Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Haul-outs and Coincidences

Let's see, it seems like so much has happened in the few days but I will try to summarize and not make this post too long.

Monday night at Leinster Bay was completely calm and uneventful, and I when I say calm, it was rather like early morning up on the Ottawa River - we've never seen the conditions like this before down here.

Tuesday morning we checked in at Soper's Hole and then headed up to Nanny Cay to have Mowzer hauled out for a measurement to complete our Transport Canada registration.  All went according to plan and schedule, the yard was extremely efficient and the measurements were all taken over the lunch period so we were back in the water and on our way by 1:30.

During our haul-out we also had the bottom pressure washed so she is all clean and in 'go-fast' shape.  We did find a few blisters appeared immediately once Mowzer was out of the water and they quickly disappeared once she dried so this is a little concerning but we'll have to see what can be done.

The yard was super hot so it was great to get back out on the water and so we headed over to Cooper Island where we hooked up to a mooring for a bit of R&R and the preparation for making the big jump.  We had food and drinks for the night ready, we rigged up jack-lines to attach ourselves to the boat and made sure we had all our charts, navigation and time calculations completed.

We departed from Cooper Island at 5:30pm and after buzzing the backside of Ginger Island, headed east across the Anegada Passage towards Anguilla. The sun slowly set behind us and it wasn't long before darkness encapsulated us aboard the boat. On one hand the world really shrinks to just the space you can see – the boat, but on the other your focus is so external trying to assess the lights around you and with the most amazing star-show going on, you feel infinitely small. We had our first freighter cross in front of us fairly early on and after that it was a parade of cruise ships heading for St. Martin (all behind us). The sliver of a moon set around 9:30pm but even so we could still pick out the horizon as a different darkness between sea and sky. At no point were we ever without being able to see four or five other sailboats heading for Anguilla or St. Martin – you can tell by their lights whether they are under power or sail. Given the conditions which were extremely flat seas and winds of only 6 – 10 knots, I'm assuming most were motor sailing as were we.
Auto helm was doing his stuff while Henry kept a lookout behind?

By 5:30am and a number of 2-hour exchanged shifts, the sky was brightening and we made the decision to slow down just a bit to be able to enter the area north of Anguilla under daylight conditions. From our time here before we knew we would encounter many floats from the lobster posts in the passage and sure enough it was a game of dodge-em all the way up to Road Bay.

This is what we were hunting for so we wouldn't get a line wrapped on our prop:

This all felt like such an accomplishment to us and we're very happy to have our first overnight passage under our belts. Of course, the wind and seas were very kind to us but at least we now know what it is like to be out there in the darkness, that is really not that dark.

Wednesday in Road Bay: we checked in at customs and immigration and made plans for the next day to do some cruising in the Anguilla marine park. Back at the boat today we rested up and napped through a mid-day rain shower before heading out for a walk. As we wandered along we came across a couple of folks studying a map so of course we struck up a conversation. To make a long story short, they are also sailing a Mahe 36 and crossed over from the BVI last night as well. We trekked up the hill together into The Valley (funny topography on Anguilla what?) where they were looking to pick up a car rental. We wandered on for a bit and then heard the distant call of an old-fashioned ice cream truck. As we carried on Ted and Louise came by in their new-found car and gave us a lift over to Crocus Bay where we hoped to pick up the Heritage Trail to walk back to Road Bay. We found the Heritage Trail alright, but I think Anguilla is just a bit bigger than we really expected and after about 3 miles and an impromptu stop for more water, we were back at the anchorage. What a neat clean island, and as we have found so often people are so friendly if only you say “Good Afternoon”. The island is definitely making it's living off high-end tourism so we won't be staying too long, but will take this as an opportunity to enjoy it while we can.