Daily Archives: June 8, 2013

What are we doing out here in the dark

It was one of those what-have-I-gotten-us-into moments. We were standing particularly sharp watchful lookouts on our stints at the wheel. No, the autopilot was working perfectly but there should be boats about and plenty of things that go bump in the night. Like little Islands and such. In fact I’d just found a couple directly in our path toward Montserrat, represented by just a black pixel or no more than two. I had thought they were just pumpernickel crumbs from the sandwich I was eating but everytime I brushed them off the screen, there they were, still there. I expanded the scale to 1/8 nm and found out they were called Redonda and, I guess, Lesser Redonda, not much more than a rock really. Unfortunately that meant hardening up into the wind even more, not Escape Velocity’s best point of sail. She’ll do it but nobody will enjoy it.

Another squall line moves in bringing rain and a healthy 30 kts but we’re getting used to this by
now. It’s dark. Very dark. Incredibly dark. Dark hole dark and now it’s raining and the spume is streaming off the bow lights that I forgot to take off before things got rough out here.


Every thirty minutes one of these things roars through. The interesting thing is what happens to the wind after the squall passes. Suddenly the wind speed drops to nothing and boxes the compass, causing all kinds of havoc with the delays built into the chart plotter as it tries to keep up with the constantly changing heading which causes even more disorientation in Yr. Humbl. Skpr’s brain.

I decided on a more aggressive active approach. I start up an engine and steer by the compass until the electronics settle themselves. At one point the chart plotter showed us sailing back towards St. Martin but the lights of St. Kitts were clearly starboard of us which meant that we were still on our 140 degree pinching up course we’ve been on since we left Simpson Bay. The same thing happened on our passage to St Thomas. As much as we both love night passages, there are times when you wonder what you are doing out here in the dark.

False dawn seemed to come welcomely early and it would have been if the autopilot hadn’t started to get in on the act with the ever popular, blast-from-the-past RUD DRV error message. This error message takes a little time to clear out of the system and for the next two hours about every fifteen minutes it was beep beep beep RUD DRV!

So much for Mr. Pollyanna. I promise to be sullen, disbelieving, and sarcastic about all repairs from now on.

We passed close by Montserrat, maybe two miles off shore and to see the phenomenal forces that reshaped their world up close was amazing. The half of the mountain facing us was gone leaving the cone empty but massively steaming and the capital thirty feet below the surface buried in ash. Still a beautiful island but the malevolent spirit of the place is palpable.


One by one the pearls in the stream floated by. Saba, not much more than a volcano cone – I’d keep my eye on that sucker – St. Barts, St. Eustastia, St. Kitts, Guadeloupe.


Here we’ll stay for a few days in beautiful Deshaies Bay. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had an anchorage this calm and peaceful, certainly nothing as stunning. We read in the guide books that you clear-in at the Pelican Internet cafe and reasonably fast WIFI is available out in the anchorage for less than what we’ve come to expect. I like this place already.



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The view from the back porch


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