Since Escapade was hatched we have learned to be a bit sceptical of our firm plans.
They do seem to change pretty drastically within a few weeks, or days!
One of our original plans was to sail up through the Turks and Caicos islands to the Southern part of the Bahamas.
We were keen to go exploring among uninhabited islands, shallow waters rarely visited by yachts, surfing and windsurfing the North swells that hit the reefs and banks of this huge area.
Our winter sailing season was only limited by an Atlantic crossing in December and the start of the hurricane season in June. Six months! Surely that is easily long enough to experience everything we want to in these islands?
As we sat studying the charts in early April, we realised the Bahamas dream would not happen this year. We had sailed as far as Puerto Rican waters and the Turks and Caicos were within reach, but to return to the Eastern Caribbean would be a hard slog against wind and current. We still wanted to leave Escapade on this side of the Atlantic for the hurricane season while we return to Guernsey for the summer. A new plan was formed to sail to Trinidad and haul out there in June. Our old shipmate Monty would join us for the trip from St Martin to Martinique.
The next change of plan was Dawn flying down to New Zealand to look after my daughter Jemima who was recovering from surgery in Auckland.
I was left in Tortola in need of crew to sail the 90 miles to windward, back to St Martin to meet Monty.
My racing crew Caroline kindly volunteered and we press-ganged her friend Richard to sail with us the next day, before he had time to think about it.
We sailed away from the Virgins and out to the East, reefed down and beating at 8 and 9 kts into the swell. Richard entertained us with a non stop stream of hilarious anecdotes and observations all the way, he only stopped talking once in the afternoon to catch a Mahi Mahi and again at midnight for 3 hrs sleep.
By sunset the wind was lighter and the reefs shaken out. Fish tagine for dinner.
At 10pm I commented that if Dawn was on board, we would put a couple of reefs in as “the sails seem to be bigger in the dark”. The breeze is 15kts, the boat is going well and Dawn is not on board, so we continue under full main.
Soon after midnight all hands are on deck reefing in 25kts of wind with Escapade romping to windward at 10kts in a cloud of spray. Drama over, boat slowed down, we are able to enjoy the moon and the stars and reflect on how wise my wife is…
First light at 04.30 and the morning sun warms us as we tack up into the harbour at Marigot Bay.
We spend a couple of days recovering and starting on my list of boat chores before Caroline and Richard fly back to Tortola. Thanks again to the delivery crew!
(Apologies for this late post. Regular readers of this blog will understand that this technology only works when Dawn is aboard.)