Caribbean Highlights – Gunboat 66 GAIA

June 2, 2022

This season, Gunboat 66 GAIA added a shade of royal blue moving across the Caribbean horizon. A number of lucky sailors took advantage of GAIA’s supreme island-hopping capabilities to take the trip of a lifetime. Captain Andrew Reiley shares a few highlights:

Our home base was Sint Maarten this season, and as an example I can describe our last trip of the season, in April.

As one of the fastest Gunboats, we’re able to explore a bunch of spots around Sint Maarten, Anguilla, and St Barth over the course of a week. Having all this power and speed at your hands opens possibilities, and obviously it’s an exceptionally fun experience to sail this well!

The passage from Sint Maarten to Anguilla is a quick blast on GAIA. We sailed at around 9-11 knots conservatively and comfortably with just the staysail up to help the guests gain their sea legs. Anguilla’s white sand and clear waters are an absolute paradise, and guests were happy to have an evening to decompress, sprawl out and relax, have a sundowner, and embrace boat life at anchor. Anchoring overnight at Road Town did not require clearing in and set us up to make the most of the next morning exploring Crocus Bay, a gorgeous marine park for snorkeling. I couldn’t believe we were the only boat there since this was the most still, clear water I’ve seen in the Caribbean.

From there we set off for St Barth, starting with 15 miles of upwind sailing getting around Scrub Island. We set up for super easygoing sailing with a double reef and staysail – Slow and steady, boards up and down on tacks – easy to handle and 15 knots of boat speed!

On this particular trip, we arrived during Les Voiles de St Barth, amongst an absolute showcase of racing yachts, so it was amusing that they turned their attention to check out GAIA! We anchored in Gustavia alongside another Gunboat 66 Phaedo, also in “cruising mode”, no doubt sizing each other up for the mental sport of it, meanwhile the most turbo’d Gunboat 62, Mach Schnell, was holding court in first place for the multihulls! There’s a battle to be had…

Anchored in crystal blue water with >40 ft visibility, guests loved staying on GAIA, a unique “oceanfront home” with an easy dingy ride to and from the dock, and the mobility to explore different sides of the island.

St. Barths never stops, and neither did our guests.  They went out during the day to some of the top beaches and clubs in the Caribbean, were ushered back to the boat for a light charcuterie board and cocktails for the sunset, then checked out the nightlife.

Each sailing trip takes its own course depending on guests’ interests, and its satisfying to have the sailing capabilities to open up the map for them!

Favorite lounging spot: The aft cockpit, but specifically, everyone loved the new daybed this season! Swimming off the back of the boat, hanging out outside in the fresh sea breezes having a good time.

Best sailing day: At the end of February when we sailed from Grenada to SXM. 30 hours, 390 miles, absolutely crushed the delivery! Single reef and solent, 19 knots speed, ideal Caribbean conditions, stable seas. Coming up from sleep at 7am I found Mate/Chef Xiara sitting at the helm like it’s nothing. Just a few sailors, having the time of our lives.

Favorite anchorage:  Crocus Bay, Anguilla.  Anchoring with no other boat in sight is truly a treat. The top snorkeling spot in Anguilla was in sight with its caves, beaches, and sea turtles all over.  I’d take a night at the spot over any anchorage I’ve ever been to.  It is completely still.

Favorite creature comfort: GAIA has the best coffee maker I’ve ever seen installed on a boat. Or on land. It’s a real feature in any mode. Caffeine and adrenaline.

Offshore adventures: The boat is an absolute dream and has so much more potential than we explore. I haven’t raced GAIA, but with a crew of 5 or more really experienced sailors – on a delivery or point to point where we can lock into a mode – spirits are high, the performance is fully satisfying and this boat is seriously fast. This is the once in a lifetime type of boat to do some serious miles with friends and family.

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