Saturday, December 8, 2012

Part way to St. Martin

With a forecast of 8 to 10 knot winds from the northeast we decided to make the 80 mile trip to St. Martin starting at midnight on Monday so we’d arrive in time to get into the lagoon before the end of the day Tuesday. A north swell is supposedly on the way and having rocked and rolled in the anchorage in Marigot during a north swell before, we thought we’d avoid it this time if possible.

Skip adjusts the tack pennant before leaving

I go up the mast to attach our running back stays
We were awake but groggy and got through the channel out of North Sound before 1 AM. Our friends Dan and Jackie on s/v Chill were making the trip too and we could see their steaming light in the distance. We started out with a double reefed main and a just bit of jib out; the 8 to 10 knot winds may have been out there somewhere but not where we were. We had 25 to 30 knots steady over the deck and the seas were steep and choppy. We were taking water over the deck every few waves and it wasn’t long before I was flattened by seasickness. I was lying on a bench in the cockpit and Skip was steering as Saralane pitched in the waves in the dark.

This isn’t a great situation in rough conditions; having one of two crew out of commission. I worry about Skip getting worn out doing most of the work, he worries about me being sick. That’s why it surprised me to hear him mutter  “Bitch…”  as I lay there trying not to moan out loud. Skip’s a soft spoken, gentle guy and doesn’t tend to address me that way. In a stupor of seasickness I didn’t have the energy to argue; after all, I can be a little trying. A split second later when an ocean's worth of sea water crashed down the deck, filled Saralane’s cockpit and spilled through the companionway, I realized he wasn’t talking to me. Mother Nature can be a bitch too.

When the captain starts cursing the sea it’s time to reassess the situation. We had a brief conversation that went something like this:

Skip: It’s gonna be a long night….

Me: Mmph…


Skip: What do you think?

Me: Gonna be a long night….

Skip: Hmm..


This half hearted conversation went on for another minute or two and I’m not sure who suggested it first, but we decided we just didn’t need to make this passage in these miserable conditions. It’s one thing if you’re days into a passage – you just suck it up and keep going, but we didn’t have to be in St. Martin the next day and it was indeed, going be a long night. We turned around and limped back to Virgin Gorda.

We hailed Chill on the radio and advised them of our change of plans. They were meeting family in St. Martin and decided to carry on with a promise to contact us by radio in a few hours to let us know how they were. They arrived safely in St. Martin the next afternoon after reporting having seen no break in the high winds and 10 foot seas during the passage. We’re disappointed that we’re not there with them, but in retrospect, and at the time too, it was the right decision for us. It took a day or two but the green tinge has left my skin and we’ve both started to feel like ourselves again.

So, here we sit in the BVI. We left North Sound for a change of scenery and are happily bobbing at anchor in Benures Bay on Norman Island. There’s no let up in the forecast high winds for at least the next week so we’ll settle back in and do some of the ongoing boat chores that need doing.  

View from our quiet spot in Benures Bay 

PS - We’ll see you in St. Martin soon Chill.
PPS - Happy first night of Hannukah everyone!


Cindy Barnard said...

Oh! That last photo is killer!!
Will raise my glass to my fave sis and bro and light the first candle tonight. Will I get demerits if I wait until 6 p.m.? xoxo

Cindy Barnard said...

Also impressed with your willingness to climb up that mast. Another cool photo. BTW.

Leslie said...

Okay, landlubber question here. How does one get up the mast? Can you take a photo looking up that shows how you climb up there? I can't picture it.

As for getting to St. Martin, I guess it's not easy being green.

Happy Chanukkah! Post a photo of your menorah - do you really have one on board?


Miles said...

Sorry you guys had to turn around, but it's also nice you had the flexibility to turn around. You'll get there...whenever. So we have a question here at Cedar Bluff. Please explain the logistical planning that results in a 1:00 am departure time for St. Maarten.

Linda said...

Hey Skip...take a picture of Maddie hanging from the top of the mast!! I have to see that. You crazy girl...I mean 'brave' girl..oh yea...go Thelma!!

Skip said...

Miles - We planned for a 12-15 hour trip which would put us in SXM early to mid afternoon - in time for the 5:30pm bridge opening.


Madeline said...

Hi all you landlubbers! Next time I go up the mast I'll leave the camera with Skip so he can take a photo. On second thought - it'll just be a photo of my BUTT viewed from the deck, so maybe not.

To answer your question Leslie, I don't 'climb' the mast exactly. I sit in our bosun's chair which is tied to the halyard and Skip winches me up. (Things to google: "bosun's chair", "halyard", "winch"). EIther I go up or I have to haul him up, soooooo..... I go up. And yes, we have a menorah on board!