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Fifty Years at Sea – An Interview with Don Street – Caribbean

Here’s another interview with Donald Street from Carol Bareuther

Don Street is a legend in his own time; a lifetime sailor, Don has spent forty nine years cruising, charting and writing about the Caribbean. Forty of those years were spent aboard his 46 ft. engineless yawl, Iolaire, built in 1905. He has made 12 transatlantic crossings, all of which were hand steered with no auto pilot. After taking Iolaire back to the UK, Don purchased the red 28 ft engineless yawl Li’l Iolaire, which was, unfortunately lost in Grenada when a charter boat dragged down on it during Hurricane Ivan 2004.

Don comes from a long line of sailors, on his mother’s side. His great grandfather raced ice boats and sand baggers in Barnegat Bay. He learned to sail in Port Washington at the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club. “I took to it like a duck to water.” After a stint in the U.S. Navy, in submarines, and at Notre Dame University he landed a job as paid hand on Huey Long’s Ondine, a beautiful 53 foot Abeking and Rasmussen Yawl where he became the skipper. He spent the next few years racing in Europe & the U.S. where he sailed with Arthur Knapp, of the International Class IOD’s in Bermuda and Europe; Sven Hansen – who subsequently won the Fastnet and the Bermuda Races back to back on his 48-ft. yawl Anitra; Colin Ratsey of Ratsey & Lapthorne, Charlie “Butch” Ulmer Sr. and the famous Swedish Designer Knut Reimers.

After stints with some of the most famous sailors in the world, Don came to St. Thomas as a Land Surveyor followed by the “charter business, exploration business and writing business.” There he bought Iolaire, from the late Captain Bob Crytzer and began cruising, writing and providing data for Caribbean charts. Chart coverage for the Eastern Caribbean historically was haphazard until Don created the Imray-Iolaire chart series. During the past several decades almost every move Don has made has been recorded in sailing history.

His newest book Seawise was republished in 2004 with a Prologue updating each chapter as to what Street has learned in the last 50 years and a Epilogue that, according to Street, “complains about and lists the deficiencies of modern cruising yachts.” Likewise, his soon to be released “Transatlantic Crossing Guide – A Guide to the Atlantic islands, Transatlantic Crossings, getting to and leaving the Caribbean from the East Coast of the U.S. and an Introduction to the Caribbean ” will give the long distance sailor much needed advice. Street lists some examples:

1. Going westward across the Atlantic you cannot rely on the trades until mid January. In November of ‘85 there was no wind from the Canaries to Cape Verde. In 2002 the wind went literally southwest and 100s of boats left the Canaries and were forced down to the Cape Verdes. Again, in 2005 the same thing happened – southwesterlies or no wind. The trades don’t really fill in until January.

2. Heading east – anyone that leaves the Caribbean before the second week in May is out of their cotton picking minds. There are severe gales in April. After May, the entire crew still needs really warm clothes, foul weather gear and sea boots as the water is still cold.

I truly enjoyed my chat with Don Street and totally encourage all sailors, no matter how little or much experience, to own and read his books as they contain a wealth of information. For more details please contact http://www.street-iolaire.com

His numerous books include –

A Cruising Guide to the Lesser Antilles: Written in 1965, this guide opened the Eastern Caribbean to the cruising yachtsmen/women and made bareboat chartering possible.

Street’s Cruising Guide to the Eastern Caribbean: Puerto Rico, Spanish, U.S. & British Virgin Islands – was the first comprehensive guide to all of the Virgins.

Ocean Sailing Yacht Volumes 1 and 2: Is filled with information on boats and equipment, gear and rigging tricks of the trade and has been recently updated since its first publication in the mid- 1970s.

Street’s Cruising Guide to the Eastern Caribbean: Anguilla to Dominica – The only cruising guide with detailed inter-island sailing directions for quiet and even deserted anchorages in some of the most beautiful sailing area of the world.

Street’s Cruising Guide to the Eastern Caribbean: Martinique to Trinidad – Is the only guide to cover Martinique to Trinidad including Tobago and Barbados in one volume.

Street’s Cruising Guide to the Eastern Caribbean: Venezuela and the ABC Islands – The definitive Venezuelan guide for sailors wishing to explore along the northern coast of Venezuela and the ABC islands. While this guide is out of print, the navigational information is still as valid today as it was in 1989.

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