February 19-21, 2009
St. Martin to Barbuda
There was a flurry of activity at our boat the days before we departed St. Martin. As predicted, all of our people waited until the last minute to come and service our boat- so the day before we left was a parade of people coming and going- fixing the engines, generators, wind gauge, diesel lines, water-maker, delivering groceries, buying last minute parts, filling up with fuel, etc. It was a whirlwind, but we managed to check off everything on our extensive list and still make the 9:30 a.m. bridge.
We celebrated our last night in St. Martin at the Lady C’s for their “all you can eat” rib night. We love that place! Again, we amazed them with our never-ending ability to consume baby backs… mmmm! On Friday we set sail for Anse Marcel and had a wonderful lunch at Calypso. The current was out so we couldn’t have the oven baked pizzas that we craved. But they rustled up some fantastic grilled burgers instead and all were happy. We wandered the grounds of the new Radisson resort and then took the dingy back to our boat to prep for the sail to Barbuda.
Barbuda is 80 miles away from St. Martin and a system of reefs surrounding the island necessitate arriving with the sun directly above you. So, it was a night sail to arrive there in the morning. We assumed that if we left at 5:00 pm and averaged 5 knots, we would arrive in Barbuda in the early morning hours. Well, you know what happens when you “assume”…
The winds were kicking at 20 knots and the seas were 10+feet, which would not be unbearable except that they were on our nose for the entire trip. The Pirate and Carlos tried to steer a different course by tacking to at least get the winds to work with us instead of against us… but to no avail. No matter how hard they tried, they could not find the “yellow brick road” of flat water and favorable winds. In fact, it was just the opposite- the sea was definitely in charge and was pushing us off our course all through the night. Also, with no moon in the sky, all was pitch black and we could not see the monster waves before they hit us. At one point, we were so far off course that we were closer to Nevis than to our destination of Barbuda. The Pirate and Carlos took turns on 2 hour shifts all through the night and did not have the luxury of auto-pilot due to the waves. The last 6 hours of the trip was just a complete beat into the waves and wind toward our destination. The trip ended up taking 24 hours! Talk about wishful thinking when we thought we could make it in 12. Few got any sleep as the boat was pounding and rocking the entire time, but thankfully no one got sick. The boat took a real beating and that caused many problems here and there for us to fix. The windlass anchor shorted out, the bilge on port side stopped pumping, the garage leaked, a cotter-pin was missing from the main halyard… (all which are fixed now so no worries).
We arrived at 3 p.m. to the shore of Barbuda. We were a poor sight to be seen- all fatigued and salty and sunburned. While the men washed the boat, the women prepared a jambalaya. As we finally sat and ate and had a few drinks, we were able to feel the knots in our shoulders melt away. We witnessed a fantastic sunset and sat mesmerized by the crystal blue waters and gorgeous sand beaches. The memory of the crossing began to drift further and further away. All were in bed by 7! Bienvenue La Barbuda!