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Cruising Life

Trinidad, West Indies


CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler Ah, Trinidad! We spent over five weeks there from May 17 until June 25, when we left Chacachacare Island, which was formerly a Leper Colony (yes it is spelled correctly). We sailed to the north coast of Venezuela, South America. All of the Caribbean Islands have a unique charm and beauty about them. However, we could not think of one that we seriously imagined living long term, say for a year or so, until we visited Trinidad. No, it was not the most beautiful. No, it does not have miles and miles of white sandy ... Read More »



CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler We left the Grenadines and sailed directly to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou which is an island that belongs to Grenada. Because it was still rolley here, we only stayed one night. We were anxious to get to Grenada and took advantage of a weather window which opened up and we sailed to Prickly Bay, Grenada. This was another of those harbors that we had heard so much about. We were rather disappointed by what we saw there. We had to sail here as this was where customs and immigration were located. The anchorage itself was exposed ... Read More »



CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler My last article reported us leaving St Lucia and sailing to the island of Bequia which is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Wow, what a sail we had that day! As long as we were in the lee of the islands, we had little or no wind and a calm sea. We poked our nose out first into St. Vincent Channel and later Bequia Channel into the “Bequia Blast.” We were flying with a reefed mainsail, a reefed Genoa, and a staysail! Eventually, we rolled in the genny. For many years prior to ... Read More »

Saint Lucia


Life aboard GRENDEL continued to keep us diligent and aware of our surroundings at sea. We had weather gathering capability, but not like you would have today. At that time, all we had was a SSB single sideband/ham radio. Each morning we would tune in and listen to David Jones in AM and Herb Hilgenberg in the evenings. We would get weather faxes from NOAAH on our SSB. Now with internet, it is possible to get weather as a result of Wi-Fi at a good number of the Caribbean anchorages. Boating has come a long way in such a short ... Read More »

Voyage of Moonbeam


by Fran Diebler I will be following s/v Moonbeam and her crew as they sail from Marco Island and through the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand completing a Pacific Circuit. Moonbeam is a 52’ Island Packet Cutter. There will be updates from time to time as they push forward to achieve their objective which is from Marco Island to New Zealand via the Panama Canal, visiting many South Pacific Islands along the way. A return trip to Marco by completing the circumnavigation is expected in the Spring of 2014. Ken Bardon, owner and skipper of the s/v Moonbeam, is a ... Read More »



Unbelievable is the only way I can explain the contrast between Dominica and Martinique! The two islands are only 26 nautical miles apart in open passage, but the 76nm from the harbor of Portsmouth, Dominica to Fort de France, Martinique are worlds apart. Nothing can compare to the civilities and attention to yachts found in the French Islands. Dominica provided a dinghy dock which consisted of a high cement bulkhead with old rubber tires attached so you could climb up to clear customs. In Anse Mitan, where we anchored in Martinique, there was a new, specially constructed, lighted dinghy dock. ... Read More »



CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler The incessant wind had not let up and the anchorage at Iles de Saints was a bit uncomfortable so we decided that we had to move on to Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica. Wow! We just left the very French, sophisticated, upscale island to make a landfall at Portsmouth, Dominica, which is one of the poorest and least developed islands in the Caribbean. Much of this volcanic rainforest is a national park, which looks very much like a primeval forest with its 365 rivers and magnificent waterfalls. Although the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking, we left ... Read More »


CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler We loved Antigua for its history, living museums, friendly people, snug anchorage, facilities and so much more. However, after an 11 day stay, we reluctantly had to move on. Our next port of call was Deshaies on the French island of Guadeloupe. Deshaies pronounced “Day Hay” is on the northwest corner of Guadeloupe. From the anchorage, Deshaies looks very much like a village on the French coast with its colorful shops and brightly painted fishing skiffs bobbing on their moorings. The harbor is opened to the West as all of the Leeward Island anchorages are. Seldom ... Read More »

Welcome To Antigua

CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler Whew! We finally made it safely to Antigua after our last visit from “HELL,” Montserrat. I’m sure that nowadays life is very different from when we were there. However, the wind still blows and the seas still rise. That is just a small part of life on the sea. You do have choices to make during your sailing life. Sometimes, situations occur that you cannot predict or control. Therefore you should prepare yourself, your boat and your crew for any and all possibilities. This should apply to all trips you make on your boat, especially if ... Read More »


CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler We stayed one day too long on Nevis. The Trade winds began to build up and we would have to plow to windward to go on to the next island which was Montserrat. We decided to stay one more and moved GRENDEL to Pinney Beach anchorage. This too was a roadstead, but at least there was a beach lined with coconut palms at the water’s edge and a huge volcanic peak soaring skyward in the center of it all. We thought we could beach the dingy and walk ashore. No! We couldn’t do that either as ... Read More »

The Islands that Brush the Clouds

CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler Along with St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis, Redonda, and Montserrat are known as the “Islands that Brush the Clouds.” Nevis and St. Kitts are one country. We checked into customs at Charlestown. That was how it was when we were there. Charlestown then was the only town of entry in Nevis. Nevis is a rather unusually shaped island. It is rounded in shape and has been likened to a sombrero with a peak in the center which rises 3,000 feet skyward toward the clouds. Hence the descriptive name of this island group. Nevis was named ... Read More »

St. Eustatius and St. Kitts

CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler After leaving St Barts, we sailed to St. Eustatius, Netherland Antilles, better known as Statia. It was a “Chamber of Commerce” day. The sun was brilliant, puffy pure white clouds touched the bright blue sky which came down to a blue green sea. We just glided along on a beam reach with an east wind of 8 -15 knots and a gentle sea of three feet. Painted on the horizon were two of “the islands that brush the sky,” Saba and St. Eustatius. We were almost sorry that our 31nm sail was over. However, we were ... Read More »

Gustavia, St. Barts, French West Indies

CRUISING LIFE  Frances Diebler AH! St. Barth to the locals and St. Barts to the Americans was just breathtaking as we sailed into the harbor of Gustavia. It is a small French Island, whose history includes being a Swedish possession hence the name Gustavia after King Gustave. Columbus named the island Barthelemy after his brother. It seems as though Columbus had spent his life going around bestowing names on every piece of land he saw. We were lucky to get a mooring in the inner harbor which was more protected and closer to town. We are always moved by ... Read More »

Anquilla British West Indies

CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler Reluctantly, we had to say “au revoir” to St. Martin and sailed a short distance about 15 nm to Anguilla, British West Indies, (BVI). This is a jewel of an island with magnificent white sand beaches. The warm, friendly, gentle people made us feel as though we were guests in their homes. The sign on the customs office spoke for the whole island. It quietly said, “All Persons Must Be Tidy in Appearance.” That gentle reminder typifies the people of the whole island: quiet, friendly, reserved, and warm folks. The entire island was pristine and the ... Read More »

Saint Martin: French West Indies

CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler The French West Indies refers to specific, formal French possessions in the Caribbean region. The term refers to: Martinique, Saint Martin, Saint Barts, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia, French Guiana, Dominica, and Haiti. This area is also known as the French Caribbean because of the mix of French and Caribbean culture in their architecture, cuisine, and languages. The term “creole” refers to this French and Spanish combination. As you may recall from my last article, we sailed all night from the Virgin Islands to Saint Martin, French West Indies into Margot Bay. Before dawn, we could see the ... Read More »

Under sail again to Saint Martin

CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler We’re on the move again. After spending two months in the beautiful Virgin Islands, we finally sailed over to Marigot Bay, St. Martin, French West Indies. The Christmas winds were blowing for two whole weeks now and the sea state was rather rough. This next passage was a serious open ocean passage from Anagada Passage, aka, “Oh, MY GOTTA PASSAGE.” This is an overnight sail which is only 80 some miles, but it can take anywhere from 13 hours to 24 hours. There are eddies, ocean swells, wind and sea state to deal with all along ... Read More »


CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler The British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands collectively make up the whole of the Virgin Islands. They have separate governments. The US Virgins is a US territory while the British belong to England. The BVI’s, aka British Virgin Islands, are made up of about sixty separate islands. The four main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Cooper Island, Beef Island, Necker Island (owned by Sir Richard Branson,) Norman Island, Peter Island are just a few of the better known islands. There are many more. You could spend weeks just “liming” ... Read More »


CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler After spending at least two months traveling throughout the British and US Virgin Islands, we reluctantly had to prepare to sail on down the island chain. Thinking back to all the islands we sailed to in the Caribbean, from Dominican Republic to the north coast of Venezuela, each island had its own special charm. The US Virgin Islands consist of the major islands of St Thomas, St John, and St Croix. The British Virgin Islands are made up of the major islands of Jots Van Dyke, Tortola, Norman Island, Peter Island, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada. There ... Read More »


CRUISING LIFE Frances Diebler My husband and I never sailed or ever thought about this subject until one day out of the blue he said, “I want to learn how to sail”. “Okay” I said. “Why?”? We didn’t live on the water at that time. We weren’t associated with other sailors or owned a boat. I was perplexed. We were young and eager to start a family together that would last a lifetime. He, more than I, started to read more and more about sailboats, and cruising, as well as where to go and what to do. We started visiting ... Read More »

Puerto Rico to Virgin Islands

Frances Diebler  We are underway again sailing from Puerto Rico and Culebra to St. Thomas, USVI. We left GRENDEL, “on the hard”, which is a phrase for having your vessel hauled and stored on land. This is probably the best way to protect your vessel when you will be away for a month or more. We left Puerto for a few weeks to fly back home to visit family and friends. During our visit home, we had some anxious moments when two hurricanes, Luis followed by Marilyn, ravaged parts of the Eastern Caribbean. The weather channel showed the strike ... Read More »