Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 71
January 1, 1997

Last updated 28 Dec 96 1300ET

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BARBADOS: ALMOND BEACH VILLAGE BY SOPHIA KULICH

Just  came back from Almond Beach Village in Barbados. We traveled 
in  Caribbean  a  lot  and  this  time  we  were  very  happy with 
Barbados.  It  is a nice, friendly island. The size is good enough 
to  explore  and  the  landscape  varies  from  quiet West side to 
cliffs  and  Atlantic  ocean  on  the  east  side. This trip was a 
family  trip  - we took our 10 year old son with us, so we did not 
expect  100%  relaxing,  romantic time, but overall was very nice. 
On  a  scale  from F-A+ Almond Beach Village got our mark as A. It 
is a nice resort, but it does have some glitches. 

Layout. 

The  resort  is  located  on North West Coast - 45-60 min from the 
airport.  It  is built as a Caribbean village with the main square 
by  the  main  house.  Landscaping  is  very  nice,  it has a golf 
course.  Also,  there  is a sugar mill on the property. The resort 
is  designed  so that the South part is dedicated to the families. 
That  is  were  the  kids  pools are located (they are shallower), 
kids  club,  playgrounds and the family restaurant. Middle section 
has  2  main  restaurants (Horizon, Enids), Tommy bar, 3 pools for 
both  adults  and  kids.  These  pools were deeper so we preferred 
that  ones.  One of the area of the pool was a Jacuzzi (it bubbled 
at  least)  but the water temperature was regular. Drawback for us 
who like sometimes to soak in the hot tub. 

The  North  part  of  the resort (all these 3 sections are located 
along  the  beach) is for adults only. This is a nice feature when 
you want to get away from the kids. Room. 

We  had  junior  suite ocean view. Some of them have blocked view, 
but  ours was direct. The suite was very comfortable, with 2 rooms 
separated  by  the  door,  we had 1 bathroom and the kid had bath. 
Second  room  is like a living area, with convertible couch, small 
kitchen  counter  with coffemaker (but you actually, being in all-
inclusive, don't need it), satellite TV. 

Each  room has a balcony which are connected. The bathroom was not 
big  but adequate. There is a safe in the room for your valuables. 
You  give $100 us deposit and pay it if you loose a key. I noticed 
that  even the resort is almost 2 year old (or young!), some areas 
already  in  need  of  repair. In our room the sliding closet door 
got  stuck. We called maintenance. Day later the guy fixed it, but 
then  it  broke  again..  In  some public toilets the toilet paper 
holders  were broken. The rooms were kept clean and in the morning 
were  cleaned  up  promptly.  The beach towels are to be picked up 
either  in  kids  club  or watersports (depending where you live). 
They  give  you a slip - how many towels you take - again, deposit 
$20  per  towels. You are free to change them during your stay but 
at  the  end  you  turn  them in with you slip, they sign that the 
towels released and the charge will be written off. 

Beach./Watersports. 

That  was a major disappointment for us since we are beach and not 
pool  people.  It  has  corals and it is hard to walk in. You walk 
couple  of  feet and there is a sand bottom, but it is hard to get 
in.  But  it  is  compensated  by  the gorgeous pools (9!)and most 
people  were  happy.  Snorkeling is good right from the beach, but 
as  not  good  as  in  other  islands.  They have good watersports 
program.  Our  son  did  water-skiing  and the instructor Paul was 
very  nice  and  patient  with a kid. We took hobie cat ride (with 
the  instructor),  that  was  great,  but  the  wind  was not very 
strong.  They  also have banana boat rides, kayaks, sunfish. Scuba 
is  extra,  but  I  believe they give one free scuba lesson in the 
pool. 

Food 

Plenty  of  it.  We've  been  before  in luxury all-inclusives and 
cruises,  and,  comparing  this food, I would give it A-. The best 
restaurant  is  the  Italian (no kids allowed). That was good, but 
first time we ate there, the fish was overcooked. 

Second  time we had rack of lamb and my husband had calf liver, we 
asked  to  be  prepared  rare (we usually have medium), and it was 
like  we  like.  Other  restaurants  - Horizon (continental), Enid 
(Bajan), Reef (seafood) were good but not spectacular. 

But,  again,  this  is just my opinion.. The tastes differ. We had 
one  night  out  -  you have a choice of 3 restaurants - we ate in 
The  Putters  on  the  Green  at  Sandy  Lane hotel - this is dine 
around  program. If you stay more then 6 nights, they treat you to 
dinner.  It  was excellent. 2 nights are buffets - we did not care 
about those. 

All  restaurants  do not allow shorts and t-shirts, but no jackets 
required.   You   also   have  a  option  to  use  facilities  and 
restaurants  in the Club, but the Village has more restaurants and 
it  is  bigger,  so mostly the Club People come to the Village and 
they  told  us  that the Village is better. Even if you don't have 
kids,  you  can  use  adults  section in the Village and have more 
space.  Breakfast  were buffets in Reef (family) and Horizon (main 
restaurant).  We opted for Horizon, since it had better choice and 
pancakes  and  eggs made to order while you wait, omelets are made 
to  order  in  both  restaurants. The rest of the buffet had usual 
breakfast staff. 

For  some  reasons they did not have breakfast potatoes and smoked 
fish  (they  had  bagels,  but no lox). They did have fried flying 
fish, but no smoked. Also, no dried fruits for the cereals. 

Lunches  were  both buffets and a la carte. Once we had hamburgers 
from  the BBQ on the beach, when you don't want to leave beach and 
dress  up  for  lunch. At the restaurants, a la carte lunches were 
pretty  good,  but  sometimes they did overcook meat and fish. The 
plates  come in hot, so we wondered if they prepare in advance and 
then  warm  it  up???  The  service  was very good and prompt with 
attention to kids. 

Cocktails  and  wine  were  always  available. Our son loved fruit 
punches  and  was  hanging  in  the  main  bar  for  them. He felt 
important  ordering  special.  He also helped to pour beer, so got 
the  kick  out  of it! The bartenders were very nice to him. There 
is  also room service for dinner and lunch, but we did not use it, 
so I cant comment. 

Entertainment. 

I  am  ashamed  to  say,  but  this time we were too tired to stay 
late.  Family  vacation, you know <g>. Also, after dinner when the 
band  started  to  play, the parents let little kids out to dance, 
so  that  were  not  place for adults. After all, this is a family 
resort!  <g>.  They  had Caribbean band once, the steel orchestra, 
the  staff talent show. There is also disco at the night club (for 
adults  only), but we did not take advantage of the entertainment. 


Kids Club. 

This  was the definite plus. Our kid loved it and spent 5 evenings 
out  of  7 there. We did try to keep him with us, but he preferred 
being  with  other kids. The had all kinds of activities kids do - 
tie-dye  t-shirts,  pirate  patch  making,  shelling on the beach, 
treasure  hunt,  playground,  pool. They have activities sheet for 
every  day,  so  the child can figure out what he/she wants to do. 
However,  only parents can take kids to watersports. The kids club 
has  movies, Nintendo (of course, it was popular). It is open from 
9am  to  10p,  so  you  can  sign up kids any time. They give kids 
lunch  and  dinner at Reef restaurants. The selection of kids food 
was  large, but the counselor complained to me that all orders for 
dinner  were  hot  dogs!  Go  figure!  So,  the kids club was very 
popular,  so  even  older  kids 10-12 loved it stayed there. There 
are  baby-sitters for children under 5 They even have the lady who 
does   hair  braiding  (included).  Island.  The  island  is  very 
beautiful  and  it  is enough to explore. The Resort arranges tour 
for the guest. 

On  Tuesday,  they took us to the East coast to the Bath Beach and 
there  was  beach,  BBQ,  cricket,  from 10 to 3. That was a great 
day.  We  also took on our own Island Safari in a Land Lover jeep. 
It  goes  where  the  regular  car would not go - tropical forest, 
pastures,  woods,  you  name  it. We loved it. The guide Roger was 
great,  with sense of humor, very professional and is an excellent 
driver.  We  loved  it,  especially  our son. Roger took us to the 
remote  east  coast  bays. He also introduced us to his friend who 
has  monkey  Jo-Jo  and  we took pictures with the monkey. Another 
day  we hired a taxi and he took us to Wildlife Preserve, Welchman 
Hall  Gully  and Harrison Caves. He charges $17US per hour and was 
waiting for us while we did sightseeing. 

The   people  are  very  nice  in  Barbados.  I  took  a  walk  to 
Speighstown  (half  a  mile from the resort). As for tourists, the 
majorities  are  from  UK and other European countries and Canada. 
About 10% of Americans at that time. 

Anyway,  these  are  my fresh impressions from Barbados and Almond 
Beach  Village. I asked my son to write his own report (after all, 
he missed 2 days of school <g>), so, I will post it here, too.

(Ed Note: The following report was submitted by Sophia's 10 year old son, Michael Kulich.)

  When you go to Almond Beach Resort everything will turn out just 
as  you  planned.  Your  kids will love and enjoy the Almond Beach 
Resort  Kids  club.  The club includes a Jukebox, Nintendo, Sega. 
Soccer, Dinner, and a movie every night.

Your  children  will  love  doing  water sports. The things on the 
water  sport list is Aqua biking, Ski bobbing, watersking and much 
more.

The  rooms  are  not as elegant as can be but they're okay. In the 
parents  room  there is a King size bed two night tables a dresser 
a  really big bathroom with a turbo hair dryer and shower with two 
chairs  and  a porch. In the other room it includes a couch (which 
is  a fold out bed) two night tables. A dresser with a T.V (cable) 
There  is  also  a mini Kitchen which has coffee and Tea. There is 
also a safe to keep all your values in.

The  whole  resort includes nine pools. The good thing is that you 
pay  for  the  resort  all at once so you can just go to a bar and 
get  a  drink  then leave and every morning there is a buffet that 
opens at 7:30 A.M and ends at 10:30 A.M.

The  beach  is  about  One  and  a  half  miles long. Also you are 
allowed to take a private Jet skiing lesson for extra money.

If  you go to Barbados Id suggest you go on the wild safari tour. 
They  put  you  on a Jeep 4 by 4 land rover which fits nine people 
and  they  take  you  to the most historic places in Barbados, for 
instance  the  signal  tower and much more (Id suggest you take a 
camera  on  that).  My favorite thing was Harrisons cave. They put 
you  on  this  car  with hard hats and they take you into the deep 
and  astonishing cave there is lots of Stalactites and Stalagmites 
hanging  from  the  ceiling  and  growing from the ground. Another 
place  Id  recommend is the Barbados wildlife preserve. There are 
Monkeys,  Peacocks  and  alot  of  turtles.  Most  of  the time in 
Barbados  there  are  very  big waves. One went right over me once 
there so Id be careful about the waves. 

BVI: DRAKES ANCHORAGE INN, VIRGIN GORDA BY LYNN MCKAMEY

"Ever  dreamed  of  vacationing  on  a semi-deserted island with a 
French  cook and only 24 other guests? Remote, but not too remote? 
Casual,  so  you  only need one small suitcase? Hiking trails with 
gorgeous  views? Great beaches and outstanding snorkeling? Welcome 
to Drake's Anchorage Inn." 

I  wrote  those words after our first visit in 1991, and they held 
true  until  1996  when  the  resort  mysteriously closed for five 
months.  Drakes Anchorage reopened during our last trip to the BVI 
in  November,  but  it had a new manager (dear Albert left!), plus 
the  chef  departed to help start a new restaurant at the Sand Box 
on  nearby  Prickly  Pear  Island, and the room rates increased to 
new highs! What's the future of Drakes? No one really knows. 

My  husband  and  I have returned to Drakes every year since 1991. 
This  delightful  "barefoot beach" inn, located on its own private 
island  in  the  North  Sound of Virgin Gorda, provided a perfect, 
totally  casual  get-away, but the resort slowly deteriorated over 
the  years.  During 1994 and 1995, cottages were renovated to have 
larger  bathrooms,  but  they  remained no-frills beach bungalows. 
The  dining  room  &  bar's roof collapsed in a tropical storm and 
was  propped  up;  the  visitors bathrooms always seemed to need a 
new  coat  of  paint,  and  the overall atmosphere became more and 
more "beachy". 

I  was  astounded to find that 1996/1997 winter rates dramatically 
increased  and  are within a few dollars of Biras Creek Resort and 
Bitter  End  Yacht  Club's rates (both far more upscale resorts in 
the North Sound area than Drakes). 

Sadly,  this  may  spell  the end of an "era" for Drakes Anchorage 
Inn  - at least until the owners can seriously renovate the public 
areas,  cottages,  and  villas,  or  lower the rates to once again 
reflect a good value vacation destination. 

Presently,  Drakes  has  published  only  1997 Winter rates. These 
include   all   meals   for  two,  plus  complimentary  snorkeling 
equipment,  kayaks,  dinghies, and bikes. All rates are subject to 
change.

WINTER  -  January  1 to April 2: Ocean View Room $505; Ocean View 
Suite  $578;  Oceanfront  room $526; Oceanfront Suite $585; Deluxe 
Villa  $695.  Additional  charges to daily rates are a 7% BVI room 
tax and 15% service charge. 

Drakes  8 day-7 night "Honeymoon Specials" which include all taxes 
&  service  charges,  meals  for  two,  snorkel equipment, kayaks, 
dinghies,  bikes,  one  day  jeep  rental  on  Virgin Gorda, and a 
bottle of champagne are as follows:

WINTER  -  January 1 to April 2: Ocean View Room $2633; Ocean View 
Suite $3296; Deluxe Villa $3999. 

FOR  MORE  INFORMATION, CONTACT: Drakes Anchorage Inn Reservations 
(800) 624-6651 (617) 969-9913 FAX: (617) 969-5147 

CATAMARAN CHARTER: "BANDALOOP" (ST. MARTIN - NEVIS AREA) BY C.R. WAXLAX

BANDALOOP

"The  days  one spends sailing are not subtracted from a lifetime" 
says a tee-shirt somewhere. Truer words were never spoken.

Anne  &  I  booked a cruise aboard the 63 foot performance sailing 
catamaran  Bandaloop  for  Thanksgiving  week Nov. 23 through Nov. 
30,  1996.  The  boat  is based in Simpson Lagoon on the island of 
St.  Martin  and  we had made arrangements to begin the charter at 
noon  on  the  23rd  from Baie Orientale on the northeast coast of 
the island.

Right  at  noon,  with  Bandaloop stealing the scene anchored just 
off  the  Club Orient beach, our Captain, Mel Rowe-Clark collected 
us,  loaded  our duffel bags in the dinghy and zipped us out to be 
welcomed  aboard  by the rest of the crew. They quickly had a cold 
drink  in  our  hands , lunch on the table and our stuff stowed in 
our stateroom. 

As  Mel  was  collecting  us  off  the  beach,  he had watched our 
goodbyes  and  last minute picture taking with three other couples 
we  had  met  during  the  vacation  week we had just completed on 
Orient  bay. He suggested that we invite them out to Bandaloop for 
a  tour  and  a drink. We did so and this proved to be a great way 
for  us  to  say good-by to our friends and begin the sailing part 
of  our  vacation.  Plus,  now  we're all talking about chartering 
Bandaloop together next year.

Day  Number  One:  Late in the (windless) afternoon we left Orient 
Bay  and  motored  2  km  over  to the small uninhabited island of 
Tintamare.  We  anchored  off  the  beach  on  the west end of the 
island  and spent the rest of the day swimming and getting to know 
the crew we'd be sailing with for the next week. 

The  crew included Mel, the owner of the boat and Captain for this 
trip;  Linda,  an  ex-legal  secretary  from  South  Africa who is 
Hostess  aboard Bandaloop; and Jeff & Ginny King, a married couple 
from  England who both hold Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster 
certificates  and who are both PADI certified divemasters. Jeff is 
also  a  PADI  &  BASC  certified  dive  instructor and Ginny is a 
graduate  of  the  Culinary Institute in New York and the daughter 
of  a  gourmet  chef  with a well known restaurant in the south of 
England.  Jeff  &  Ginny  sailed  their  own  boat  throughout the 
British  Isles, cruised the Mediterranean from Spain to Greece and 
then  sailed  across  the  Atlantic  to arrive in the West Indies. 
They  have  extensive  experience running crewed charters on large 
cats  in  the  BVI and they will be running all Bandaloop charters 
from now on.

Ginny  is  an outstanding chef and the food was fantastic and more 
than  plentiful.  Personally, I have never eaten as well on a boat 
and  rarely  in a restaurant. Since food is an important part of a 
crewed   charter   and   since  many  people  are,  perhaps,  more 
interested  in  this  aspect of a charter than they are the actual 
sailing,  we'll  include examples of Bandaloop menus at the end of 
this trip report.

Day  Number  Two:  Anne  & I are usually early risers and we began 
the  pattern  that  would carry us throughout the week. We woke up 
at  just  about  dawn  and  settled down in the aft deck saloon to 
read  and  sometimes  meditate  a  little  until  Ginny  and Linda 
quickly appear with hot coffee. 

This  is  a  wonderful  time of morning and the aft deck saloon on 
Bandaloop  is  an  innovation  of  Mel's  that  we  will  come  to 
appreciate  more  &  more  as  the week goes on. It is literally a 
covered  patio  across  the  aft end of the boat. It's open to the 
breeze  on the sides and along the whole width of the stern of the 
boat.  This  means  you can sit there and read or nap or socialize 
and  be  completely  comfortable  even if it's raining, or blowing 
hard  or  if  you've had too much sun. Because Bandaloop's beam is 
35'7"  there is enough space for the aft deck saloon to be an area 
similar  in  size and comfort to the pilot house lounge areas I've 
seen on monohull yachts in the 130' range. 

Forward  of  the aft deck saloon and raised up about 4 feet is the 
bridge  deck  or  cockpit  of the boat and forward of that (and on 
the  same  level  as  the aft deck saloon) is the galley area, nav 
station  and  huge  main  saloon  where  we  have  all  our meals. 
Accommodations are in the hulls.

Anne  &  I  enjoy  hiking  and  Mel  is  an  avid  hiker so, after 
breakfast,  we  hiked the length and breadth of Tintamare. This is 
a  small  island  so the total distance was only about 3 miles but 
it  was a nice mornings exercise and it was interesting seeing the 
ruins  of  the old farm and the wreckage of the airplane at an old 
airport  that  is now overgrown with shrubbery. The windward coast 
of  the  island is high and windy and the view towards Anquilla in 
the  north  and  St.  Barths in the south is spectacular. The hike 
was well worth the effort and we recommend it.

After  lunch  and  a  swim  we set sail for St. Barths. The trades 
were  slightly  more  north  of east than usual so we had a lovely 
and  fast  broad  reach  down to Columbier Bay on the north end of 
the  island  where  we  anchored for the night. This was our first 
experience  sailing a big catamaran in the trades and it is almost 
impossible  to describe the fun of broad reaching at 17 knots on a 
63  foot catamaran in perfect weather. WARNING: This ruins you for 
monohull sailing!

Day  Number  Three:  Colombier  Bay is a crescent shaped anchorage 
that's  well  protected from the prevailing easterly winds. It has 
a  beautiful  beach  around  most  of the crescent and, the day we 
were there, about 15 or so boats were anchored in the bay. 

This  is  part  of  France  and,  just  as at Baie Oriental on St. 
Martin  and the anchorage at Tintamare, at least 80% of the people 
on  boats  and  on  the  beach  don't  appear to have much use for 
swimsuits.  Although St. Barths supposedly has a rule against full 
nudity  on  it's  beaches, nobody seems to care much at Colombier. 
During  the  rest  of  the  week  we  visited  islands that have a 
British  or  Dutch heritage and birthday suits were not as evident 
on  those  beaches. The crew on Bandaloop has a very open attitude 
to  whatever  their  charter guests are comfortable with and their 
brochure  says: "The dress code is for your comfort only; dress up 
to the "nines" or undress to the "zeros", the choice is yours." 

After  breakfast we swam to the beach and took a walk and then did 
a  little snorkeling. When we got back to the boat it was ready to 
go  and  we headed off for Gustavia, the capital of St. Barths. We 
could  probably  write an entire trip report about Gustavia alone. 
It's  a  beautiful  and colorful little town with a well protected 
harbor,  Swedish  heritage  in the French West Indies, and lots of 
restaurants  and  expensive  shops.  But  we  had come to sail. We 
spent  a  couple  of hours in Gustavia, had lunch and set sail for 
Nevis. 

>From  Gustavia  harbor  to Booby Caye, a small rocky island in the 
channel  between  Nevis  and  St.  Kitts, is about 45 miles and we 
sailed  this  on  a  broad  reach  with winds in the 22 to 25 knot 
range  and  quartering  seas  running 4 to 5 feet. During the last 
hour  the wind slacked off to 15 knots or so and the sea flattened 
a  little  much  to our disappointment. This boat performs so well 
and  sails  so  flat  and  comfortably in those conditions that we 
wanted  to  crank  up the wind and swells just to see what it took 
to  make us uncomfortable. We had a reef in the main and I suspect 
that  another  5 or 10 knots of wind would have caused Mel to furl 
the  genoa  and  roll  out  the staysail. Even then, we would have 
still  been sailing flat instead of heeling and this makes a great 
deal  more  difference  in comfort than we thought it would. Every 
once  in  a while a swell would come along that thumped the bottom 
of  the  boat  between  the  hulls  with a loud slap. This isn't a 
problem  but,  until  you  get used to it, it is a different noise 
than  monohull  sailors like us are used to. Bandaloop has quite a 
bit  of  height  above  the  water  in  this area so this happened 
infrequently in the 4 to 5 foot swells we saw that day.

Just  after passing Booby Caye, with about 6 more miles to go, the 
wind  all  but died as we turned the corner into the lee of Nevis, 
found  an  anchorage just past the Four Seasons Hotel and anchored 
for  the  evening.  I  don't know how Ginny and Linda do this, but 
each  night  they  brought  out  delicious  hot hors d'oeuvres and 
tropical  drinks  right  at  sunset  or just after the anchor went 
down,  no  matter  how active a day of sailing or diving or hiking 
we had put in. Magic, I think.

Day  Number Four: Nevis (pronounced knee-vis) was named Las Nieves 
or  The  Snow  by  Colombus when he saw the white cloud around the 
1100  meter  volcanic  peak  of  the  island.  The  main  city  is 
Charlestown  and  we  spent  the  morning  exploring  the town and 
taking  some  pictures.  I've  always  enjoyed  reading  about the 
Nelson  era  of  naval  history  and  Nevis  has one of the better 
Nelson  museums. We recommend going through the museum and it's an 
easy  walk  from  the town. The tourist center will give you a map 
of  the  city  which  shows the Nelson museum but it's actually on 
the  street  behind  where  it's  indicated  and  you have to walk 
around  a  large  block to get to it. As Admiral Nelson might say, 
it's about a quarter mile off it's charted position.

Don't  miss  the  Garden Cafe with it's cozy and shady outdoor bar 
just  across  the main street from the customs building. Say g'day 
to Les and tell him you're chartering Bandaloop.

Nevis  would  be  our  southerly  most point on this cruise and we 
left  Charlestown  after  lunch and headed north toward St. Kitts. 
This  is  an  easy  afternoon  sail  even  under  the  light  wind 
conditions  we  encountered  that  day  and we spent the afternoon 
cruising  up the coastline, sunbathing on deck and polishing off a 
few  beers  and  fou-fou  rum drinks for Anne. The cruising guides 
say  the  anchorage  in  front of Basse Terre, the Capital City of 
St.  Kitts  is  rolly  and we were more interested in staying away 
from   cities  anyway  so  Mel  recommended  Ballast  Bay  as  our 
anchorage  for  the  evening.  This  is  just a few miles south of 
Basse  Terre  and,  in  fact, we could watch the cruise ships come 
and  go  as  we  dropped  our  anchor and tucked into the hot hors 
d'oeuvres  and  Linda's  ice cold rum concoctions. Jeff is an avid 
and  knowledgeable  star  gazer and the absence of light pollution 
from  large  cities  gave us almost perfect conditions for looking 
at the stars and constellations of the tropical night sky. 

Day  Number  Five:  Just  another  beautiful  day in Paradise with 
perfect  sailing  weather  for cruising up the coast of St. Kitts, 
gawking  at  the  scenery and old colonial fortifications, working 
on  the  suntan  and supporting the brewers of Carib beer. Most of 
this  day  had  us  sailing  at  8 to 10 knots in relatively light 
winds  and  almost  flat  seas in the lee of St. Kitts and, later, 
Statia.  By now we realize we're not going to get to see Bandaloop 
perform  in the 30 - 35 knot winds and 8 to 10 foot swells we were 
hoping  for on this trip but we also realize that we've now gotten 
used  to sailing at 9 or 10 knots in relatively light winds and we 
are  forever  spoiled  on  the idea of trudging along at half this 
speed or less in the same wind in a monohull.

We  got to Oranjestad, the capital city of Statia, and anchored in 
Gallows  Bay  in  the  same  area  that thousands of square rigged 
trading  ships  before  us had anchored during the American War of 
Independence  when  Statia  was  virtually  the  only trading link 
between  the  rebellious British colonies in North America and the 
trade  goods  of  Europe.  Statia  was called "the Golden Rock" in 
those  days  due  to  the  money and goods that flowed through the 
island  in  this  trade. Fort Oranje fired an 11 gun salute to the 
United  States  Brig  of War Andrew Doria on Nov. 16, 1776 in this 
harbor  and thus established Statia as the first foreign nation to 
officially  recognize  the  newly formed United States of America. 
Bandaloop's  very  British Captain, Mel, has a fairly dry sense of 
humor sometimes, and solemnly informs us that this was a mistake.

We  invited  the  whole  crew  to  dinner on us this night to give 
Ginny  and  Linda  a  night  off  and  Mel suggested the Blue Bead 
restaurant  right  on the waterfront at Gallows Bay. We had a nice 
time  doing this and I think the crew enjoyed it. The Blue Bead is 
not  a  gourmet  restaurant  but  it's  a  very  pretty waterfront 
restaurant  with  good  food  at relatively modest prices. I can't 
recommend  the  crab appetizer but everything else that each of us 
ordered was just fine. 

Day  number  Six: We were surprised to find that Statia turned out 
to  be one of the most intriguing places on our itinerary for this 
trip.  We wanted to scuba dive here because of the reputation that 
Statia  diving  has  for reefs and sunken ships and we also wanted 
to hike the Quill. 

The  Quill  is  Statias  almost  perfectly formed dormant volcano. 
>From  some  angles  it looks very much like Diamond Head in Hawaii 
and  it  is  about  2000  feet  high. The Dutch settlers called it 
Kuil,  meaning hole, but the English later changed it to Quill. In 
any  case  it's  a  wonderful  hike  up  the  sides of the volcano 
through  the  tropical rain forest and down onto the crater floor. 
We  highly  recommend this to any visitor to Statia and we will do 
it  again when we go back. We originally wanted to hike the Quill, 
see  the  city  and  dive the reef on the same day but that turned 
out  to  be  just  a  little  too  ambitious  a  plan. The city of 
Oranjestad,  the  museum,  the fort that fired the first salute to 
the  U.S.  and  the  Quill took up the whole day and it was one of 
the  highlights  of  our trip. We finished the day by swimming off 
the  boat,  taking  a  hot  shower  on  the  swim platform, having 
another   wonderful  dinner  and  going  to  bed  early  and  very 
pleasantly tired.

Day  Number Seven: This is scuba diving day for us. Anne and I are 
both  open  water  divers and we knew that Statia has a reputation 
as  a great dive destination. We used a company called Dive Statia 
and  the  owners,  Rudy  and  Rinda  Hees, were very good to us. I 
can't  recommend Dive Statia highly enough; they were terrific. We 
only  had  enough  time  for  one  dive and fortunately Rudy had a 
group  going  to a site he calls Grand Canyon and describes as one 
of  the most exhilarating dive sites in the area. It's a series of 
volcanic  fissures in the ocean floor that begin at about 115 feet 
and  pour  a  never ending stream of sand into the abyss below. We 
loved  it  and this was Anne's deepest dive ever so she got a real 
thrill out of it. 

Two  of  our  crew  from  Bandaloop,  Jeff and Ginny, who are both 
divemasters,  went along with us on this dive. Jeff is also a dive 
instructor  and he partnered with Anne for the deep dive. She said 
he  made  her feel very comfortable whenever she became concerned. 
We  would  have loved to stay and dive some of the shipwrecks that 
are  in  shallower  water  and  maybe even part of the sunken city 
along  the  current  waterfront  but  time  on  this  vacation was 
running  out.  I  think next time we'll plan a little more time at 
Statia. It was definitely a highlight of the trip.

We  had  an  early  lunch as soon as we got back to Bandaloop from 
diving  because  the  sailing  today  would be a beat, hard on the 
wind  to  a small uninhabited island called Isle Forche just a few 
miles  north  of  St.  Barths.  We  had  been mostly in the lee of 
Nevis,  St.  Kitts  and  Statia  for  several days now and we were 
hoping  that  the wind had shifted to east or, even better, just a 
little  south of east so we could lay Isle Forche on one tack from 
Statia.  But,  of  course, no such luck. When we came out from the 
lee  of  Statia  the  wind  would  only allow us a course about 15 
degrees  north  of  a  direct line to the island so we sailed that 
all  afternoon  on  starboard until we were right off the rocks at 
the  southeast  corner  of  St. Martin, tacked once and sailed the 
last  5  or  6 miles down to Isle Forche on port. As it turned out 
this  was  a lot of fun since it gave us 35 miles or so of sailing 
close  hauled  with  almost flat seas and an apparent wind of 15 - 
20 knots. 

About  15  minutes  before  we  tacked  onto the lay line for Isle 
Forche  a  large  monohull a few miles directly ahead of us tacked 
onto  the  same  heading.  When  we tacked it was readily apparent 
that  the  monohull  was  able  to  hold a heading that was only a 
little  higher  than  ours  and that we were eating him up so fast 
that   the   difference   in   pointing  ability  was  essentially 
meaningless.  Numerous  people  had  made  this  point  to  me  in 
discussions  about sailing large catamarans but it was fascinating 
to see it demonstrated so dramatically.

We  anchored  at  Isle  Forche in a calm and very protected harbor 
that  has  a  terrific  view  of all boats sailing north and south 
between  the  islands.  The  view  is  so  good  and the harbor so 
protected  that  it's  very easy to imagine pirates sitting around 
in  this  harbor  waiting  to  pounce on unprotected square rigged 
merchant ships. 

The  Last  day: Panic! It's our last day; how can we give this up? 
Reluctantly,  we  have  to, and it's not made any easier by having 
perfect  sunshine  &  sailing  weather  for  that last 7 or 8 mile 
broad  reach  back  up to Simpson Bay on St. Martin and the end of 
our  week of sailing on board Bandaloop. We sailed past the cruise 
ships  and  an American war ship in Phillipsburg harbor and talked 
about  how  much  more  we had enjoyed this crewed charter than we 
could  ever  enjoy  a  cruise ship. Mel & Jeff anchored in Simpson 
bay  and  we  had  a  last swim and a drink before heading for the 
airport  in  the dinghy. There's a dinghy dock about 50 yards from 
the  departure  terminal  and  Mel dropped us off there after a 10 
minute ride from Simpson Bay.

This  was  an  extraordinarily  wonderful  vacation thanks to Mel, 
Jeff, Ginny, Linda and, of course, Bandaloop. 

Kenneth  Grahame said it best in The Wind In the Willows: "Believe 
me  my  young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half 
so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

 Bandaloop Specifications

Length:  63  feet  Beam:  35  feet 7 inches Draft: 2 feet 6 inches 
with  dagger  boards  up  and  10  feet  3  inches  with them down 
Displacement:  16 tons Sail Area: 2400 square feet Engines: Two 50 
Horsepower  Perkins  diesels  and 250 gallons of fuel Outside Deck 
Space:  1800  square  feet  Interior  Area: 1030 square feet Fresh 
Water: 450 gallons

Accommodations  are  for  8  adult  guests plus children with crew 
quarters  separate.  There are 4 heads and 2 showers on board plus 
2 showers on the aft swim deck.

Bandaloop  was  designed by John Shuttleworth and launched in June 
of 1991 in Bristol, England.

Bandaloop Menus

Here  are some of the items Ginny prepared during the week we were 
aboard  Bandaloop. We didn't have any special dietary requests but 
Ginny  tells  us  that  she  is  delighted to tailor her menus for 
charterers who do have special dietary requests.

Breakfasts:

French  Crepes  filled  with  apples,  raisins and walnuts English 
Farmhouse  style  breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausages and grilled 
tomatoes  Grand  Marnier  French Toast served with maple syrup and 
kiwi  fruit  Freshly  baked  fruit  scones  topped with Devonshire 
clotted cream and strawberry jam

Also,  every  morning  there is always a selection of coffee, tea, 
chilled juices, tropical fruit , cereals, toasts and preserves.

Lunches:

Bean  Salad  of  the  Islands  -  spicy, delicious and served with 
avocado  slices  and  hot  garlic  bread.  Spinach & Feta Pie with 
tomatoes  in  balsamic  vinegar and alfalfa sprouts. Jamaican Jerk 
Chicken  -  a  Caribbean  classic,  slow  grilled,  served  atop a 
crunchy  green  salad.  Turkey  &  Wild  Rice  Salad with homemade 
tarragon dressing, papaya and warm pitas.

Hors d'Oeuvres:

Conch  Fritters  -  the  ultimate  island snack! Hot Artichoke Dip 
served  with  fresh cut vegetables Warm Filo Triangles filled with 
sauteed  mushrooms  and  pate  Tuna  &  Caper  Antipasto  Spread - 
Italian flavor, served with toast fingers

Entrees:

Sesame  Coated  Red Snapper with a Grand Marnier and ginger sauce, 
piquant black beans, sauteed plantains and seasoned rice.

Beef  Tenderloin  served  with  red  sauce,  rosemary potatoes and 
green beans almondine.

Chicken  Saute'  Provencal - Boneless chicken breasts sauteed in a 
light  tomato  sauce  with  olives and fresh basil. Accompanied by 
crisp pan roasted potatoes and grilled courgettes.

Sweet  &  Sour  Shrimp  -  juicy,  tender  shrimp in a tangy sauce 
served over fluffy white rice with steamed snow peas.

Dinner  is  always  served  with  a  fine  wine  from  the  Chef's 
collection.

Desserts:

Walnut  &  Honey  Strudel Parcels with creme anglaise (Note - This 
is  Phenomenal!)  Banana Bread Pudding drizzled with hot rum sauce 
Grilled  Pink  Grapefruit  with  lemon  biscuits and whipped cream 
Amaretto Chocolate Mousse topped with mixed nuts

Dessert  is  always  followed  with  coffee,  tea and after dinner 
liqueurs.


In  addition  to  full  boat charters, Bandaloop usually schedules 
several  "Cruises"  each  year which anyone can book without being 
part of a large group. 

For more information and a brochure on Bandaloop write:

Bandaloop Charters P.O. Box 523882 Miami, Fla. 33152-3882

Fax: 599-5-43319 (From the U.S. dial 011 first)

CAYMAN TRIP REPORT BY THOMAS ROUSH

Just  returned  after  a week at the super spectacular Magnificent 
Dive  Dump.  This  is  a  great  place  to  stay. We had a large 2 
bedroom  room  along  with  a  kitchen  and front porch area which 
looked  right out on the beautiful Caribbean Sea ( just a few feet 
away).  The  price  was incredibly low. Jeff and Caryn Thurner are 
the  resident  owners and managers and you would have to go far to 
find  more  kind  and  gracious  hosts. They advised us on what to 
see,  where  to  eat, etc. plus giving us an overview of the other 
islands in the Carib. 

They  even  directed  us  to  the shop of a black coral artisan (a 
Caymanian)  and  we  purchased  quite  a  few pieces of jewelry at 
extremely  good prices. Comparable coral pieces in Georgetown were 
3  to  4  times  higher  in  price.  I have never seen black coral 
jewelry  sold  in  Ohio  and  since  it  is  so  unique plus it is 
becoming  more  difficult  to  find  in  the  water,  I was indeed 
thrilled to be able to own some for myself. 

When   we   got  to  Cayman  they  were  experiencing  a  tropical 
depression  which  brought  with it lots of wind and rain showers. 
However  we were able to get beach time in every day but the boats 
were  not  going  out to Stingray City - will just have to go back 
another  time. 7 mile beach is beautiful - white sand and very few 
people out on it. 

The  condos  and  hotels  on the beach are all incredibly neat and 
clean and beautiful. 

We  have  been  to  many  islands  over the past 10 years and this 
island  has  no  poverty  that  I  could  see plus the drivers are 
extremely  courteous  unlike  the  ones on St. Lucia, Grenada, St. 
Bart's,  etc.  It almost reminds you of Florida. Probably that was 
the  one  and only fault I could find - it was too Americanized. I 
looked  for  a  quaint  Caymanian  beach bar but did not find one. 
However  the  restaurants  are  plentiful  and have lots of rum on 
hand.  Some  are  overpriced  but  if  you  take time you can find 
wallet relief at a number of places. 

Our  money is worth less than theirs and I'm sure that the cost of 
living  there  is quite high. We ate at the Cracked Conch (next to 
the  turtle  farm)  and  probably  that was my favorite place. The 
outside  dining  area  was  unique, the food great (conch, turtle, 
fish),  and  the waitress from Cheshire quite charming. It was not 
overpriced. 

We  also tried the Hog Sty in the downtown area (English type pub) 
-  liked that too, the Caribbean theme night at the Hyatt ($35 CI) 
but  well worth it for the variety of island foods - included jerk 
fish,  chicken  and  ribs, conch stew, johnny cakes, plantains and 
fabulous  key  lime  pie  and  coconut cake to mention a few. That 
meal  also  included  island  tropical  drinks and was followed by 
fire  eaters  and limbo dancers. The setting at night at the Hyatt 
added to the ambiance. 

Some   inexpensive   places   to  eat  are  the  Wholesome  bakery 
(downtown),  Big Daddy's on Friday evenings (lots of free food and 
all  you  have  to  pay  for  is  1 drink), Chicken, Chicken (wood 
cooked  chicken  with cornbread and a variety of side dishes, very 
good  and  only  about $5 CI.), the Pub inside The Holiday (we had 
steak  and ale pie - $7 CI), also all you can eat breakfast buffet 
at  the  Holiday  for $8 CI, and the small lunch restaurant at Rum 
Point  where you can get a cheeseburger (huge) with fries or Mahi, 
Mahi  for  about  $7  CI. They add 15 % gratuity on automatically. 
The service is quite quick which is unusual for the Carib. too. 

Grand  Cayman  now  is  making its own beer (Stingray Brewery). We 
toured  that  facility  -  beer was good and also cheapest you can 
buy  on the island. You will not get good prices on rum or booze - 
very comparable to the U.S. 

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