A sailing catamaran anchored offshore

Sailing and Scuba Diving in the Leeward Islands on the Jeanneau 490

Client Experience

One of our expert sales consultants, David Dodgen, was contracted to take the award-winning Jeanneau 490 for a sailing and scuba diving adventure in the Leeward Islands.

Read David’s recount of this amazing one-of-a-kind trip and how it came to be:

A few years ago, I wrote an article for SAIL magazine, “Cruising: Sailing and Scuba Diving.” In the piece, I wrote about my sailing and scuba-diving experience with my wife Gail starting in 1985 in the British Virgin Islands using our “independent approach.” Most sailors don’t think a sailboat makes for a good diving platform, and even more divers might not consider a sailboat the best way to get to a dive site, but it can be done with the right equipment and skill.

David Dodgen and his wife, GailShortly after the article went out, I was contacted by someone who read the article and wanted me to take him and his wife on a similar trip for three weeks. He invited my wife and a couple of others to join, totaling 6 people on board.

As somewhat of an unusual request, I worked with a charter base in the Virgin Islands to charter “Casbah II”, a Jeanneau 490 for a one month trip around the Leeward Islands from mid-November to mid-December. I walked the client through every aspect of the trip including helping them create a full itinerary. The original plan was to sail for about three weeks east down island and then head back to St. Thomas, but I was able to get us extra permission for a month-long trip to leave the BVIs, to sail at night, and to sail to the farther locations in our itinerary. We would go as far South as we could and drop them off in St Maartens and then sail back to St. Thomas. The trip took over a year of planning, but the result was an unforgettable trip tailored to the client’s wishes.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Jeanneau 490 was the fuel efficiency. During our entire trip, we barely used a tank of diesel and the boat did about 150 miles a day. The efficiency of the engine on the Jeanneau 490 was impressive and easily got us through 34 amazing dives.

David Dodgen at the helm of a sailing catamaranHere is a summary of our trip by the numbers:

  • 513 total miles
  • Cleared immigration 7 times – BVIs, Anguilla, St. Maarten, St. Barts, St. Kitts/Nevis, Antigua/Barbuda, and back to St. Martin.  We actually cleared twice in St. Barts and of course back to the US.
  • Spent 5 nights in marinas, the rest on moorings or at anchor (loved the big Rochna!)
  • Used 67 hours on the engine (average of 2 hours a day)
  • Used 46 hours on the generator
  • Used about 70 gallons of diesel
  • Used about 700 gallons of water
  • Used about 8 gallons of gas on a dinghy
  • Filled 8 scuba tanks 3 more times after the initial dives and did a total of 34 personal dives from the boat or dinghy.

The longest sailing day, at about 80 miles each way, was BVIs to Anguilla and then back. We had great northeast winds and sailed close-hauled across, although we had to tack a couple of times. Coming back west, we had 12-17 knots from the east with big 10 ft rollers. Gybed several times then actually went wing-on-wing for the last 20 miles.

The worst sailing day was St. Barts to St. Kitts with no wind. We put 8 of the 67 hours on the engine that day.

We dropped the client in St. Maarten and sailed straight back, basically stopping overnight in Anguilla and then Virgin Gorda on the way. On the last day, we sailed from Bitter End back to Compass Point in 5 hours at one point doing over 9 knots— my fastest tour of the BVIs ever! All in all, it was an incredible experience that none of us will soon forget.

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