Yet another change in plans
28 March 2019 | Green Cay Marina, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Robert & Alice Smith
In my last blog update I said we would be sailing across the Anegada Passage from Sint Maarten to Virgin Gorda. Well that changed when first mate Alice said let's check out St. Croix; a simple 92 mile sail west from Stint Maarten.
We decided to leave the anchorage around 2100 to arrive at St. Croix about midday. Anchor up at 2100 and off we went leaving the island lights slowly behind. The wind was ESE about 100 degrees magnetic at 15 -17 and we were sailing at about 120 degrees apparent wind. So all was good, yet another head sail only down wind jaunt.
Somewhere in the middle of the night while I was off watch taking a nap, Alice got spooked. With the AIS on, she could see three boats converging on us from three different directions. "Bob. wake up, I need your help". "What's up?" "There's a big boat behind us and first I saw the red light and now the green". I looked behind us and Wow!, a ghost ship of tremendous size. It turned out to be the s/v Q one of the Bucket Regatta competitors with full black sails cruising along at 11.5 knots to our 7. She had altered course to pass behind us thus the change in running lights. To see such a huge boat pass silently behind us I my opinion was way-cool. Next a boat from our port quarter closing with a green a running light. AIS told us the size and COG so I figured they would pass in front of us. But, the wind picked up as did our speed and the possible intersect started to look pretty close. So I called the boat on the VHF and asked how they intended to cross us. They acknowledged my call but gave no inkling of their crossing plans. At night, everything looks closer, their green light loomed closer and closer still maintaining their closing course. Again I called but no answer. It was a 60+ foot catamaran under power heading across our bow at no more than 100 yards. I couldn't believe how any sailor could be so discourteous especially at night with another boat under sail. Alice wouldn't look.
The third was a commercial vessel going only nine knots and overtook us slowly and passed behind our starboard side heading in the direction of the Virgin Islands. Other than that bizarre happening of four boats converging at one spot between Sint Maarten and St. Croix we saw nothing other than a cruise ship heading for St. Kitts.
I kind of look forward to seeing other boats on the open water. It gives me chance to us my electronics and do some thinking 'what if'. Alice on the other hand prefers other boats keep their distance.
So here we are in Green Cay Marina on the north east side of the island. Tomorrow we start touring and doing some boat projects.
One final comment about our passage. All went well until we got close enough to warrant rolling up our head sail. a procedure we've done so many many times. This time though was different, it would not roll up. I went forward, tried to turn the furler, no go, I then thought to drop the sail on the deck but the halyard clutch would not release. Oh crap, now what do we do? We hadn't touched the jib since November of 2017 and here it was March of 2019.
I recalled a situation one of my J/105 buddies had on his boat when the furler wouldn't turn. The furling fitting at the top has to allow the sail to roll around the head stay without rolling the halyard. I looked up and sure enough as Alice tried to winch in the furling line I could see the halyard getting wrapped, not good especially as we were sailing back out to sea with the jib making life difficult. So I was able to pull some halyard out of the clutch, enough to unload the roller fitting at the top and had Alice take in a bit at a time while I watched the halyard. When it looked like it was going to start to wrap I had Alice let out a bit of the furling line, then try again. It worked and slowly the sail furled successfully. Just another day in the life of cruisers.
This morning we dropped the sail and greased the upper furler fitting and the lower as well. We'll check the sail for chafe, replace a few tell tales and put it back up in the morning.