A Wicked Good Sail
24 January 2011 | Ship Channel Cay
Beth / windblown
Oh what a day! The wind was pretty much straight out of the East when we got up in the morning. The dinghy was already loaded. The sky was clear. We listened to Chris Parker, poured steaming coffee into thermal mugs and hoisted the anchor.
For the first hour, as we headed from our secluded little anchorage on the west side of Meeks Patch to Current Rock we motor sailed, but after making the slight turn to Fleeming Channel, the main and the Yankee did the work. We were on a gentle broad reach for the hour it took to Fleeming, and flew through the channel at 9.7 knots! (This is an astonishing speed for us!) After altering course for Ship Channel Cay, we fairly flew along on a beam reach under 20-22 kn wind all the rest of the way. We were heeled over enough to have our feet braced; the waves parted on Madcap's splendid clipper bow and we had the side panels up to protect us from wild splashes of spray. This is the angle of sail and the velocity of wind that our good ship Madcap truly loves.
I always find myself a little frightened when we first get into that position of sailing fast - with lots of wind and lots of sail - as we heel over and then rise up again. Jim and I talked about going through a similar range of feelings. It takes a few minutes until I stop clenching my teeth and relax my hold on the wheel or whatever I'm clinging to. And then it changes - I remember to trust in my boat and I start to watch what happens instead of thinking about what might happen! And that is the difference. My body relaxes, I start to feel the thrill of movement, I notice how wind and waves and boat all work together. Sometimes it is gusty and we go over and up and over and up, but this was a special sail - steady wind, steady angle, steady speed.
We blew into Ship Channel Cay around 2 o'clock, about 2 hours earlier than we had figured. The water was plenty deep right up to the shoreline and we dropped the anchor just about where the little anchor is on the chart, ate a late lunch and toasted our fabulous day. Then we were into the dinghy and off to explore. We saw many coral heads scattered around, inviting us to have a look, but it was coolish and we stayed in the dinghy. The ruins of a stone house stood on the hill overlooking the anchorage, with stone steps leading down to the water's edge. Rusty slashes of colour showed where there must have once been a dock, but now we could see no way up. Around at the bottom of the cay, a cluster of houses are a base for the same Powerboat Adventure folks who take tourists to Allens Cay to see the iguanas. A dog was barking on the dock and we decided not to go ashore there. A very protected little anchorage in that area would be a good shelter for shallow draft boats - but not for us. North from the boat, we found a tiny beach but no interesting shells. A sunny day here with time to snorkle would be terrific. Here's hoping for tomorrow morning!
Back on board, I was sitting in the cockpit reading when I heard the noise of chain rattling. I looked up with great surprise to see a Catamaran anchoring just a boat length or so away. (I must have been really concentrating on the book because I had not seen it coming at all.) Jim and I were both amazed and annoyed that in this big bay with a mile of space on either side, this boat chose to sit practically on top of us. It would have been a perfectly acceptable distance in Marsh Harbour or Georgetown, but here?? I considered it downright rude, but Jim preferred to say it was "inappropriate anchoring etiquette". (Smile here!) In the end, it didn't affect us terribly much - it was just irritating. It was dusk and we went about eating dinner and listening to CBC's "As it Happens" in the cockpit, and then went to bed. Fortunately the wind didn't shift over night so we didn't swing into each other.
Except for the "crowd" at the end, it was just the kind of day we dream of - a fabulous sail and a safe anchorage at the end of the day.