Our only consolation was that it wouldn’t take long, only 120 rhumbline, as the crow flies, nautical miles. Escape Velocity doesn’t fly, and we’ve all had a dentist say it’ll only hurt for a minute. How’d that turn out? GIVE ME THE NEEDLE!
Ron, our ship’s personal sailor head shrink shrugged, smiled that smile and said that’s why he sailed around the world, he just couldn’t take another bash into the easterly tradewinds. We’d just deposited Ron ashore into the chaos of a community waterfront walk/run against violence event. An amazing turnout.
It was already blowing 25-30 kts in Charlotte Amalie Harbor and Ron had graciously spent two hours working through our stubborn SSB radio’s connections, all to no joy. He left us with a patented Ronisim. It’s only a day and a half of pain and then you’re there. Yeah, we just did eleven and a half days in similar conditions but I say “give me the needle!”
It was with no small regret that we leave St Thomas with things left uncovered,
undiscovered and unseen, but leave we must. The siren song of St. Martin calls, and it calls right now.
Up anchor at noon, motoring out into Pillsbury sound, it’s a beautiful day and the incredible beauty of this island group is overwhelming us once again. This time we kept St John to Starboard and headed North to cut between Thatch Cay and Grass Cay, out into the Caribbean Sea, well offshore but parallel to beautiful Tortola.
The plan, dear Escapees, is to gain easting but also to avoid the worst of the wind born seas and current by shadowing the Virgin Islands using them as a shield and after rounding Necker Island, to have a decent angle to head southeast down Anegada Passage to St Martin with, as a plan B, Virgin Gorda as a possible stop over if the weather worsens earlier than expected.
Ok Escapees, all together now. We rounded Necker rock and turned into a thirty knot HEADWIND, even steeper seas with a frequency so close you couldn’t even time the confused peaks with a stopwatch. We are taking green seas over the bows and each time EV stops dead in her tracks but soldiers determinedly on. Boarding seas are everywhere so it’s hard to miss them for the spray. Where are the pain killers?
We are nearly at St Martin’s latitude with plans to go south of the Island and then tack north up the coast using the trades instead of bashing into them.
At sundown we dropped the sails, turned east into the wind and asked Mr. Volvo to take us out of this mess. Bash. You bet. Take us out of this mess. Thanks Mr. Volvo.
Now we never approach an anchorage in the dark. There are too many things that can go pear-shaped when your perception is clouded and tired. In this post we find Yr. Hmbl. Srvt. breaking several rules at once and it’s not even my birthday. Plus there are the smells as you approach land. Marce always turns to me and says something’s burning and makes me run around the boat looking for something on fire.
It’s tantalizing watching the mass of twinkling lights on shore but you know that some of those lights are extremely important navigational aids; it’s just that you can’t separate them from the rest. At fifteen miles out you feel like you could just reach out and touch those lights glowing in the dark but you still have three hours of bashing left to go. Still we motor on creeping ever closer but we can’t see any boats at anchor. There must be boats anchored outside waiting to transit the lift bridge opening into the Lagoon in the morning, but we can’t see them. Just when I decide that somehow we’ve gotten it all wrong or the GPS on the chart plotter has gone haywire and it would be insane to press on I see the faint glow of an led cockpit light on a sailboat just like the lights I use on EV, only ours are garden solar lights from Kmart. I guess they’re not as bright as I thought. Suddenly I see the shadow of a motor yacht to the right, maybe another sailboat ahead. We are surrounded by anchored boats! Never approach an anchorage in the dark.
Once again we’ve been granted special dispensation for spunky fools.
Midnight in St Martin.