23-07-2016 Iles des Saintes
So we are taking a year out, sailing around the Caribbean in our own boat – we have worked hard, planned and saved for this for a very long time. It sounds idyllic, and it is – but there are times when it really isn’t.
For example the 28 hour sail from St Martin to Guadaloupe, Les Saintes. It reminded me of being in the Army – they say there’s no point practicing to stand in a wet trench – you just have to do it when required. The day sail lulled me into a false sense of security and I failed to keep up with the Stugeron seasickness tablets. Not that it may have helped.
The wind was not the forecasted 15 – 19 knots, at one point we reached about 35-40 knots and the waves were up to 2m. I felt sick from the onset of darkness having had to do a few chores downstairs. Initially steering was like standing a warm hairdryer whilst someone turns on the shower – it soon progressed to someone constantly throwing buckets of water on you, as they switch off the lights, and send you over a roller coaster whilst making you feel sick. Sqalls hit as suddenly as they went and we found out why there are two helm positions as we tackled the waves together trying to keep the boat under control.
When sleep came it was on deck on the cockpit bench, and soaked through to the skin – surprising how easy it was to drift off despite all. At one point on Chris’s watch we hit a record 10.2 knots. This weather lasted pretty much all night, which in the Caribbean is generally a full eleven hours of darkness year round. Typically for the last few hours the wind died so from sunrise we drifted slowly towards Les Saintes, eventually having to put the donkey on (engine).
The high points were a lot of flying fish, including a dead one in the cockpit found at first light – the occasional dolphin and a ray – possibly a manta ray – and of course arriving at last, at 12 noon after a challenging 28 hour sail.
Despite being complete baggage for the rest of the day, we managed to go ashore in what was a really beautiful anchorage & town. It was a friendly, no hassle place and felt very French. Chris signed in & the kids got ice cream, and we toasted our first overnight sail with sundowners in pretty French waterside bar.