In August 2018, Lennart Burke and Valentin "Vale" Ahlhaus, friends and Melges-24 sailors from Stralsund, set out on a tour of the Atlantic with an old IW-31. After adventurous first stages to France, crossing the Biscay against the clock, strolling around bays in the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, they prepared their ship for the big jump and finally crossed the Atlantic in 18 days. After the Atlantic lap in cruising mode, Lennart Burke wants to take part in the Mini-Transat 2021. He reports on the way there on YACHT online.
If I weren't just 20 and had my whole life ahead of me, I would say: Here, in the Caribbean, I want to grow old. Time doesn't matter, life is usually kept simple, the people are open and warm, and last but not least, we can fully devote ourselves to sailing along the Caribbean coasts. We have found it, the limitless freedom
On the move with the dinghy
In the almost two and a half months that Vale and I have now spent sailing in the Eastern Caribbean, we were able to experience them and learn to love them. However, we have also recognized what it means to have little or to live from what the natural environment of an island offers.
Island hopping in the Eastern Caribbean
It is a privilege to be out here in a sailing boat. It means limitless freedom. The constant and powerful blowing of the Passat makes distances almost irrelevant. The temperatures hardly ever drop below 25 degrees, and when it goes above 30 degrees, the trade wind ensures pleasant air conditioning. Be it the vegetation, the culture or the countless anchor bays and sailing routes - the Eastern Caribbean offers incredible versatility.
Perfect conditions. under butterfly from island to island
We have now reached 15 islands: from Barbados via Grenad and Carriacou to the Grenadines (Union Island, Tobago Cays, Bequia), from there to St. Vincent, then three short stays on St. Lucia, then Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Montserrat, Saint Martin and now the British Virgin Islands.
On all the islands we experienced moments that will remain unforgettable. Sometimes it's people we met, sometimes hikes that were particularly challenging, sometimes anchorages that couldn't have been better, sometimes sailing passages that were nerve-wracking.
In the blue water rhythm: sailing, arriving, anchoring
If I have to name three things that have become a real habit, it is above all the anchoring, the clearing in and the passages between the islands.
Lonely at anchor. For a certain time the "Andiamo" is self-sufficient, the previous owner had already equipped the old yacht for long journeys
Anchoring is already part of everyday life, but it's always exciting. We have noticeably developed a good feeling for the right anchor point and the resulting questions: Where do we drop the anchor? How much chain should we give and in which area does the ship move afterwards or do we have sufficient freedom of movement?
The Schwoikreis is such a thing sometimes. Because if they are not full of reefs, rocks or other obstacles, some anchor bays are extremely overcrowded. Finding a place with "enough" space, not too deep in water and as close to land as possible is sometimes really difficult or involves risks.
What the galley has to offer …
Clear in was described to us as very annoying, nerve-wracking, time-consuming and costly before the trip. At first it was in Barbados and Grenad too. Over time, however, we made it part of the journey, and once we accepted that it was hardly a nuisance, but rather adventurous. Time shouldn't play a role when clearing in and trying to assert oneself or exerting pressure on the officials is also out of place. Because that's exactly when you give yourself a lot of time. Often they have fun with each other with jokes and if you then laugh along at the right moment - even if you haven't understood anything - that goes down very well.
The temperature rarely falls below 25 degrees
The passages between the islands were mostly very exciting. From Grenad to Carriacou, for example, we calculated a journey of about five hours and about 20 to 25 knots of wind from the east for 20 nautical miles. But in the end it was a 45 nautical mile cruising course, ten hours of sailing time, a lot of current and up to 32 knots of wind.
That was anything but comfortable, rather annoying due to the miserable turning angles and the terribly slow speed. As it got closer to the island and the waves got smaller, we were the last ones to struggle outside and try to cross into Tyrrel Bay from Carriacou. With the last ships overtaking us, however, we realized that they were all running their engines, and of course that made for a lot more speed and a little more height to the wind.
Lennart Burke at the tiller of the IW-31 "Andiamo"
We also had a strong current from Bequinach St. Vincent, which we were warned about in advance. The rising sea bed and the prevailing current also created a confused wave, so that we felt like we were on a rodeo ride on the water. A very wet rodeo ride …
But there were also fantastically beautiful passages, such as from St. Vincent to St Lucia. Strong wind, 5 to 6 Beaufort, surfing waves and a top speed of 14 knots. And some stages put us back in the rhythm of the Atlantic crossing, like that of Antigunach Montserrat: butterfly (jib cleared to windward) sailing, strong trade winds and a gentle roll of the ship. An extremely nice and familiar feeling.
crime was often a topic before starting the trip. Many warned us because there was a lot to read about it on the internet. Of course, we then also thought about the topic of security, e.g. how we can best lock ourselves in the boat at night. We even built a device for it, but we have never used it to this day, because we just feel too safe here to voluntarily lock ourselves in the boat.
Nevertheless, we pay attention to a few small things. We always connect the dinghy (including the tank and motor) when we are not looking at it. And whenever we leave the boat - no matter how long - we lock it. Certainly something happens here and there, you always hear a lot, but it's no different at home. Two miles off the coast of St. Vincent a small nutshell with two men rushed towards us and we thought, now the time has come, now we are being attacked, and that even in broad daylight while sailing.