Friday, March 25, 2011

The Fast Track North

We just arrived in St. Martin. What? St. Martin? The last update was from the Grenadines, more then 300 NM from here where we had been weathered-in in Bequia for a month. We had no particular sailing plan for this year and in fact, we thought we might not sail further north then Martinique. But then we were lured north by the crew of Orchid and the thought of rendezvousing with them in St. Martin was too tempting. With the weather improved, it was time to set sail again. March had come in like a lamb and the weather forecast looked great. We decided to take advantage of the good conditions and just keep moving which is a little unusual for Merengue and crew. We usually like to stop and smell the roses, or maybe it’s the baguettes! For those of you who follow our blog for the sailing, here’s a look at our trip north.

Ships log

3/03/11: Bequia, Grenadines to St. Lucia. 53.3 NM. Wind 10-25 knots, 4-5 ft. swell. Travel time 10.5 hours. Left at sunrise. Beautiful beam reach between Bequia and St. Vincent then the typical no wind in the lee of the island. Close reach from St. Vincent to the moorings between the Pitons, St. Lucia. Great sailing!

3/04/11: The Pitons to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. 18 NM. Motor-sailed in the lee of the island.

3/05/11:  Rodney Bay, St. Lucia to St. Pierre, Martinique.  44.2 NM.  Wind 12-18.  Beam reach with speeds over 6 knots until north of Fort de France Bay, then wind died.  Travel time 9 hours.  Spotted 2 whales dozing in the water.

 St. Pierre waterfront.

3/6/11: Martinique to Roseau, Dominica. 35.6 NM. Wind 10-18 knots, low seas. Beam reach again! Travel time 7 hours.

3/07/11: Roseau, Dominica to Les Saintes. 40.3 NM. No wind in lee of island then 11-18 knots in the channel. Travel time 8 hours.

These 5 days of sailing were some of the best that we have ever experienced. Beam reaches, low swell and waves, blue sea and sky, the sailing was fabulous! We celebrated with a 2-day lay-over in Les Saintes, one of our favorite places in the Caribbean. Watch for a future blog post on the carnival celebration.

3/10/11:  Les Saintes to Deshaies, Guadeloupe.  38.0 NM.  Forecast was for light winds but we had from 10 – 25 knots on the nose.  Motorsailed.  Travel time 8 hours.

 Lighthouse on the southwest shore of Guadeloupe.

Leaving Guadeloupe at sunrise.

3/11/11:  Guadeloupe to Montserrat.  42.7 NM. Wind 6 -8 knots, then slowly increased to 13-16 knots near Montserrat.  Confused seas near island.  Travel time 9.5 hours.

The Montserrat volcano is still very active.  If you look closely you can see steam rising out of vents near the top.

Waterspout forming over Montserrat.

3/12/11:  Montserrat to Basseterre, St. Kitt’s.  47.0 NM.  Wind 13-16.  Travel time 9.5 hours.

Leaving Montserrat.

In a rare moment of spontaneity, we decided to stop in St. Kitt’s to visit our friends Mike and Renee.  We had told them that we would visit on our way south in June so they were a little surprised when they received our email telling them that we were at the marina.  Hey, we’re in the neighborhood.  Whatcha doing?  We spent 4 days hanging out at the beach, by the pool, at various beach bars and restaurants and at their villa.  It always feels like we’re on vacation when we visit them.  They do a good job of spoiling us!

 Sandy Bank Beach.

 Ahhhhh!  The swimming pool at the villa.

The view of Nevis from the pool.

 Michael's Bar.  Not our friend Michael, a different Michael.

 Michael at Michael's.

3/17/11: St. Kitt’s to Gustavia, St. Barth’s. 47.4 N.M. Wind 11-15. Close-reach. Travel time 9.5 hours. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With all these islands named after saints, how come St. Patrick didn’t get the honor?

3/19/11: Gustavia to Columbier Bay, St. Barth’s. 2.8 N.M. Beautiful turquoise water, sea turtles, stingrays, reef fish and big remoras under the boat! Met up with our friends on Orchid here.

3/21/11: St. Barth’s to St. Martin. 17.8 N.M. Wind 13 – 18 knots. Travel time 4 hours. Alexander and Nicholas (S/V Orchid) came along as crew. We were greeted by a spinner dolphin off the south coast of St. Martin!

We will be calling St. Martin home for the next few months.