Daily Archives: June 7, 2013

Five no trump

About fifteen years ago we went on our first overnight passage, and our first sail out of sight of land. We were heading up the coast of New Jersey from Cape May to New England and I remember watching the horizon excitedly waiting for all traces of land to disappear. But we weren’t used to traveling as slow as you go in a sailboat and for hours and hours, all through the night, the lights of Atlantic City remained visible, with the tallest of them, Trump Tower, still a bright red presence long after everything else had faded. We couldn’t sink it.

We are right now — and I still get goosebumps when I think of it — sailing southeast in the Caribbean with St. Martin behind us, Saba and St. Eustatius to the west, St. Bart to the east, and St. Kitts up ahead. The day started out beautifully, with the wind 14-15 kts, the seas a little higher than we like but not too uncomfortable, sailing close to the wind. We were only making about 3 kts but we didn’t care. We have three days to get somewhere and tucked in before any bad weather moves in, and only 130 or so miles to Guadeloupe, our intended destination.

But then we got headed, meaning the wind changed to right on our nose and nearly stopped the boat in her track. We looked at the chart to see our options. We’re sailing about ten miles off the coast of Eustatius, so we can’t go west, and the other tack we could take given the wind angle will not help us in the end. We reluctantly started an engine and we’re now motorsailing on our original course, hoping the wind backs again to where it’s supposed to be, from the east.

With the engine and the slight advantage of the sails, we’re now making 5.5 kts and rolling with the swells coming off the Atlantic. I look up from my comfortable spot in the cockpit where I’ve been alternately reading and napping.

“I can still see Trump Tower,” I say to Jack, and we both look around us and identify the islands. St. Martin is just a smear on the horizon. Saba, the tallest will be visible until nightfall.


It’s ten minutes later, and this is how quickly things can change out here. We’ve run into a squall and suddenly the wind is 20-25 kts with a little rain. We turned off the engine and we’re making 6 kts under sail alone. We can see blue sky on the other side of it but in the meantime we’re charging through the waves and working to hold our course.

After this, we’ll have one more upwind passage; then it’s downwind all the way. I can’t wait.

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The view from the back porch


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It’s a wrap

This morning, as the “dead pig” floats past Escape Velocity, we find the Escapees aboard EV sadly wishing beautiful St Martin adieu. Ultimately it is the people you meet and the friendships that are forged that shape the experience, not how many palm trees or how fine the sand is on the beaches, and we’ve made a few.

Our anchor begrudgingly came up at an honest 8am with a clay and shell mixture that looked like a large ball on the end of a thick steel shaft. I had little time to deal with the mud ball because we were due at the fuel dock and the bascule bridge opens promptly at 9am and waits for no one.

The causeway bridge mysteriously closed last night which might have kept Macushla from getting out of the French side of the lagoon this morning but as we rounded Isle de Sol with a full fuel tank, they were there waiting.

We decided to anchor on the south side of Simpson Bay anchorage, opposite from where we ended up on the way into St Martin. Just as rolly but with Marce not feeling well we might just as well have stayed inside the lagoon if it weren’t for the fact that our water tank was reading zero. We heard that strep was found in the lagoon water so we didn’t want to chance making water but I wouldn’t expect the little buggers to get through the RO membrane anyway.

Guadeloupe is next up with a buzz by Montserrat on the way. Marce never met a volcano she didn’t like. This destination features very little Easting so with fingers crossed and touching wood we should have a nice sail for a change.

On the repair side of the ledger:
*Autopilot repaired again…maybe for good. Call me a cockeyed optimist but I feel good about this repair.
*Dinghy lock cable replaced.
*Camber spar fitting in hand.
*Watermaker is running well.
*Marce has sent and received email and received grib files via SSB. This is not in any way to say that the beast is fixed, but it’s something positive for a change.
*Old jib sail repair is moot since the sea claimed it off the foredeck on our way here
*fuel cutoff valves and fittings are in hand, though not yet installed
*1/3 of the rain catchment system is finished and working
*mainsheet has been replaced.
*new teak mounting block for manual bilge pump.

Stay tuned.

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