Bye bye Tobago Cays – we had a wonderful time here! But we wanted to head further North to spend some time on other Caribbean islands. Going North in the Windward Islands is usually against the wind (as you know from our previous posts), but the weather forecast predicted a good weather window to head North with the wind coming from the East, perhaps even with a slight southerly component. So off we went!
The first leg lead us to Bequia, a popular island among cruisers a mere 20 nautical miles from the Tobago Cays. Thanks to the well-chosen weather window, we made it on a direct course without tacking. Bequia’s main anchorage, Port Elizabeth, is a large and well sheltered bay. Along the shore there are restaurants and small shops and a number of dinghy docks. The atmosphere is chilled, the people are friendly and we had our first official rhum punch (yes, quite late, I know…) at the Frangipani hotel. It wasn’t all that great and not even among the happy-hour drinks, so we soon switched to rhum-coke and planter’s punches… long live happy-hours! While the sun was setting, our mood was on a steady rise… We only stayed for a day in Bequia, just enough to clear out of the state of St Vincent, take a quick mini-bus tour across the island, and restock some veggies and fruits.
Our next destination was Rodney Bay in St Lucia. The direct distance is about 65 nm. Going at 6 knots we could have, theoretically, covered the 65 nm in 10.5 hours. Here is the reality: we left with the last sunlight at 6 pm and arrived the next day at almost 4 pm. It took us 22 hours and we covered almost 100 nm. Why? Because after all, the wind didn’t come from such a favorable direction and the current set against us as well. So we spent the additional time and 35 nm to tack upwind and against the current just West of St Lucia. Good thing we had decided to sail overnight to be sure to arrive the next day during daylight, which we prefer due to the reefs and the choice of a good anchorage. The night was a bit exhausting as the wind is quite unsteady on the leeward side of the islands. The mountains either shade or channel the wind, resulting in often-varying wind speeds and even direction. Further out the wind is steadier, but the waves are bigger and the West-setting current stronger. Somewhere there is an optimal distance from the islands, and while not having found it, I am sure we crossed it a couple of times… We made three hour shifts while the other person was dosing in the cockpit, ready to help out at any point. We didn’t get much sleep, but still enjoyed the journey.
Rodney Bay is a large open bay that can easily shelter more than a hundred ships. It is the arrival destination of the Atlantic Ralley for Cruisers (Las Palmas – Rodney Bay) in December and January. Now it was rather quiet. It also doesn’t have the best reputation so we made sure our boat was locked well at night and our dinghy and outboarder were securely chained up. We went to the marina once to pick up a charge splitter (to load both of our battery banks from our alternator) that I had ordered online. Electrified again by this cool new gadget, I installed it the same evening. Even though I had prepared all the connections and cables previously, it still took almost five hours to install, as, naturally, I had to take apart half of the boat to do it 🙂 Cruising is repairing your boat in exotic locations… (and we have a couple of projects coming up 🙂 ).
The next morning we left early again to sail to Martinique. And this time the wind was fabulous. We sailed the 20 nm on a quick direct course and arrived in Le Marin early afternoon. Martinique is totally different than the other islands that we have seen so far… but more about this in our next post!