09 December 2012

perfect conditions - unexpectedly

Kingstown, St. Vincent
St.Vincent NW coast
beautiful sky
another Swiss boat, 79ft!

cloud formations
St.Lucia, the Pitons before sunset
Martinique, Club Med in Le Marin

Rahel on the helm

Le Marin, careful not to end up like the boat on the left...

morning sport
Marco looking out for an anchor spot

How do we plan a passage? We basically calculate the distance to cover and then assume an average speed.
As we had decided to skip St. Lucia our last planning was regarding the trip from Bequia to Martinique. The wind was predicted to be around 10 to 12 kts and according to our experience it usually dies completely in the lee (behind) of the islands (we had to pass two islands on our way, St.Vincent and St.Lucia). Our Island Packet sails perfectly in winds of 15kts and more but below that she is usually, ehm, like a stone in the water... And we don't like arrivals at night especially in a new anchorage. Therefore we decided to make an overnight trip and calculated with an average speed of 4.5 kts. That lead to a departure at around 10am in Admiralty Bay and an estimated arrival at 7am the next morning in Le Marin. That was the theory.
As you can guess, the reality looked different. We encountered the most perfect conditions we've ever had! Wind speed, wind direction and sea state played out so well that we made an average speed of close to 7kts. Our enthusiasm quickly diminished when we started to calculate our ETA (estimated time of arrival) somewhere around 2am - or in other words in the pitch dark of the night... You need to know that Le Marin is an entrance full with reefs. Yes, the channel is well marked with buoys - OK in daylight but not so nice in the dark. Additionally, the French fishermen endure a sport called "catch a yacht", therefore the whole entrance to the channel is covered with fish traps and nets. Really, it looks more like a well planned mine field than an entrance to one of the main harbors in the Caribbean!
We had to slow down - urgently!! Almost with tears in our eyes we reefed our sails... But still, it was one of our most perfect sailing trips.

What's the lesson we've learned? Don't underestimate Habibi - she performs very well even in light wind conditions of 10 to 15 kts! In the planning of our next passage we'll have to take this into account when calculating our average speed.

From paradise with love

1 comment:

  1. An Island Packet going too fast? Believe it or not, I've heard it before. Owners of an IP 40 who complained they were the first of their cruising friends to reach a destination, and that meant that they had to pick their way around the reefs first!