The beginning of a new chapter
So we left St Barts the other day with the hopes of having a pretty calm passage. 10-15 knots of wind was predicted but we realized pretty quickly that the forecast was under-exaggerating like so many times before. 21-24 was more close to the truth and the mixed swells made the boat consistently banging into the waves. Nice with a change if you look at it from an optimistic perspective.
Back to cooking at 15 degrees. Beef stir-fry for lunch.
Arriving to St Kitts where the swell and wind calmed down with the protection of the mountain.
Calm before the storm. Blissful to, for a while, maybe an hour and a half, have complete calmness during sunset. There was almost no wind due to the mountain shadowing, yet we were still slowly making way around the coast.
And suddenly when the sun had disappeared in the horizon and we were again out in the confused seas, a huge squall hit us. We could see it coming with the little light there was left on the sky. Normally when you do you might attempt to escape it by altering your course, problem here was that we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of three, four different cloud formations coming from what seemed as all directions, leaving us with absolutely nowhere to escape. If you have ever sailed in your life you might know how it feels when you see the dark clouds approaching, the rain slowly moving from "there" to where you are and you quickly rush to prepare what can be prepared. Reef the main another time, in with half of the jib, throw the cushions below, on with the foul weather jackets and basically prepare yourself to eat shit, like Alex would've put it.
During my almost three years on the seas I have learnt to love and admire the sea in an overpowering way. It has brought me endless of love, thrills, excitement and many life lessons so I cannot else than respect it dearly. But I also know how vulnerable we can be in relation to it. There have been moments when I have felt that I was close to loose my life to it, and even if it only lasted for a brief moment, sometimes not more than ten seconds or let's call it ten thousand milliseconds in an attempt to try to paint a picture of how long those seconds can feel, it always always brings me back to the ground. Alex has a lifetime of sailing and sea experience, but this particular night we got hit by the strongest, in wind force, squall that we have ever experienced together. It lasted only for a blink of an eye but was enough to shake up our existence quite dramatically. Sitting here in the comfort of a coffee-shop it appears so distant and I have almost hard to remember the stress and anxiety a moment like that evokes, but truth is that if something has humbled me during these past three years, the sea is much responsible for it.
When the screaming wind drowned out our voices and we saw the display showing digits over the fifties we got into the sort of trance that we have experienced together only a few times before. Luckily this one didn't last as long as the storm we went through during our Atlantic crossing, but was gone rather quickly. A tornado forming right above us and a few seconds later it was calm and quiet again. Such a surreal, bizarre feeling. It will never cease to amaze me how schizophrenic the weather, winds and waves are. Catastrophe can turn into complete stillness in a second and vice versa and there is a certain type of rush mixed with fear that comes with a moment like this. It puts you in place to say the least. Our main got scratched in several places during those seconds it swept through btw, need to get that repaired asap.
After the wind calmed down, we decided to drop the anchor on the coast of Nevis. Beautiful Nevis. But this time we were not planning on going ashore, just rest for the night and continue onwards the day after.
Early morning and we're off again. Sea was calm as a lake and what had happened the night before seemed almost like a dream.
Arriving to the SW coast of Montserrat, an overseas territory of the UK. This is the active Soufrière Hills volcano that erupted and destroyed the capital Plymouth in 1995. Tho thirds of the islands population was forced to flee, and much of the abandoned capital that you can see to the left in this photo is still buried in ashes. Most of the people that left the island have never come back since they lost all what they owned on Montserrat. The capital was later changed to Brades, located in the North, far from this particular volcano which still is active. When you sail past, you can feel the strong smell of sulfur as fume continues to vent.
Dinghy needs some bottom cleaning btw..
And late in the night we arrived in Deshaies in Guadeloupe. This is how it looked in the morning when we woke up. Calm and sunny and we were glad to have the hardest part of the passage behind us.
Leaving Deshaies for Les Saintes. Almost no wind but sometimes that is better than too much of it.
A good sign of Alex being back in his comfortable and enjoyable routines is when he picks up his fishing rod.
Was a long time ago since last time.
Reading through some sailing books in search for anchorages in and around Guadeloupe that we might have missed on our previous journeys around here. Very happy to have the shade of a bimini btw!
Glad to be back in waters where fishermen is a norm rather than rarity.
A cup of tea with Dutch cinnamon biscuits and our latest obsession, skorpor with honey...
At least five of these passed above our heads during the six seven hours it took us to slowly sail the thirty miles to Les Saintes. We imagined the planes to be flying to French Polynesia to where we wish to sail early next year. Such complete different ways of traveling.
I have not seen my captain this relaxed in a long while. 1,5 year of hard work and stress is finally behind us. It might not have appeared as such in the blog, but we have gone through parallel hells, albeit small ones, but still enough to function as heavy weight on our shoulders. Alex has carried most of the physical stress and no one is happier than him that we are now opening another new chapter in our life. We're finally back in the cruising mode again, something we abandoned when we arrived in Antigua last year with the change of boat, too much work and other issues we had to deal with. Glad those days are over and behind us and that we finally can continue with the real World Tour...
And when we finally arrived in the channel between Guadeloupe and Les Saintes, the wind picked up once again. Flat sea and 15 knots of wind and we literally flew over the strait and into the bay of Le Bourg ..
Just in time for the sunset.
This is how it looked when we woke up in the early morning... beautiful tranquil Les Saintes...
We have now sailed over to Marie-Galante and planning on staying a few more nights in this paradise.