Friday, 17 February 2017
Leaving the windward islands–new destinations
Maarten and Hein joined us, and after an aborted attempt to sail back to Carriacou – gentlemen don’t sail to windward – we spent the night on the south side of Grenada and left for Bonaire at 9am on Saturday. 400NM and we arrived at lunchtime on Monday. The first 24 hours was breezy at times, mainly Force 5, on a broad reach heading 285 so a little north of course, but speedy in 3-4m seas. The second 24 hours we poled out the genoa and headed directly downwind to reach the north side of Bonaire. A good knot of current helping us on our way.
Sleep? Not for the first night as rolly on the reach, with 3m seas which every so often gave a big lurch. Lee cloths are tied to the ceiling in the cabins to give you a nautical equivalent of the Pine Board that you remember from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Maarten and Hein took 7-10pm and 1-4am, and Nicky and I were on for 10-1 and 4-7. Nicky had cooked a lasagne (and three fruit cakes) at Indigo so we had a delicious supper eaten out of the dog bowls which kept the food safely.
The second day the wind faded on us a little to F4, the seas flattened and the poled-out rig meant Calliope sailed herself with Mr Auto for 24 hours. Good teamwork and pleasant companionship.
It was a full moon and clear skies. Venus ahead of us, Jupiter and his companion star Spica astern. So much moon you could almost see the horizon all night, Orion above the mainsail. In the morning four flying fish on deck. I read Nicholas Nickleby on the passage, which took two days and made me think of “Dickens-in-a-week” for the English undergraduate at Oxford. We sailed with AIS on silent and no nav lights on in case of Venezuelan pirates, saw one fishing boat and three freighters near Bonaire. Otherwise the sea was ours. The second night we had all acclimatised and slept well in flatter seas.
So to Bonaire - a curate’s egg in my view; fabulous diving with amazing coral and crystal clear water. I had one compulsory practice dive and two more, plus I tried out our mini scuba kit, while Nicky and others snorkelled.
Nick and Alexia joined us and we picked up a hitch-hiker, Laurens, a kite-surfing instructor and are now sailing towards Curacao. Nick arrived with two Chelsea FC caps which have been banned in the forward cabin and which I plan to serve as fish food. We plan to spend a day in Curacao, then move on past Aruba towards Colombia where the weather round the dreaded point looks as though it may be most gentle on Monday and Tuesday.