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Date: 16 Jan 2011 02:17:00
Title: Sailing to Saba

17:38.267N 63:15.422W Ladder Bay, Saba, Saturday night

Yes, that's right - we actually moved today. Hurray. Put out the flags - or at least, change the courtesy flag. We're all feeling much better and are enjoying our new home with its fine scenery.

The air-con guys turned up first thing this morning and fixed our salt water and the weather was calm so we considered putting our newly recut mainsail back on at the dockside but we were worried about what would happen if the wind built up during the maneuver so we decided to do it out at anchor where at least Saxon Blue could swing away from a gust. Kali had befriended the crew of a mega-yacht called Pearle Bleu last night so we were able to borrow the engineer, Vince, to give us a hand. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to dump all our rubbish (including a pile of carbon battens) and clear out of Customs, we set out from our berth. I was pretty nervous after the trouble we had getting in there but it all went smoothly and we motored out to find a sheltered spot. Some chance.

We ended up in the lea of some hills which gave us a bit of shelter and got the mainsail hoisted in short order. Having Vince to help made it much easier and we all felt that we'd done a good job. Vince then told us about life onboard a mega-yacht which was fascinating and didn't make any of us want to take it up, either as charter guests or crew. While we were chatting, we watched one of the local small container boats come into the dock near us with two crew braying hell out of the anchor windlass with a massive hammer. In the end, it gave in a dropped the anchor so that's a technique we're going to remember for the next time some of our equipment decides to play difficult. Kali then ran Vince back to his engineroom, rescued one of the marina guys and returned to Saxon Blue while we diddled around outside the marina. She can have an adventure in a moment, that girl.

We got our tender back on the davits and motored out past some beautiful boats in the direction of Grande Bleu which has been parked up here all week. Then we put the sails up. First the genoa on its own and then we gybed past the point and put our new mainsail up. It set perfectly - no flapping or drama and we didn't even have to tighten the leach line. From there on, we had full sail up all afternoon with no problems so we're very pleased with the decision to lose the battens and roach from the main. The sail looks right and the aft end of it actually sets better than it did with the battens in place because they pushed into a reverse bulge so I don't think we're even losing any performance. Anyway, I don't care if we are - it's safe and easy and I like it.

We could see Saba in the haze as we rounded the western tip of St Maarten so we could set our course and just sail along enjoying the warmth and the view. Saba is an extinct volcano and it has a high central mountain surrounded by a couple of smaller cones. The cliffs around the island plunge straight into the sea so there are no sandy beaches and no palm trees. It looks like a bit of the Faroes that's gone off for a tropical holiday. Kali was suffering a bit on the way over - she often finds short trips a trial which is why she prefers to get offshore where the waves are longer and there's time to adjust. Anyway, she had a phone call from Sam so perhaps that made up for it. Andrea saw her first Flying Fish and we enjoyed the antics of a dark-coloured Gannet which sat on our pulpit for ages.

Kali and I have been trying to come up with a simple way to remember what we need to do if anything unexpected happens on passage. Something like the DR AB that they teach in First Aid training. I came up with PHD as in People (are they all OK), Hull (is it still intact) and Danger (what could happen to compromise the safety of people or boat). I'm rather proud of it and I think I may sell it to the RYA and generate vast profits. Anyway, Kali likes it so that's the main thing.

As we neared the coast of Saba, we could see a couple of catamarans and a small sloop on the mooring buoys placed here for visitors. Kali raised the Customs on the VHF and charmed them into letting us moor up without clearing in first so we chose a buoy for ourselves and here we are. We were all anxious to dive in for a swim as soon as we arrived but I saw the Dutch Coastguard ship heading our way so hurriedly put our new Saba Courtesy Flag up with the Q Flag underneath. They had a good look at us and then headed off so I dived in after the girls. I was astonished at what I saw. It was like swimming in a vat of blue paint and it took me a while to realise what I was looking at. It's the first time I've swam out here in water deep enough (16 meters) that you can't see the sand reflected in it. All you can see is the deep blue of the sea itself and the white bubbles swirling around in it. The effect is magical.

I had a good swim around Saxon Blue and checked her anodes which all seem to be OK. Then time for a bit of hull-cleaning and rig up a second mooring strop before climbing back out up onto the stern. I love swimming straight off the boat - no annoying sand getting everywhere and somewhere to sit when you get out. By this time, the sun was nearly set so we sat on deck and watched it sink into the sea whilst trying to spot goats on the cliffs nearby. Andrea did see some in the end so she's pleased and hopeful of finding some goat's cheese tomorrow. Then it was time for a lovely tea and then catch up with the blog.

It was a great day. We got going again which is always a relief. It's so easy to get trapped in port and there's always an excuse to stay - waiting for parts or whatever. It's just so much more simple when you're out at sea. Then there's the bonus of a new island, new sights and a bit of peace and quiet. OK, so we're rolling around a bit in the catabatic gusts but that's a small price to pay.

Harvey

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