Friday, January 26, 2007

Passage BVI to St. Martin

January 26, 2007  Friday
Marigot Baie, St. Martin
18.04.167N; 63.05.588W

Wednesday we left Jost Van Dyke and motored directly into the wind to Gorda Sound to wait for proper weather for the Anegada Passage to St. Martin.  There was predicted to be 11-foot swell on Wednesday but we certainly didn’t experience anything near that level.  We thought it was fairly flat seas going to Gorda Sound.

Since we had already put the dinghy and outboard up in anticipation of making the passage to St. Martin on Friday, we were kind of stuck on the boat.  So on Thursday we did laundry and read books most of the day – just lazing about.  There was a gorgeous large sailboat anchored next to us on the west side of Prickly Pear in Gorda Sound.  It had the prettiest bronze/silver colored hull; also had a crew of 4 taking good care of that yacht.  We have seen several new large sailing yachts that are various shades of this bronze/silver color, so it must be the latest rage in the luxury sailing yacht business.  Really is pretty.

We had planned to leave at 3:00 this morning, but we were both awake earlier; so anchor was up at 1:45 a.m. and we motored out of the channel at Gorda Sound.  BTW, if anyone plans to be sailing at night in that area anytime soon, the first green buoy as you are entering the channel is not working – no light at nighttime.  Thank goodness we have a good monitor and chartplotting software because you could not see a thing in the dark.  The moon had set at 11:30 p.m. so there was only starlight when we left at 1:45.

Winds were predicted to be less than 10 knots from 150 degrees.  Didn’t happen.  True wind direction ranged from 0 to 10 degrees but were definitely less than 10 knots.  True wind speed ranged from 1.5 knots to 7 knots for the entire trip.  We made great time motoring at 2200 rpms; arrived in Marigot Baie at 1:00 p.m.  Entire trip took 11 hours 45 minutes, and that included one hour of us goofing around and trying to sail in only 7 knots of wind.  That only lasted one hour because we couldn’t get any faster than 4 knots boat speed in those light winds, so we went back to motoring.  Average speed for the passage was 7.15 knots.

Judy was thrilled with this passage.  It could not have been any better.  She has been dreading the Anegada Passage ever since we decided to do this part of the Caribbean again.  The same passage last May was the passage from Hell – far and away the worst passage we have had to date.  Had lightning all around us all night long and winds ranging 25-35 knots and bad rainstorms.  This time was heaven compared to the last time we made this trip.

Apparently lots of people were also taking advantage of this great weather window.  At one point Bill could see 5 boats on radar within 12 miles.  Usually you can make the entire passage and not see another boat.

Judy trailed a fishing line from 6:30 a.m. until 12:45 p.m.  Didn’t get a bite.

At 9:00 a.m. a pod of small porpoises came jumping out of the water several hundred meters off the starboard side.  They made a beeline to the bow of the boat and played around a bit.  Then they went jumping off the port side and moved away.  There were at least 6 of them and may have been as many as a dozen.  It was really cool to see them up so closely.  They were quite playful.

Clearing in with the French Duanes was incredibly simple.  Just fill out one form and show our passports and boat certificate of documentation.  No charge, and they didn’t even ask us how long we plan to stay.  Guess we can stay here as long as we like – just can’t work here.

Then we walked around Marigot awhile; bought several bottles of merlot and other red wines; found a bakery and bought wonderful baguette and one slice of French style pizza to share.  Shared a bottle of wine and one slice of pizza – that was dinner on the boat.  We could hear some drum music after we finished the wine, so we went back to Marigot tonight to investigate.  Turned out to be a bunch of boys practicing in a park near the ferry dock.  After walking a few more blocks and wandering through an upper-scale shopping mall, we decided that it was time to turn in early tonight.

So, so, so glad to be finished with the Anegada Passage to St. Martin.  We are going to enjoy this island for several weeks.  

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