Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sailing Again. . .

Tuesday 8/12

Miracle and the outboard starts. Now we’re really ready to go. We make a quick trip into shore for weather check and to fire off some e-mails. Back to Enee and we make final preparations for the 100 miles south to Bequia.

Around 1030 we are off. As we set our course (~195o) we find the perfect Enee wind. About 10-15 knots just abaft the beam. We are making 6+ knots in about a 2 foot chop under full sail. We decide to take short, 1 hour stints at the helm as the sun is blazing. We have an open cockpit which is unusual for boats down here. Most people have a full bimini to cover the entire cockpit. While we considered that way back in Ft. Lauderdale we decided to not go that way for two reasons. 1. I couldn’t stand under it at the helm. This boat has a step right behind the wheel that puts my head about 1 inch under the boom. 2. We like to see all around - see our sails and see overhead at night. So the trade off is to drink lots of water, wear long sleeve shirt (only need one unlike bottles of sun block), get out of the sun often. This works fine for us. Oh, and if it rains. . . Well you get a little wet don’t you!

You can’t actually lay the entrance to Bequia from Martinique as it is hidden behind St. Vincent. You do have a choice to make as to whether to pass St. Vincent on the east or west side. In the light winds we are experiencing we don’t see a big difference either way and pick the west coast. Once we reach the south west corner of St. Vincent we can alter course to about 175o to lay Bequia and this wind should easily allow that.

Southwest coast of St. Lucia with Grande and Pitite Pitons.

Night comes and we are still sailing. So great to feel and hear the rush of water under our keel. The sun sets and the waxing gibbous moon is already up making it very bright on the water. We are really noticing the difference between sunset here and in Chicago. The sun sets on a line almost perpendicular to the horizon here so when it goes down, it is GONE and dark. Up north the sun sets at more of an angle to the horizon making evening time last longer.

Mismo threw up her lunch about a hour into the sail but seems to be coming around. She sits with us in the cockpit. Around 2100 hours Mismo is acting weird. Like she sees something on deck and is going to pounce. We don’t want her pouncing around deck at night. Beatings don’t help. I think she is looking at the shadow of our flag halyard as that moves across the deck but that isn’t all that interesting to the cat usually. Then Sue sees it - Dolphins are swimming right along with us off the port side! I go to look and there are a half dozen or so swimming off our side and playing just in front of the bow! They are gorgeous in the moonlight! They swim up from the depths making them seem to just appear as if by magic. They do that porpoiseing thing and we can hear their strangely human sounding breathing. We take turns at the helm so each of us can run forward and watch the show off the bow. Get this. . . They stay with us for over an hour! We must have been going the way they wanted to go anyway so they swim along with us. I think they get a little push by swimming in our bow wave and so take advantage. Around 2230 or so the wind started to crap out and so did our speed. We are languishing down under 4 knots now. The dolphins went on without us. Then, one came back and swam around Enee one more time as if to say, “What the hell? Let’s keep up!”.

As we continued south we could see the outline of St. Vincent in the moonlight. Suddenly we could also smell the dirt. What a strong, earthy scent that lingered the entire sail down the coast. It smelled healthy and fragrant. Last year when we approached the shore of the Dominican Republic we could smell the land as we were told we would. But this blast of soil infused air really took us by surprise. What are they growing on this island?

We did our usual 3 hours shifts through the night. Our earlier good speed has us arriving a little early in Bequia as arrival in new ports at night isn’t all that fun. Around 0400 Sue throttles down and we chug slowly the last 7 miles into Bequia just as it is getting light.

Arrival 13 00 N 61 16 W

Bequia and Admiralty Bay where we are anchoring is beautiful even in this half light. Moon is down and the sky is barely lit and yet as I release the anchor I can watch it descend all 5 meters (500 centimeters) to the sandy bottom. Reminds us of the Bahamas with the crazy clear water. Nothing to do now but have our ‘nothing broke and nobody died’ toast with a couple of cold Lorraines we brought from Martinique. By the way, as you know we have gone without refrigeration now for about a year and will probably never go back. But, for long overnighters it is good to have ice in the ice chest for cold water and juice and the celebratory beer at the end.

After naps we plan to go ashore. Man is it freaking HOT! I know, DUH! But it is extra hot as there is not a breath of wind and that is rare down here. Mismo is a black and white puddle. Sue and I both swim and try to cool off but it doesn’t really last. Reluctantly we rig the dinghy and go ashore to check in to customs. That was simple and we find a wi-fi place (The Gingerbread House) to check e-mail and weather (and Cubs’ scores!). Well it’s August isn’t it. Man is everything laid back. I imagine a hundred boats in this harbor during the busy season but right now there are about 20. Some charters though so probably get the good discount this time of year. I wonder where they are chartering out of?

Bequia has a history of whaling as it turns out. In fact the settlers were whalers from north america, Scotland, France and, of course, Africa. They still have a little whaling going on here. They are allowed to catch 4 per year between Feb and April. This is done in open sailing boats with hand thrown harpoons although there are only a few left with the skills (and the spheres!) to do this. If they get one they do take it to a small rendering plant on the south shore and get it down to whale oil and other whale goodies I guess. I’d like to see the chase sometime but not the rendering.

We’ll stay here a couple of days and then work our way through the Grenadines on our way to Grenada. Having just spent two months in Chicago (our favorite city) it is taking a little while to slip back into our cruising persona. Feels right though - making 2-3 day plans but no more. Sitting and watching the pretty water. Reading and napping. Our training is slowly coming back!

Now for those who have lost track of where we are, here is a progression of charts to get you back on track. As usual, clicking on the images will make them bigger and perhaps HUGE. Don't ask me!


Kit Walker said...

You are very brave to risk the wrath of the hurricane gods! May you hit the third season jackpot of no big windy things coming at you!

Anonymous said...

Dolphins tend to do this with all sailboats in this area and will lead or escort is like they are guardian angels. It is the most beautiful site and one that many should have the opportunity to see. The one that came back just wanted to make sure everything was ok with you all. They are breathtaking to watch and if they sense you are in trouble they won't leave you. But I guess that you must know that already. Hope Mimso feels better. Safe sailing. The gang in PR.