28 August 2022: 10 More Miles!
28 August 2022
Marigot, St Lucia
Bequia, St Vincent & The Grenadines
Cumulative Mileage (NM)
Crew on Board
Skipper, first mate, chef, entertainment and more; I guess that is solo sailing for you!
GENERAL WEATHER OBSERVATIONS
15 knots gusting to 18 knots
A cloud free day!
Sunny, grateful for my bimini and dodger!
Dry, thank goodness!
Given the retreat to the north, back to Marigot Bay, after the incident at the Pitons – the responsible decision – I was now facing a 60 nautical mile sail. The kind of sail that you can do in daylight hours with good conditions, barely.
I was happy to do 50 nautical miles and not worry about daylight versus night arrival, but now I would be tip toeing around the possibility of arriving at night. But there seemed to be no other option as no anchorage on St Vincent’s main island screamed ‘SAFE’ and I was not up for a night of worrying. I also was not keen to depart Marigot in the dark of the morning as there were lots of fish pots around.
The classic ‘devil you know versus devil you do not’ dilemma.
However, all the reviews from Bequia claimed it was wide open so I decided to leave Marigot at first light and risk arriving at dusk or in the dark.
All day I was watching my speed and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was travelling along. I had one reef in the main as I was completely without an autopilot now it had fully given up the ghost on me and I did not want to worry about reefing and steering if it was breezier than I planned.
And I was getting great speed with one reef so I was happy I went that route! 6 knots with the full jib out almost the entire day. It looked like I would definitely arrive in daylight!
However, with about ten miles to go the wind really dropped off. I was making less than three knots and the light was fading. I was watching the sun and its proximity to the horizon and trying to gauge how much time I had left constantly. Nervous to arrive at night.
And to top it all off as I approached with a little less than five miles to go, I could see clouds on the horizon. I worried it was a squall that would hit me and with my lack of autopilot I did not want to worry about sail adjustments in a squall and so I decided to sacrifice more speed by dropping my mainsail (it is very easy for me to adjust the jib while steering so it remained fully out for the minute). I turned on the motor, still hoping to make it in dusk.
Having less sail power and the light fading fast, I was starting to get the sense I was not going to make it before dark. I decided I would motor as long as I could and once the light was gone I would shut it off and sail as long as possible.
In my mind, if I didn’t have a turning propeller to wrap around a fishing pot or buoy that I would do much less damage if I hit one. I would be going slower and the would be no rotation.
As the light faded and I prepared to turn off the engine – and the squall had passed (to the north of the me causing no drama really) – I pulled out the full jib and turned off the motor. I also noticed a ferry on my AIS headed into Bequia.
I remembered a setting on my OpenCPN and even though I had no OpenCPN charts (I was using my Garmin charts from 2018 due to an Android update that had messed with my OpenCPN chart setup), I still selected the ferry on AIS in OpenCPN and chose ‘Show Track’.
It was a pretty safe bet the ferry was not going to travel over land and I was able to flip back and forth between Garmin and OpenCPN to double check that theory. I also believed that the ferry would either not be hitting any fishpots or buoys or if it did their big propellers and engines would destroy them (hopefully).
You can see here the OpenCPN charts are quite blurry but have the pink ferry track for me to follow. And that was my only Bequia information I had.
I did message a new Instagram friend, Jami, to see if they were around. Most cruisers would jump in their dinghy with a light to guide you in (especially for a solo sailor). And worst case they could reassure me it was a buoy free place. BUT, her and her husband Eric were out for dinner and not online.
But the ferry track following worked well initially, what I did not bank on was that when the ferry docked and shut off its AIS I would lose the track. So when the happened I was on my own to get to the anchorage. It turned out fine, I went in on sail until I totally lost the wind and since it was pitch black already I was in no rush. I put the boat into gear at a very low speed and would scan with the spotlight (and spreader lights on) all the way in. Surprised by a mooring buoy that I avoided but otherwise no surprises.
The anchorage was not crazy crowded so with flashlight found a reasonable spot. Backed down on the anchor and was happy with my spot and set enough to go to sleep (with an anchor alarm). Though aware I may want to adjust in the morning as depth perception was so difficult at night be flashlight.
As it turned out in the morning I was a little close to my neighbors and happy to pull anchor and reset in a slightly better spot, but I was also anchored next to new friends Jami and Eric. It was so nice to have new people to say hi to in a new place and get the lay of the land and I already felt super happy and comfortable here!
It did not hurt that the water was Bahamas clear. What was not to love!
“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet.”
– William Butler Yeats