Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beating into 20 kts for 440 NM -- what fun!

November 21, 2006  Tuesday
Christmas Cove, St. James Island, USVI
18.18.629N; 64.49.987W                    Sailed 440NM

First, a few final thoughts about Bonaire.  It is by far the cleanest place we have ever visited.  You do not see even a cigarette butt on the streets.  The local people are nice and friendly.  The water is unbelievably clear and clean.  We would recommend Bonaire to anyone who has thoughts of visiting that area. 

Now, our passage from Bonaire to The Virgins:
Thousands upon thousands of gorgeous boat stars, a tiny sliver of moon, Milky Way so thick that it looked like a cloudy white ribbon draped across the sky – it was a great passage!  We were able to make the trip on one straight tack from the northwest tip of Bonaire to St. Croix on a course of 048, sailing the entire time with double or triple reefed mainsail, genoa and mizzen.  Winds were sustained 20 knots for the entire trip – except for a few 35 knot gales which we managed just fine.  Waves and swell were mostly only 6-8 feet, with the occasional 15-18 footer about every tenth wave.  The seawater splashing over the starboard side of the boat began to get pretty annoying.

The winds were consistent from 106 (ESE) all the way until 7:30 p.m. last night, when they clocked northerly by about 5 to 10 degrees – just enough that we had to motorsail about half of the night.  But we would have had to motorsail during that period regardless of wind direction because we dodged squall after squall.   We were close-hauled as tightly as possible for the entire trip up until that point; the needle nestled firmly in the bottom of the green indicator. 

The radar reflector broke loose and destroyed our flag halyards.  It was banging against the mast and probably chipped the paint, but that was during a gale and we weren’t about to go out on deck just to untangle and remove the radar reflector.  After the winds calmed back down to 20 knots, then Bill went on deck and retrieved the radar reflector without incident. 

The only other “issue” during this passage was that the water sensor in the front bilge went off 4 times.  Bill had installed this water sensor as soon as we moved onto the boat.  This forward bilge is part of a watertight compartment and does not flow to the sump bilge.  We wanted to know if any water intruded into the front part of the boat before it reached the level of the cabin sole.  Well, this little water sensor really works!  It is extremely loud and persistent.  Each time there was only a few tablespoons of water in the forward bilge; Bill solved the problem by packing the area with disposable baby diapers.  Now we need to find out where this tiny amount of water is entering from (two possibilities: the seals around the bow thruster or the through-hull for the depth sensor).   According to our Amel manuals, there is an adjustment for the bow thruster height when it is raised to seal; and we probably need to adjust this a tiny bit higher for a tighter seal.  We replaced the seals last May, so we know the seals are not worn.  BTW, the last two homes that we owned had wooden floors in the kitchen; and we used these same type water sensors under the kitchen sink areas.  Would recommend these sensors to anyone either in a boat or in a home with any type floors that could be damaged by water intrusion.

We reached St. Croix about 7:30 this morning, and we could have forced onward to Tortola.  But Judy was really tired of having her world tilted 25 degrees, so Bill agreed to change to an easier course (beam reach) and tilt the boat only 10-15 degrees; and we anchored here in the USVI at Christmas Cove at 2:30 p.m.  Trip total was 61.5 hours; 440 NM; average boat speed 7.15 knots.  Not bad for sailing against the wind.

We gave the deck and all the stainless steel a quick fresh water rinse with our extra long hose just before we reached St. James Island.  While doing this, we discovered two flying fish that Judy is saving in the freezer to use as bait the next time we trail a fishing line.  That explained the thumps that Judy heard last night during her watch from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.  We did not trail any fishing lines on this passage because neither of us wanted to deal with cleaning a fish.  It is great to have a large capacity desalinator watermaker so we can use water this way.  The boat was not the only thing coated in salt spray.  Our first showers since Saturday night were so, so nice in the air-conditioned comfort of our boat at anchor.  Bill turned on the air-conditioning as soon as the anchor was down.  We want to sleep in comfort tonight!

One thing that we learned from our first multiple day passage is what to do about food next time.  We need to have very small servings of bland foods ready to put into the microwave without any preparation required, no even mixing two things together.  Just put it into the microwave and eat single small serving from the same container.  Neither of us wanted to eat more than about four bites of anything at any one time.  Also, yogurt is a great food for passages.  Definitely need to bring more yogurt.  Also need to bring plain cookies and crackers, in individual serving packets.  Two cookies or crackers would be all that either of us would eat at any one time.  The motion drastically reduces your appetite.

Sailing to windward is not the most pleasant point of sail.  The passage would have been far more enjoyable if we had gone to Puerto Rico or Dominican Republic (beam reach), but we prefer to be in the USVI and the BVI for the next couple of months or so.  So we toughed it out and did the close-haul route. 

We paid a temporary import fee last January 24th or so which allows us to have our boat in BVI waters as much as we want for one year, instead of the normal time restriction.  So we plan to clear into the BVI with an anticipated clearance date of about January 24.  That doesn’t mean we will definitely stay in the BVI that long, but it at least gives us the option to do so if we choose.  We really want to spend months in the French islands before next hurricane season.

We have always liked Christmas Cove.  We think it is possible that this might have been our very first anchorage way back when we first started chartering boats down here in the 1980s.  We definitely remember that we anchored here on our final night of that first charter.  We also remember that we went on the left side of the rocks in the middle of the channel in front of Christmas Cove when headed north, which was the WRONG thing to do.  You should always pass on the right side of the rocks when headed north.  We are including a photo of a boat wrecked on these rocks (we did not take this photo).  Every years several boats are lost on these rocks when people try to pass on the wrong side.  We were very lucky that we did not go aground in that charter boat.

All in all, we are very glad to be back in this area for awhile.  We know this area so well that it is almost like coming home.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will be posted after we confirm that you are not a cyber stalker.