Thursday, May 26, 2022
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Rum Review: Topper’s Rhum – Sint Maarten


Clint recently had a business trip to Sint Maarten where he discovered Topper’s Rhum. Notice that’s Rhum with an “h” to honor the traditional French spelling of the word. While he didn’t take the distillery tour, Clint did bring home three of the six flavors Topper’s produces.

Topper's Rhum Review. Topper and his wife Melanie own Topper’s Restaurant and Bar in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. Since 1994, Melanie has developed a hobby of making “concoctions” of rhum in her home-based kitchen
Topper and his wife Melanie own Topper’s Restaurant and Bar in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. Since 1994, Melanie has developed a hobby of making “concoctions” of rhum in her home-based kitchen. Topper’s Rhum Review

Topper and his wife Melanie own Topper’s Restaurant and Bar in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. Since 1994, Melanie has developed a hobby of making “concoctions” of rhum in her home-based kitchen. Eventually, they began making these rhums to be offered to their restaurant guests as after-dinner drinks. Customers constantly asked if they could purchase a bottle of these “concoctions.” Soon one bottle became two and so on until they were producing a supply for the restaurant and local stores. In 2012, they partnered with Mike and Thelma King to build a 6,000 sq. ft. distillery in Sint Maarten, and to distribute products throughout the world.

The rhums are made using imported sugarcane and natural ingredients. There are never any sugar or preservatives added to the rhum. Toppers currently produces six flavors for mass distribution however, when you take a tour, you can sample the many flavors that Melanie is still dreaming up

Clint brought home three flavors that we tried neat, then in a cocktail.

The Cost of Crossing the Atlantic with the Route du Rhum

Topper’s Caribbean White Rhum Review

The rhum has a hearty feel on our palate with none of the alcohol burn typical of whites. There are floral notes with hints of green bananas. We are surprised by how much this white satisfies our taste buds.

When mixed with Coke the white rhum tempers the sweetness of the Coke with the floral and green banana notes coming through. What’s missing is the bite a typical white rum adds to Coke.

Topper’s Coconut Rhum Review

It smells like we just cracked open a coconut. The strong fresh coconut taste comes through immediately without the typical sugary taste most coconut rums have. The initial hit of the coconut quickly diminishes from a 10 to a 3 and remains there until the finish.

We paired the coconut with pineapple juice. Let’s just say we could drink a lot of these. The two complement each other in a way that doesn’t overpower us with sweetness.  Each flavor is in perfect harmony.

A Route du Rhum Tale

Topper’s Spiced Rhum Review

We differ greatly on this rhum. Clint finds it to be very mild with minimal spice and zero finish while Terry had a wow moment when the rum hit her palate. The rum literally exploded in her mouth with a barrage of spices. Black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and a hint of paprika. The finish stays with Terry for quite a while. It’s spice rum that Terry can finally enjoy.

Mixed with Coke, the cocktail is smooth with spice undertones and a little sweetness of the Coke. A coffee note dominates this cocktail.

Overall Topper’s Rhum Review

We were pleasantly surprised by the complexity of Topper’s rum. At $17/bottle, we will definitely be putting the Coconut in our everyday stock.

RUM REVIEW: Blue Chair Bay Rum

About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.

Positive Energy Through Your Plate


Let’s spring into spring with some positive energy. When it comes to health, what you add to your plate is more important than what you should not be eating and leave off. Focus on filling your dinner plate with “plant-based or lean protein, whole grains, and lots of veggies for a big nutrition boost. Variety is an important part of a healthy diet. 

Caribbean Cooking: You are What your Eat!


Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes. Serves: 4 – 6

2 bunches of kale (about 1-1/2 lbs) preferably lacinto
1-3/4 cups water, divided
2 large heads of broccoli, washed, trimmed, cut into florets
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
4 Tbsp. Ghee or unsalted butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
½ lemon, squeezed
Garnish: Himalayan salt and crushed red pepper

Prepare the kale by removing the tough stems and ribs; coarsely chop the greens. Cook the kale in 1 cup water in a large skillet over medium-high heat, covered, until barely tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander. Cook broccoli the same way with the remaining 3/4 cup water. Transfer the kale to a large bowl; drain the broccoli in the colander. Wipe the pan dry. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and kale. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, until broccoli and kale are tender with a few browned spots, about 4 minutes. Mix in the garlic and cook another minute. Sprinkle with nutmeg and toss lightly. Transfer to a warmed bowl. Pour the lemon juice over the vegetables toss to combine. Garnish: top with a sprinkling of Himalayan salt and crushed red pepper, if desired.

Tip: You can prepare vegetables and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Finish the cooking, just before serving.

Hint: Serve this recipe alone or with Sauteed Scallops, roasted chicken, turkey or any seafood dish or on top of your favorite whole grain, such as quinoa or farro.

Sauteed Kale with Pine Nuts and Garbonzo Beans


Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes. Serves: 4 – 6

2 lbs large scallops
½ cup clarified butter; ghee – divided
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt, to taste
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
5 cloves garlic crushed or grated
1 large lemon, zested, ½ of it squeezed
¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped 

Before cooking the scallops, make sure you pat them dry on paper towels. Heat large cast iron skillet on medium heat. In a medium size bowl toss the scallops with a drizzle of olive oil or butter ghee; just enough to coat them. Then sprinkle with the sea salt, pepper, pepper flakes, and sweet paprika. Toss to coat gently.  Add a little drizzle of butter ghee to the hot skillet, just enough to coat the bottom. Add the scallops in a single layer; make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Sear for about 2 minutes until nicely golden. Use a small spatula to flip them over individually and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the garlic, remove skillet from heat. Move the garlic around in the skillet for about 30 seconds. Squeeze half of the lemon over the scallops and move the skillet around a little so it combines with the butter. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Scalloping on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Jan Robinson, Health Coach, Charter Yacht Consultant, 2019 CYBA Hall of Fame, Chef Competition Coordinator/Judge and author of the Ship to Shore Cookbook collection; available on Amazon and www.shiptoshoreinc.com. [email protected]

Yachting 101

If you’re new to cruising, there are things you have to know immediately—and things you don’t. Huh? For example: Initially, you can ignore the finer points of sail trim (if you don’t mind drifting across oceans at a snail’s pace) but you must know how to reef your sails (so you don’t lose your mast) and how not to jibe (so you don’t lose your head).

Yes, it’s crazy but greenhorns who aren’t sure where the end of their boom goes within a yard or two are constantly asking me if they should buy Dyneema for their mainsheet to eliminate that quarter of an inch of stretch during gale-force gusts. 

“Only if you have more money than Elon Musk and Bill Gates put together,” I smile. 

One thing a sailor should remember if they want to impress their crew is: never act surprised. 

Recently I carried my light-air genoa into an Indian Ocean squall and said to my wife in the galley below as the sail shredded, “…no need to come on deck, honey—I took a ribbon reef in the headsail!”

Ditto, when you go bouncing up on a sandbar, “Oh, goody—we don’t have to get the chain muddy!”

Fatty in late ‘50s or early ‘60s aboard the Elizabeth in Vinoy Basin, St. Pete.
Fatty in late ‘50s or early ‘60s aboard the Elizabeth in Vinoy Basin, St. Pete.

If you wrap a sheet in the prop, just quip, “…that’ll stop the damn thing from spinning!”

No, I’ve never dropped my chute in the water—but, yes, I have trolled for shrimp in the middle of an ocean race. 

*Casting off while leaving the power cord plugged into the dock is a common occurrence. I just nonchalantly laugh as I cast off the sparks, “Oh, well! We should exercise the gen/set anyway!”

Here’s another hint: Why not conscientiously check the structural integrity of an unfamiliar dock while tying up—isn’t that just common sense? Yacht stems should be built strong, right? I mean, what red-blooded sailor wants a stem weaker than his morals?

Under the heading of ‘best laid plans’: I’ll never forget going to sea for the first time with my new forward-scanning depth meter—and backing into that frothing reef. Damn! 

Actually, I’m kinda amazed how cheap my annual yacht insurance premium is—if I’m not aboard. 

Growing old aboard with grace and wisdom is difficult. I’ve taken to guiltily pouring my laxative into 151 rum bottles during raft-ups. 

Here is another pro-sailing tip: never needlessly accept the blame. Once a student of my celestial navigation course set off for Cozumel from New Orleans—and ended up attempting to speak Spanish to some shell collectors on Clearwater Beach. 


The Cons and Cons of Safety Gear

Nonetheless, when I heard the news, I remarked with a poker face, “…must have forgotten to wind his chronometer!”

Back in the days of sextants and chip logs, I once missed Bermuda by almost a week. I explained it away to my gullible wife by muttering, “…damned continental drift!”

The Pacific Ocean is big enough that nav mistakes are common. If the guy catching my dock lines is munching a croissant, I figure Tahiti. If he’s baaaashfully hugging a reluctant sheep, I figure New Zealand. But if he wants to beat me up over such crude cultural generalizations—definitely an Aussie on a Friday night!

Be particularly careful in Fiji if young people ask your religion. Their ancestors have told them that Christian missionaries—with their extra layer of fat—were particularly tasty. Accept invitations to dinner; never for dinner! Avoid any community meal in which ‘long pig’ is served—that would be you, dude!

Fatty is always cold in New Zealand
Fatty is always cold in New Zealand

Yes, sailing lingo is important. 

The truth is, I brook no resistance while helming. If my wife is getting too feisty, I just say, “Shall we practice a COB—a chick-over-board drill?”

That shuts her up. 

Another thing to remember is not to be too subservient. Sure, it is nice to learn the ropes while club racing, but if you’re helming for the first time and the owner tells you to “fall off,” don’t step over the lifelines until he repeats the request at least twice.

Ditto, if a female owner gives you the opposite command. (Hopefully, the archaic ‘harden up,’ will be dropped from our sexist racing lexicon soon—along with all the other suspect spinnaker-related pole-tip commands as well.)

A Hysterical … er, I mean, Historical Perspective on USVI & BVI Marine Industries

Women on the race course can be a problem. My wife always says, when asked what our racing handicap is, “My husband Fatty.” 

It’s true. I’ve been passed by jellyfish. In the tropics, sandbars silt in faster; in the polar regions, glaciers have out-paced me to windward. 

I don’t have a stopwatch to time my racing starts—a Week-at-a-Glance calendar does just fine. Yes, we carry binoculars—how else would we know the boat’s name on the transom of our nearest competitor? 

The way I figure it, if I can see other vessels behind me as I finish a race—I didn’t come in DFL. (How would I know which vessels are participating—it isn’t against the racing rules to anchor or pick up a mooring, is it?)

All of this, my wife is quick to point out at the yacht club. “Our anchors affect our speed only slightly,” she proclaims. “Our biggest problem on the racecourse is other boats swing alongside to ask if we’re aground.” 

Oh, she’s ego-bruising all right. “Once during the Caribbean 1500 we put out our Paratech sea anchor when hit by a gale in the Stream—and forget to bring it back in. On the plus side, we placed quite well in the following year’s event…”

Merely because someone has sailed a lot doesn’t mean they’re infallible. Just because you’re trying to dislodge the other fellow’s spare bow anchor from your stern rail doesn’t mean he didn’t drag… upwind… in a gale.

Here’s another pro-tip if you race around Jamaica—head up has nothing to do with marijuana. 

It’s best not to buy a wooden craft as your first vessel. Some rotten ones have more holes than a spaghetti colander. My first carvel-planked craft had more leaks than the White House. The only thing keeping her together was the roaches holding hands. 

Anchoring in the Caribbean – How Do I Know Where to Anchor?

Her garboard plank was softer than Bob Dole. 

She had more (teredo) worms than a bait shack!

…no, these aren’t the type of ‘woodies’ modern bilge bunnies demand. 

Yes, there’s sooooo much misinformation out there! 

Caribbean storms can be stressful—don’t believe for one second that hurricanes are ‘low pressure’ events. 

Once in Madagascar, I raced where primitive participants were allowed to beat each other bloody with heavy wooden oars at the finish line—that brought a whole new level to my understanding of ‘club’ racing. 

Modern marine diesels are another topic where confusion exists. 

If your engine won’t even turn over—check your lead-acid starting batteries to confirm they’re ‘full of juice.’ If not, there’s your problem!

If you run a diesel out of fuel, you’ll have to bleed your system. Traditionally, this starts with the owner’s wallet and quickly moves onto his bank account—then drains all the other resources aboard as well. 

Prop drag is a problem. I now have a Max prop—after years of experimenting with normal three-bladers that I hacksawed and hinged. My advice is to ignore feathering props. If you do get involved in experimentation, use feathers from seabirds as they don’t absorb water. 

No, that isn’t an engine-hour-meter on your instrument panel—that’s how much you will have to spend on Caribbean marine mechanics (in hundred-dollar increments). 

Back in the day, sails were called ‘rags’ because that’s what a sailor dressed in after paying his sailmaker. 

Yacht racing is one of the few ‘self-enforcing’ sports for gentlemen. This means that you should never cheat if another competitor might notice. Ditto, the race committee: Yes, you can hit the leeward pin of the start line on the side away from party-boat-with-all-the-cocktail flags—but never on the side in view of it. 

…that’s just Racing Rules 101 stuff. 

If two boats on opposite tacks approach, be the first to yell “…starboard!” You have a 50% chance of being right. And even if you’re not, your competition will have to mentally hesitate… Well, if they have any integrity, they will. 

While it is best to avoid serious collisions during, say, the Rolex regatta, it is also true that the crews of sunken vessels often miss the protest hearing. (It’s this type of ‘insider’ advice you never read online in Scuttlebutt!)

What else do you need to know about international regattas other than that, traditionally, all marriage vows are suspended? Remember to always bring protection—from rain and in the pocket of your foulies, from the local ladies. Well, yes, there are regional differences. In the Caribbean, rum is the answer but most participants are too high on ganja to remember the question. 

Zen and the Art of Anchoring…

Sexism is, alas, beginning to be frowned up. No more ‘bilge bunny’ talk, please. Ditto, rail-rider, sailbag, and dock box. If the owner’s arm-candy asks mid-race why everyone is scurrying around the deck changing sails on the downwind run, just tell her the truth, “…we’re bored with the colors!”

Yes, local knowledge is important—but never ask a proud Antiguan Rasta about ‘package’ size. He’ll always smile widely and say with confidence, “…not by the size of de hand nor de feet—but judge by de length of de dreds, me son!”

This brings us to the subject of yacht maintenance. People think I don’t do any. Not true! Even my long-suffering wife Carolyn will back me up. “He consistently maintains his sense of humor and, additionally, energetically polishes the head seat twice a day!”

During our last haul-out in New Zealand, I watched my wife sanding our hull intently—well, up until I got eyestrain and had to rest. (Truthfully? I was horrified by her lack of compassion!) 

(Bio note: Fatty and Carolyn continue to be awash in a sea of financial ruin.)

Gas Saving Tips for Boaters


The price of gas is hitting boater’s wallets worldwide, especially powerboaters. The Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), a boating advocacy group, recently published gas-saving tips, many of which are equally valid for those in the Caribbean. 

“With the high price of fuel, even sailors stand to gain with these fuel-saving tips. For motor-driven vessels, following these tips can definitely make a difference throughout
the season,” says Scott Croft, BoatUS vice president of public affairs. 

Born-Again Stinkpotter!

How to Save Money While Boating!

1. Before Heading Out – Tune your engine. A once-a-year tune-up and service will help it run more efficiently. Also, check for propeller damage throughout the year. A dinged or broken propeller will hurt your fuel economy. 

2. At the Dock – Lighten Your Tanks. Don’t run with a full freshwater or fuel tank unless you absolutely need it. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon, and some boats have fresh water tanks that can hold 100 gallons, so emptying half can add up quickly. Gasoline weighs 6 pounds per gallon, so if you don’t need a full tank to safely return, lighten your load and bring less. A rule of thumb when planning for fuel use on any outing is that you need to have one-third of your fuel to your destination, one-third back home, and one-third in reserve.

3. On the Water – Watch your Wake. One sign you’re blowing gas is the size of your wake. While sometimes you have no option, slowing down to no-wake speed saves fuel. It’s a matter of plowing a wall of water rather than efficiently slipping over or through it. www.boatus.com

Dealing With Dirty Fuel

New Floating Bar in the Turks & Caicos

What do basketball star Trevor Ariza, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, and award-winning hip hop artist Ja Rule have in common? They’ve been among the celebrities and everyday folks who visit the new Noah’s Ark. The Ark is a floating tiki bar located through a channel to the east of Little Water Cay (Iguana Island) in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos. There’s a full-service bar with everything from Rum to Champagne, including the signature drink called a Super Mario after the Ark’s mixologist. There’s a full kitchen too, with a menu focused on fresh seafood such as lobster, conch, snapper, grouper, and shrimp plus other Caribbean dishes.

8 Top Caribbean Craft Beers to Try while on Vacation

“Noah’s Ark is accessible by boats, jet skis, and any other water transportation,” invites Lester Carter, owner. “The way it’s built it can take a large or small boat tied up the long side. Noah’s Ark is built like a dock with foam and concrete for the floor and the sides, and the bar and kitchen are built with wood. It’s an open-air facility. We are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to sunset.”

Beach Bars of the USVI – Four Not to Miss!

There’s also a ferry service to Noah’s Ark. This picks guests up from the Blue Haven Marina at 1 p.m., and returns for them at 5 p.m. The cost is $40, round trip. To book, call: +1 (649) 332-6268.

The Best of … Five Top Beach Bars in the British Virgin Islands

8 Top Caribbean Botanical Gardens to Visit

Botanical Garden of Nevis - Saritea Vines. Credit Botanical Gardens of Nevis
Botanical Garden of Nevis – Saritea Vines. Credit Botanical Gardens of Nevis

When you’re ready to trade sea for shore, if only for a few hours, take a walk on the wild side and visit one of the beautiful botanical gardens in the Caribbean. Here’s a sampling of seven:

1. National Botanical Garden Dr. Rafael M. Moscoso.

Located in the heart of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital city, this 400-acre garden is one of the largest in the Caribbean. “The Garden is a special place, as it has nearly 70,000 different botanic species, which are distributed into the country’s eight most important ecosystems,” says Michell Cosme, director of communications. Highlights include a flower clock, which measures 65 feet wide, 12 feet high with 16-foot-long hands; a Japanese Garden with bamboo, Junipers, and Asiatic plants and flowers; and an Herbarium. A trolly tour of the gardens is available. www.jbn.gob.do 

Jardin Botanico Nacional de la Republica Dominicana
Jardin Botanico Nacional de la Republica Dominicana

How to Plant and Maintain a Garden on a Cruising Boat – Fresh salad?

Replacing the Windows on the Dodger

Brittle and milky after 10 years UV exposure. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Brittle and milky after 10 years UV exposure. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

A flexible sprayhood is a wonderfully practical thing. It keeps the cockpit dry during passages or on rainy days, but it can be folded away in case you sail with a purist who needs wind and waves directly in his/her face, if you want to reduce windage preparing for a storm at anchor or when you get the boat ready for storage. The disadvantage of foldable plexi windows is their limited lifetime. We rinsed off our sprayhood after each passage, took care not to get any chemicals on the windows that might harm the material and managed to keep them for ten years. At some point they turned milky, but we gradually adapted to the limited view and got used to peeking through the gap between sprayhood and bimini. In the end the windows got so brittle that one of them was smashed in during a rough passage, maybe by a flying fish, maybe by a flogging rope, we never found out. We did a make-shift repair with masking tape underway to keep the splashing waves out and to save the potted plants in our sprayhood garden from a salty death. 

After arriving at our destination we contemplated our options. Sailing on was a no-go, but we were on a remote island with no professional sailmakers to turn to. We fretted, pondered the issue, made some calls, ordered material, worried a bit more and finally tackled the project. The dreaded project was easier than imagined and the result turned out better than expected, so we decided to share our newly-acquired knowledge with you. 

Here are 10 steps to a clear, wrinkle-free DIY vista from the cockpit:

1. Material needed
A sewing machine (a professional sailrite would be great, our old, sturdy Pfaff house-hold machine did the job as well), a roll of foldable plexi (material thickness between 0.5 mm and 1 mm), UV-resistant thread (we use Tenara, teflon-based indestructable stuff), house-hold scissors, a seam-remover (or better two), two pairs of steady hands and good nerves.

Plan while the dodger is still up. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Plan while the dodger is still up. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

2. Planning in 3D
A sprayhood is a complex 3-dimensional construction that becomes thoroughly confusing when you have to make it 2 D in order to fit it on the saloon table and into the sewing machine. It is therefore important to make a detailed project plan, mark port and starboard as well as up and downsides on all windows before taking the dodger off. 

Cutting the old window. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Cutting the old window. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

3. Cutting the old window
The old windows keep the fabric in shape, so you want to keep them in as long as possible. We therefore did NOT remove the old seams, but sliced the old plexi material right between the two parallel, old seams, leaving them in place.

Cutting new plexi. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Cutting new plexi. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

4. Cutting the new plexi
Foldable plexi is easy to cut with household scissors. We cut the new material roughly in shape, leaving a broad margin on all sides–to be on the safe side in case of errors.

Taping new plexi on top of old one. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Taping new plexi on top of old one. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

5. Taping on the new plexi
We pressed the new windows firmly to the inside of the old material. Then we taped it down. Using double-sided tape would make the work easier and more exact, but we didn’t have any, so we made do with regular masking tape, which unfortunately cannot be applied on the inside, but just around the fringe. 

Rolled up for outer seam. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Rolled up for outer seam. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

6. Sewing the outer seam
The next challenge is to get the sprayhood to fit into the sewing machine without ripping the tape accidentally off. We rolled it as tightly as possible to be able to squeeze it into the machine, inner side of the sprayhood facing up. Then we sewed a new seam just outside the old seams, staying parallel to the outer one. We did the long, straight lines first (pressing down the material and straightening all the time) and only did the rounded corners last–squeezing and pulling the material in order to do curved seams could easily dislodge the two layers of plexi and lead to wrinkles.

Waypoints—Boon or Bane?

Removing the old seam. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Removing the old seam. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

7. Removing the old seam
Now it’s time to remove the inner one of the old seams gently with a seam-remover–scissors would be too risky as you could easily slip and damage the new window.

Cruising — Living in Touch with Nature and Marine Life

Removing the old window. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Removing the old window. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

8. Removing the old window
As soon as the seam is off you can pull out the old window and remove all bits of thread. The outer one of the old seams simply stays in place and does not have to be removed.

Passage Blues

Last seam on the fringe of sunbrella. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Last seam on the fringe of sunbrella. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

9. Adding an inner seam
We rolled the fabric up again, stuffed it back into the machine and added an inner seam, staying close to the edge of the sunbrella. As a last step we cut off the excess material on the outside. Tada! First window finished!

Making DIY Canvas Seam Sew Easy

Panoramic view again. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer
Panoramic view again. Photos and DIY effort: Birgit Hackl and Christian Feldbauer

10. Replacing the other windows
Now you simply have to repeat the procedure until all windows are replaced, mount the sprayhood, wash off the cold sweat, settle down in the cockpit and enjoy the long-missed panorama!

Pitufa’s Top Ten Makeshift / Recycled Items

Birgit and Christian have been sailing, makeshifting and improving their SY Pitufa for ten years. Check out their blog www.pitufa.at for more info!

7 Top Places to Rent a Boat in the Caribbean For a Day

Set Sail, Barbados
Set Sail, Barbados

There’s no place better to go boating than the Caribbean. That’s why it’s so easy to hire everything from a super to a sailing yacht be it for a day trip or week-long charter. But what if your means are more modest or time to lime limited and you just want to rent a little runabout for a half or full day to swim, snorkel and explore. Here’s a sampling of ways and places you can do just that. 

Top Places to Paddleboard in the Caribbean

1The Bahamas. Choose your own adventure on and around Long Island, one of the most scenic in the Bahamas. Long Island Bahamas Boat Rentals & Tours, based in the Mangrove Bush settlement, rents 13- to 21-foot Boston Whalers, a 17-foot Beavertail Flats boat, 19-foot Sundance and 20-foot Sportcraft Fisherman. “Some people fish the reefs, others snorkel a sunken plane, and still others want to visit every deserted beach on secluded cays. Many guests love our swimming pigs, some fish the flats, or walk on pristine sandbars and hunt for shells. Traveling through mangrove waterways, crossing unbelievably fantastic turquoise waters, or simply putt-putting around looking for marine life like of all kinds, stingrays, turtles, sharks, starfish, dolphins, conchs, and more is also fun. Most days it’s without another boat in sight,” says Zoe Cartwright, general manager. www.longislandbahamasboatrentals.com 

Long Island Bahamas Boat Rentals & Tours
Long Island Bahamas Boat Rentals & Tours

2. Puerto Rico. Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo is a perfect launching site for a day of sightseeing around the offshore islands and cays to the east. Caribe Bliss Ocean Tours & Boat Rentals have small vessels for rent for up to 6 passengers such as a 27-foot Glacier Bay Cat. “Visit the beautiful islands of Icacos, Palomino, Culebra and Vieques,” invites Darlyn Santiago, office manager. Icacos, only 15 minutes away by boat, is a deserted island surrounded by white sand beaches. A section of the 100-acre Palomino Island is a get-away for guests from the El Conquistador Resort on the mainland, but the rest is uninhabited. Culebra and Vieques are two of Puerto Rico’s largest offshore islands, complete with bars, restaurants and accommodations as well as beaches, quiet anchorages and spectacular snorkel spots. caribebliss.com 

Caribe Bliss Ocean Tours & Boat Rentals
Caribe Bliss Ocean Tours & Boat Rentals

7 Top Bike Tours in the Caribbean

3. St. Thomas, USVI. On a full day, experience beautiful coral, tropical fish, and turtles, says John Bodnar at St. Thomas Boat Rental, located in the Sapphire Bay Marina. “Then enjoy wonderful sightseeing on your way to lunch at one of the floating restaurants or beach bars around St. Thomas and St. John.” The company rents a 20-foot Caribe Dinghy by the hour or day that customers can drive themselves. stthomasboatrental.com

St Thomas Boat Rental
St Thomas Boat Rental

4. St. John, USVI. Go out for tacos at Lime Out, a floating taqueria on the southeast side of the island in Coral Harbor. The only way to get there is by boat. Dockside Dinghy in Coral Bay rents inflatable dinghies for half-and full-days. Rentals come with fuel, a cooler, ice, and safety equipment included. There are several other places to visit too. “One is Hurricane Hole Coral Reef National Monument, where an extraordinary diversity of corals can be found. Over 30 types of coral and numerous sponges, fishes and other organisms make this a very special place to snorkel. Five percent of our profits are donated to the Caribbean Oceanic Restoration & Education Foundation and are very proud of the work they do here to help the reefs,” says owner, Jamie Brown. docksidevi.com

Dockside Dinghy
Dockside Dinghy

5. The British Virgin Islands. Explore Norman Island, where there are caves to snorkel and the legendary Willy T Floating Bar & Restaurant to stop for a bite and a brew, the beach bars in Great Harbour and White Bay on Jost Van Dyke, or the newly reopened Saba Rock in North Sound, Virgin Gorda. “These are all doable day trips,” says Julien Johnson, at Island Time Power Boat Rentals and Charters, located at Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola. The company offers late model 22-foot to 28-foot RIBs and center console powerboats from Brig and Cobia. Snorkel equipment and a cooler filled with ice and water are included. A captain is an added cost and needs to be pre-booked. islandtimebvi.com

Island Time Power Boat Rentals and Charters
Island Time Power Boat Rentals and Charters


6. Antigua. The beautiful white sandy coastline of Antigua, most of the lovely 365 beaches from sea mainly on the Leeward side, some of which are only accessed by boat, seaside restaurants, historic Nelsons Dock Yard and the Falmouth Harbor, our port and harbors, and small off islands close to our northern and eastern coastline are all places to visit when renting a boat for the day, says Paul Ryan, owner and chief executive officer of Paradise Boat Sales, located in Jolly Harbour. The company rents center console Boston Whalers, Montauk and Outrage boats from 19- to 25-feet. www.paradiseboats.com

Paradise Boat Sales
Paradise Boat Sales

7 Day Charter Itinerary in St. Maarten / St. Martin – St. Barths – Anguilla

7. Barbados. Cruise around Carlisle Bay, just south of Bridgetown, in a rented sailing dinghy. “We currently offer Gp14, Hobie Getaway and Topper Taz rentals by the hour. The client needs to be able to operate the vessel with some proficiency, otherwise, a staff member joins along,” says Dominic Austin, who with brother James, operates Set Sail, at the Barbados Cruising Club. Crescent-shaped Carlisle Bay is a destination for luxury yachts, dive boats taking visitors to snorkel and scuba dive on the bay’s six shipwrecks, and cruisers sailing through or stopping for a few days. Ashore, hotels, bars and restaurants line the beach, perfect for a rest or fueling up after a sail on the bay. setsailbarbados.com

Set Sail, Barbados
Set Sail, Barbados

Rum Review: Bermuda’s Swizzle


Our friends, Pete and Pat, went to Bermuda every couple of years and would tell us about this rum drink called the Swizzle. They described it as fruity but not sweet, spicy without the heat, and so smooth that it set you on your bum before you could say, “Yes, I will have another.” Since we haven’t made it to Bermuda yet, this month the Swizzle Inn came to us.

Gosling’s Old Rum Review – Complex and Inviting

How to make the Rum Swizzle (Various Recipes)
How to make the Rum Swizzle (Various Recipes)

The origin of Bermuda’s national drink dates back to 1932 when the Outerbridge family opened the Swizzle Inn. Needing a signature drink, they began with Gosling’s rum, blended it with Barbados rum, fruit juices, and falernum, a liqueur that contains ginger, lime, and almond, and frequently cloves and allspice. The cocktail was made in a pitcher and agitated enough to make it foamy. Over the years, the Swizzle has become a staple at establishments in Bermuda with each bartender putting their own twist on the drink.

Our first cocktail was made using the original Swizzle Inn’s Recipe.

Honestly, we were skeptical of how the falernum was going to play with the fruit juices. This drink was everything Pete and Pat described it to be. The cocktail went down so smoothly, with all the ingredients in balance, that the glass was empty before we knew it.

Next up was Gosling’s Recipe (from their website) using the falernum instead of grenadine. Here, the balance shifted to showcasing the two rums leaving the fruit juices behind. Cloves and ginger from the falernum were also more pronounced.

Profile Pat Anderson

The CEO of Gosling, Malcolm Gosling, makes his own version of a Swizzle. The cocktail was good but we definitely missed the falernum. Be careful of the rum floater on the top. It will kick you when you get to the bottom.

It’s worth finding the falernum for this cocktail.

You can find it in the cordial aisle. We would also experiment with the gold rum as well. We’re not kidding when we say that the original recipe goes down so smoothly that you won’t know what hit you after a couple. Maybe that was Outerbridge’s plan all along.

Send your Swizzle recipe to [email protected].

The first two recipes: Make in a shaker, shake until foamy, and pour over crushed ice.


4 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
4 oz. Gosling’s Gold Bermuda Rum
2 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. Bermuda Falernum or sugar syrup
5 oz. Pineapple Juice
5 oz. Orange Juice
Juice of 2 lemons
4 dashes of Angostura bitters


4 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
4 oz. Gosling’s Gold Bermuda Rum
5 oz. Pineapple Juice
5 oz. Orange Juice
¾ oz Grenadine or 2 oz. Falernum
6 dashes of Angostura bitters


1.5 oz. Gosling’s Gold Bermuda Rum
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
2 oz. Orange Juice
Splash of Grenadine
2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Mix in cocktail glass, gently stir and float Goslings’s Black Seal Rum on top.

Marigot Escape

About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.

Sailing with Charlie: Just Do It!

If you’ve ever had that dream of acquiring your own boat and sailing away to explore the world, its exotic locations, different cultures, climates, flora and fauna and the freedom to do it in your own time. There’s no time like the present – so get the ball rolling.

Like achieving many dreams money can be an obstacle. But remember, there’s a large community of people out there (American mostly) who have disposable income, in many cases sacks full of disposable money and their desire is to partake of the hedonistic lifestyle – and that often includes yachting. For you, the dreamer, it’s time to take advantage of this treasure trove.

How to Buy an Older Boat

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

The answer is to get a job on a megayacht as a crew. Why? Even as a mere deck hand you can save at least 20K a year because the tips are almost guaranteed to give you a thou per charter and most megayachts will do at least 20 charters a year. You get free board and lodging and the food isn’t bad. The work is easy although boring and you have to kowtow to privileged people – they want it NOW and they want it perfect. But bowing and scraping in exchange for a bag full of cash should be bearable and it will give you the first step towards fulfilling your dream.

Besides saving 60K in three years you will have done the necessary ‘sea time’ to get a basic license. But more important is that you will have learned some seamanship and had a chance to scout out great cruising spots. Also, for about 25K or even less you will be able to buy a used cruising boat, move aboard and begin the journey to a cruising lifestyle. Most important is that fixing up an old boat will give you unparalleled knowledge to keep you going in times of emergency – there are no plumbers in the middle of the ocean. 

Charlie has several friends who bought old boats and over several years managed to get them into ship shape condition and lived their dream. One bought a derelict steel boat – it was only 28-ft, a manageable size – don’t forget size has little to do with seaworthiness. He learned welding, woodworking, fiber glassing and sail making. He re-rigged the boat with galvanized telephone pole wire, threw out the rusted old motor and built a new cockpit with tons of space underneath. He learned basic navigation, bought an RDF (Radio Direction Finder) and convinced the prettiest girl on the dock to go with him. He cruised up and down the island chain of the Eastern Caribbean, catching fish, eating tropical fruits and bathing under fresh waterfalls. 

Charlie’s biggest hero (heroine really) is Shirlz on Speedwell of Hong Kong. She bought a derelict boat, a Vertue 25 in South Africa, fixed it up and set off across the Atlantic. That was 20 years ago. In Brazil she was so impressed by a friend’s junk rig she was persuaded to install one on Speedwell. She made the sail herself and, with help, stepped a new mast. She has never looked back.

Shirlz and Speedwell are now in Lombok in the Indonesian archipelago. She has always been inspired by the KISS principle (Keep it Simple Stupid). Navigation is done with Navionics on a tablet and a weather app on a small shortwave radio that interfaces on the small screen. She is full of praise for her Navik wind vane.

Shirley’s sailing adventures continue. She has voyaged extensively throughout the Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina, the US east coast, Bermuda, the Azores, Central America and the Pacific single handed.  

“My cruising years have been the happiest times of my life.” She says, Now, in her mid-70s she has no plans to change her lifestyle. 

Julian Putley is the author of The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI; Sunfun Calypso; and Sunfun Gospel. 

How to Make Fried Rice!


Here are a few secrets to making the best fried rice recipes. Use a wok (or large cast-iron frying pan). After cooking the rice, let it cool and refrigerate and/or freeze into portions. For a quick meal, use the leftover rice. Break up the clumps of rice before putting in wok. Use high heat. Always heat wok before using. Cut vegetables and/or other ingredient’s that you may be adding into small pieces. Add ingredients to wok, according to the time they take to cook – hard ingredients first. Rice is usually the last ingredient to be put in wok, as it is already cooked and only has to be warmed. 

Hint: Good fried rice should be moist but not wet. Some fried rice dishes are topped with wet ingredients after they are cooked.

Note: Should you decide to add a marinated ingredient, stir-fry it first, so the moisture is absorbed, before adding the “cold” rice.

How to Make the Best Fried Rice
How to Make Fried Rice


Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes. Serves: 2

2 Tbsp. coconut oil or other high heat oil, divided
2 eggs. Whisked together with a pinch of salt
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
¾ cup chopped green onions
2 cups of chopped vegetables: e.g. bell pepper, carrots, etc.
1 medium bunch kale (curly green), ribs removed, chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt
¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (not shredded coconut)
2 cups cooked and chilled brown rice*
2 tsp. reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp. chill garlic sauce or sriracha
1/2 lime, halved and squeezed
Garnish: Handful fresh chopped cilantro and half lime cut into wedges.

Heat a small frying pan then add 1 teaspoon oil and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Pour in the eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until the eggs are scrambled and lightly set. Set pan aside. Heat a wok, or large cast-iron pan, over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to the pan and add the garlic, green onions, and additional vegetables. Cook until fragrant or until the vegetables are tender, stirring often, for a couple of minutes. Add the kale and salt. Continue to cook until the kale is wilted and tender, stirring frequently. Add the scrambled eggs. Pour the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the egg pan, then add the coconut flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the flakes are lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is hot, about 3 minutes. Add coconut-rice mixture into the wok. Once warmed, remove the pan from the heat. Add the tamari, chili garlic sauce and lime juice. Lightly mix together, taste. Add more as needed.

To serve: Place the fried rice mixture into individual bowls. Garnish with wedges of lime and cilantro. Serve with extra tamari, chili garlic sauce and/or red pepper flakes, for those who like it “hot”!

Woking the Dog


Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes. Serves: 2

1 Tbsp. avocado or coconut oil, divided
3 large eggs
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper or to taste
½ cup shredded or finely cut carrots
½ cup green onions (scallions)
½ cup frozen peas
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
2 cups cooked brown rice, chilled
3 Tbsp. organic tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. no sugar added rice vinegar
¼ tsp. sea salt or to taste

In a wok, heat ½ Tbsp. oil over medium heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the pan and scramble. Remove to a warm plate and save. Add remain ½ Tbsp. oil to pan over medium heat; add the carrot and sauté a couple of minutes. Add the scallions and cook until both are softened. Add frozen peas to the pan, stir for about 30 seconds before adding the ginger and rice. Turn heat to low and cook another few minutes until everything is warmed through. Just before serving, add tamari, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, stir and serve.

Note: You may add any other vegetables you like – water chestnuts, bean sprouts, edamame, etc. Or, plain shredded chicken or other protein. 

How to Make West Indian Salt Fish Cakes

Jan Robinson, Yacht Captain, Health Coach, 2019 CYBA Hall of Fame, Chef Competition Coordinator/Judge and author of the Ship to Shore Cookbook collection; available on Amazon and www.shiptoshoreinc.com. [email protected]

Gowrie Group Extends Health Insurance to Shore-based VIPCA Members

Gowrie Group - Rick Bagnall, center, VIPCA Show
Gowrie Group – Rick Bagnall, center, VIPCA Show

Yacht crew members of the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) have long been able to get health insurance from The Gowrie Group. On February 1, 2022, VIPCA announced that this leading marine insurance agency will extend coverage opportunities to shore-based active VIPCA members as well. 

VIPCA Works to Boost U.S. Virgin Islands Marine Charter Industry – Charter Yacht Show, Medical Insurance, Youth Outreach among first initiatives

“The VIPCA Crew Medical Program has been such a large success, that the shore-based membership has asked to be included in the group association health plan for the year too. The U.S. Virgin Islands does not offer individual health plans and small group policies are extremely pricey and hard for a group to access. Working with CIGNA and VIPCA, plus understanding the needs of health insurance in the territory, Gowrie has been able to secure affordable health insurance to the shore-based vendors and businesses that are part of the active VIPCA membership,” says Rick Bagnall, Senior Vice President, Gowrie Group, Division of Risk Strategies.

Highlights of Gowrie’s insurance plan for shore-based VIPCA members include worldwide coverage, coverage in the U.S. CIGNA National network, two plans to choose from with varying deductibles, up to $5,000,000 per Policy Year limit, and monthly credit cards or EFT payments. vipca.org, www.gowrie.com 

Bahamas Coverage and Changes on the Horizon

What size outboard engine can I get for my dinghy?

Everyone knows that salesmen are instructed to “upsell” to customers with the goal of achieving more turnover through their efforts. You will therefore be surprised to note that when salesmen in Budget Marine are selling outboards for use on inflatable tenders, we are mostly recommending NOT to exceed the recommended horsepower.

More Speed More Power and the Danger of Overpowering Your Boat

What size outboard engine can I get for my dinghy?
What size outboard engine can I get for my dinghy?

Many customers are assuming that some bureaucrat determined the recommended horsepower based on some exorbitantly cautious safety criteria that prevents the customer from getting the best usage and speed out of his inflatable dinghy. This is not the case and let me explain…

Basic New Outboard Motor Maintenance Tips

The main function of small inflatables in the Eastern Caribbean is to function as a tender.

If you are purchasing a tender for your teenage son to achieve the greatest speed whilst driving it, then read no further as this article does not relate to your interest.

Mostly the goal of a larger engine is to be able to plane with more people or with more provisions.

The critical item to do that is NOT just your engine horsepower but more importantly the size and type of the area in the water that your dinghy must support the planing of the dinghy. So, if you have a 10-foot dinghy and you put a bigger engine than recommended you will still not be able to plane with four people. You will also have a less balanced unit because of the heavier engine that will take more effort to handle on and off the boat, you will spend more money buying it and you will pay for more fuel, and all this will not give you benefits.

It will also be more likely to get more fouling growth through the heavier engine, the engine will have more chance of being partially submerged when tilted and the risk of the transom breaking will be increased.

Please also note that in case of an accident with an oversized engine, no insurance will cover the damages and you can be sent to jail if someone is injured.

Also Consider other Articles regarding selecting an outboard for your dinghy:

Please send in Questions for the Experts to answer in a future issue to [email protected]

7-Day Charter Itinerary: The Cayman Islands

Far west of the traditional tropical term charter destinations such as the Bahamas, Virgin Islands and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Cayman Islands are ripe to explore by boat. Geographically considered in the Greater Antilles and located in the Western Caribbean Zone, the Caymans are nearly 400 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico; some 270 miles south of Cuba; and just over 200 miles northwest of Jamaica. There are three main islands – Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – totaling over 100 square miles, with everything from sophisticated dining and nightlife to simple anchorages where nature and marine life rules.

USS Kittiwake. Photo: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
USS Kittiwake. Photo: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

There are several charter companies, most based on Grand Cayman north of the capital of George Town along the Seven Mile Beach area. Nearly all of these are locally based companies that only offer half-day, full-day and sunset charter excursions with captain and crew. A few of these have larger luxury catamarans and powerboats in their fleets and will offer customized 5- to 7-day crewed charters. For example, Mainstay Sailing, based at the Cayman Yacht Club, offers Robertson & Caine-built 45-foot sailing cat and a 47-foot power cat. 

“Typically for a week’s excursion, guests request a few different anchorages around Grand Cayman and a trip to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac,” says Captain Jon Dobbin, at Mainstay, who holds an RYA Sailing Instructor Certificate, has worked in the industry for over 30 years and will occasionally host longer charters to Cuba from Grand Cayman.

The Cayman Islands: A Tantalizing Trio

Here is a sample 7-day itinerary: 

Day 1: George Town, Grand Cayman. Touch down just outside the Cayman’s capital at the British Overseas territory’s international airport. Then spend a little time sightseeing. George Town is the heart of the Cayman’s famous financial services industry, but the best stops for vacationers are the shops. Items like watches, jewelry, alcohol and clothing are both duty- and sales-tax-free. When hungry and thirsty, and desire a nautical vibe, head to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville a block from the cruise ship pier or Guy Harvey’s Bar & Grill a few blocks south. Now it’s time to embark.

Photo: Caribbean Travel Organization
Photo: Caribbean Travel Organization

Green Turtles in Grand Cayman

Day 2: Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman. “Grand Cayman has three main safe overnight anchorages and Seven Mile Beach is one of them. The other two are North Sound and East End. In all these zones, there is plenty of exploring, good holding/moorings and access to shore if desired,” says Mainstay’s Dobbin. The beach here is home to hi-rise resorts and five-star celebrity restaurants. On the wild side, free dive or scuba dive the USS Kittiwake, a 251-foot long, 2,200-ton submarine rescue vessel that operated in World War II. Today, the wreck, whose structures range from 15- to 60-foot in-depth, is dive-friendly, thanks to large holes cut into its hull to create swim-throughs. Later, take the dinghy or go ashore and drive up to the Cayman Turtle Center. It’s a family-friendly place to swim with and learn more about sea turtles. 

Cayman Brac sunrise. Photo: Will Burrard-Lucas
Cayman Brac sunrise. Photo: Will Burrard-Lucas

Day 3: North Sound, Grand Cayman. This is a great locale to visit the territory’s stingrays. “The famous Stingrays are definitely worth a stop…. Beautiful animals that have even the most muscle-clad Texan men squealing. This is our North Sound experience, along with snorkeling some of the 7 miles of barrier reef. Often, we encounter sleeping nurse sharks, turtles, eagle rays, and the occasional curious reef shark,” says Dobbin. Stingray City, actually a group of sandbars located 20-plus miles north of North Sound, is one of the Cayman’s most visited attractions. Here, in the shallow waters, it’s possible to swim with, feed, and take photos of the friendly rays.

Stingray City Diving. Photo: Lawson Wood
Stingray City Diving. Photo: Lawson Wood

Day 4: Little Cayman. Located 60-plus miles to the east, it’s an energetic, long and seasick-prone sail to reach this smallest of the Caymans. Some people opt to fly over and meet their vessel there. However, the rewards of visiting are several natural wonders. The Bloody Bay Marine Park boasts an underwater coral-covered wall that drops from 20- to 1000-plus feet. Legend tells that the late Philippe Cousteau named the wall one of the world’s best dives. Find pink-hued sand and gentle surf at Point O’ Sand. In November, the island’s Pirate Week festivities take place.

Photo: Caribbean Travel Organization
Photo: Caribbean Travel Organization

Day 5: Cayman Brac. It’s only a 15-mile sail to the easternmost of the Cayman Islands. Scuba diving is superb here too, including a chance to explore the wreck of a Soviet warship renamed the M/V Captain Keith Tibbetts. Explore ashore as well. There are several caves, hiking trails with unique flora and fauna, and opportunities for rock climbing.

Photo: Caribbean Travel Organization
Photo: Caribbean Travel Organization

Day 6: East End, Grand Cayman. Plan to spend most of the day at sea. It’s nearly a 90-mile trip from Cayman Brac west to the East End of Grand Cayman. While it’s downwind, some prefer to fly over and meet their vessel. “The East End of Grand Cayman probably has better coral formations and conditions possibly from being on the windward side and therefore better water flow. This makes the reef entry challenging, especially if our easterly trades are over 15 knots. However, worth a stop,” says Dobbin.

Photo: Caribbean Travel Organization
Photo: Caribbean Travel Organization

Day 7: George Town, Grand Cayman. It’s often a pleasant 18-mile sail along the south side of Grand Cayman to the capital city. Once here, start planning for your next day or several day sail. www.visitcaymanislands.com

Grenada Offers Nautical Voluntourism Opportunities

Grenada Voluntourism - Artificial Reef Project
Grenada Voluntourism –
Artificial Reef Project

Cruisers to the Caribbean tend to be more travelers than tourists, often having several weeks or a season to stop and smell the flowers along the way. This many times translates into getting to know residents, learning about the local culture, and getting involved in ways to help out island communities. Now, Grenada has made this easier with the launch of its Voluntourism Program. The program offers year-round opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, health, education, and the environment. Environmental projects include Beach & Reef Cleanups and the Grand Anse Artificial Reef Project

Couples Learn to Sail

“What makes nautical voluntourism so great in Grenada is the fact that so many yachtsmen and women have given back to Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique over the years, even we did not have this philanthropic program in place. Now, however, with Grenada’s new Voluntourism Program, yacht owners, their families, and crew who have previously donated books and their time in various schools around the island to share the joys of reading and learning new cultural practices, can volunteer to assist with new activities,” says Nikoyan Roberts, manager of nautical development, marketing and sales for the Grenada Tourism Authority.

The Afterlife: Artificial Reefs

The Reef Clean Ups and the Grand Anse Artificial Reef Project take place Monday to Friday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., depending on the weather. The Beach Clean-up is a more opportunistic activity depending on the season and beach condition. The Reef Clean Ups are teamed with local dive shops, while the Artificial Reef Project is led by Phil Saye at Dive Grenada, who spearheads building and placing artificial reefs in the island’s Marine Protected Areas. Once placed, there are opportunities for volunteers to monitor and maintain the reefs, including underwater cleanups, urchin and fish counts, ID tag placement, and cleaning. The Grand Anse Artificial Reef Project especially needs strong swimmers and snorkelers, with PADI Certification a bonus. For more information and to register, visit www.puregrenada.com/voluntourism

Knowing When to Keep Quiet

A Trio of Recipes From M/Y Laurel


Welcome to the premier Caribbean Charter Yacht Show and Super Yacht Chef Competition, held at the Yacht Haven Grande Marina, St. Thomas USVI last December. The chef competition was coordinated by Nancy Bean, of the famed Boston Wine & Food Festival, Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, and James Beard Taste of America, to mention a few.

The panel of four esteemed judges included:

Ray Isle, Executive Wine Editor at Food & Wine, the highly entertaining White House chef Guy Mitchell, who trains The White House chefs and runs The White House chef tours. Plus, our very own celebrity chef, Julius Jackson, St. Thomas restaurateur, cookbook author, and former Olympic boxer and Chef Digby Stridiron, a St. Croix native who was the chef/patron of the award-winning restaurants “Balter” and “Braata.”

The theme for the Chef Competition was Colors of the Caribbean, it was judged on taste, presentation, use of local products, wine pairings, as well as color and table-scaping!


  • 1st Place – Chef Patrick Matthews on 240 ft M/Y Laurel
  • 2nd Place – Chef Luka Mansueto on M/Y Impromptu
  • 3rd Place – Chef Patrick Sullivan on M/Y Just Enough

Chef Patrick Matthews’ signature style blends ‘food, passion and art.’ Patrick is a classically trained Executive Chef, bringing over 35 years experience to M/Y Laurel. His formal training was at The Culinary Institute of America, where he graduated with high honors. Patrick loves the great outdoors and holds both a Personal Training and Sports Nutritionist certifications.

I asked judge Julius Jackson, his thoughts on chef Patricks’ winning dishes and the table-scaping “First off, the set up at the table was amazing and was perfect for the Colors of the Caribbean theme, so great job to the team on board. Each course the Chef was very well executed, colorful, had local ingredients and the wines were beautifully paired. Chef Patrick’s scallop dish was perfectly executed; tender scallops with beautiful crispy outsides. His main dish the Bone-in Fillet of Beef, was raised in the Caribbean…”

Top Ten Traditional Caribbean Markets: Food, Glorious Food

Honey Mango Tartlet with Coconut Custard. Recipe from Chef Patrick Matthews, M/Y LAUREL
Honey Mango Tartlet with Coconut Custard. Recipe from Chef Patrick Matthews, M/Y LAUREL


Recipe from Chef Patrick Matthews, M/Y LAUREL
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 12 minutes. Serves: 6

  • 1 bag of Sun Tropics Salted Caramel Coco Rolls, crushed
  • 2 oz. Butter, ‘Beurre’ d’Isigny Ste, Mére, melted
  • 1 can of Nature’s Charm coconut sweetened condensed milk
  • Juice of ½ fresh lime, squeezed
  • 4 Heritage Happy Egg Company egg yolks
  • 2 Mangos, honey peeled and sliced
  • Garnish: of tropical fruit – passion fruit, carambola
  • 2 oz. artisan crafted ice cream/custard coconut

Preparation steps: Press together Coco Rolls with butter, line tartlet shells. Make filling with condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolk. Bake at 177ºC or 350ºF for approximately 12 minutes; allow to cool. Slice mango and fan out on each tartlet. Slice in half the passion fruit and crest with a ball of coconut custard. Garnish plate with tropical fruit to taste.

Caribbean Recipes: Caribbean Cooking Holiday Style

Recipe from Chef Patrick Matthews, M/Y LAUREL


Recipe from Chef Patrick Matthews, M/Y LAUREL
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes. Serves: 6

  • 6 Scallops, U10 – fresh in shell
  • 1 tsp. pepper, black tellicherry – mignonette
  • 3 thick slices, house cured bacon
  • 6 baby carrots, peeled, shaved 1/8”, dehydrated
  • 2 Tbsp. Pistachio – shelled roasted, crushed
  • 100 g, Caviar, Petrossian Daurenki
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter, ‘Beurre’ d’Isigny Ste. Mére – melted
  • 2 Tuile (lace), Coral

Preparation steps: Remove scallop from shell, clean, and remove side muscle. Lightly season with pepper. Caramelize scallop over medium heat, a few at a time, butter. DO NOT OVER COOK. Place on sheet tray lined with paper towel. 

Pre-cure and smoke Pork Belly, (or you can use store bought … Nueske’s and Kiolbassa make for excellent substitutes. Shape bacon into 12.7mm (1/2-inch) x 50.8mm (2-inch) pieces. Place bacon on parchment covered sheet pans, bake at 117ºC (350ºF) until desired level of crispness reached.

Make Tuile Lace: 30g (2-1/2 Tbsp) All-Purpose Flour, 100g (1/3 cup) Neutral Oil, 200g (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) Fiji Water … color as desired … “for this plate-scape, I was going for the Little Mermaid ‘Under the Sea’ motif.”

If you like this, you’ll love:

Scalloping on Florida’s Gulf Coast(Opens in a new browser tab)

Vegan Recipes Shine at BVI Annual Charter Yacht Show(Opens in a new browser tab)

Antigua Charter Yacht Show’s Concours de Chef(Opens in a new browser tab)

Happy New Year Quinoa Recipes(Opens in a new browser tab)

Jan Robinson, Health Coach, Charter Yacht Consultant, 2019 CYBA Hall of Fame, Chef Competition Coordinator/Judge and author of the Ship to Shore Cookbook collection; available on Amazon and www.shiptoshore.com. [email protected]

UK Royals Prince William & Kate Try Bahamian Sloop Racing

Team Duke of Cambridge on Susan Chase V (L-R) Travis Knowles, Ceri, Security (front), Claudius (back), Garret, CJ, Prince William, Stefan Knowles (skipper). Credit Travis Knowles
Team Duke of Cambridge on Susan Chase V (L-R) Travis Knowles, Ceri, Security (front), Claudius (back), Garret, CJ, Prince William, Stefan Knowles (skipper). Credit Travis Knowles

The UK Royals sampled the Crown Jewel of Bahamian sports when they had a chance to go sloop racing during their week-long tour to the region in March, as part of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee year. Interestingly, it was the sailors that got the best pictures of their royal crew members up close and personal. 

“I’ve been photo-documenting Bahamian sloop racing for the last few years and have become great friends with many of the sailors,” says Jan Pehrson, a professional sailing photographer whose works, which include everything from youth regattas to classic yachts and Grand Prix racing, have appeared in publications worldwide. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t be in the Bahamas when Prince William and Kate were there. But, one afternoon I started getting texted photos on my phone. The sailors were so excited to sail with Wills and Kate that they sent me their selfies. The funny thing was, it was pouring rain, so the regular press was getting their cameras were getting drenched and they weren’t getting good photos. The sailors took the best photos on their phones!”

Three Friends and a Love of Sailing on St. Kitts

Bahamian Sloop Racing Team Duchess of Cambridge on Ants Nest II (L-R) Keith Rolle, Joseph Brown Jr., Kate, Desmond Pinder, Samuel Rolle - Back Joseph Brown Sr., Lee Armbrister (skipper), and James Wallace (kneeling). Courtesy Ants Nest
Bahamian Sloop Racing Team Duchess of Cambridge on Ants Nest II (L-R) Keith Rolle, Joseph Brown Jr., Kate, Desmond Pinder, Samuel Rolle – Back Joseph Brown Sr., Lee Armbrister (skipper), and James Wallace (kneeling). Courtesy Ants Nest

The young royals raced in two 21-foot-long B Class sloops for the Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Regatta, with courses set in Montague Habour, East Bay Street in Nassau. Prince William skippered with Bahamian National Champion, Stefan Knowles calling tactics on Susan Chase V and won, with Duchess Kate, crewing for the sloop team aboard Ants Nest II, finished fifth.

It was quite an afternoon on the water despite the rain and an event that might push long-standing efforts among many Bahamians to change the Commonwealth’s national sport from cricket officially to sloop racing!

FULL RESULTS – Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Regatta – Nassau, Bahamas:

1. Susan Chase V – Mangrove Bush, Long Island (Prince William was captain for the day)
2. Ole Boy – Salt Pond, Long Island
3. Cobra – Mayaguana
4. Barbarian I – Acklins
5. Ants Nest II – Ragged Island (Kate Middleton was captain for the day)

For more information on Bahamian sloop racing, visit Pehrson’s website at: www.janpehrson.com

New Cats, New Crew at BVI’s Conch Charters

The world of sailing is opening up again as the pandemic dies down. Conch Charters is more than ready with an amazing British Virgin Islands’-based fleet of bareboat and crewed charter yachts. “We have catamarans manufactured by Lagoon, Leopard, Fontaine Pajot, Lucia, and Bali from five cabins to a three-cabin owner’s version. Our newest cat arrivals are a 2021 Leopard 46 and a 2020 Lagoon 42,” says Cindy Chestnut, owner of Conch Charters Ltd, located at the Fort Burt Marina, in Road Town, Tortola.

“In monohulls, we have Jeanneau, Beneteau and Hanse. We just added a 2018 Jeanneau 41 DS.”

Perhaps the most exciting news is sales manager, Rasika Twist, is back in the office after the birth of a baby girl named Sahana in December. The proud dad is Charter Manager, Jeremy Twist.

Conch Charters is a family-run business that will celebrate its 35th anniversary in December 2022. “Our first charter left our docks in December 1987. We have built from the waterline up and currently have a fleet of over 40 yachts and staff of 25,” says Chestnut. “Our personal approach has been and remains as warm as the tropical sunshine.” Conch Charters also offers a yacht management program. conchcharters.com

Conch Charters Charter Manager Jeremy Twist with new baby

Boston Whaler Launches Owners Club


Join the Club! In March, Boston Whaler announced its new Boston Whaler Owners Club. The Club is a resource for owners and fans of the brand to unlock exclusive benefits, learn about upcoming events, and gain access to a world of information and opportunities. The good news is that these perks extend to Boston Whaler enthusiasts in the Caribbean too.

Boston Whaler launches a New Website

“All owners, regardless of location, can access the full benefits of our new Boston Whaler Owners Club. One of the most exciting features is our Community Forums. There, owners can discuss topics of interest including Whaler Life, Whaler Restorations, Product Chat, and more! Additionally, we encourage owners to share details or organize Whaler meetups in their area via our Forums Conversation Boards – a great way to meet and connect with like-minded fans of the brand. Other features owners can access are answers to the most common boating FAQs, discounts on Whaler apparel, and access to their boat’s info right from their profile,” says Meghan Edwards, content marketing specialist for Boston Whaler.

Boston Whaler Dealers Honored for Excellence in Retail & Customer Service

Boston Whaler, based in Edgewater, FL, USA, manufactures sport fishing boats, pleasure boats, and yacht tenders. There are several brand dealers in the Caribbean www.bostonwhaler.com

So you Wanna’ Buy a Boat? Why do you Want a Boat?

Rum Review: Bumbu XO



If our friends are someplace known for their rum, they know to pick us up something that looks interesting to review. Our friend Doug did just that when he went on a cruise to the Caribbean. The unique bottle of Bumbu XO is a very thick, heavy black glass bottle with a tarnished foil “X” across a map of the Caribbean. Let’s see if “X” hits the right flavor spot.

Rum Review: Bumbu XO
Rum Review: Bumbu XO

Bumbu Rum Company is under the umbrella of Sovereign Brands, a family-owned wine and spirits company partnering with high-quality family-owned companies worldwide. Information about Bumbu Rum Company itself is vague. They are best known for Bumbu The Original rum made “at a historic distillery in Barbados founded in 1893.” Bumbu XO, though, is “distilled and aged” in Panama. Since it’s not specific where we’ll leave the scuttlebutt to others.

Bumbu’s Master Distillers source sugarcane from around the world that contains certain minerals to create the unique characteristics of the XO blend. Bumbu XO is distilled using a continuous column still, then aged in ex-bourbon cask before finishing in Spanish white oak sherry casks. The rum is “aged up to 18 years” which would indicate a solera method of aging however, there is no verification of this on the company’s website.

Note: Bumbu XO needs five minutes to breathe before sipping or you will get a mouthful of alcohol burn.

He Said
There are vanilla, molasses, and a slight hint of oak on the nose. The palate, however, is initially subtle opening up after being held a bit on the tongue. There, the vanilla comes through to reveal even more of the bean while the oak takes a back seat. For me, the finish is where you should spend time exploring. There is a spice that takes a while to identify. There’s a potpourri of Caribbean spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Not one of these spices takes the lead. I find this blend satisfying and worth the effort to explore.

Rum Review: Kaniché XO – Barbados

She Said
When I popped the cork, the aroma was sweet and inviting. I was surprised that a rum aged up to 18 years was still this golden, yet its liquid clung to the glass as an aged rum should. I don’t get the vanilla or molasses on the nose that Clint does, but rather a more citrus-forward nose with some hints of floral. The palate surprised me. The liquid almost sparkled on my tongue presenting orange peel and spices. When it traveled to the back of the palate the tongue radiated with ginger and orange until it warmed the chest cavity. Further sips brought out more spices that played with the orange peel.

Rum Review: Pyrat Rum XO Reserve

This was one of the most unique sipping experiences we have had in a while. There is so much that wants to be explored in this rum. If you like spice-forward rum, then Bumbu XO is for you.

Overall: 4.25 of 5

Sipping Rum Scale
1 – An expensive mixer
2 – A quick celebratory shot
3 – Wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with friends
4 – Are my friends worthy of a sip
5 – Special moments rum

Rum Review: El Pasador de Oro XO – Guatemala