PASSAGE LOG: Blasting to Windward & St. Barth’s

14 Feb

Crew arrived next day. Mia & I had some last minute projects left to do on the boat, and didn’t want to go ashore to meet the gang until it was done. Our planned noon rendezvous turned into 1pm, and left our crew member Kevin on a wild goose chase! In the end, Kevin found Tom, and we found the both of them at the Loose Mongoose on the beach in Trellis as soon as we landed in the dinghy. Vlado and Irena turned up shortly thereafter and we started the shuttle service out Isbjorn.

The first afternoon & evening was spent doing our standard boat orientation and getting everybody used to living aboard. We stayed on anchor that night and got a good night’s sleep in preparation for departure the next day. We had to do that in two stages – a quick upwind sail to Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda to clear out of customs (which took two hours – “come back in 90 minutes,” the first woman told me, “nobody here!” Great). That done, we set sail just before sunset and were offshore at Round Rock passage as it was getting dark and the stars were coming out.

It was the first overnight, offshore passage for all of our gang. We divided up the watches – Kevin & Tom on one, Arena & Vlado on another, Mia and I taking turns and staggered so we split out time with each pair. We did 3-on-3-off for the duration of that first leg. 

The rhumb line was only 90-some miles, but it was a long slog to windward. The trades were kicking, and we rarely saw less than 25 knots apparent, right on the nose, and more often it was closer to 30. Two reefs in the main and the small jib did Isbjorn just fine, and she crashed and bashed her way towards St. Barth’s and our planned landfall at Ile Fourche. That first little passage was baptism by fire for the crew. Kevin wasn’t 100%, feeling a tinge of mal-de-mar, and none of the gang had a great time down below, but they all seemed to love it! For Mia & I, it was a tough first trip, tiring, but we’d grown more and more comfortable knowing that Isbjorn, our Swan 48, can stand up to way more than we can, so when we were off watch, we both slept pretty darn well, despite the 25º of heel. 

We finally did make landfall at Ile Fourche just before sunset, grabbing one of the last moorings available as another small motorboat had just left. We completed that first little passage in exactly 24 hours, covering 150 miles through the water and having to tack at least half a dozen times to get past St. Maarten. Next day was spent exploring the deserted cliffs above the anchorage, swimming, snorkeling and napping. My dad finally arrived on Sojourner – they had left St. Thomas the day before us, and it took them a full 36 hours just to make it to Simpson Bay in St. Maarten, where they stopped for some rest and some small parts from Budget Marine. They cruised into Ice Fourche about noon the day after us.

This article was syndicated from 59º North Blog - 59 North Sailing

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