Sunday, 16 September 2012

2nd Leg Day 29: The Caribbean Greeting

Yesterday we formally entered the Caribbean sea. The weather started clearing behind us, giving us clear skies and an almost full moon for the night sail. The swell subsided and we sailed in flat seas at over six knots for most of the night.

This enabled us to see St Lucia. the island that we were passing. The lights were clearly visible, giving an impressionist view of the island's silhouette. Perhaps this is an apt point of view, as there is a large French influence in this area of the world.

The moon set at around 04h00 this morning, over a flat sea and a huge light path over the water. Rather like a gigantic carpet of welcome rolled out in our honour.

The setting of the moon left us in complete darkness for the next hour or so. Awaiting the next act of Nature's play. The sun started colouring the east in pretty pastel hues of pink and blue. This seemed like the curtains on a huge stage opening on a gigantic display of the grand colours of Nature, viewed through a misty haze of light clouds. Ringing in the next act on cue, no doubt.

We crossed the St Lucia Strait on our way past Martinique. This passage also crossed us into the Caribbean sea, out of the Atlantic side. We are now sailing in a northerly direction leaving the Windward Islands to windward. Perhaps like the sailors of old on their traditional routes. It sounds like a plausible description, as we shall soon be leaving the Leeward Islands to leeward on our way to the Antilles. Just past the island of Antigua. All the names steeped in legend and history.

The seas here are flatter, the breezes more constant and mild than in the open Atlantic. The weather is ultimately suited to a laid back lifestyle. Like being on holiday forever. The sea is an incredible shade of blue. Cerulean seems to be the appropriate word describing the colour. And today the sun is hot and yellow. You may work on your tan up to eight o'clock in the morning and after four in the afternoon. In between it is too hot and, besides, you burn to a delicate pink very quickly.

This welcome into the Caribbean is most appreciated after four full weeks at sea. The morale on board is still positive, the mood boisterous and happy. But there are small signs of strain. The odd question here, the extra nap there. Some quietness at times, perhaps a little more introspection. Nothing serious, or that you could put your finger on. But noticeable on a woolly hunch feeling. Certainly more than when we left St Helena four weeks ago. And there is also an air of anticipation beginning to build up. Also quite noticeable and positive. And it carries us through these frustrating times when you wish the boat would go faster. The best part bis that , should our prayers be answered and we do go faster, we shall be reaching St Maarten around 02h00 on Friday morning. Not a good idea, methinks.

I suspect that we all are longing for a break in the deadly routine of three hours on, six hours off. And the cooking. Cooking is now a punishment, standing at the hot stove in this tropical heat. Routine is good for the boat and for the soul, but a change is as good as a holiday. We have been in our own company in close quarters for over six weeks now. Clearly time for a break.

We are crossing the Dominica Channel at present, well on our way to Guadeloupe, then on to St Maarten, which forms part of the Dutch Antilles. There remains just over 200 nautical miles on this leg of our voyage. This leaves us with about 40 hours' worth of sailing, which will bring us to St Maarten by Friday early morning at some civilised time when the sun is up.

We need to complete the required admin and boat's husbandry chores as necessary after docking. And, more importantly, complete these during the remaining working hours before the weekend. We specifically need to get Renier's PC back up and running, as well as arrange for additional charts and other navigational backup, as we are heading into serious hurricane territory after St Maarten. We also had some interesting times with equipment failure on the crossing. Today, in addition, we found water in the diesel filters on both engines, a sure sign of water in our stock of diesel cans. Then the satellite telephone would not charge and we had to fiddle to get it to make proper electrical contact. We certainly would not like a repeat of these while dodging hurricanes. After all, we are neither privy to the techniques, nor do we have access to the tools that the hitchhikers through the galaxy had on their escapades.

After work and before our weekend starts, we shall have a welcome shower. After all this time of one shower a week it will be feeling quite strange. I know, having done this before. Six showers in six weeks. A small boy's ultimate dream.

Then we shall have a beer. Or perhaps two. After that we shall be contacting the loved ones at home. And load the blog. I have not gone to all this trouble to hide it under a pail.

And after that we shall have a good, long sleep and not do anchor watch duties.

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-12

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