The good news is, when we do decide to sell (and no, that decision has not yet been made), there is definitely a market for our boat. But it will take time, and that’s something we don’t have at the moment. I need to head to the States ASAP and Patrice has appointments next week in Saint Martin. We could have left T3 in Martinique (which is what we would’ve done if we were sure we were ready to sell her), but it’s unfamiliar territory for her and in Trinidad we have people we can trust to look after her while we’re away. So we’ve decided to bring her back to Crew’s Inn while we mull things over.
6 am, Tuesday, March 26, 2019: We’re up and ready to go. The wind and wave forecast is a little stronger than we would like, but we figure T3 can handle it and once we get past the strait between Martinique and Saint Lucia we know we’ll be protected. Our plan is to yellow flag it down to Trinidad stopping in Piton Bay in Saint Lucia, Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and from there go straight to Trinidad overnight—a 28 hour journey. That would get us to Crew’s Inn by Friday afternoon (remember what I said in my last post about a sailor’s plans being written in the sands at low tide? Wait for it...).
By 8 am we’ve taken on fuel and water for the journey and we’re out of the channel ready to hoist the sails to head south (checking carefully for fishing buoys, stray ropes and all manner of nuisances, of course). The winds, as expected are 20+ knots, so we decide not to put up the main sail for this downwind journey. Patrice unfurls the head sail, however, unbeknownst to us, the port side jibsheet (rope) had lost the knot at its end which stops it from being fully released, and it breaks free, tangling itself like a crazy snake around the starboard jibsheet, whipping the boat ferociously. Meanwhile the sail is flapping wildly and the wind is gusting 25+ knots. What a mess! I’m at the helm and Patrice goes up to the foredeck to try to get things under control without getting flogged. We eventually get things under control, but not without a few bruises and lashes. Not an auspicious beginning to our journey...
We catch our breath, reset the sail and continue our journey south. By the time we hit the halfway point between Martinique and Saint Lucia, it is clear that we have largely underestimated the forecast. The swells were predicted at 2 to 3.6 meters. The waves we are being hit with are all at least 3.6 meters high and coming at us relentlessly from the side in very short intervals and the winds are gusting well over 25 knots. Consequently T3 is being tossed from side to side, corkscrewing if you will, as it tries to remain upright. I. HAVE. NEVER. BEEN. SO. FRIGHTENED on this boat. And that’s saying a lot! For 45 minutes—45 VERY LONG minutes—T3 and her captain battle the waves, while I hold on for dear life, until we finally reach the blessed calm in the lee of Saint Lucia and we breathe a sigh of relief thanking God for carrying us through.
Once again T3 showed us her mettle and did not let us down in extremely tough conditions. When we got through it, we're shaken up, our muscles are aching from the strain and we're a bit spooked, but we're ok, and the boat sustained no damage. And, because she sits so high in the water, we didn’t even get wet. We’re very proud of our girl.
I’d also like to thank the large seabird, a Brown Booby (no, I’m not making that name up), whom we nicknamed Betty, and who accompanied us throughout that passage, circling the mast, hovering at times, and then plunge-diving spectacularly to get a fish. She provided us with much-needed entertainment at a very difficult time. I’m convinced she knew I was terrified and needed the distraction.
Thankfully this time, it’s wrapped around one of the rudders (T3 has two, one on each side) and comes off easily and there appears to be no damage, but still…ENOUGH! (When I tell this story to our cruising friends, they thank us for our service in clearing the ocean of stray lines and buoys for them—a service, I must inform them, we are no longer willing to continue).
By morning, the winds are still gusting fiercely. We had not slept much and were so exhausted that we knew that we needed to take shelter somewhere until this weather front passed. Cruising friends had recommended Marigot Bay, just few miles north of us, which means back-tracking as well as scrapping our original float plan, but we had no desire to risk any more dramas on the high seas.
It was a good decision, and by noon we are anchored in a sheltered cove on a lagoon as a still as a lake—bliss! Moreover, we decide to take a mooring belonging to a local resort which gives us pool privileges at the hotel along with all the amenities.
Next up: Boat for Sale?