We had a plan and we were sticking to it. They say never to do this. Your sailing schedule has to be flexible and accommodating to the weather. Sure it was a squally morning, but Chris Parker said it would clear up. If Chris Parker, the cruiser’s weather guru, says it is so, it must be so. Right, George? Well…
We waited for one squall to pass before weighing anchor. The sky looked clear, so we decided to go. We made it out of the anchorage, turned northeast, and watched as the next squall approached. This one went over the anchorage as well, but passed behind us. Cool. We were good to go.
Except for that next squall ahead of us. But we were committed, so Dave slowed the boat speed some and tried to let it pass ahead of us. For the most part, it worked. We only felt a little of the tail end. The water was still pretty calm, being protected by the island, which is exactly the advantage of sailing to leeward. But that wasn’t Dave’s plan…
The wind was holding pretty steady around 20 knots with some gusts up to 23. We had prepared ahead by immediately putting one reef in the main. We had the full jib out, but after blowing the jib sheet block going to Guadeloupe we are more cautious of leaving out the full jib. We furled it in a little less than halfway and still sailed at 8 knots! Having missed the squalls, this may have been a great idea to go today. At this rate, we were due in to Bequia at 1:30 PM! Awesome!
We passed the end of the island and took the windward side of Union and Canouan islands. Even though we had to motor during this part, heading ENE into the wind, it would give us a straight northward shot to sail to Bequia. Really good in theory. However, once we left the protection of the islands, the swells picked up to about 6 feet and only 3 to 7 seconds apart! We also saw wind gusts up to 27 knots. It was becoming a wild ride as well as a fast one. Then we saw the boobies. Where there are groups of boobies, there are fish. We had already dropped a line when we left the anchorage, but hadn’t had any action so far.
Even with the swells, we were making great time. I saw 8.8 knots regularly. This was no lazy sail. Because the waves were so close together, Dave and I were being tossed around. We put on our life vests – boat policy for any exciting weather – and held on tight.
Shortly after spotting the boobies, Dave noticed the dolphins. They came swimming up along side and Dave told me they were following along with us. I was trying to get some rest, but can’t resist watching the dolphins. At the bow, I saw a couple dozen right in front of us. I was worried we would hit them, but there was no need to worry. I think they were playing with us.
This was a pretty big pod of dolphins for the Caribbean. They were all around us. The group in front were doing synchronized jumps. Usually sailboats are too slow to hold their interest for long, but so far they stayed with us for ten minutes.
Just ahead we saw the boobies fishing. I figured the dolphins would go join in. With all the diving, I could tell there was a school of fish near the surface.
But the dolphins stayed with us and one can’t have too many dolphin pictures. Finally after the pod left us, one dolphin stayed at our bow. Then, what I assume was that dolphin’s mate came swimming back. The mate seemed to be trying to get the other’s attention and kept swimming off toward the group. But the one dolphin was having a blast and stayed with us another ten minutes or so. Eventually, the mate convinced that dolphin to leave as well, but not before we had our moment. I wonder if it could hear me talking to it.
That was awesome and well worth losing some rest over. I returned to the cockpit and settled back down. I closed my eyes and thought, ‘We didn’t have any fish action.’ I was thinking about letting out more line when I hear the ziiinnggg. “Janice, the fishing pole!” “On it!” I started reeling it in and it felt like I lost the fish. Dave said it was still on, he saw it jump, and it looked like a tuna. Hmmmm, must be a little guy. I reeled it in and sure enough, we caught what I thought was a little skipjack.
The water was too rough to filet it and Dave didn’t want to throw it back, so he stuck it in the freezer. I took over the helm and it wasn’t long before the line started whirring again. “Dave, your turn. Fish on.”
This time the pole was bending like there was something sizable on it and Dave sent me for the gaff. He kept reeling and working the fish, whom wasn’t making it easy on Dave. Finally, the fish neared the boat enough for us to see 1) it wasn’t big enough to be able to gaff and 2) it was some kind of tuna. This little guy was very spirited and put up a good fight.
When Dave had it next to the boat, I reached out and grabbed the line, lifting the fish up and into the dinghy. We could tell this was no skipjack, but we had never caught a tuna before so we didn’t know what kind it was. I pulled out the offshore fishing book and figured it must be a blackfin tuna. The book said it was good eating, so into the freezer it went. Dave had some filleting to do when we got anchored!
Yes, it was an exciting day at sea and there was no rest for the weary, but after averaging over 8 knots we made it to Bequia in record time. At the southern end of the island is this shipwreck. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! These are always solemn reminders of what can happen when things go wrong.
For the first time in six months, we raised the yellow quarantine (“Q”) flag and retired the Grenada flag. As you can see, it was pretty worn out and needed retiring. Yes, it was time to go!
By the way, guess what we had for dinner that night. Spicy herbed seared tuna. It didn’t taste fishy at all. Man, you just can’t beat fresh caught fish.