Sunday, March 18, 2012

It’s About the Weather Forecast!

The little sailors at Nanny Cay. So cute and good!
Well, sort of! After a short trip back to Michigan for work and my trip to China for 10 days, we returned to the boat planning to sail from Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI to St. Barth via St. Martin. The trip back to Tortola was uneventful and quite enjoyable. It was great to be back in the islands after a month in the north and China. Our plan for the next three weeks was to sail to St. Barth, Nevis and St. Kitts, St. Eustatia and maybe around Saba before returning to either St. Martin or Tortola. The winds and weather determine the actual course and time schedule!

We waited for several days at the marina because the winds had been very strong for a number of days even before we arrived. They were still blowing in the high twenties and thirties. Not only that, they we coming from the East-Southeast, which, of course, was the direction we wanted to sail. After checking the weather online and talking to seasoned sailors, we decided to depart on Sunday. The winds and seas were to settle down on Monday. We left the dock and sailed over to Norman Island to anchor for the night. The plan was for a 6 AM departure.

The whole boat was a mess after the wild
night! I looked and felt as bad, too!!!
All was going according to plan, knowing we would face some heavy winds at the beginning of the trip. There were supposed to die down by noon – NOT! The seas remained 5-8 feet with swells up to 10 feet at times. The wind stayed in the twenties with higher gusts. Needless to say, it was a very uncomfortable trip. What we did not take into consideration was that even though winds were to diminish some, the waves and swells were still building and traveling over a great distance. That takes more time for the waves to dwindle. (Another lesson learned from experience!)

We thought we should be in Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten by eight o’clock in the evening and would spend the night there before moving on to St. Barth. Well … that was a joke! We never got there until 3 AM and I was seasick most of the night. I took my turns at watch, but Dennis did most of the heavy lifting for the trip. There seems to be something about heavy seas and nighttime that gets to me! No matter how hard I fight it, Mal de Mare gets the best of me.

The next day was beautiful and we continued on to the capital port, Gustavia, St. Barth. I was fine. Of course, the wind and waves were a little more comfortable, too. We sailed all day and arrived in Gustavia harbor at about six o’clock. I did learn a good lesson: you must sail well above the rhumb line when the wind is strongly pushing you below it. Tacking works, except that the tack back above the rhumb line usually means no gain in forward direction – and even a loss of distance just to get back in position. (Add that to our list of lessons learned!)

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