Passage to Bequia
December 30, 2017
Fill the fuel tanks, cast off the lines, and motor out of the harbor at Rodney Bay and into the Caribbean Sea.
Captain Bill and I are sailing south. My first trip on a sailboat.
The prevailing northeast winds are behind us. Main sail raised. Head sail raised. Destination plotted. Auto pilot engaged. Motor disengaged. We “fly” south along the west coast of St. Lucia, past the mountains and the Pitons on the southern tip of the island.
The mountains protect the boat from the strongest winds, but once past the island we are in a channel between St. Lucia and St. Vincent. Potentially, the Atlantic winds will be funneled through the gap. Today we are fortunate. The winds remain mild.
We sail south, no land in sight. St. Vincent eventually appears to the southeast. The large island lessens the effect of the winds.
We decide to bypass the main island and sail towards the small island of Bequia. Now we must sail through a narrow and unprotected channel where the effects of the funnel are intensified.
“I don’t like the look of that.”
Captain Bill seems to be conversing with himself as he observes the dark clouds ahead. He immediately takes control of the wheel and steers a southwest course to evade the worst of the sudden squall.
The sky darkens. The wind drives. The waves deepen. The showers drench. But Captain Bill avoids the worst. To the east, another yacht is caught in the middle of the unpredicted storm. Says Bill, “He is being pummeled.”
Squalls are fierce and treacherous and short-lived. We are clear in an hour.
In the dark we drop anchor in Hamilton Bay, Bequia.
After a twelve-hour ride, it’s sandwiches, and beer, and sleep.
My “maiden voyage” is sunny, stormy, satisfying.