Early in the Monday morning, we got the help of an islander to release our shore line, and hoisted the sails. Al was a bit apprehensive about the forecast, which told about 15-20 knots of winds, since the frequent gust take it over that a lot. So he was thinking of making a reef, but I urged him not to, since we can never get any speed if the winds stay around 15. He listened to me, but was watching some other boat on the way, and showed me a catamaran with a reefed sail. See he said, we should have done the same.
As soon as we approach the south end of the island, the winds got strong, although the trades had not yet started. It was the wrap around winds that first hit us, then after reaching the open seas, we picked up speed. It seemed that we were flying, I only saw 7 knots on the GPS, but apparently it got up to 8-9 which he did not tell me, and Al put his foot down to reef the sail at mid-channel.
We turned into the wind, but the swells were so high, it was an ordeal to keep standing to release the main halyard. A bit scary, but not impossible. After the reef, we made a steady 7 knots, until we reached the mouth of the Admiralty Bay, in two hours straight. I am glad that we tried something different this time, instead of being constantly afraid and limping along the way. In one of the books that we had read, it was mentioned that, the first moment you feel uncomfortable and ask yourself whether if you should reef the sail while underway, you should! reef it. That is to say, one feels the strain of too much wind on the sails, which become dagerous of course. Having sailed our small hobby cat for ten years previously, we acquired the feel quite accurately, from the accompanying sounds and forces. This time Al was more afraid than me (surprise surprise), maybe because he expected it.
It was an adventure in itself, and an experience, which I am grateful for. I think I am losing my usual reserve, after listening to people who went through much more than we had ever ventured for. This does not mean to be reckless in any way, but allow ourselves for some thrill once in a while.
After we anchored at our usual place in front of the Princess Margaret beach, we saw that the water was uncommonly clean and calm, but the wind was constantly howling and not seem to abate at all.
We were thinking of clearing out of St Vincent at Canouan (we just learned about the customs/immigration service provided there, since it had an airport) and not at Union Island. Union is a pain and not safe. I hate the harbour itself and the people who crowd around, the two offices are not at the same place, but leaving the boat unattended while tied to the pier does not feel secure. The last time we cleared out from Union, Al only went as far as the customs, and skipped immigration, since he had to go to the airport for that.
Anyway, this time it is going to be from Canouan, but its harbour is not very protected. While listening to the howls of the wind, we decided to stay put at Admiralty, which is the best place to wait for a calmer day.
It appears that St Vincent in general, and Admiralty in particular are learning how to deal with foreigners; we have not encountered the combattive behaviour for snatching up the business from competitors, or forcing the potential customers to buy their products, as many a blog writers had complained before.