Thursday - the sailing and the hoovering.

Fri 8 Dec 2023 14:21
18.10N 54.46W if you don’t get the sailing you can skip this first bit.

Sailing with 200sqm parasail at just under 270cog and 6-9 avg 7-8SOG with 15knot wind from NE veering ENE.
I’m trying to hold my northing and sail at 270. This will give me more options on final approach to SXM in a couple of days.

I binned the idea of going S around Antigua. The local winds at SXM (=shorthand for the island of St Martin and Sint Maarten) from Saturday are up to 25 knots. Plus there’s likely more traffic that way - sailing inside the islands isn’t an easy snoozy solo blast like out away from most stuff on a Transat.
Instead I’m planning to go N of Barbuda which is an empty island with Canada next north of it. Then I can turn to ride the fast winds dead downwind WSW towards SXM.
I could go south of St Barts which is ultimato safety option. I was favouring this when wind forecast was up to 35knots. Keeping all dangers to stbd and with clearing targets the whole way. If things go wrong with steering or anything I just keep left and downwind, next stop Panama.
Another option is direct into the Anguilla channel. But I may need a lot of space to drop the sail. Last time in Martique it ended with a knife fight with the sail 5miles downwind: cutting all four lines/guys holding the base/leeches of the sail made it finally easy to snuff after a bunch of twists and bad stuff. Extreme but effective. But there are many tales of parasailor-snuffing woe out there. One chap found himself over the side dangling off the snuffing line. That’s cos he didn’t pull the main lines short first of all. So I reckon easily the best spot to (try) drop the sail in 25knots is off SW coast of SXM.
My preferred (atm!) final approach option is to thread N of St Barts and its various rocks to SE corner of SXM. It’s a 5mile wide slot so should be doable even in the dark. Staying N on 270 all the way should let me clear Barbuda easily take it dead downwind, then turn to stbd right around to the SW coast.
Yes, it should easily be doable to drop the sail in 6mile wide Anguilla Channel … but I’m solo. If things go wrong and I have to retire injured then the boat goes towards rocks and/or the big anchorage. Fooling around on S coast gives me a few hundred miles to Panama.

I dropped the big sail overnight, partly due to low wind and also to hope my skills had improved from aforementioned Martinique fiasco. It all went very smooth but it was in under 12knots. And I HAD tightened the shackle properly after all.

Wind veered now, and up to 8+kts sog. I’m due 15-20knot winds today, maybe up to 25 over the weekend.

Whatever happens this trip can’t last more than another 60hours ish.
Hoovering. Yes! On a long car journey I like to stop just before arriving and wash/vacuum the car. This makes arriving and meeting people much nicer - the car isn’t a total fly-spattered mess so you can enjoy the destination from the moment you arrive. If you don’t clean before arrival- when does it become to of the list again, hm?
Same with the boat. And actually more important. See, if you don’t keep a clean tidy boat there’s a risk of some saying that “that boat getting a bit beyond him”. I’ve seen lots of old guys dark at this and protest their still-excellent boat-handling, navigational and sailing skills. How could anyone judge?Because the first stage of it being “a bit much” is a messy boat. When people get a new (to them) boat or new car, the very least they do is keep it looking smart, even if they pay others to do it.
Solo, there’s no option to pay others and I have to do The Lot.
Next unto God means that while He/His Lot take care of weather and oceans etc, I do everything else. Yep, the sailing, obviously. But everything includes organising food, tidying, cleaning, vacuuming - everything. Even polishing inside! Although yes, I sometimes cheat by just spraying Pledge on the door jamb. Oh and I also made a bunch of sunshades for the cockpit on this trip. It’s kinda like a convertible now.