We have long since closed the cabin on Lake Vermilion leaving the mighty Norway pines to watch over the lake as the sun sets further in the southern hemisphere and the temperatures drop to below freezing. Some of our lake neighbors will return during the deep snows and cold, but we have decided to relinquish that opportunity for warmer climes. We made our way saying temporary “good-byes” to friends and family in Minnesota, California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and North Carolina, finally arriving back to Lost Loon on St Thomas on December 14.
Our task is now to navigate the Caribbean making as many of our usual stops along the island chain. With so many places locked down or closed we have no idea where we will be. You know how they say you don’t appreciate something until its taken away or gone? That’s how we feel. One thing is for sure, we are not going to be able to just pull into any anchorage in the Easter Caribbean, drop the hook, dinghy into shore, complete the forms and move about freely on the island. Time will only tell. We yearn for French baguettes, pain au chocolat, French wines, hikes on Dominica, beaches of Martinique, the roti on Bequia, and snorkeling in the Tobago Cays. For now we are happy in the Virgin Islands. We will move on with hopes of sailing to Grenada once again for hurricane season, jumping through whatever circus hoops it takes to get there.
So in the last couple of weeks we have: painted the bottom, washed the boat, waxed the hull, took out and replace 3 140# boat batteries, mounted the solar panels, put on and set up lines for all 3 sails, re-sewed a grill cover, replaced a new wash down hose, fixed the roller-furler (that wasn’t really broken, just misaligned), reorganized 3 closet spaces, repaired our Old Glory, replaced the carburetor on the dinghy motor, cleaned the food lockers, lubricated the through hulls, filled the water tanks, celebrated Christmas and New Years ( with quite a party, I might add) .
We continue to organize and manage systems on the boat on a nearly daily basis, shop for groceries, spare parts, and make lists of new ideas and gadgets we ‘need’.
We made one nice downwind shakedown sail from Francis Bay , St John to Brewers Bay, St Thomas one afternoon last week and all went well. So we are ready to make a few more miles and head for new waters… St Croix. Its described as the most beautiful of th Virgins, and somewhat less crowded and more laid back. With our friends on SV Joli, Polly and Bryan, we set out this morning on the 40 mile voyage.
The sun was just making its way above the horizon as we hauled up the anchor and mainsail at 0648. Light air took us 3 miles offshore where we found 13 knots of NE wind with 2-3 ft waves and an ESE swell.
Just as we said it was a good sail, we caught a glimpse of clouds forming ahead. ” oh, they’ll pass before we arrive there…” We watched as the skies darkened and swells became larger over the next 2 hours. With this the wind filled in at 17, 18, 22 knots. The island sighting of St Croix was now obliterated by clouds that resembled a smoke field. The cool down draft from the approaching squall was our signal to Don jackets and brace for some rain. What we didn’t count on was the onslaught of big waves and high winds. We quickly let out the main sheet, and jib sheet, falling off the 25 -28 knot breeze, removing some of the weather helmet from the steering quadrant. Lost Loon did well, up and over the waves, in and out of the stiff wind. By the time the rain, hit it had settled as it usually does. And we were left with 4 knots of wind and big waves tossing us starboard and to port.
Barely wet, and 2 hours from our intended anchorage we started the engine, rolled in the flapping Genoa, and tried to maintain forward progress.
We encountered another squall in under 30 minutes. Wetter this time, but less stressed. we were patient and allowed the wind to fill back in at a strong 15 knots before we unfurled the genoa. Sailing to the Western anchorage of Fredricksted , St Croix was beautiful. Now in protected beautiful blue water we could see the beautiful lush island that is so well talked about.
A challenging sail, but nonetheless always great to be moving on the water. We plan to stay here several days and explore the island.
So, as we all feel the stress and weight of the crazy events of 2020 melt away, we look forward to the renewal and hope of a better new year.