At Sea to Colombia, day one
22 February 2021 | 12 26.022'N:70 19.904'W, At sea to Colombia
12 26.022 N
70 19.904 W
Weather; raining, wind 10 - 20 knots ESE, waves 4-5feet
A VERY HAPPY SECOND BIRTHDAY TO MY GREAT NIECE PHOEBE, I HOPE THE TERRIBLE TWOS AREN'T TOO TERRIBLE!
Sunday, leaving day has finally arrived. We were up reasonably early even though we had no intention of actually leaving until around midday. There were a few jobs that needed doing before we could take off, as I mentioned yesterday I had left the bread to finish proofing in the fridge so my first job was to get it out of the fridge and bake it. I also had some beef which I intended to cook up into beef in red wine plus I had noticed that the broccoli which we had bought two days ago was already beginning to discolour so I needed to blanch that and freeze it down to make sure that we didn't just end up throwing it out. Whilst I set about doing those jobs Gerry took down our last awning and began closing up hatches as it was beginning to spit with rain. The hire car was due to be picked up at 10am so Gerry took off for the dock to do the necessary with the car and also to take our last bag of trash to the dumpster. Once I had all the cooking stuff organized I began making sure that everything that could become a missile under way was safely stashed where it would do no harm. Gerry returned and we stowed the outboard motor and dinghy on their mounts and secured them for the trip. It was now time for one last check of everything before we hauled the anchor and set off. Everything seemed to be locked down and in place so it was time to put the helm wheel in place, don our headsets and take up our positions for leaving. Gerry did his thing with the anchor whilst giving me instructions for movement. The anchor was well and truly imbedded in thick grey mud, much like St Thomas, but it came up and we were off at last. Being a Sunday there were people on the water in every conceivable sort of water equipment and we had to weave our way through them all to get to the harbor entrance and out into the ocean. Once we were clear of the harbor entrance it was time to put the main sail up, turning into wind and holding it there was a little difficult as it was gusting all over the place but we eventually managed to get the main up with both reefs in place and turned back toward our course. It was lumpy and wet, not the most pleasant start to a trip, we could only hope things improve. We hadn't gone very far when the rain began to drop out of the sky in earnest, we scrambled to close all of the cockpit enclosure but still managed to get some of the seating wet in the process - who ever said sailing was fun?. The rain continued on and off for most of the day so we motor sailed. Gerry braved the rain at one point and put the preventer out on the boom to stop it from flopping from side to side as the wind was coming from almost directly behind us which isn't our best point of sail. It got to 2 pm and I needed to go and lay down for a while, I was feeling a bit beaten up and tired, so leaving Gerry to hold the fort, I ducked down to the main bunk and was just nodding off to sleep when he yelled for me to come up as he needed some help, I'd only been down an hour! He thought he needed to go out on deck as he had tried to let the boom out a little further and in the process had managed one of those fluke accidents - the top batten on our sail had gotten caught between the two shrouds on the starboard side which hold the mast in place. If we couldn't get the batten out from between the small gap we could possibly brake the batten, rip the sail or at worst, both. The question was how to get it out without damaging anything. Gerry had a cunning plan which might or might not work, we would put the wind on to the back side of the sail and let the wind push the sail over to the other side - in other words gybe it. We had no idea if it would work or not but we couldn't think of a better idea at the time. We tried to do the gybe as slowly as we possibly could so that the boom wouldn't swing across wildly but of course we needed the pressure on to get the sail out from between the shrouds so it was a little messy,
not helped by the fact that neither of us remembered to take the running backstay off resulting in the boom hitting the still tensioned backstay. The sailor speak came to the fore at its very best as we checked the sail had managed to release the batten from between the shrouds with no apparent damage to batten or sail and the backstay was quickly released and moved forward also with no apparent damage, phew lucky escape all round, time to buy that Lotto ticket! The preventer got moved to the port side as we were now on a starboard tack - it really made no odds which side the boom was out to as the wind was pretty much directly behind us still. That was enough excitement for one day and not something we need to repeat - ever! I was well and truly over the need for a sleep and stayed up waiting for the sun to set and the green flash to appear. Gerry went below for a snooze as I think he needed to recover from the almost disaster, he reappeared just as the sun was dipping and he claims he saw the green flash, I think he was just hallucinating! I was out on the rail waiting to take photos of the sunset when suddenly I spotted the first and only pod of dolphins that we had seen today playing at diving beneath our bow wave, they didn't stay very long and were gone by the time the sun finally dipped below the horizon (without a green flash!). We ate the beef in red wine that I had cooked this morning before settling into our night watches of 3 hours on and 3 hours off. The rain had by now gone so that was a good thing, the moon was at ? full another good thing, and that's where the good stuff ends, the swell has been horrendous all day long and continues to be so, it's almost at cross purposes to the wind which has remained mostly behind us but is slowly coming around to our aft quarter. We have managed to sail for most of the day from lunchtime onwards averaging about 6-7 knots but the rolling from side to side is making it a most uncomfortable ride as you have to constantly brace and hold on for dear life. The cockpit has had a fair spraying of water coming up the scuppers and also in through the 2 curtains that we opened for some air and access - again, who said sailing was fun? As we approach midnight we are clear of the coast line of Curacao and making our way stealthily between Venezuela and Aruba, trying to stay 12 miles off of each shore which is impossible at one point as there is only about 20 miles between the two at the narrowest point! There has been no ocean traffic that we have seen so far but I'm sure that will change along the Aruba coastline. So day one of the trip is over, we are alive, tired and hoping that the swell will die down soon so that we can both get some sleep.