Monday, April 21, 2008
Great Sailing Day to Guadeloupe
Yes, but it didn’t start out so great. We left Little Bay in Montserrat at first light. We wanted the option to sail the extra 20 miles to Basseterre in Guadeloupe rather than stop in Deshaies (pronounced Day Hay...of course. . . FRENCH!). Deshaies, at the north-west corner of Guadeloupe bears about 142 degrees from the NE corner of Montserrat. With an east wind or a little north-east we hope to be able to sail that line. First we have to come around the northern tip of Montserrat. We do this on motor and main as we are just about straight into the east wind once we start coming around the top. The wind is east, right? Our hope is that we can do this until we can easily make it to Deshaies in one long reach. We also need to be able to sail outside the ‘exclusion zone’ that wraps around the southern end of Montserrat. This is due to the volcano eruption here that has drastically changed the southern shore and depths.
So we motored until the bearing to Deshaies was 145. We shut off the engine, put up the genny (reefed) and found our new course. Not bad looks like we can sail 145-150. Of course after an hour or so of this we start getting headed and I’m off to 155-160. Not only does that not take me to Deshaies but will also take me too close to the island! Damn! We tack. Now I know that this is not a weatherly boat and that you sail this kind of boat ‘full and by’, whatever that is supposed to mean, but after we settle in on our new tack my course is about 30 degrees! I’m heading north for crying out loud! And, I’ve tacked through an angle of about 130 degrees! That ain’t right.
Above, See the lava/ash flow? Look close!
But, it’s going to be a stubborn day for me. (Yes there are a lot of those!) We got up early to have time so we keep at it. I decided to sail this rotten line until Deshaies bears 150 degrees and then tack again. Sure, I’ll be in Greenland by then but so be it! As we’re sailing I’m thinking about that 130 degree tack and it’s killing me. How can it be so bad? Of course there are significant currents around here. There’s the generally north west set to the equatorial current and there are some heavy currents associated with tides on the east side of Montserrat (of course no tide tables. Tides in the Caribbean are about a foot so I don’t really care.). The other thing is that I’ve been looking at my Course Over Ground on each tack via the GPS. That’s how I got the two courses to compare. What I really should do is look at the compass. This will show me which way the boat is POINTING and not the way the boat is necessarily GOING.
So, this starboard tack my GPS course is 30 degrees and my compass reads 60 degrees. Now 15 of these degrees are due to magnetic variation. This is the fact that magnetic north is not exactly at the north pole (it’s north west of Greenland). Still that leaves 15 degrees unaccounted for so my theory of currents may be right. We tack and settle in. My new compass heading is about 150 degrees! My boat DOES tack 90 degrees like you hope for. Plus we can now sail right for Deshaies from out here AND miss the exclusion zone.
The rest of the day was super. We started out close-hauled making 5+knots in 4-5 foot seas. As the day wore on we actually experienced a wind shift in our favor and could ease the sheets some. Enee is faster if not completely close hauled and we are now sailing 7+ knots for 2-3 hours as we make our entrance to Deshaies. A GREAT day sailing. These speeds are also a testament to having a clean bottom! There is NOTHING growing on this boat. That Ameron ABC3 paint is good stuff so far.
We put the anchor down in the bay with several other boats. Nice and calm in here. An exciting sail and time to toast: nothing broke and nobody died. Wait....why does the top of the main sail look so funny? Oooooh. The slide broke. That will have to be fixed before we sail again. Ok....well nobody died. Wait....why is the bilge running and running? Oooooh. We took on quite a bit of water (somehow) as we sailed fast heeled over about 20 degrees. Hmmmm.....how is the water getting in..... always a mystery and a puzzle for tomorrow. Well still....nobody died so we can have that rum toast.
The dinghy dock in Deshaies