With the COVID blues mostly behind us here in Florida, Lennie and I had to decide what to do with the boat for hurricane season. No chance we are staying in St. Thomas and dealing with each storm skirting by. We need to get the boat out of the H zone and before June 1st. We have been waiting and watching to see if the Caribbean will “open up” but it never does. In fact, we keep getting news of new lockdowns. Some boats are headed for Grenada but the restrictions and quarantines don’t work for us so we decided to sail her home.
Stretch her legs
Even if there wasn’t a storm season, I think we would have left St. Thomas and St. John anyway. We just needed to get the boat moving. It needs to be used and sailed – or maybe that is what we need. We flew to St. Thomas with a fresh COVID test and began our provisioning. We planned on a week’s sail back to Fort Lauderdale and we were excited. After discussing the route with Chris Parker, our weather router, he suggested a departure 2 days later……and suggested a strong cold front would prevent us from crossing the gulf stream 6 days later, so now we need another COVID test to enter the Bahamas where we would stop. We headed to the clinic in St. Thomas and waited in line for a test which was promptly emailed to us. So now we were good to leave. We had my friend Mike to help us with the delivery. He knows the boat well since he helped us sail it down in the fall of 2019.
It takes a day or two
Passages, even short ones are full of adventure and require a lot of planning. You think about it constantly and focus on your preparations. You start watching the weather and going over your checklists. No matter how well you plan there is nervous excitement when you actually set out. As captain Ron says “if something is going to happen it’s going to happen out there” and so we left the harbor and headed over to Culebra in the Spanish Virgin Islands to chew up a few miles and wait for the weather to calm per Chris’s recommendations. It’s a short trip of about 18 miles but the winds were howling and the seas were 10’. We anchored in a beautiful bay and took a Rose’ dinghy cruise and headed off to bed early. Around 6 we woke and raised anchor and headed offshore. We would be about 30 miles north of san Juan by afternoon and leaving the coast of Puerto Rico by midnight. Even though we had sailed together for years we all had to settle into our movement, watch schedules, cooking, cleaning and boat maintenance schedule. After a few days it becomes normal and you realize the peace and serenity of being on passage. We were fortunate to have great wind for 4 days which pushed us along at 7.5 average knots all the way to the Bahamas. We flew the Parasailor, code zero and asymmetric spinnaker as the winds shifted like a cat’s tail from north east to south east and back again. It was a fantastic trip with very little motoring which is all we did on the trip down 14 months earlier. The days flew by. It’s hard to explain but none of us had time to read with all the activities of fishing, sailing and working on the boat. Nights are always Lennie and my favorite and it’s wonderful to be out there alone and contemplating yourself, your boat and the ocean around you. Its magical.
Back to the Bahamas
Lennie and I have cruised the Bahamas for over 20 years so everywhere and everything is familiar to us. We realized that in our rush to get the boat home we forgot that stopping here would be a great diversion. Besides, we didn’t have to be north of Cape Hatteras until July 1st according to our insurance policy. We arrived in Great Exuma and tied up in Emerald Bay Marina. This place is wonderful with a great restaurant overlooking the ocean right across from the marina. Mike flew out that day to get back to his own boat chores as he owns one in Antigua and another in San Francisco Bay. I guess you could say we have inspired him and his wife with this sailing lifestyle and they are all in Lennie and I spent another day on the boat and look forward to returning for a few trips before completing the trip back to Florida. Yes it feels great to be on the move again……..