Entry for February 9, 2008

It has been a very busy last 5 days.  We spent 2 days walking all over southern Grenada stocking up the boat for the next month or so until we reach Puerto Rico.  Then, on Wednesday, we left Prickly Bay and had a nice sail around the southwest corner of Grenada.  I love to sail without ever starting the engine and we sailed into the bay just north of St. Georges without ever running it.  As we sailed into the bay with steep hills all around, the winds became intermittent and there were a few locals fishing which made tacking up to the anchorage a little challenging.  Troubles started when a high-speed motorboat that was passing in front of us suddenly stopped about 100 yards directly ahead.  We were under full jib and main with the boat moving along nicely around 6 knots.  I wasn’t really ready to tack yet as there was a fishing boat anchored just off our port beam.  But, there really wasn’t any choice so we tacked to port.  As we were tacking, the jib caught on forstay of the staysail and was locked up.  Laura went up on the deck as I pulled the sheets.  She finally untangled the lines but now I was now heading right for the anchored fishing boat.  I let loose the sheets and fell off to port.  I’m sure the guy thought we were nuts running around the boat as we sailed all over the bay.  We finally had everything straightened out when the wind died completely.  We had the jib and main sheeted in tight as we were beating up-wind when all of a sudden the wind blew about 25 knots right on our beam.  The boat heeled over about 25 degrees which wasn’t a lot but the sudden movement threw us around a little.  The gust stopped and the boat straightened up and heeled a little to starboard like a pendulum that was let go.  As the masts started coming up straight, I asked Laura to loose the mainsheet in case we got another gust on the beam.  I was about 5 seconds too late as we were hit by a 40 knot gust from the same direction as the last one.  Since the boat was just coming back to straight up, the gust really blew us over and this time the boat didn’t seem to stop.  All of a sudden the port side of our cockpit became the floor as the boat was blow over almost 90 degrees.  I felt like it was a dream.  The boat went over so fast we didn’t really have a chance to react other than move our feet to the walls.  I saw the whole port side of the boat in the water and looked up to see the sails almost horizontal and in the water.  I think the bottom of the jib was actually in the water because it was wet when we finally straightened up. 

Yes.  The boat came back to vertical almost immediately while Laura and I just looked around to see if everything was still in its place.  If the boat’s sails hit the water it’s called a “knockdown”.  I don’t think this really qualified but it was darn close.  We pulled in the sails and motored up close to shore and dropped the anchor.  Unbelievably, almost everything below was fine.  A few things were on the port side of the boat that belonged on the starboard side but at least they were mostly soft things like the sofa cushions.  It was a great lesson to remind us that bays with high hills make the wind go crazy.

Thursday and Friday were mostly an exercise in sailing futility.  The Windward and Leeward islands from Grenada to St. Martin are shaped like a bow that is bent toward Africa.  With the typical tradewinds from the east, this means that the first few days heading north from Grenada we need to sail northeast which is very close to the wind direction.  As any sailor knows, sailing close to the wind is doable but not the most fun part of sailing.  The first day we logged 42 miles to go just 26 miles from where we started.  Yesterday, we faired a little better and logged 48 miles to go 40.  The extra miles were tacking away from our destination so we had a better angle on the wind when we turned back. 

Hopefully, we’ve sailed through the worst part of this eastward sailing against the trades and we can now start to head more north which is easier sailing.  We are currently in Friendship Harbor, Bequia which is a less used anchorage because it is a little harder to get to.  We’re trying to stay at different anchorages than we did on the way down the islands last year to experience new places.  Unfortunately, this choice wasn’t the best as this is one of the most rolly and windy anchorages we’ve every stayed in.  The good news is our anchor is set really good but I had to stay up most of the night to build my confidence in it.

The winds are supposed to moderate a little on Sunday night into Monday so we will be staying around here until then.  From here we will spend a long day sailing to St. Lucia skipping St. Vincent.  It will be about a 65 mile sail so we’ll have to leave in the early morning hours to arrive before dark.

We’ve heard from Rob and Sue on Mandate who are still in Florida.  We’ll meet them somewhere on our trip back to the U.S. and had hoped it would be around Puerto Rico.  Now it looks more like they won’t make it past the Bahamas this winter.

Jack also emailed us and said he had changed his plans away from sailing to Venezuela because of the security issues there.  He is sailing in our direction after experiencing Carnival in Trinidad and we hope to meet up with him in a week or two and maybe sail into the Virgin Islands together.  That will be fun!

Here is a sunset picture from Tyrell Bay, Carriacou where we anchored Thursday night.  Enjoy!

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