Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We Sailed All Night

We were in Dominica when the winds finally abated and the seas died down enough for us to continue on our passage north. The day before we planned to leave a Tall ship, who are frequent visitors to the Caribbean, arrived in the bay. This time Sim recognized it as the Tenacious from the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST). With Captain Barbara aboard who also had worked with the STA, the Tall ship organization that Sim used to work for. Sim was thrilled and called them up and quickly made plans to go over for lunch and catch up. With all that done we prepared to leave the following morning with Imagine of Falmouth and Meteor. It was a 165 nm (nautical mile) trip which may not sound far but would take us over 24hrs to get to our destination. The weather conditions were slightly less than ideal and it was a bumpy ride. We sailed out of Dominica, up the west coast of Guadeloupe. Dolphins joined us again for some of the journey, dipping and diving in and out of our bow wake. As night fell the twinkling lights of Montserrat kept us company with the ambient glows of Kitts and Nevis and our destination of St Bart’s far off in the distance. The night was brisk and windy but the sky clear and millions of stars and planets shone down. Bright shooting stars shot across the sky so clearly that it looked surreal. Sim and I took alternate watches through the night; three hours on and three hours off. Sam and Jon took turns dozing in the cockpit (theirs is larger and more protected than ours) and Steve as he was single-handing cat napped where possible in the comfort of his steering house. We all stood by on VHF channel 8 and chatted through the night, the boat ahead warning the others of what weather to expect. Meteor and Imagine shot off ahead and we plodded on behind; though we were actually sailing quite well for us. As dawn approached the following day the winds picked up and we sped along. An hour out of St Bart’s we caught a 2lb fish, which was part of the mackerel family. Just before lunch time we pulled into the lovely Anse de Colombier on St Bart’s northwest coast, picked up a mooring, had a feast of a meal and put ourselves to bed for a while. The next day, after we removed a squid that had landed on deck and cleaned up the black inky stuff that it had squirted all over the place, we sailed over St Maarten, (on the Dutch side –half the island is French, half is Dutch). We cleaned the boat up and cleared in with customs and immigration. For the time being we have decided to anchor outside the protected lagoon in cleaner waters for as long as we can stand the rolling of the boat from the swells. We’ve caught up with friends and celebrated in style Australian day, complete with meat pie eating and beer drinking competitions. It would be fair to say that we did not let the side down.

Now its time to knuckle down to some work, ordering new sails (which include taking nearly 70 measurements), repairs to the boat, which involve many things including cosmetic repairs to the bow-sprit, fixing leaks, adding anchor locker drains, the list, as usual is long.

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