Archive for: ‘December 2011’

Holiday Guests

December 28, 2011 Posted by Deb

Megan and Deb on Pic Paradis

We watched our last guest fly right over our heads on their way home just yesterday. In three years on Sanity we had five sets of guests and we’ve had two already on Neytiri. Of course our first official guests were blowing through on a cruise ship (a holiday wedding while hopping through the islands), and we crammed a Loterie Farm hike, a quick visit to Neytiri, and a lap around the island into a 9:00 to 4:00 window.

Vickie & Deb at the Roti Stand in Phillipsburg

Our next guest was Vickie, a long time sailing friend and we had five days to entertain. Two days before she arrived the Christmas winds kicked in at around 35 knots with higher gusts and the swell went to 15 feet. Oops.

We were anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon during the Christmas wind blow and the bay has poor holding. Not only were the cruising options off the table at least in the short term but we were anchored in the lagoon. The lagoon isn’t exactly the Caribbean vision of a secluded anchorage off a pristine beach. It is more like being able to toss a Presidente bottle into your neighbors cockpit in a mass of boats anchored off a rocky shoreline littered with wrecks. Not exactly what you buy a plane ticket to the Caribbean for. The many groups on charter boats were faced with the same dilemma as they sat in the lagoon and watched their substantial investment in a week of cruising the islands tick away.

The forecasts started calling for a break in the wind at about mid-visit for Vickie so we did a solid 2 days and hiked Loterie again, did some power shopping, provisioned special meals for Christmas, took in a cruiser’s Christmas Eve party at Lagoonies, and cleared out of the French side and headed for Anguilla again, this time on Christmas Day. St. Barts was the original plan but the wind and waves made that challenging.

Vickie on the way to Prickly Pear

We went straight to Prickly Pear, assuming incorrectly that British customs were closed. It seemed like it would save $50 as long as they didn’t notice. Toward late afternoon a number of boats looked like they were planning to stay, in fact, some were still coming in. Overnighting in the Marine Parks is strictly forbidden but it looked like several boats were going to try it. We were happy to stay because the wind shift made Road Bay tough to sail and we were a bit too relaxed. Once we made that decision and settled in for the night, the other boats left. Only one other boat remained, a bunch of kite surfers. They dinked over and asked if we were planning to stay the night and if so, they would too. I told him “yes” and that we could split the fine. He was going to go with “engine problems” and I was going with “sick passenger.”

Of course, the sick passenger excuse would have been a tough sell if anyone observed the meal on Christmas night. We did it right with lobster and all the fixings with plenty of wine. We chased the meal down with popcorn and our first showing of the extended version of Avatar. The kitesurfers were directly downwind and my guess is they were smelling food that was a hell of a lot better that what they were eating. The next morning we sailed off and left Anguillan waters before the mighty Anguillan navy was awake.

Deb has been unable to update the blog since December 7 due to a loss of admin access to WordPress. It seems to be a common problem but none of the solutions in the forum worked; so, if you’re reading this, she finally found the bug.

St. Barts – Try One

December 9, 2011 Posted by Deb

We took off for St. Barts motorsailing in squalls to the windward side to get a good angle to St. Barts.  The weather got uglier, the wind picked up to 28 apparent, and when we cleared the barrier reef after a few miles, the real Atlantic hit us hard. We thought the swells were bad inside but going toward the Windward Pass was a real re-education. It was time for me to go up and reef the main and we hadn’t done any prep for heavy weather sailing so I pulled the plug and spun the boat for Road Bay. Just spinning the boat was a challenge. Once we got the hook in at Road Bay the rains really cut loose and the winds shifted to the South so our decision to bail seemed good.

Airborn Dinghy

December 8, 2011 Posted by Deb

We cleared in to customs at Anguilla and my initial plan was to tear into a long list of new sailing related projects. Deb talked me into a hike and we got our gear on. At about that point, the charter boats headed out to the outer islands and the weather turned very nice. We heard good things about Prickly Pear island so we changed our minds again. Deb went in to get a permit for Prickly Pear (it is a marine park) while I did jam cleat bypass surgery. When she came back, I found out that we had just invested $50 in lunch (that was our reason for going out to Prickly Pear).

We passed the perfect tropical island on the way out to Prickly Pear and went on by.

Prickly Pear was fairly bleak looking coming in from leeward. All I could see was a low lying island, a bit barren, and sharp edged rocks off the anchorage. We grabbed a mooring (10% frayed through), rounded up our dive gear, and headed through the cut for the windward side where there were a few restaurants and nice beaches. I barely had the chance to say, “It looks a bit rough through there” when we found ourselves in a slot where those large NE swells piled up in the cut between the two islands and every fourth one was breaking. Deb saw it first … a monster wave that was going to break and eat us. I gunned the Merc and we charged toward it, up its face, and over the top just as it was starting to break. Then there was the descent. We went airborne with even the Merc prop out of the water and landed hard in the trough. As soon as we got to starboard we got out of the breaking zone but the swell made beaching the dink challenging. There were three very large dinks from the charter boats pulled way up on the sand but they had six plus guys to haul. We decided to dink back through the cut and try our hand at swimming in on the sharp rocky side. Going with the waves would be easier but we did have to avoid the large breaking waves. We centered the dink in the cut and watched two monsters roll through and break. We took off when they cleared, hoping there wasn’t a third. We surfed at less than half throttle and only let one wave go underneath us when we got a little slow. We stayed with the next one and got a little fast once but when the bow of the dink smashed into the back of the wave in front of us, that slowed us up nicely. Deb and I have dealt with large waves near shore in a dink before and have even surfed by accident from time to time but Prickly Pear cut with a large NE swell definitely tops the charts.  Good thing I wasn’t risking a brand new outboard.

We chained the dink, swam in, walked across the razor rocks to the restaurant, got over our sticker shock, and had one of the better meals in the last two months. They even had grass, a lawnmower, and they took credit cards.

Break Out from Simpson Bay

December 7, 2011 Posted by Deb

Our new anchor and chain had been lying on the bottom of Simpson Bay for over a month and we pulled it up expecting a mess. The anchor and chain cleaned up fine but the anchor bridal was another story. It had grown 8 inch hair in the first 6 to 8 feet under water. It was embarrassing to have what amounted to a beard on the front of the boat as we staged for the 9:00 a.m. bridge on the Dutch side. The French bridge would have been better but they burned up their electric motors when a power surge went through the system. They’ll be down for weeks waiting for parts from France.

We dropped a hook immediately after clearing the bridge so Deb could dink on in to pick up mail. When she returned we motored back and forth in the bay while we tried to raise a mainsail that had been taken off for hurricane season and only hoisted a few times in the bay for lazy jack and reef line reattachment. Actually using the main to sail apparently hadn’t occurred to us so there was some work to do. The big question was whether the boom would clear the new solar panels when the topping lift was released and we got lucky there.

Leaving Simpson Bay

Great day for a sail and fair performance with our shakedown destination (Anguilla) only about 11 miles away .  A failed jam cleat made it very challenging to do proper trimming of the main.  I used the winch but when the headsail had to be trimmed, I had to pull the main off under pressure and find a cleat for it, also under pressure.

We made water all the way over and I’m sure the water maker was happy to be out of the Simpson Bay soup. There was a monster 8 foot swell coming out of the NE but a 10 second interval made it seem fairly benign. There was maybe 3-5 chop from a 17 knot wind. I probably would have stayed home in our former boat but we headed out. We hung our first tack as just a two person crew and found a few more things that need to be changed. It is even harder to get the headsail through the slot in the forestays than on Sanity (a cutter rig), the jib sheets are too large for the jam cleats, and the jam cleats are so tight and stiff that they are at max finger strength to open. Other than that, no problem.

Customs closed at 4:00 pm and we hurried a bit to get into Road Bay. We made it by at 2:00 and they were gone for the day. For my part, two Presidentes at a beach bar (illegally since we were not cleared in) was followed by a complete physical collapse from climbing all over the boat like the French Canadian, Michael. Deb did better and watched a movie with a bit of popcorn. Again, for my part, I’m starting to wonder if this 12 ton beast isn’t pushing the limit a bit.  We’ll see.