Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sail From Tobago To Martinique - Wrong Way Sailing

We had a fantastic sail.  It turns out that when you go with the wind angle, you can have a beautiful sail.  See, there is a bit of a misnomer in this whole tradewind sailing.  A big chunk of cruisers in the eastern Caribbean spend hurricane season south of the hurricane zone aka Grenada or Trinidad.  Then come November and December they set sail for St Maarten, BVI's or USVI's like they are racing in a regatta - gotta get there, gotta get there.  These are popular spots to have family and friends fly into for visits.  However, during November and December the easy going easterly tradewinds that we hear so much about have shifted slightly and are blowing from the ENE.  Add apparent wind and you get wind on the nose.  Yep - bash, bash, bash to St Maarten.  And just because Mother Nature and King Neptune are a couple of jokesters, when most cruisers are headed south at the end of the season, they shift the easy-peasy easterly tradewinds slightly ESE so that with apparent wind cruisers get guessed it..... bash, bash, bash their way south.  FYI - Part of this is also because the eastern Caribbean island chain is slightly curved like a crescent moon.  Hopping island to island usually means moving slightly closer to the wind.  Bigger jumps can help ease that.

As you know, our season was a bit different than our other cruising friends.  We only went as high as Bequia originally.  Then we sailed back down to Trinidad for carnival, experiencing one of our best sails to date....because we were going "the wrong way" so to speak.  We were heading south with ENE winds.  This allowed true beam sailing and then.....gasp broad reaching!  Woo hoo!  

We when sailed from Tobago to Martinique we had a similar experience.  Our course was due north (with set and drift) on ESE winds.  Double woo hoo!  We were having such a good sail we opted not to slow down.  We reached the area between St Lucia and Martinique well ahead of schedule.  Despite being in Cul de sac du Marin Martinique before, we didn't want to enter at night so we hove to until first light and then headed all the way into Le Marin - our ultimate destination.  Multiple fishing floats along the channel, including one IN the channel, as well as several scattered in the anchorage confirmed our decision to heave to.  I don't think it would be much fun to get one of those wrapped in the prop in the middle of the night!  Additionally, it was good practice to heave to in calm waters, moderate winds for fun vs during a raging storm when we have to.  When was the last time you practiced heaving to, huh?  

Heaving to - per the book "Offshore Sailing" by Bill Seifert
"With the reefed mainsail sheeted in hard, tack the boat but do not release the windward jib sheet.   As soon as the sail is aback, reverse the helm to keep the boat headed up.  Wind pressure on the backed headsail holds the bow off  while wind pressure on the mainsail keeps the vessel from falling off."  

1 comment:

  1. Good job, you two! Sounds like you've got it all figured out. Sometimes going backwards is the best way forward! :-)