to St Lucia

Ocean Science's blog
Glenn Cooper
Mon 5 Mar 2018 18:04
Monday morning sees us weighing anchor in the bay at Bequi and heading north.  We left at first light, at a time when the water in the bay was surging - this was not local weather; it must have been a remnant of a storm out at sea.  There were 2 metre rollers crashing on the walkway where we had been a few hours earlier.  The masts on boats nearer the land were swinging from side to side, and many were starting to move out to anchor in deeper water.
The previous night, our last on the charming island of Bequi, started with a little trip ashore in our dinghy to an elegant bar on the waterfront with live music.  A couple of sundowners, then it was back to the boat for an evening meal.  For those who are  interested, the menu was : ribeye steak fried with garlic, saute potatoes, whole corn on the cob, cooked spinach, shiraz and a fun-size Twix.  No fancy desserts from Mike this time.  The steaks were monster. 
More on St Lucia later, we are aiming to overnight there.  In the meantime, wind news is  that it is sparse.  We are motoring , with the wind just off our bow, so no point in getting sails up.  The winds have been light over the last few days .   Just before we set off from Antigua the winds were fierce - around 30 knots.  This was at the time of the Caribbean 600 mile race out of Antigua, and of the 80+ competitors 40 retired, mainly due to the weather, and one big catamaran overturned (One old joke here is that an overturned catamaran is in a condition of total stability).    When we set off the winds were around 15 kn, nicely on our beam, but they soon started to ease, and now we have very little.  We are motoring up the coast of St Lucia.  The main features on the southern approach are two stacks called Petit Piton and Gros Piton, around 2,500 feet high, but they are covered in cloud.
Not much happening here (except king-sized BLTs for lunch) so how about an item on ensigns?   We have a new red ensign, a flag which any British ship can fly.  Red is the entry level ensign.  One rule of thumb is that the ensign should be one inch for every foot of hull length.  We are 60 feet, so on this basis the ensign is 60 inches,  The ensign size is measured diagonally.  Like a TV set.   For landlubbers, the nautical emphasis on flags, ensigns, pennants and burgees is a bit of a closed book.  When we enter St Lucia waters we will run up the courtesy flag, a miniature of their national flag.  Also the Yellow Jack, or quarantine flag, to show that we have not been cleared through landing formalities.  Plain yellow is Q in the flag  alphabet.   In a week or two Ocean Science will be flying a far superior ensign.  This is the white ensign, which can be flown by the Royal Navy and also members of the august Royal Yacht Squadron.  Mike will be using the boat to take some people on a tour, and some are RYS members.  After than it will be back to basics.