Economising on the boat seems to go out the window when you fill up a 500 litre fuel tank but it’s all just part and parcel of a cruising lifestyle. We have been lucky that it has only been the second time since our arrival in the Caribbean and even then it still had a third left. The wind generator saves fuel for the house batteries and the Trade Winds in the Caribbean certainly keep us going but when you’re heading to a destination that is directly into the wind there are two options – to beat by tacking at least once or motor.
We have plenty of time so tacking is my favourite option but when the wind gets down to 3.2 knots, plus you’re going in the wrong direction, it’s time to turn on the ‘iron’ wind. Our return to St Maarten from the BVIs was meant to be via Saba, the Marine Park island, but the wind changed and we missed the island by 20 nautical miles. It was easier just to tack and head towards St. Maarten. The total distance travelled was 140 nautical miles with our tack. As the crow flies it is only 80 miles. It took us 27 hours. We had to be pretty alert as the major traffic between the islands are cruise ships. At one stage I went up the companion way and Thomas pointed over my shoulder.As I turned a brightly lit cruise ship filled my view in front of us less than 500metres away. It was travelling fast.
The morning watch was less stressful but both us kept dozing so it was time to purchase a timer that we could set every 15 or 20 minutes. Some cruising writers predict that the distance travelled on a circumnavigation under motor is a 1/3. We would like to lessen this statistic and so far the winds in the Caribbean have mainly provided great sailing.
So it’s not a matter of tack less, it’s actually a matter of tack more. As we relax into the life style, we can also relax with our sailing style and not aim to be the speed demons that the Captain strives for, (he would say he doesn’t, but he does tend to pick the more windy days to make a fast passage). In fact it is probably more tact that is also required as we become used to our own company and then I find when we are on shore we tend to respond quickly to others’ comments or mishaps without the usual filters of society. For instance, Thomas laughing loudly as a woman was nearly washed away by a huge wave that wet all her belongings and made her scamper for dry sand at the Baths in the BVIs and on another occasion me quizzically looking at an American couple at their response to me asking what have they been doing in St. Maarten and they relied, ‘shopping’. I said, ‘Really?’ with a frown of disbelief to be interpreted as… ‘what a waste of time’. I was truly trying to find out what to do so we could take a tour and was genuinely wanting to get information. Thomas said that the scene with the wave was just too funny and he couldn’t help himself from laughing and I guess shopping is the furthermost thing from my mind. So in this case, once again, it is MORE tact that is required.
Other than the shopping, visiting Maho Bay; where the planes sweep the beach, visiting Phillipsburg and the French side, there isn’t really much to do other than socialise. We were lucky to meet some nice people along the way but the Captain craves for clear waters and some nice swimming. As the old outboard wont be ready until next week, we have decided to head back to the north towards Anguilla.
In Anguilla we have found a pretty bay with a few restaurants and beach bars. Loud music entertained us from Elvis’ bar last night as we dozed off. We’d visited the bar earlier in the evening and found a game of bean bag throwing into a target entertaining for a while but the other patrons were slow to arrive. As we were heading towards the bar we watched a brilliant sun sink into the sea hoping to catch the elusive ‘green flash’. This appears in the moment the last image of the sun kisses the water and a green flash is said to be visible. After the sun went down there was a huge green circle where it had been. I pointed it out to Thomas but he denied seeing it. Later at the bar a local woman asked everyone if they’d seen the most amazing ‘green flash’ that she’d ever witnessed. She described how it had lingered there this evening. Thomas thought it must have been a ‘girl’ thing because the other man watching the sunset with us claimed to have missed it as well. He seemed pretty stoned to me so he was probably seeing other things anyway. Then he asked the bar owner, Elvis, and he said that he’d seen it. Thomas’ theory was in refute. Hopefully he’ll see it the next time and then he’ll believe me. We wandered through the street and found Sandy Bar which was quite an exclusive beach restaurant with prices to match upmarket places State Side. It was lovely sitting on the water’s edge and listening to the waves slowly lapping against the shore and the light from the silvery full moon illuminating the bay.
Sailing in Anguilla is restricted by the cost of a daily cruising permit. We are able to stay in Road Bay for free but as soon as we venture to the other small islands and marine parks we have approximately 52 USD to pay per day. The advantage of this is that there aren’t many others here for the Easter weekend and we wont have to rush for a mooring like in the BVIs. We’re off to visit Prickly Pear Island and another bay. Thomas has just put on the local radio station and there is definitely a different accent here than 12 miles away in St. Maarten. The drawl is quite slow but there is a musical tone to it, lots of national pride with advertisements about looking after the island. Very sweet listening to the local announcements but then we had to switch when the announcer began reading government regulations in a monotone and appeared to have difficulty reading the words. It was just too painful.
We paid for the cruising permit and found that the island is very different from the other volcanic islands here as it was raised from the sea bed and not made from volcanoes. It is very flat and resembles parts of the Mediterranean. Which I think why it has so much charm. Many of the reefs are victims of hurricane carnage but the grottoes in the cliffs are quite spectacular.
What’s in a Name?
We have had curious responses from officials and mooring people with the name of the boat, Qi, (pronounced Chi). We get called, Q mainly. It didn’t help that Thomas’ friend Konrad who designed the logo for the side got quite artistic and therefore some claim not to be able to read it at all. We like the logo. The round part of the Q is the sun, the tail of the Q represents the waves and the I is the sail in the wind. It’s a talking point anyway. We have seen some funny and some ridiculous names along the way. Some we have had a chuckle at, others we just shake our head at the vanity of the owner and some I think they let the kids name the boat. I particularly liked the names of the little fleet of training sail boats in St. Maartens. All the of them are ‘Miss’ something. There is Miss Behaviour, Miss Standfog, Miss Isle, Miss Understood etc. One of my favourites was a cat we saw at St. Kitts; ‘Sir Baticle’ and one of the one’s that I shook my head at was, ‘A’. I’m sure the owner just wanted to use the phonetic alphabet over the radio and call in ‘Alpha, Alpha, Alpha’ here. Roger that. I think ‘Sea Sore’ would be a good name because we’re constantly getting bruised or injured in rough seas and in Simpsons Bay in St Maarten, it certainly rolls like a see saw.
Our latest injuries were actually OFF the boat. We’ve become a danger to ourselves and we’re sporting some quite significant scrapes. So much so, we are striving for who gets the most sympathy. I’m currently winning, (and yes, of course it’s a competition). I had a bit of vertigo after diving in the BVIs and have been occasionally walking a bit wobbly. On one occasion I came off a beach with no shoes on, went wobbly and kicked a concrete block. My toe immediately swelled up and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s broken. Thomas, not to be beaten, went head over heels in the car park of the yacht club and in a spectacular roll managed to scrape both elbows and a knee. A woman ran to his aid but he assured her that it looked worse than what it actually was as he bounced back onto his feet. We’re recovering well but my foot is taking its time. We wont be going on any huge hikes for a while.
Thank goodness the kindness of the Anguillan people saved the day when customs took all our cash for the cruising permits and we needed a lift to the ATM. I asked a young fellow where one might be and his boss stepped forward and offered to take us there. It ended up being about 5km so I’m glad we didn’t walk. We prepared ourselves for the walk back with a cold drink when Thomas suggested we hitch. So within 2 minutes of sticking out my thumb, we had another ride. Jason, who had recognised us from the customs office earlier was driving past and went out of his way to drop us down at the dingy dock. Hopefully we will catch up with him tonight at the Pump House, where a live band is playing, so we can buy him a drink.