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HEADING NORTH December 2, 2014

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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The wind and seas were to be settled by Thanksgiving…. There got to be a lot of boats heading north that ended up in Bequia. Thursday morning was like a big exodus. We were in the early group leaving around 5 am. The second group made up mostly of catamarans. There is a short passage of open seas to Africa between Bequia and St Vincent. The winds were in the 15-20 not range and the seas were 5-6 foot with a decent period. The period is the time between wave tops. The shorter the time the rougher the seas. We were wanting to make a small bay most of the way up St Lucia. Therefore we motor sailed.

We stayed off St Vincent about 1.25 miles. This got us away from the gusts that come down the valleys and can be quite strong. The seas, although a little larger tend to be more regular in size and period. Going around the headlands at the north end of the island is bad. I had my most scary sail coming south and being to close to the coast in about 20 knots of wind. The seas rap around the headlands and get large and steep. We almost broached in those seas. That is when a sea hits you on the quarter or stern and pushes the boat on its side. We went over 45 degrees and scared the life out of me. This time I wanted to stay far enough out to avoid pounding into seas like that. No such luck. The wind built to the high 20’s and I got to experience 10 foot, square, breaking seas. Glad I was going into it but was very rough for about 2 hours. One wave of solid water made it back into the cockpit. Never saw that before. In a split second, I saw the wave coming and sat there with mouth wide open is amazement. My mind told me I better shut my mouth because I did not have time to duck. Hit me square in the chest. I was glad we were in the tropics and the water is around 80 degrees. I was totally wet. I kept angling the boat trying to catch the wave in the easiest way. We got passed by another monohull that was under full sail. He was probably a great club racer before cruising. I started adding more sail slowly. I am always shocked at how well the boat sail in the rough weather all be it a bit slower. The passage between St Vincent and St Lucia was slow until the very end when the greatly reduced seas and lighter wind shifted around to where we were on a broad reach. We also picked a northerly current of at least 1.5 knots. That helped us to run in the high 6 knot range with periods at 7 knots and did see 8 knots a couple times.

The bay we wanted to go into is difficult during the day and is was getting near dusk when we went by it. We continued on to Rodman Bay and dropped the hook for the night. Had a couple of well deserved cocktails before dinner. No turkey dinner, just leftovers. Thankful we and the boat came through without and breaks. Did get the mates fear level up to where it used to always be. We had about 4-5 hours trip to Marin, Martinque the next day.

What a difference a day makes. The north end of St Lucia can be as bad as St Vincent. We left in about 10 knots of wind and as we went by the headlands the seas were 4-5feet with 6 foot growlers. They had about a 7 second period so the sailing was fine. Once clear of the headlands the seas settled down to 2-3 feet and we wind blew steady 15 knots. We had a couple rain showers as we cleared St Lucia, but then it was clear blue with puffy white clouds. That is when they take pictures for the adds for the charter companies. Some day I will have to write about the charter crowd.

We stayed in Marin till Monday. Got my electronics checked out, got the email then move to St Ann’s. That is an open roadstead about 3 miles away. Marin is a small city with a dirty bay and hundreds of boats. I did not want to make water there. St Ann’s water is nice and clear.

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