappa for shade and that's it. There's a small reef protecting the island and it's kiteable. We stayed there over night and started heading north.
Our next spot was the Tabago cays. If you haven't heard of these islands they are amazing. Basically it's made up of 4-5 small little islands with a large laggoon in the middle of them. It's a Grenadine national park, meaning nobody can build or stay on these islands, there's no fishing ect ect. There is one little sand bar/couple of palm trees that make up the cays and that was where Captain Jack Sparrow was marrooned with the one bullet if you remember the Movie(and cases of rum). There's one lsland where they allow you to launch kites from which has probably a 100 feet of beach length by 20 feet deep maybe? Kiting in Tabago Cays is awesome, if you like crystal clear water, TONS of fish, giant sea turtles everywere and crusing over manta rays. Snorkeling was really cool as you don't see one ray or one turtle you see dozens. You can see the turtles as you cruise over top of them when you're kiting. Next time I want to spend two days in Tabago... We did a lobster feast on the beach that night and it was one of the best lobster meals I've ever had.
The next day we sailed back to St Vincent, there's really no kiting spots on St Vincent as the island sheilds all the wind coming from the East. We achored in Queens bay which is a small bay, nobody can get there accept by boat, the sand is jet black and there's a cool wall you can snorkel at. The backdrop of the beach are mountain peaks and rain forests, truly as exotic as you can get and reminded me of the scene in the King kong movie.
It's a 5 hour sail the next day back to St Lucia, kind of into the wind so rough is an understatment.... As we got closer to St lucia you get a great view of the Piton's from the water and as we got closer to Lucia we were escorted into the bay where we got dropped off by about 30 dolphins.
Would I do the trip again? In a heart beat. No question. Things I learned about the next time I go. Pack way less. Gear wise we had maybe one kite to many. I'm glad I had my light wind kite as the morning kite we did in tabago the winds were pretty light. 9m and a 12M is perfect and if you have room for a 15m it might be worth taking. The winds we had were between 22knots and 13 knots with the very last part of the trip 8-9 knots (we weren't in kiting spots so it didn't matter). The last thing I'd suggest when booking something like this would be to book 10 days instead of 7. You essentially lose two days of kiting, a day on either end of the trip.
January or February 2015 is going to be my next trip FOR SURE. Let me know if you're interested