Sunday 16 September 2012

Leg 3 Day 2: Sailing the Virgin Islands

The day dawned somewhat hazy, I was on watch from 03h00 and saw the sunrise in the haze. I also saw some lightning flashes lighting up the sky momentarily. These were from the tropical storm far to the east of St Maarten.

As the day grew into full bloom the clouds cleared and we had a day of the most brilliant colours that the Caribbean could muster. A sweet farewell to us, much like the welcome that we received a week ago. The colour of the sea varied from turquoise to bright blue and the cerulean that we had before.

At the moment the sun is setting on a very calm sea, almost like the doldrums. On this occasion we have a little breeze gently pushing us along, but doing little about the opressive heat of the day. We have now crossed formally into the North Atlantic Ocean again, through a seaway going by the name of the Narrows. We sailed between Peter Island and Norman Island, passing via Sir Francis Drake Channel into the Narrows. The Narrows lies between Little Thatch, Big Thatch and Saint John. We then carried on south of Great Tobago and Little Tobago, sailing in a west-northswest direction.

Sounds very romantic, methinks.

Yesterday Dawid was on duty from 15h00 to 18h00, so he cooked dinner. He made a kedgeree, the first time ever. Another hurdle crossed. This kedgeree was made using some of the snoek that we caught way back, a day or two out of Cape Town. He basically fried the snoek a little in fried onions, then added some water and simmered it till it was done. Spices consisted of some coriander seeds that were fried along with the onions, and some cajun spice that he brought along. The fish was flaked to remove the bones and to have shredded fish. Then the fish was added to cooked rice, to which he had also added some lentils for body in the dish. Voila, we had a decent meal. Of which Renier, who hates fish, had two helpings.

We have not done any open ocean navigation, as we literally did not have a proper horizon. This is a different way to say that we were surrounded by islands. We also did not do any real coastal navigation using the paper charts, as we were simply too lazy in this heat. But we were quite busy with close quarters navigation almost throughout the day. Part of this was the lookout for crab pots and their floats, as well as assisting the skipper with sounding info and lookout for other traffic. Even in these quiet, out of season times there are still a lot of traffic on the water.

It is evident from the large number of mooring buoys in every sheltered cove that there is a lot of small craft traffic in peak season. The buoys would be in place to prevent anchor damage from completely destroying the habitat under water. No wonder the first world countries are making a noise about environmental issues. We are relatively spoiled by the lack of tourism of this nature back in SouthAfrica. One can still have a quiet, romantic getaway on most of our waters, especially the Vaal dam. Although it is an inland water, there is ample room for a quiet getaway of four days.

Something that all three of us aboard now need. It has been a long haul and the beauty of the region that we are sailing is breathtaking. This raises at least some longing for home, the whole “wish you were here”-thing.

We are slowly settling back into the shipboard routine, with watchkeeping and cooking. The oppressive heat makes it difficult to sleep, but at least the sea is calm, so we can have our hatches open for some fresh air. We also have a little more leeway with fresh water, as we have full tanks and some spare, and only a few days' worth of sailing. Which means we can have more than one shower a week. Not that that will cool you off, you will only get some of the old grub off. But you feel clean for another twenty minutes or so.

We had a proper washing day while alongside, so all our bedding has had a good soaking and rinsing in fresh water. The warm clothes we shall leave until we get back home.

The warm weather causes one to wear vas little as possible, so we are all sporting decent tans. We all lost some weight, so there's something to be proud about too.

And so we sailed our sweaty way through the Virgin islands. Almost like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, except we did not pick up anybody along the way.

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

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