Making the Rhumb line

0630. Coffee is pressed.  We’re up to listen to the weather for the northeast Caribbean on Marine Weather Center broadcast. In particular we have been watching for a window to move from St Martin to Guadeloupe in our quest to get to Grenada by mid April. The forecast  is for moderating winds and seas. This means it’s not blowing in the 20s and seas are settling to under 8 feet. The next 2 days are a go. But we can see we won’t leave right away due to gray skies and approaching rain. We have supplied the dinghy with fuel, done the laundry, said our goodbyes to sailing friends we will see next season,   and most importantly procured some of the best cheap French wine and delicious baguettes for the trip.

0730 Another rain squall moves through and we busy about the boat securing cabinets and anything that has the potential to become airborne on a 20 degree heel in waves. Mike plots a course on Windy, and looking at the models shows me we could be in for squalls tonite after passing St Barts. So we’ll have to watch the sky. No use running into trouble if there’s no need.

0915 Coffee cups stowed. Refrigerator is arranged for easy acess to our passage meal and lunches. Jacklines in place. Life jackets , harness, and rain gear accessible. Skies have cleared and its time to pull the anchor on St Martin. We bid adieu to Friars Bay, our secret hideout these last couple of weeks.

1015 We begin our second tack in an attempt to make our way around the northeast headland of St Martin (SXM). Winds are not in our favor here but we have committed to this course. Wind is 15-19 knots. There is a catamaran on the same trajectory behind us. We are betting he gives into the motor soon.

1050 Tack #3 completed now into 8 ft seas. We calculate we can make the passage between the NE corner of the island and Tintamarre ( Island off-lying SXM to the north and east).

1135 Behind Tintamarre we have a brief respite in calm seas and a nice 17 knots of wind. The Lost Loon is crisply cutting the waters. This feels great! As always we say ” if it’s like this the whole way, we’ve got it made!” We get visited by a dolphin playing and surfing our wake! She only stays for 5 minutes and darts out of sight. We have a rhumb line to St Barths.

1200 Wind drops to 8 knots after passing Tintamarre. ( The wind is ever changing!) Our speed drops to 3 knots and we are bobbing in the waves. The engine is engaged and the genoa furled because it’s just flapping aimlessly. This gets us to 5 knots until our wind returns. We always know it will…it’s just a matter of time.

1230 Wind pipes up to 12, then 13 true wind. We unfurl the genoa and cut the engine. Speed 5 knots now sailing again.

Il Forchue

1400 Passing Il Forchue, island that is part of St Barths. We see clouds forming to the East. Not ominous. We then sail past a very crowded Gustavia for an anchorage to the south, Governors. Upon arrival the seas and wind are directed right into the waters here and after 5 min we decide it will be too rolly overnight and we need sleep. We turn around and head back to Gustavia and pray there is a little spot for the Lost Loon to wedge into for the night. We make a serpentine to the right and left off the main channel and decide to be right off the 2nd channel marker .

Gustavia

1800 The sun begins to set and those clouds have formed to the south and appear darker. We can see the muted island forms of Saba and Statia in the distance. We are happy with the decision to stay here. We don’t intend to go ashore , so technically we can raise the Q flag and leave in the morning.

1930 Daylight has disappeared and several hundred anchor lights dot the proximal sky. Dinner tonite was to have been chicken stew we prepared prior to leaving SXM, so we could just reheat while sailing. We save that for the next day and opt for some simple pork tacos and beans.

2130 Bedtime . Tomorrow’s passage will be 115 miles. That’s an overnight because it exceeds how far we can typically travel in 12 hours of daylight. We look forward to being back in Guadeloupe. We haven’t been there since 2019.

Making the Rhumb line to Guadeloupe day 2 next.

Saying goodbye

We have left the safe confines of the USVIs ( our home sweet sailing grounds) and have initiated our trek south toward Grenada now.

We arrived in St John in  March of 2020 just as Covid shut down the world. We were literally stuck here in paradise for 6 weeks before deciding to haul the boat here for the summer.

And due to the entry requirements on the different islands throughout the Caribbean last year, we opted to stay put in St Thomas , St John, and St Croix for 6 months. We have become accustomed to these waters and find the perfect anchorage for every type of weather and activity.

There have been awesome Christmas and New Years parties, disco parties, a St Croix regatta and post race party.

We found several go to restaurants .. Cafe Amalia (STT), Cibone( STX), singh’s Roti (STX), and Northside grind (STT) where we walk nearly 2 miles for the best coffee and breakfast sandwiches. we devoured the best pizza on St Thomas at Pizza Amore and on St Croix at the Lost Dog Pub. We enjoyed several great Leatherback brewery beers, especially Guanabana ( soursop!).

We did Chicken and Bowling !! ( Not kidding!! Right here on St Thomas there is 6 lane bowling alley and they are famous for chicken as well. We celebrated Al’s birthday. All the way down to the 2nd tequila shot and birthday cake by Brenda!.)

We sailed countless miles between St John and St Thomas and St Croix in all types of weather. We took advantage of the calm days and went snorkeling for lobsters and found the best…wait.. that’s a secret!

We filled numerous tanks of air for dives with Polly and Brian our dive buddies on sites like The Ledges,  Stragglers , Carvelle Rock on St John and Tide Bottle ( appropriately named for the marker at the site), Swirling Reef of Death ( yep, we did it!), The Aquarium, and Alien Nation on St Croix. 

I swam with a dolphin!! You bet. Christmas Cove one late afternoon this little fellow showed up to play. He exhausted me to no end swimming and diving. Will get a link up for that video soon.

We have hiked many miles across St John and put on likely hundreds just provisioning parts and groceries on St Thomas. We were vaccinated and boostered for Covid on the islands. We have had some of the best  sailing days and some of the stormiest days at anchor since we started sailing.

We have celebrated a few monumental birthdays and had some unparalleled parties lasting well into the night.

But most of all found the friendship of many new cruising friends here. Some we will continue to run into down island , but a few we will say goodbye to for now. 

But, we didn’t come out here to sit still..” it’s time to move on pardner” So, we say thanks to the sweet Virgin Islands and bid farewell to the wonderful people of these islands who have made it so special..

To reach a port we must set sail,

Sail, not tie at anchor,

Sail, not drift.

Franklin D Roosevelt.