Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Big Trek (Tues Nov 30)

This morning we awoke with the anticipation of the crossing from Culebra to St. Thomas.  This is the crossing that has been at the back of our minds throughout the trip because  the combination of a northerly swell and winds from the east north-east make sailing to the east more difficult.  The forecast has been for reducing winds throughout the week and while we’ve found that the winds have been less than they were earlier, they certainly haven’t dropped off as much as was anticipated.  We’ve approached this crossing with the idea that if push came to shove we could always motor it, but making it by sail would be an accomplishment.

With all this in mind, we set off from Almodovar taking a northerly track between Culebrita and Cayo Norte to set us on the path for St. Thomas.  As we cleared the shoals off Culebrita we entered the Virgin Passage where we encountered swells of 10-12’ and winds from the east north-east up to 26 knots.  This has been the most challenging open-water passage that we’ve taken on so far and with the sails reefed we made good time past sail rock (yes, it really does look like a giant sail) and then found ourselves in the teeming waters of off-shore St. Thomas.  Having seen virtually no one for over a week, were suddenly on the alert dodging other boats large and small.  In fact, we had a chuckle when the first boat we saw out in open water, we actually had to adjust direction as we were on a collision course.  To make matters more fun, as soon as we’d avoided the little boat, a commercial tanker split the difference and passed right between us.

We cleared into Brewer’s Bay for a late lunch and a snorkel, completing a full figure-8 treck as you’ll be able to see once I post our sailing path for the last week.  What a glorious afternoon and a wonderful sense of accomplishment to have made it.

As an evening treat, we finally picked up a mooring ball in Frenchtown Marina so we could visit ashore for dinner with John and Eleanor.  This was not before we fully realized that we were back in the busy-busy world of life in the USVI; we were buzzed by a 767 as we entered Brewer‘s Bay behind the airport, we passed right under the bows of the Queen Mary 2 (world’s largest ocean liner) as she prepared to leave the dock in St. Thomas and then had to dodge the float plane from St. Croix as it landed down the passage that we needed to take to our mooring.  Whew!

As an added bonus, we met up with Greg and Titsiana (appologies as I am sure I have spelled this wrong) who are the owners of the new Mahe 36 ‘Azzurra’ in the CYOA fleet.  Dinner at Hook, Line & Sinker rounded out the evening and put a nice cap on our Spanish Virgin Island circumnavigation for November 2010.  I’m sure there are many other islands left to explore in the region but what a wonderful introduction this has been and sure to be an area we will cruise in the future.

For all those considering the SVI, of course we won’t encourage you to go since we’d love to keep the anchorages as pristine and lonely as they are!

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