New Year in Virgin Gorda:
These guys are call Jumbies and I guess it's good luck to run between
their legs (stilts) while they dance around. Of course the kids were tired
and ready to go around 9:00 pm, but we were able to extract another hour out
of them before we had to go. New Years was never high on our list of
must do's. Virgin Gorda was the last of the Virgin Islands for
us. We left a few days later when it looked like the Christmas winds were
letting up a bit....WRONG!
The passage to St. Martin is actually
short, only 77 mi, but it is right on the wind the whole way with a strong
current and STEEP waves! We must have traveled ~150 mi thru the water
to make the island. The weather report stated 16-29 kt. wind with 6-7
ft seas...WRONG AGAIN! It turns out that those conditions were correct
between the 10 or so squalls that hit us during the night packing 40+ winds
and 15 ft breaking seas! We started out with steep seas in the 6-7 ft
range and thought about heading back, but to quote Roxanne " It is about
time we take our thumb out of our mouth". Baptism by fire...two
hour after sunset the seas built and stayed steep we were now taking 15ft
breaking seas on the deck. We closed up the companion way just in the nick of
time when a particularly nasty breaking wave proceeded to implode the spray
dodger, knock me down, fill the cockpit with water, wash the fuel jugs out of
position, tangle all of the lines, and worst of all... scare the heck out of
us! Roxanne came up after the loud crash to see if I was still
there when she asked me how I could be so calm after all this! A little
while later Drew was thrown onto the couch and sprained his wrist. From
the beginning of this passage Drew was asking how rough this was compared to
the storms during the passage down...I had to later admit that it was worse.
For nearly the entire passage Roxanne was
down below with the kids keeping them comfortable while I was up on deck
hiding behind what was left of the dodger. Little did I know what a
mess it was down below. Water was sneaking in from places I didn't expect!
After the passage down I had improved the hatch gaskets to prevent
leaks there, used that "Great Stuff " foam to seal around the
anchor chain (worked beautifully, yet comes right off when you want to
anchor), installed dorade plugs, and taped off the propane vent in the aft
locker. Sounds like I had it all covered WRONG AGAIN! It turns
out that our dorade boxes, which are designed to keep water from coming into
the cabin, can allow water in when the boat is heeled and enough green water
is on deck to leak into the hole designed to let water out! (next time I'll
tape over those holes as well). The companionway was also a great
source of water in the cabin: after a breaking wave hits the deck it takes
time for the water to run off, meanwhile the boat is now heading down the
wave and the water reverses and fills the companionway spray cover on its way
into the cabin. The cabin was a complete mess, snacks were spilled,
cushions wet, kids sleeping on the floor (the only safe place for them).
But, we made it and now it's almost forgotten...all except Roxanne
popping up every hour or so to tell me how much she was displeased.
Now, we are in St. Martin and it's very
nice indeed. Prices are nearly the same, if not less, than the US,
people are friendly, the French food is AWESOME, the beaches are clothing
optional, and we got our dodger repaired in just one day! Yeah! As you
can see there is some serious money here...note the helicopter on this yacht.
Marc and Judy, we found your next boat.
Roxanne's thoughts on the passage:
(You'll like this Jim.)
"I hate this. I hate this. I hate
It was the WORST 20 hours of my entire life!!
I have never been more scared, prayed so much and just wished to be anywhere
else in the world. Can't walk, can't sleep, can't eat, can't read, can't
talk, CAN"T THINK! Do I want to do another passage? NO...well maybe
Allison: book my return ticket home (just