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We had read about this most difficult of boating maneuvers, and I think I may have even commented about it a time or two, but yesterday was the first time that we had actually applied it ourselves. I’m speaking of the 180 degree turn.

As I posted yesterday, our intention was to sail to Martinique, leaving Dominica behind us for good. We did all the necessary work to accomplish this objective: we paid for our stay on Sea Cat’s mooring, we visited the customs office and obtained our clearance from the country, we removed our dinghy engine, stowing it on the rail, and made everything in the boat secure for the passage.

With the high mountains around us, it was difficult to judge the wind. Even though the forecast had called for 15-20, it was much lighter when we started out. Shortly after getting underway though the wind built substantially, gusting above 25 knots, as did the waves. Within an hour or so it became apparent that, if we were to continue with our plan of sailing to Martinique, we were going to have a very long and very rough day!

So, we simply turned around. Well actually, it wasn’t really all that simple, coming about with the high wind and waves. I’m glad we had our sails reefed down by this point.

The key to safe sailing, as everyone will tell you, is to travel when the weather allows it and to not have a schedule which requires you to violate that rule. Fortunately for us, we have nowhere that we have to be. We do think that the wind is supposed to back a bit tomorrow, giving us a better angle, and that the waves are going to lessen a degree or two as well. Until then, we’ll just be hanging out here in Roseau, trying to stay out of mischief and taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi to upload a Bazillion photos to the Zero To Cruising Facebook Page.

For a certain power boater: In case I wasn’t clear, it is not the physical act of turning around that is difficult. Rather it is giving up on whatever distance you have travelled and returning to your starting point with your tail between your legs that makes it difficult.

While in Roseau we have, on several occasions, left our dinghy at the fisherman’s dock. It is our standard practice to always lock our dinghy up as we simply can not afford to have it stolen (this just happened to our friends on m/v Finally Fun while they were in Vieques). The challenge in this case though was how to lock it to the large steel bollard with the cable that we have.

My solution was to cut a short length of chain to wrap around the bollard’s base (we already had the chain on board ZTC). With a long padlock, which we also already had, I could then secure the cable to the chain which was wrapped in such a way that it could not be lifted off the bollard. Ignore the rusty lock that you see in the photo. That is just an old lock which is stuck on the cable that I have not yet bothered to grind off. Now that this solution has proven itself viable I intend to purchase a short length of stainless steel chain the next time I’m in a big chandlery that sells it.


  1. G……..I just put my starboard throttle in forward and my port gear in reverse and spin like T-Cups at Disney!!!!! You should get a powerboat..Actually, I found the lagoon 42 on my last charter to be almost as responsive as our powerboat in close quarters……

  2. Good seamanship. Well done. I wish more people showed that much sense.

    Yes it’s nasty when you are beam-on. Even in a cat. Probably because we are not used to it!

    But the burning question is – Did You Catch Any Fish?????


  3. No need to have your tail between your legs … you’re just thinkin’ smart!

  4. In Finnish there is a saying

    “Better a verst wrong than a span danger”

    Do You have a similar saying in English or other languages?

  5. And I think too that You were very wise.

  6. Old British mountaineers call that “giving the mountain best.” Hecklers call it something different….

    I’ve turned around a few day based solely on the pounding the boat would take. Why age my gear a month making a passage that will wait until tomarrow?

    I also have a theory, and I’ll bet a beer that the facts suport it, that there are more accidients on the last day of a short cruise than any other time. Folks need to get back for something, even if naturetells them differently. Nope, you don’t need to get back; you want to. One of the best safety factors you guys have is time.

    But I know what you mean about the momentum of departure.

    • Yeah, I also didn’t want to beat the crap out of the boat, or us!

      You may very well be correct about the accidents. I will tell you that I am infinitely LESS patient on the last hour or so of a passage than I am for all the time prior to it. When we get close to our destination I just want to get there and be done with it. Even today was like that. The last couple of hours seemed to take forever!!!

  7. There’s no shame in being smart. See above comment of mine.

  8. In regards to locking your dingy, do you also lock your outboard motor to the boat?

  9. normally any padlock open whith a simple beat with hammer.
    To avoid this you need a cover protection for the padlock and them it will open only by the key.
    Like this (see the video)

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