Friday, January 21, 2011

Passage to St. Martin

Well, this was every bit as much of an uphill bash as we had expected.  Winds were a little lighter than expected, and from a less-favorable direction, so the trip took 24 hours instead of the hoped-for twenty.

This was the first overnight passage with just the two of us.  The boat was great in these conditions, but the boat motion going upwind is always rougher, and the waves offshore were plenty big.  We planned three-hour watches, but neither of us slept much during our off-watch period.

David used his standard seasickness prevention strategy, which is meclizine (Bonine and other brands) taken several hours before departing, and repeated every 12 hours instead of the recommended 24 hours.  On our last passage, Gretchen did not like the way meclizine made her head feel, so she decided to try ginger capsules this trip.  This was a mistake.  She got quite seasick, and finally ended up hugging the leeward rail for a few minutes.  On the other hand, she functioned amazingly well even while feeling terrible, when the boat needed her help.

The winds were quite strong (ca. 20 knots), so we sailed with a single reef in the mainsail and our smaller jib.  We ended up tacking four or five times altogether.  It seems like we had more than the usual amount of trouble with sheets getting caught on our dinghy (on the foredeck) or the whisker pole.  That meant going forward in bouncy conditions to clear them – definitely not fun at night while bashing and crashing along.  We always wore life preservers with a harness, and were always tethered to the boat. 

When dawn came, it was a relief.  The sailing isn’t really any easier during the day, but it seems less stressful.  By about 10:00 am we were still 20 miles from St. Martin, and were making very slow progress due to wind and an adverse current.  We finally gave up on sailing and turned on the motor for the rest of the journey.  A lot of people motor the whole way from St. Croix to St. Martin, so we felt pretty good about sailing as far as we did.

We dropped anchor in Marigot harbor at just about 1:00 pm, 24 hours after our departure.  We were tired, but not through yet.  We hoisted the dinghy into the water, attached the outboard motor, and went into town to clear customs.  However, customs closes at noon on Saturday, and doesn’t open until Monday morning.   We grabbed a bite at a restaurant near the dock, and then went back to the boat to rest.

In all, we think this was a very successful passage for our first double-handed overnight.  It certainly reinforced our desire to avoid long upwind sails when we can.  Hopefully, none will be required for the rest of the winter.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Oh I feel for you. That passage was the ONLY time I got sick during our cruising. Hope the same applies to you! Hugs, Charlie