Reader’s Forum

July 2024: Life Was Free and Easy

Dear Caribbean Compass,

My wife, Tere, and I are glad to reconnect with the Caribbean Compass from our home in New Zealand, after sailing s/v Sea Quest for decades.

Here’s an old photo of Don Street with Michael’s parents. It’s three old Virgin Islanders getting together to reminisce about tropical islands where life was free and easy in a time when everyone was young and handsome and Marina Cay was a great watering hole in the British Virgin Islands.

My parents, Jean and Allan Batham, arrived in the BVI in 1958, about the same year that Don was rebuilding Iolaire. They transformed the old deserted island of Marina Cay into a resort for the sailing clientele. For the next ten years, Jean’s cooking and Allan’s after-dinner coffee, well laced with rum, were a favorite night ashore for the owner/skippers of the early charter boats.

The decade of the ’60s was the cream of Virgin Islands sailing. When bareboat chartering arrived in about 1970, everything changed and that old haven of buccaneers, ancient and modern, was gone. And so Jean and Allan left.

Michael Batham

s/v Sea Quest

July 2024: Boatyards Beyond the Hurricane Belt

Dear Caribbean Compass,

I was surprised by the “Hauling Out” article by Lexi Fisher in the May 2024 issue ( Eighty percent of it is great and true. In the southern Caribbean I can add at least four boatyards with excellent, cheaper service than in the north:

Curacao Marine Zone (

Varadero Boat Yard, Aruba

Boat Yard Bonaire (

Marina Santa Marta, Colombia (

All have excellent service and are outside the hurricane belt.

Serge R.B. Dauvillier

[email protected]


Lexi Fisher of Doyle Guides replies:

Hi Serge,

Thanks for your letter. Agreed, there are absolutely other worthwhile haulout options outside of the range detailed in the article, not only in the ABCs and Colombia, but also to the north in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. With the Leeward and Windward Islands (Anguilla to Trinidad) my area of expertise, this seemed like a natural perimeter. The geographic range could have been better defined and communicated in the article. Compass editors and I agree: Point well taken.

All the best,

Lexi Fisher

Doyle Guides

July 2024: Sails for the Caribbean

Dear Caribbean Compass,, in collaboration with the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, announces Sails for the Caribbean. If you have sails that you no longer use, we urge you to bring them to the big Caribbean regattas or send them to Miami. From Miami they will be shipped to St. Maarten.

Professional sailors: We need you! Many sailing schools in the Caribbean are challenged with limited funds and are making sailing possible for underprivileged youth. You use new sails regularly and Caribbean sailing schools can use your donated sails. The Sint Maarten Yacht Club will coordinate the collection and distribution.

To the sailing schools in the Caribbean, we need your input: Let us know what types of sails you are looking for so we can post your requests on our new website, connecting you with sailors who can help.

Donations will be mentioned on the website. We are proud to have the full support and endorsement of the Caribbean Sailing Association for this program. Additionally, our initiative aligns with the mission of Sailors for the Sea, emphasizing the reuse of materials and the positive impact this has on our environment. Together, we can support the growth of sailing in the Caribbean while also promoting sustainability.

For more information and to get involved, visit

Saskia Revelman

[email protected]

June 2024: Where is Sandra’s Vincy Banana Bread?

Dear Caribbean Compass,

During our 20 years as cruisers in the Caribbean, we have been avid followers of Compass and even contributors from time to time, back in Sally Erdle’s day. One of the things we looked forward to each month was the variety of recipes usually based on foods available locally. What I am looking for is one of those. And this really goes way back … right about the time of the Inebriated Christmas Cake which I have used most successfully!

My favorite is a recipe for banana bread. I believe it was titled Sandra’s Vincy Banana Bread. Sandra was from St Vincent, hence the name. For years, it has been a staple go-to recipe for me and never failed to be a hit with whoever I served it to. Unfortunately, I have lost it! For years I kept that paper cutting from the Compass, till it became rather dog-eared. Finally, as part of a massive clean-up and a move to the digital age, I scanned it to my laptop (with many others) and got rid of the paper scrap. Then my laptop had to be replaced so all the recipes were transferred to a hard drive. Somehow they have disappeared. The greatest loss was Sandra’s Vincy Banana Bread, although I also “mourn” the loss of the Inebriated Christmas Cake as well.

I have googled away without finding anything nearly as good. I have made banana bread from my now-aging memory and that isn’t as good either. I have searched in archives in Caribbean Compass. I have asked all my friends if I ever gave them the recipe but without success. And I really miss my banana bread recipe from Compass, probably from around 2007 – 2010, plus or minus a few years.

I’m not sure whether you can help. Having read my story, I am not sure if you will want to. But I hope you can see that this is probably my last resort before I have to give up on my search. I would be so very grateful if someone at Compass is able to find the recipe. Who knows? Maybe it would still be a hit if it is re-published. It is super-easy and oh so delicious!

Even after all these years, I still read the Compass, both online and in paper when I can get it. The articles mean more now that we are familiar with many of the subjects. It seems even “old dogs” — and sailors — can learn new tricks!

Love this month’s edition focusing on one of our favorite islands, Antigua. (Although, to be honest, Bequia remains one of our all-time favorite places!)

Thank you.

Best regards,

Robbie Nuttycombe


Editor’s note: Robbie, we have searched high and low and can’t find the recipe you wrote to us about. Readers, can you help? If so, please send the recipe for Sandra’s Vincy Banana Bread to [email protected].

June 2024: SailClear Fees

Dear Caribbean Compass,

I’m writing about the new way of nickel-and-diming cruisers. Now that SailClear has every CARICOM island demanding that cruisers use SailClear to clear in and out, it has instituted a US$25/year fee, which started in May 2024.

In fairness, I have no way of knowing if the island governments are paying SailClear.

To add to my dissatisfaction, I’ve done the SailClear clear in or clear out notification a number of times this year, only to present myself to the authorities with my SailClear notification number and be told, “You’ll have to fill in the paper form because our computers are down.”

Jock Tulloch
S/Y Unleaded

Editor’s note: The permanent secretary of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC), which has oversight for SailClear, responds:

The decision to implement an annual user fee for SailClear was borne out of the need for having the means to maintain and further develop the capacity to serve the needs of users including yachts owners, operators and port officials. SailClear has was developed through donor support which is no longer available. The relative low annual fee is not an attempt to nickel and dime. In fact, we have resisted suggestions to increase this fee based on the many benefits it provides to users. We also intend to expand the system to some of the islands which do not currently utilize it and maintains the manual systems for various reasons.

It is our hope that all islands will eventually graduate to the online system so that the full benefits may be realized in a shorter time frame. I wish to thank Compass editor Elaine Lembo for the comments and to assure her that this fee is developmental in nature and we see it as your contribution toward improving the system to make it better for all concerned.

Claude A. Paul
Permanent Secretary
Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council
Bridge Street Castries
P.O. Box 1030 Saint Lucia; [email protected], [email protected]

April 2024: Wrong is Right

Dear Caribbean Compass,

“Going the ‘Wrong Way’ the Right Way” ( by Michael C. Wade in the April 2024 issue of Caribbean Compass is right on!

I have had for many years the NOAA weather charts over the Atlantic and also the separate weather charts for the Caribbean from the islands all the way west to Panama. Look at the areas that note where eight-foot waves are. Those areas show up practically every month of the year. Waves periodically get in sync so that waves double the height of eight feet, or 16 feet, must be expected!

One must realize that proceeding east along the Colombian coast to the ABC islands is a very rough trip unless you are lucky or skillful. Anyone attempting this trip should not do so unless they have tied up with a weather router or have someone in the crew who is very good at pulling weather information out of the Internet and can read the GRIB files.

Do not make a schedule. You can sit and wait in Cartagena or Marina Santa Marta in Magdalena.


Donald M. Street Jr.

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