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With the boat fully fueled with gas, and Rebecca and I fully fueled with tuna sashimi, we set sail from Carriacou at 6:30 PM on Friday. The journey was largely uneventful and Rebecca and I slipped into our standard 3 hours on, 3 hours off watch-keeping routine easily. Nighttime traffic was nonexistent and the winds and sea state were easily manageable. The skies were bright with stars and the only bad weather we saw was far in the distance.

Note: I only just now realized while writing this that we broke a cardinal sailing rule: never begin a passage on a Friday. Perhaps that’s why the following happened!

By the time dawn arrived, the wind had shifted right onto our nose (big surprise) making our track from St. Vincent to St. Lucia difficult. We radioed our friends on Sol-mate and Sabatticus who we knew were in St. Lucia to find out where they were holed up. After hearing that they were anchored in Vieux Fort, we pointed ZTC there. The passage between St. Vincent to St. Lucia has a stiff current and that wasn’t helping us. Regardless, it was a sunny day and we were enjoying our time on the water. Inspired by our recent fishing success, we added some new line to our reel and swapped out the hook on our lucky lure with a nice shiny one. Shortly after putting the lure back into the water we made the decision to drop the sails and motor the final 10 miles to St. Lucia. The current and winds were conspiring against us and we figured we should try to get to port a bit more quickly. That’s when the Friday thing may have reared up to bite us.

Immediately after dropping the main sail our topping lift parted from the end of the boom and went flying up to the top of the mast. Hmmmm… not good. I immediately put the engines in neutral to assess the situation. We quickly made the decision for Rebecca to go up the mast to get it and while she was busy getting ready for that, I looked back to see that we forgot about our fishing line and it was now fouled under the boat. That was problem number two.

As ZTC bobbed around far offshore, I grabbed my snorkeling mask and a knife and jumped in the water to sort out problem 2. After removing the line from both keels and one engine, the rod was freed. We did lose our lucky lure though. 🙁

The next issue was getting Rebecca safely to the top of the mast. With the boat rocking back and forth, she had to hold on quite tightly as I winched her up (we opted to do that instead of using our normal mast-climbing system). Problem two was solved with only a bruise or two to show for it. Apparently the quick-release shackle on the topping lift had somehow parted. We won’t be using one of those again.

Holding on tightly!

Almost ready to resume our travels, we went to tidy up the main sail only to find a nice rip in it. That was problem three. Oh well. That’ll just give us something to work on today.

Damn Fridays!

Oh, and we saw a whale off our starboard beam, only we didn’t run into it like we did the last time we sailed these waters!

Getting ready to make landfall.

After anchoring beside our friends in Vieux Fort, we decided to make a quick trip into town with them. While in our dinghies a police or coast guard vessel, not sure which it was actually, came around to warn us of some thefts from yachts. They counseled us to leave someone onboard. Long time readers may remember that I wrote how another sailboat was robbed in Vieux Fort the last time we were here. Not good! Although we didn’t leave someone behind, we did ask a couple on a neighboring boat to keep a watch for us. Coincidentally, or not, just after the police left we saw a couple of guys in a local boat doing a drive by around our boats. It could have been innocent but just in case, we snapped a pic of them and made sure they saw us doing it.

Smile Sunshine Angel! 🙂


  1. Hi Steve and Rebecca,
    I read you post regarding your Topping Lift letting go.
    As much as a snap shackle is so easy to use, it’s letting go is not new news.
    In my past 45 years sailing, where it be cruising or racing, we had so many instances
    of snap shackles blowing or releasing that we replaced all halyards and the topping lift with straight shackles. From that point on there were no problems, accept, having to use a pair of pliers the odd time to undo them. Too bad about the rip in the main. How is your sewing
    Machine holding out?
    Be well
    Best regards,
    Ron and Kathleen(Toronto)

    • You know, when ever people get my name wrong they call me STEVE. Very strange!!!!! 😉

      The shackle in question was not a snap shackle which I believe you are referring to. I also don’t trust those very much. It was instead the kind that had a pin you insert and turn 180 degrees to lock it. I believe they call them halyard shackles.

      As for the sewing machine, it continues to work like a champ.

  2. Dangit, I was close. Hope you get it fixed good. Bill on Magnolia was robbed there as well. Not much money making opportunity down in Viex Fort, so crime is somewhat the occupation in south St. Lucia. Don’t forget Fish Friday at Anse La Raye!

  3. That was tiresome about the topping lift shackle. Why didn’t you support the boom with a spare halyard and then do the mast climb after anchoring?


  4. Glad you guys are ok. Climbing up that mast in the wind must have been nerve wracking!

  5. Been there, done that.

    a. It is generally better to sail or motor dead-slow when sorting out trouble. The auto pilot will steer, the motion will be more steady, and tangles are avoided. Yup, I’ve lost a few lures that way. Corilary: never stop to reel in a fish, only slow down.

    b. Climbing the mast is easier moving slowly dead down wind. The motion is much better. About 1-2 knots on autopilot, or a bit faster if needed for control.

    c. I NEVER use a spin shackle on anything but a spinnaker. I’ve even seen folks use them on mast climbing harnesses, which makes me sick. Other sails are removed so seldom, I choose reliability. I use a carabiner for the spin tack (more reliable than a spin shackle), but never use a biner on a halyard–they can clip to the stnading rigging! I also like spin shackles on the spin sheets, in case I need to shead them quickly.

    Well, Friday only comes once each week, even in paradise!

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