S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Quite a Day

Friday, 12 May 2006
Ballast Bay, St. Kitts
N 17 degrees, 14.45 minutes
W 062 degrees, 39.51 minutes

This has been quite a day.

Last night I didn't get much sleep. Nor did Jill. There was a swell running, causing the boat to pitch and roll all night long. It was hot enough for me to try sleeping on deck. Then it rained, so I went below again, and we had to shut all the hatches. We put a fan on and slept in the "dining room," where the fan is, and it eventually cooled down. Then the lightning started. I went on deck and saw the liveliest lightning storm I have ever seen. There was absolutely no break between flashes, and it was to my left, right, and directly ahead. I was fairly certain it was coming toward us. It was far enough away that I didn't hear it, but I was still spooked. My last experience with lightning was in Vieques, and it was accompanied by a gust forceful enough to knock us down. Last night we were on short scope, as the harbor was quite full, and I was certain that we would drag in that kind of wind. I woke Jill for a second opinion, and she stayed up with me for a few hours to make sure we wouldn't be hit. We got our foul weather gear ready, but the lightning passed by, and we finally got back to sleep. Jill got up when the alarm went off at 6:00 AM and, sweetheart that she is, let me sleep in for a few extra minutes.

We got underway early today for a long sail to St. Kitts. We've been looking forward to this leg of the journey, having been promised that at the end of all that easting along the "thorny path," we would surely have a beam reach for the rest of our trip south. After all, that's the way the tradewinds blow.

If I ask the audience which direction the wind was blowing, they will surely know. "ON THE NOSE," they shout. Good audience. Our speed was not what we wanted. It was, in fact, about half as fast as we wanted. Awful. We hovered around three knots at times, and that was with both sails up and the engine running. That's not good. Our eight-hour sail turned into something more like an eleven-hour motorsail.

Then there was the fish. As devout readers will know, we haven't caught an edible fish since Conception Island in the Bahamas. We have to hide our faces from our friends, who catch fish every time out. And we have to accept with polite smiles all their helpful advice for how to catch a fish. We do follow the advice, be it sane or bizarre. When Paul on Dreamweaver says put two skirts on the lure, we put two skirts on the lure. When Menno on Eira shows us the lures that have been attracting all his mahi mahi, we run right out and buy those lures. When Marc on La Gallipote says to chant "venez, petit poisson," Jill repeats it all afternoon in a fancy French accent. She's even tried spitting on the reel, after reading a story about it in a travel book.

Today it was Menno's lure that worked (or maybe Jill's chanting in French), and with a "zingggg" the line started peeling off the reel. A fish leapt in the distance. Surely, this had to be a mahi mahi. I fought that bad fish for 15 minutes, brought it to the boat, gaffed it, landed it, admired the beautiful blues and greens, and then the fish promptly thrashed its way overboard, snapping the line and taking our new lure as a souvenir. Tears ain't in it. At least we hooked something. Perhaps this is a sign of good things to come.

About 2PM, we noticed dark clouds on the horizon directly in front of us. We both thought we would be sailing through a storm, but it seemed to pass us. Jill noticed, I kid you not, a WATERSPOUT spinning down to the ocean from beneath the cloud. I would have been petrified, except the spout was far away, and I knew the storm was headed directly away from us. We watched the spout for a few minutes through binoculars, until it went away.

Having altered course and changed plans to make the best of our malicious wind, we were rewarded with a great sail down the west coast of St. Kitts, passing up our original anchorage because of the swell, and racing along to get the anchor down in a beautiful, mostly empty anchorage with five minutes to spare before sunset. There are only five other boats here, no roads, no houses, and no lights. Just as the sun went down the moon peaked up above the mountains. Lightning is, once again, in the distance. Jill whipped up broccoli, ziti, and beans for dinner, followed by a Belgian candy bar. All would be perfect, except for the swell, which will once again keep us up all night.


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