S/V Delilah

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

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Downwind at Last

March 7, 2007
Charlestown, Nevis
N 17 degrees, 08.883 minutes
W 061 degrees, 37.857 minutes

Like two wayward students, Lisa and Jim have asked for extensions in turning in their guest blogs (Jim's excuse was he had to turn around and fly to Europe for work several hours after he arrived on a plane from Nevis. A likely story). Assuming our guests are, as we typing, writing diligently regarding the joys of Ting, Irish sausages, Carib beer, swimming in 79 degree water, and waking up before dawn to make the 50-mile passage from Antigua to Nevis, I'll cut to the chase.

Monday we left Antigua for a downwind (dead downwind: the wind and waves were directly on our stern) sail to Nevis. We broke out the medication early, knowing from prior experience that nothing makes one question the purpose of sailing faster than large swells hitting our stern. This time nobody got sick, but everybody needed a nap.

It is difficult to hold a compass course and keep the sails full with the wind at your back in large, following seas, but Jim was doing such an excellent job, Dean went below for a little snooze, while Lisa and I rested our eyes in the cockpit. When I opened mine again, I realized the sky behind us had turned dark gray all the way to the water. A squall was catching up to us. By the time I got my wits about me and called Dean up for a reduction in sail, the wind had already picked up another 10 knots. Heading downwind, the increase hadn't felt obvious until we tried to reef the genoa. Thank you, Hood sails, for making us a sturdy sail that two idiots can't manage to flog to pieces by letting the jib sheet go free in a squall.

We got the jib reefed, the squall passed, the wind died, and we let the jib out again. We had lots of bites on our lines, and we caught three fish, but none were keepers (two barracuda and a miniscule tuna). Fortunately, we had Dean's fabulous pizza to console us that night.

Tuesday we checked ourselves into the country of Nevis, checked our crew off of Delilah, checked out the town of Charlestown (that took about an hour), and put Lisa and Jim into a taxi for the airport. Thus deprived of company, we retired to the boat to contemplate the sunset.

Sorry, Lisa, but after five days of watching the sun set behind a hill or into clouds, we had a magnificent evening, and watched the big red ball dip into the ocean, turning green for one split second before it sunk below the horizon. Satisfied, we went below to read, and we were asleep by ten.

Only to wake up at one to the thump of a baseline from some seriously big speakers. The Double Deuce, a tiny, unassuming shack on the beach, had transformed itself to a dance club. It's happened to us a hundred times before, anchoring off various beachside communities, that we find ourselves awake and trying to ignore yet another poor imitation of Bob Marley, or worse, some garage band reggae group with cheap-but-loud equipment.

This time, after about twenty minutes of lying half awake, I realized I was enjoying whatever unfamiliar song it was that I was hearing, even though I couldn't understand a word. The song clearly had some Middle Eastern influence, and the language sounded Middle Eastern. It was hypnotizing. If it hadn't been four hours past my bedtime, I'd have been tempted to go in and find the bar.

Then the DJ came on, speaking English, letting his cheering entourage--and the entire anchorage--know that we were listening to some Lebanese club music. I hate to say it, but after a year in the Caribbean, I still don't like most reggae or Soca nearly as much as I liked that Lebanese club music. For about an hour. Then we closed all the windows and went to sleep in the saloon.


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