Sint Maarten to Bermuda

After a busy week fixing, mending, polishing, trimming and generally getting ready we finally got away from the seething fleshpot that is Sint Maarten early in the morning Thursday 16th. Here’s a happy snap (courtesy of our friends Blair and Edi) of us passing out of the lagoon and into Simpson’s Bay. Note Daisy pondering whether to go for the full ‘Rose Dawson’.

After getting clear of the lee of the island we hoisted the main and mizzen, rolled out the genoa and had the most wonderful afternoon beam reaching North in a 10-12kt Easterly as we passed Anguillita (the tiny island off the SW corner of Anguilla) and then between Dog and Prickly Pear Cays and out of the Caribbean two months after we arrived in Martinique. A small group of dolphins appeared to jump around in and out of the bow wave, reminding us of how much we’d enjoyed their company on the way across. Late in the afternoon we were overtaken by the long legged ‘Morpheus’ also heading for Bermuda, 850M ahead. The Atlantic was in a gentle mood that evening, a nearly full moon rising into the clear sky just before sunset meaning that it hardly got dark at all.

Next morning the gentleness became all embracing, the wind dying away to just five knots but I was feeling pretty relaxed, happy as long as we could make at least three knots in the right direction. This state of affairs was brought sharply to a close when we received the five day forecast which showed strong Northerly winds for Bermuda from Wednesday. Out of the window went noble thoughts of drifting slowly up – it was time to shake a leg or face a beat into a 25kt+ headwind. Beating into a F6 is all well and fine in its season but is unlikely to be much enjoyed by the girls. Likewise, Pols feels she had enough tough windward work to last a lifetime back in the Red Sea fifteen years ago – so on went the engine. We’d got five days to make good about 720M.

The skies echoed my darkening humour, clouding over as I ran through the arithmetic, which ran thus; the wind was set to remain light for them next few days, mainly from the SE and S around F2-3, sometimes F4. We’d do well to make much more than 100M/d in the F2-3, 125, maybe 150M/d in the F4 so long as it wasn’t too much to the S (ie dead behind us). If we kept sailing we’d be probably 150-200M short of Bermuda when the wind veered N. That would mean perhaps two days of head-banging before getting in. Yuk. Alternatively, we could motor at about 7 knots, which would get us there in plenty of time – except that our diesel tank would have run dry about, er, 150-200M short. Oh dear, same outcome.

Faced with this hand we decided to set a minimum boat speed target of five knots, sailing when we could make that pace and motoring when we couldn’t. For three days the light winds and overcast conditions were varied by regular torrential downpours from clouds as black as the Earl of Hell’s weskit, tho’ mercifully the gusts associated with the squalls were modest – rarely more than 25kts. A routine of engine on, sails down, sails up, engine off every six hours or so was established. The sea state was generally vile, a nasty chop being delivered by post tropical depression Andrea (first cyclone of the season) out to our West. It was all rather hard on the nerves after a two month residency on Easy Street but relief arrived on Tuesday afternoon. After a yet another dump of cold, fresh water from the heavens, the wind finally firmed up from ESE soon reaching 15 knots and we were able to sail fast directly on course. Early on Wednesday morning we passed through the frightfully narrow Town Cut…

…into the stunning natural harbour of St George’s to go through the formalities of arrival with the charming officials on Ordnance Island. Our anchor chain rattled out at 0800 with the wind freshening in the West having veered sharply overnight. By noon it was blowing hard from the N. Like Waterloo, the passage had been a damned near run thing.

6 thoughts on “Sint Maarten to Bermuda”

  1. Tom, the ex Wellingtonian historian in me enjoyed your Waterloo analogy. One of the many advantages of your current location is that you are far away from the alarming prospect back here in Old Blighty of Boris becoming PM in a matter of weeks- as if lazy Old Etonian PMs with poor judgement haven’t already done enough damage to this country in the last few years. Putting aside the unusual ex Etonian Rory Stewart (who strikes me as the brightest, most talented Conservative leadership candidate), in the case of both Boris and Cameron rather than the Iron Duke’s “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton” I prefer George Orwell’s “Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there”. Enjoy Bermuda! Robert

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    1. Thanks Robert, yes indeed, the prospect of the honest, hard working, altruistic, serious, abstinent and widely respected Johnson in the driving seat is one to make me want hurry home with all dispatch. No doubt on arriving I’ll discover the streets already paved with Gold. I agree R. Stewart looks the best of a wretched line up but would imagine he has not a snowball’s chance in hell of making the last two let alone being selected by the 124,000 Bufton-Tuftons still clinging on at the Sunset Retirement Home for the Elderly & Bewildered. Shame that Francois fellow isn’t standing – is it because of his forrin’ name? People shouldn’t be so short sighted… T.

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      1. The thought of Mark Gino Francois joining the leadership race is enough to give me an aneurysm. As a keen historian you may be interested to hear that his absurd ERG Chairman has received the worst review I have ever seen for a history book for The Victorians eg A.N. Wilson and Dominic Sandbrook’s thoughts – “soul-destroying, terrible, so bad, so boring, mind-boggingly banal.. anathema to anyone with an ounce of historical, or simply common, sense.. before I started the prospect of Rees-Mogg in Downing Street struck me as ridiculous, but if this is what it takes to stop him writing another book then I think we should think about paying that price”. I know you like to form your own opinion on historical works so I’ll order it from Amazon so it’s waiting for you in Woodbridge.. R

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      2. I agree Tom. Talking about Mark Gino Francois, as an avid reader of history books you may be interested to hear that his ERG Chairman has attracted the worst reviews for The Victorians that I can recall ever reading for a new publication purporting to be a history book – the likes of A.N. Wilson and Dominic Sandbrook have described it as “so bad, so boring, mind-bogglingly banal… the prospect of Rees-Mogg in Downing Street struck me as a ridiculous idea but if this is what it takes to stop him writing another book then I think we should seriously consider paying that price”. Independent minded as you are, I know you like to form your own opinions, so I’ll ask Mr Amazon to deliver a copy to you in Woodbridge as a welcome home present in a few months’ time.. R

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  2. Sorry about the confusing duplicate comment above Tom, based on the initial message I received saying that my first comment had been submitted for moderation, I assumed that my use of R-M’s name had caused me to be blocked; in any event, enjoy your copy of The Victorians.. Hope Bermuda goes well, R

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