This one was written by hand on November 18. This was my first chance to get it published on the blog…
Mia and my dad are sleeping. A rain squall just blew in from over the hills. I was sitting at the nav. table reading TIME magazine and sipping on my second glass of savignon blanc. I felt something itching on my calf. It took me two moments to realize it was drizzle. Rain!
It came down just enough to cause me to close the hatches and bring in the cushion cover we’d been drying on the lifelines. And my t-shirt. The rain soaked the boat just enough to remove the salt. And that was enough.
Well that was a lousy night. It started well enough. After the morning packing up the last of the C1500 stuff from Nanny Cay and saying our last goodbyes to the few folks still around – namely Paul & Monica and Jim from Moonshadow - we moved onto Sojourner to begin the two-week sail south to St. Lucia.
At the fuel dock I was complimented by one of the Salty Dawg Rally crew on my boat-handling skills coming alongside to fill up. I said ‘thanks.’ What I wanted to say was, ‘I’m an effing good boat driver, Mister. There’s a reason you know.’ I only thought that though. I was a better boat driver than diesel attendant.
‘How much do you expect we’ll take?’ I asked my Dad. He was going to wander down to the chandlery to get a few last-minute items while Mia and I refuled.
‘I’d guess probably 35 gallons or so,’ he replied.
Okay. Now the nozzle was fast. But not that fast. Five gallons in and the vent was overflowing. Into the cockpit. Six gallons in and the fill hose was gurgled over.
Don, the guy who’d complemented me on my maneuvering skills, was not distracting me by conversing on subjects I was actually interested in. I lost focus, and 1/2 a gallon of diesel ended up in the cockpit.
Basically, Dad had screwed up. He’d estimated that they’d used up nearly 50 gallons of fuel during the passage south. Including the 15 they dumped into the tank from the jerry cans, plus the six I added, they’d only used 21. Nice math.
Mia hosed out the cockpit, Dad returned and we were off. First stop, Road Town, for customs clearance and smoothies. Next stop – Ile Fourche and the Caribbean Mia and I had come to love during Broadreach.
Sojourner sailed out of the Virgin Islands as the full moon rose in the east behind a bank of clouds. The island to port had vertical striations of rock piled up (apparently) by millennia of tectonic plate movement on the sea floor. To starboard, a boat was wrecked on Ginger Island. Then, we were offshore.
I took the first watch, 6-9pm. The moon rising behind the clouds illuminated their edges and the horizon in that magical glow. I anticipated a wonderful evenings sail – just enough breeze to make hull speed on a close reach under full sail and keep the decks dry.
Typically I’ll make coffee and get my book on a night watch. I hate steering – that’s why God invented autopilots. On this night I skipped the coffee and the book and just watched the evening.
The moon got higher and brighter off the port bow. Venus was dazzling in the West, though starting to fade over the horizon.
I did get my book after a while. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness, an intellectually compelling read, something that’s been missing from my life lately.
Then it got windy. As my 3 hours neared the end, I thought that Mia would appreciate if I reefed down before she came up. She’d be comfortable and I’d sleep better. I called my Dad. By then it was very windy. We knew they had chafed through the jib furling line on the way south – the drum wasn’t aligned properly and we hadn’t fixed it in Nanny Cay, expecting a light wind passage overnight.
I scurried to the foredeck to attached another block to change the lead on the furling line, and we took in half the genoa. Then I took two reefs in the mainsail. The night had begun in earnest.
To keep a long story short, this continued throughout our ‘pleasant’ evening. We sailed 75 of the 95 miles to St. Barts under double-reefed main and half the genoa, close-reaching in windy, squally and lumpy conditions. Mia was hopelessly seasick. She managed to hand-steer her first 3-hour watch (which she took the authority to shorten to 2-hours), and finished that soaked and sick. She spent the next 12 hours in the cockpit, covered with a towel and vomiting every hour or so while my Dad and I traded 3-on 3-off.
Water cascaded into the companionway. Dad had warned me this had happened on the way south, but I didn’t take him seriously enough. I awoke at one point sleeping on the starboard (low) settee – to the feeling that someone had dumped a glass of saltwater on my face. The galley was flooded. I moved to the high side to sleep. The lee side was drenched.
So it was that we spent the better part of today cleaning salt off every surface inside Sojourner. The cushion covers were removed to soak in fresh water and hang out to dry. Mia and I swam a few times to beat the heat. I organized the nav. table. We had coffee and hurricane eggs for breakfast. Mia was cured when we reached flat water at Ile Fourche.
Now they nap. I write. And drink wine. And listen to the Smashing Pumpkins.
This article was syndicated from sailing blog - 59 North, Ltd.