Saturday, December 01, 2007

Leaving Venezuela December 2007

Picture: Catching tunas
All systems are ready to go north. Its time to wait for weather. Our intentions were to sail from Margarita to St. Thomas, which should be a 4-5 day sail in moderate easterly winds, southeasterly would even be better. Since it was only the middle of November, we were hopeful of getting a favourable window, before the Christmas winds set in. So we started the wait, consulting Chris Parker, computer models, Sandcastle (our buddy boat) and for the next two weeks, all we saw were light northeast winds (guess which way we want to go), nothing to sail with.
By the 29th of November, we are starting to get tired of weather consultations over cheap beer at Juan’s. The 7 day outlook indicated more of the same. Some weather gurus and old salts seemed to think that the Christmas winds were kicking in early—just our luck. Our Canadian friends were going to join us in St. Thomas on Dec. 28th, and we wanted to get there. We made the decision to motor in the light winds east, to Los Tostigos and then on to Grenada, hoping that the winds would go more easterly and we could sail up the island chain. Of course that meant burning our cheap Ven. Fuel, but we didn’t have many other options.
We overnighted in Los Tostigos and continued using the iron genny until we pulled into the Lagoon, Grenada. There we stopped long enough to buy fuel, caught a few hours of sleep and then left, still motoring as we passed Union, Bequia, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, thinking we would stop in Martinique. By the time we were there, we were finally getting a little lift from the light east winds so we kept going. We finally anchored at 8pm in Deschaies, Guadaloupe on Dec. 5th. Next morning, more weather consultations and we determined we had one more day of good weather, before nasty 20+winds and squalls were expected. Up with the anchor and we set off sailing. The winds continued to be from the NE, but now we have done our easting, and our course is west of north to St. Martin.
We had been dragging fishing lines most of our trip, (except at night), so Ross set the fishing lines out as we were leaving Deschaies. Within 20 mins, Ross pulled in a small blackfin tuna…Lunch!! We reset the lines and continued sailing. As we passed a big commercial fishing trawler, both of our fishing clothes pin alarms went off. As we started to pull in the lines we figured the two lines had gotten twisted together, but we very quickly discovered we had two more tunas, they had escaped the trawler and come our way. We kept one and released the second one, to go back to school!! The winds we clocking and we enjoyed a beam reach the balance of the way to St. Martin, anchoring in Simpson Bay at dawn.
We checked in with the Dutch authorities, paid $10US for a week’s stay. Charges are levied for all boats in Simpson Bay and in the Lagoon. With the rough weather predicted, possibly the beginning of the Christmas winds, we decided to go into the lagoon on the 0930 bridge opening.
It had taken us one week to make the trip from Margarita, with 3 overnight stops (Los Tostigos, Grenada and Guadaloupe). Not the trip we had planned, but we now were only 100 miles from St. Thomas, and have three weeks to get there.