Time waits for no one, nor does the weather, so with winds forecast under 20, we cleared out and readied the boat for departure. Once clear of the harbor entrance our first leg was off the wind for about 20 miles or so to the southwest tip of the island. Good thing too, because winds were closer to 25 knots with rumbling seas pushing us along.
As we approached the tip, I noticed the wind and seas building, boats coming towards us struggling and pounding into the waves. Our turn would require a heavy weather, short handed jibe onto our new NW heading. A glance at the wind speed indicator showed 30 plus knots indicated, off the wind, with Ocean Angel surfing at over 9 knots. Oh boy! Here’s when our trusty autopilot is an absolutely essential crew member; Otto handled the turn effortlessly while I controlled the mainsail, Joy controlled the jib, as we jibed onto our new heading. We turned close in towards shore so we could slide into the calmer seas in the lee of the big island.
Here again we encountered the accelerating winds on the tips of the islands; I’ve written about this Caribbean weather feature before, but it’s important to stress once more just how much this feature plays into your daily sailing and navigation. You need to be prepared to take the proper measures.
From the southwest tip we sailed northwards, chatting on VHF with another boat named “Montana Sky”, as we worked our way to the roadstead at Deshaies, a deep water anchorage just shy of the NW corner of Guadeloupe. We anchored in 55 feet of water because all the better spots were taken. Every last foot of our chain hung towards the bottom.