Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: somewhere south of civilization
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And then there are days like yesterday....
The forecast was for a solid 20 knots of wind slightly south of east. Well that's Ok, we're headed slightly west of south. There'll be no need to make easting on this trip, a rare day of sailing in the Eastern Caribbean. That is our mantra when sailing down here; make all the easting we can, early in the trip. With the winds generally from the east and the current generally setting west, a mile or so of easting can make or break a trip. We hate those long slogs under power directly into the wind to get into a bay we might have made under sail, had we pushed her just a bit more to the east.
Oh well, none of that this day. As usual, we ran from Port Elizabeth to West Cay under jib alone. The wind is usually fluctuating 15 degrees on either side if dead astern, so we don't raise the main until we round West Cay. But it was a swift trip anyway, as the funnel of Admiralty Bay had the breeze a bit above the outside winds.
Rounding West Cay the seas were somewhat smaller than we expected, as the wind had been blowing for quite a few days at 20 to 25 knots. We cranked in the Yankee to a beam reach and rolled out the main to the deep reef position, the norm for West Indian winter sailing. It was immediately apparent we were under powered, but we waited a bit till we were well clear of Bequia's influence before we decided to let out more sail. After about 15 minutes we brought the main out to a very shallow reef.
What a sleigh ride! Sails set just slightly forward of a beam reach and Skipping Stone was strutting her stuff. Virtually no helm and seas abaft the beam; perfect! Out goes the fish line and fingers are crossed. Not that we need fish tonite as we had arranged to have dinner at Vanessa and Sekkie's place on the beach in Chatham, but it's always nice to have fish in the fridge. However, it wasn’t looking promising as the day wore on; there are no birds around and flying fish were few and far between. OK Neptune, we'll hedge the odds. Out comes the 12 foot outrigger and instantly the lure is bubbling away like the flying fish it is meant to represent. What fish can resist that?
We threat between a few squalls, only getting a slight dusting of rain, but the calms before and after are frustrating. Then we’re barreling along again. The outrigger clip snaps and it’s a nice cuda, which Nikki steaks up and puts in the fridge. Thank you.
We sail to anchor in Chatham Bay, Union Island and remark at how much fun this sail was. These are the days we get as payment for those other less pleasant, more stressful ones. But really, they're all better than the alternative, to us. Thank you Neptune for the excellent day.
Stats: 29.2 miles, 6.5k average, 10.7k max speed, 24.2k max wind out of the east. Average speed w/o the run from Port Elizabeth to West Cay and the tacking into Chatham under Yankee alone was around 7.4 knots. Not at all bad for this old 77,000# girl, with just the Yankee and a lightly reefed main.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
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