I guess it’s the thing to do. Tis the season after all. Leaving Martinique would mean leaving friends and a lovely barely explored Island behind only to take the sleigh ride to Puerto Rico.
The Christmas Winds are supposed to have subsided slightly but the sea state is still kind of hilly out there with some gusts thrown in just to keep us on our toes.
So it was anchor up at 9am and enjoy the ride. Clearing Le Marin harbor we turned into the wind to raise the sails and headed out towards Diamond Rock in a confused chop with mid twenties from behind. I confess we’re not used to sailing downwind but it seemed Escape Velocity wanted to go wing and wing so whatever the lady wants she gets.
After about an hour of this we cleared the rock so we could fashion a course to PR that kept the wind on the beam for a nice reach.
When we touched 10.2kts. on the speedo with everything vibrating, I was reminded of our new rig inspection which we passed but with a few caveats. It seems some preventative maintenance is in order due to some anomalies up there in the hinter regions of our rig which is one of the reasons for going to PR. But first you’ve got to get there so we have a good reef rolled in the main but now we’re booming along in the Dominica passage which is known for boisterous wind and waves and it rarely disappoints. Today is no exception, but it’s 25 to 32kts and just an exuberance of washer machine heavy chop. Predicted…10 to 15 with 5 foot swell. That’s the biggest 5 footers I’ve ever seen but as my good friend Mark always says it’s a sod and a bugger but there it is! He’s stuck in Carriacou knee deep in a bottom job that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy but It’s how we get to Puerto Rico or anywhere else for that matter.
There’s no moon tonight. I like a nice moon on a passage, I find it comforting, as you Escapees know, but what we’ve got here is more like a virtual sensory deprivation tank with an unabating 30 knot wind howling through the rigging, green water thundering down onto the dodger windows as the salt deposits make them less than transparent, the dim red glow of our instruments are lurching about before our eyes having absolutely no visual clue as to why my eyes can’t seem to catch up to the displays or why I can’t even keep my body upright in the captains chair. Uncle Ray, the new autopilot did an amazing job in horrendous conditions, getting slued around but compensating for all the zig-zags holding a true course. They should have put seatbelts in this thing. We’ve been in these conditions before, we call it a storm. This is not a storm. It is constant. It is unrelenting. It is the Christmas Winds.
The good news is that this is a wicked fast passage for us and that is fun never falling below seven kts. but as we neared St. Croix USVI, which was on our route, we had a pop-up route planning meeting and remembered that we’d missed St. Croix on the way down and doesn’t New Years in St Croix sound nice, besides our ETA in PR due to our unprecedented speed would be 3am. Four hours of jogging around a busy harbor entrance waiting for dawn requires more patience than I’m known to display.
New Years in Christiansted, St Croix’s crowded harbor, does have a ring to it. Let’s hope for some fireworks!