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We have a friend who, obviously much more popular than we are, has had a lot of friends visiting him lately. Playing the role of the proper tour guide, he has been bouncing around between the islands quite a bit, trying to ensure that his visitors have a great vacation. I’ve taken note that when he plans to leave an island to travel to a neighboring one, he often clears out of the country in the morning, leaving right after completing the formalities. This is in contrast to our typical system of clearing out the day prior, and leaving at dawn. After yesterday’s bouncy passage, I’m starting to think that maybe he knows something that we don’t!

The helicopter in the cover picture buzzed our boat twice, just shortly after we had departed the anchorage. As this occurred about the same time that we were having to contend with some very steep waves, it did not add to our comfort level!

For the past week, Rebecca and I have been looking carefully at the wind and wave forecast to determine the best day for us to travel to St. Lucia. Even though the trip is only 25 miles or so, the gap between the islands isn’t so fun to transit when the seas are stirred up. Right up until Wednesday morning, the day that we cleared out, it appeared as if the wind was going to be down a bit yesterday, making it the best day to travel. As luck would have it though, immediately after we cleared out, the forecast was updated, and the conditions changed to look decidedly less ideal.

Sundowners on Shirley Jean Wednesday night, with our old friends from Harmony. I think they were trying to get us drunk before our passage!

The sound of the wind blowing through our rigging made getting good pre-passage night’s sleep difficult. And when we woke up yesterday morning, we did so to find that it was blowing a consistent 20-25 in the anchorage! What could we do though, we had already cleared out? Well, we could have cleared back in, but that would have been a PITA. We also could have delayed our departure for another day, but the forecast didn’t show a ton of improvement. No, we’d raise anchor as planned, and stick our nose out to take a peak at the conditions. After all, how bad could it be?

There are some days when sailing is a dream. Yesterday was not one of those days, at least for us. The waves were stacking up quite uncomfortably in the shallows at the end of Martinique. So much so that it made me seriously consider doing a 180 to head back to St. Anne. The thought of having to turn the boat beam into the waves to do an about face didn’t appeal to me either though. No, we’d stick it out, get to deep water, and see what the ocean had in store for us.


Maggie from Harmony sent me this image of Frost leaving the anchorage yesterday. 

As it turned out, what it had waiting for us was 20-30 knots of true wind, not, in and of itself, too bad. We were running with just our mizzen and a double reefed genoa* so we were not over canvassed. Unfortunately, what comes with that kind of wind are often uncomfortable waves. In this case, waves that were a couple of meters high by my estimate (I’m not great at that), and fairly close together. Not ideal.

*Even though we stopped paying out the genoa at the 2nd reef line, we noted that after sailing a bit, likely because we hadn’t rolled it up super tight the last time we put it away, the strong wind had essentially pulled out enough sail so that we were running with only one reef instead of two. That extra bit of canvas makes for a lot more power on our boat, so after recognizing what had occurred, we rolled in the genoa until it was reefed as I had initially intended. The boat and crew were much happier once that was done.

Our friend Chris from LTD Sailing likes to wish his friends “beam winds” when they’re setting off on a passage. That’s a nice sentiment, because a beam reach really can be a boat’s fastest point of sail. It’s been my observation though that what often comes with beam winds are waves on the beam, and this I do not like! In this particular case, the rhumb line from St. Anne to St. Lucia would have pretty much put us on a perfect beam reach. But, unwilling to take the big waves directly on the side of the boat, we continued to bash into them on a close reach until we had travelled far enough that we could fall off, putting the wind and waves behind us.

I hate to appear as if I’m complaining, but the passage was not relaxing. There was no fishing going on, nor any reading of books. Because of the conditions, we also chose to hand steer the entire way. On the bright side though, we had a very fast sail, and for most of the trip, made a good 6-7 knots SOG. It also wasn’t raining, and in fact, the sun came out to light our way for most of the trip.

In spite of the rough conditions, we weren’t the only boat on the water. We passed probably a dozen others, all heading the other way, back to Martinique. My guess is that almost all of them were charter boats, forced to travel even if they didn’t want to because they needed to return their boats on time. Schedules, the bane of sailors everywhere!

Note: Remember the tip I gave about the anchor chain? It worked perfectly!


  1. Nice to have a Maramu, good boat for rough water.

  2. I would like to advise you that from my perspective “a spirited day under sail sure beats a day behind a desk”
    Glad you were safe though

  3. I love the Frost logo mugs!

    You should sell ZTC and Frost gear for all of the followers who are stuck on land, wishing they were out there with you!

    • Yes, we should. 🙂

      By the way, those Tervis tumblers were a gift from the new owners of our PDQ 32, now named Forever. They probably get more use than any other single item on our boat.

  4. Interesting parallel, Nancy and I just crossed from Palm Beach (FL) to West End (BA) with the promise of fait winds and seas for the crossing of the gulf stream. NOPE. Beam seas from the SW and swells from the SE. What a day. What a great workout for the ab’s fighting the helm for 8 hours. But hey, we are in the turquoise water now. 🙂

    • We’ve only done the crossing once, and had an awful time. That was our first real offshore passage, and we totally botched the weather. Like you though, we made it, and the nice water quickly made us forget the uncomfortable sailing.

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