We felt well prepared after an early happy hour aboard Geode tucked away under Fort Hamilton in Admiralty Bay, Bequia. Hans & Hazel gave us the skinny on a passage that they’ve made many times, across the feared St. Vincent passage to Rodney Bay, St Lucia. These high mountain passes funnel wind down through them like a Dyson vacuum cleaner sucks dust bunnies. It makes for a wild and woolly ride, and what with the high winds and large Atlantic swells we’ve been having for some time, it’s kept us holed-up here in Bequia, rather than face the music. What ever that means. To top it off the wind has been more north than east which would leave us bashing into large swells and chop of three meters or more, fighting high winds on the nose while struggling to make St Lucia which is exactly northeast of Bequia. Escape Velocity may be many things but an upwind wonder she is not. A less than fun day at the office was in the offing.
Finally Marce had had enough of Bequia and pronounced that tomorrow would be the least worst day for weeks and it would be sails up at 0600 the following morning. She wasn’t about to spend Christmas in Bequia. It’s a sod and a bugger but there it is.
We had a beautiful sail up the coast of Bequia and the eight miles across to St Vincent but, as expected, the winds got a touch fluky in the lee of St Vincent’s high mountains so we started an engine and motor-sailed up the coast until we noticed an orange t-shirt-wearing delivery crew reefing down every sail they had to maybe fifty percent of what we currently had up. Hmm…what do they know that we do not? Being the prudent sailors that we are we simply copied them.
Within five minutes we were hanging on for dear life but at least we weren’t over-canvassed as forty knots of wind and rain slammed into us. The next nine hours were a repetition of gusty squalls, rain, and nasty waves.
Finally we just went with the flow and begrudgingly gave up our easting knowing we’d have to motor east, back towards the coast of St Lucia to reach Rodney Bay, but I knew that it would be less brutal protected by its mountains. Slow agonizing progress was made and as darkness fell the lights of Rodney Bay came into view. As we rounded Beef Barrel Island’s flashing white light, it was like falling into a dark hole surrounded by a brilliant circle of multicolored lights. With music blaring from shore we began to cautiously pick our way through the anchorage. Slowly, one by one, a darker patch would emerge out of the blackness, which became a yacht, unlit at anchor. Sometimes I could hear our engines echoing off a boat that I couldn’t see in the gloom. This is why we have a rule not to arrive at an unknown harbor in the dark but sometimes it takes longer than it ought. We poked around until we found an unoccupied spot and dropped the hook, ate the sandwiches that we couldn’t eat for lunch and watched the full moon peek through the backlit clouds. Simply beautiful with an added large dose of relief.
After another Groundhog Day weather forecast and failed SSB attempt we had a much more civilized departure at 0930 and put up even less sail. Soon the wisdom of this approach was obvious and I couldn’t imagine why I had thought St Lucia’s pass was less rambunctious than St Vincent’s in this northeast wind.
Maybe it was a little less wind or maybe it was less Dyson Effect but EV seemed to handle these very large seas a little better. Progress was slow but we had less distance to cover so by mid afternoon we were negotiating the approach into Le Marin harbor, Martinique. Already crowded, we reconnoitered the tricky anchorage like we usually do and dropped the hook in a likely spot. Le Marin looks promising and calm.
Ah, Marce made scratch pizza and with celebratory Dark and Stormys on the patio, it’ll be Christmas in Martinique.
Life is good.