0730 The boat has been rolling a bit starting in the wee hours of the morning, but we did sleep.We know tonite will be different sailing. There’s a bit of a swell we feel and boats are coming and going through the Gustavia channel where we’ve anchored in St Barths overnight….after making our first leg from Marigot St Martin. Airplanes begin to make their way overhead occasionally into the nearly treacherous airfield on this island. (SEE HERE) Seriously, I read that you have to have a special rating and training for landing here!
0910 Blue sky peaks through occasional white puffy clouds now. We tidy up and check our weather apps one more time and anticipate an overnight of sailing without a lot of drama.
1000 We fiddle about reorganizing, swimming, and resting. Our intention is to leave at noon-ish to make our 20 hour arrival in the daylight at Guadalupe.
1017 A large official dingy pulls up, the gendarme (aka, police). He asks “are you staying?” We interpret this as the fact that he knows we haven’t cleared into customs and we should, or he is telling us we’re anchored very close to the channel. Either way, Mike sits up and tells him “we’ll leave today”. The official repeats”you leave today?” Mike indicates affirmative. The official smiles and gives a kind wave and moves along through the anchorage. We are not required to check into customs if we are just anchored overnight and not going ashore.Most islands now allow this. They didnt during COVID however.
1230 We have the anchor stowed, one reef in the mainsail, and our 2 head sails unfurled into 16 knots of breeze from the East. Our heading is 144 in the direction of Guadalupe. Our heading is 144 in the direction of Guadalupe. The wind is 95 ° true. So we are about 60ﾟ off the wind from the true wind perspective. When traveling the wind becomes apparent (this means it’s affected by our forward motion) so it narrows us to about 50 or 45ﾟ at times. Lost Loon needs 45ﾟ and loves anything over 50. So, sails are sheeted in tight for now but we are sailing!!
1245 Lunch! I go below and make 2 sandwiches and grab our water bottles. A baguette and saussion…keeping it simple!!
1400 Seas are 6 to 7′ off the port bow and wind remains 50ﾟ to our course. The skies are blue and a few whisps of puffy white clouds float by, but nothing at all threatening. What’s funny is we seem to be the only ones making a move. There are no other sailboats heading our direction. We have this part of the Caribbean sea to ourselves.
1545. Winds are steady and we pass one catamaran coming from the South and then see 2 sailboats to the distance in the East. We surmise they are making our opposite run from Guadalupe or Antigua North. So we are not alone out here.
1630 We discuss putting another reef in the main for the night. This means we reduce the square footage of our sale area, potentially slow the boat down a few tenths of a knot, but also avoid a fire drill of sorts in the middle of the night if we get squalls or high winds. We decided to wait until sunset, 2 more hours, and get what we can out of the current sail plan.
1700 winds show some some indication of increasing every now and again we’re getting a few 18 to 20 knot puffs. We watch a pair of sea birds draft in the wind we make. Up and down , in front of us and then behind us. Leaving little traces of their presence on the deck and Bimini.
1730 Ham time. I make a decent connection with my uncle (W4HTB) over the ham radio. He is in Bowling Green Kentucky and we have made a scheduled time for contact.. We chat and he is now aware that we are OK and on course. It always amazes me how clear a connection is over so many thousands of miles. I have said this before but it’s comforting to know we have a connection underway when there is otherwise no cell service out here.
1745. Time to reef. We head into the wind , which is now just 13 knots. I center the main, release the main halyard, lower to the next reef, pull in that clue/ tack ( with one line), then raise and secure the halyard again. DONE! Mike bears off on to our course again. We unfurl the 2 headsails and are able to maintain a decent 5.5 knots of speed despite the reduced sail area we now carry.
1800 Dinner time. I have made chicken and dumplings before we left and just need to reheat it. Easier said. I managed my way below in a 20ﾟ heel and between swells dig out the plastic container in the fridge. Then the small covered pressure skillet in which to reheat dinner. I can lock the top and minimize spills this way. I am juggling the skillet and trying to keep the Tupperware from sliding off either onto the floor or into The sink. All while trying to remain upright myself. The skillet is closed and locked the stove is on and the gimble is unlocked allowing the stove to keep its level on our heel.. I have to stand holding the skillet for 15 minutes to reheat the dinner. A microwave would be so much faster but we don’t have one mainly because we don’t have all of the energy to power it. My next job is getting the stew in the bowls without spilling.This feat could be my audition for Barnum & Bailey circus.
1830 We are enjoying a hot meal, as the sun disappears below the horizon leaving behind beautiful colored clouds and glistening waters.
1945 The sky is fully dark. Bright stars creep out as are pupils adjust to the diminished light. We are managing 5.5 to 6 knots with winds over 15 knots steady and we continue to adjust the auto pilot to stay on our line. You see a sailboat points to a destination but because of waves and currents actually slides off the course overtime, less so when higher winds because the boat is able to make that course better. We don life jackets and clip in using our tethers.
2010 we fiddle with the sails perfecting and always adjusting. Move about the cockpit monitoring what’s ahead or not.
2130 Boat lights ahead. Are we following them or are they coming at us. The lights move left to right. Just white, can’t make out any red or green. Fishing boats we finally assume we never quite approach them before they finally disappear.
2230 Mike retires to the aft cabin for a brief rest. I make 15 minute checks otherwise sit behind the dodger watching the sails and look out for approaching vessels. The sky glows over what I presume to be Antigua to the Southeast.
2330 There is a new glow in the Eastern sky and it’s the 1st sighting of the moon rising. Clouds move before occasionally but it’s a welcome sight on a dark night. The air is cool and not too damp. No boats.
0030 I have managed to read a little from my kindle between adjusting the course, watching the sails, looking out for boats, and monitoring the weather. I think I have another hour in me.
0045 The moon disappears along with the stars. The horizon, amazingly visible in the dark, has also disappeared ahead of us. The wind clocks a bit and I sense weather ahead. Just as I make it to the helm the wind increases swiftly from 17 to 24…25…27 knots. I turn off autopilot and hand steer , falling off the course slightly to take the weather off the sails andbrudder. I calmly caliber Mike to let out the sails in order to bleed off some wind. Rain hits only briefly as we have hit the tail end of this passing squall. Wind drops from 20 to 15 and settles into 17. We reset the sails and are back on the rhumb line to Guadeloupe, now only 40 miles ahead!
0100 My turn for rest. We’ve cleared the aft cabin, but after 2 minutes listening to the auto pilot squeak with each adjustment I moved to the downwind setee. I wake briefly as there is a captain calling “Saint John’s pilot boat please come in” in Antigua and getting no response, he tries for over an hour every 15 minutes. I finally fall asleep despite the continuous calls.
0315 My alarm sounds on my phone. Mike hears it and tells me to sleep a little while longer. I have no problem with that. The motion is steady and the St John’s captain is silent.
0345 I’m awake and don my hooded sweatshirt, head lamp and drink some cold coffee left over in the thermos from the morning. I get a report that the seas and winds are a bit bigger as expected approaching Guadalupe, leaving Antigua to Stern. Skies are now littered with clouds and stars. No ships. Montserrat stands to starboard on the horizon. For the next hour or so I listened to a bit of my audiobook this time while watching for traffic. The moon sporadically makes an appearance overhead. The wind is so variable it drops to 12 and then 19 knots. Our speed changes from 6.5 down to 3.9 knots. I practice patience before engaging the engine.
0500 Mike is up and there is just a bit of light entering the Eastern sky. I have time for just a short nap. I’m awakened in 40 minutes as I hear Mike adjusting sales. The sun is peaking through the port lights now it feels warmer. Wow I have been dreaming. The seas are adequately boisterous as we approach Guadalupe and her North headland, but But we also see approaching clouds in the distance.
0720 The wind increases with the approaching squall but it appears to hold. Clouds depict rain head moving across our path. I recall 3 or 4 other squalls we have anchored in this season and anticipate the same this morning.
0800 We enter the Anchorage at DeShaies (day-hay) Guadalupe. It is heavily clouded overhead and rain begins slowly spitting at first then more steady I’m prepared in a foul weather jacket. . It is a relatively small yet beautiful anchorage with steep hillsides and rock formations on either side, but no more than a 1/2 mile wide. The village is situated as well on a hillside dotted with Red roof buildings A small local beach and scattered palms. The Anchorage is full. Boats from French Islands, Germany, Canada and Norway have taken up homage here. As we motor closer to shore where we know it is more shallow the skies open up. I’m ready at the bow to release the anchor as we nudge behind a moored catamaran. Another boat , I recognize as a beautiful 47 Island Packet, we pass to starboard is flagged US! I give them a drenched wave. And from the cockpit I hear “not exactly your Caribbean dream!”” I turned back and say” oh, but it is!”
0930 Gear is stowed, cabin picked up and we make time for a little celebratory breakfast ! It’s was a successful overnight..as we make our way to southern Caribbean waters.
Thanks for sticking with us!! Come back for a hiking trip up the DeShaies River and the Botanical Garden!!