Al had been checking the weather constantly at the multiple sites, which consistently report about a potential storm approaching, first on Thursday, then on Wednesday; so we decided to hurry up and skip some of the ports that we stop at regularly, in order to break the sailing time. However, I hate the high seas that develop during the storms and the swells that never seem to subside long after, more than sailing a few hours longer at a time.
This year, we decided to do things differently, and debated about the ports to be passed. First we thought Bequia was a candidate, getting to Wallilabou, St Vincent is doable from Canouan, in about seven hours; however Bequia is the only place we know that getting water and diesel is easy. Al was apprehensive of starting a long stretch without filling the fuel tanks, on the way we used a lot of diesel (about one third), and it may be a bit tight , if we had to use the engines all the way. So, Bequia we had to visit, and clear out from; then skip Wallilabou and reach the Pitons, St Lucia. Al minutely calculated, and found that from the anchorage of Admiralty Bay, to the mooring balls of the Jalousie resort would be 51 miles. As we always estimate an average of 5 miles per hour for Ruyam II, we prepared ourselves to sail 10 hours.
After reaching Bequia in a bit over three hours, winds being favorable from Canouan, first thing to do was to call Daffodil Yacht Services to book an appointment for the mobile tanking station to come to Ruyam II. We called the telephone number provided in the giude book (our bible), but received a message. It was Saturday, were they not working? Since we wanted to catch the Customs officials before lunch, we hurried to the building.
On our way back, we stopped at the chandlery, very close to the dinghy dock to ask about Daffodil. The lady assured us that they should be working, however, if we could not reach them, we could use the services of Kingfisher tanker, anchored in the bay, right across from the chandlery. She also provided their number, which we called. There were people on board to help us anyway we wished. The only thing is, we had to weigh anchor and ride there to get our precious water and diesel. Oh well, it can be done. We cursed our cluelessness; we could have boarded the tanker on our way in, and maybe continue without stopping. Maybe next time.
Before weighing anchor, Al tried the VHF, since their number is also provided in the book, but got no response. I suggested trying channel 16 first, and it worked. They apparently monitor 16, and instruct to turn to 67 to communicate. I think this is the way people do business, not knowing if everybody is aware of their number. Phew, we got lucky! Daffodil promised to send the small catamaran with the multiple tanks at 1:30 pm, and we sat to our lunch with a sigh of relief.
The guy promptly came, gave us what we needed, and did not complain for taking too long to fill our water tanks, since we use double filters. Of course the water they provide from is not the cleanest, as was apparent on the first coarse filter, and discarded it immediately afterwards. No problem for us.
We decided to start at 6:00 am the next morning, in order to reach the Pitons at a timely manner, long before dusk at 6:00 pm. You never know what might happen on the way! Although we are generally not conservative people, we agree on being ultra conservative in our estimations, and hence we are always early for wherever we go. Even house parties, we get to the door sometimes before the hosts would be ready. As every Turk (and some Spaniards) know that the given party start time is an estimation for at least one hour early for the guests; however we had always felt like aliens, in Turkey, and even sometimes in Canada. We do not conform to the norms, but the people that we love seem to tolerate us. What else could anyone ask.
Long story short, we started at 6:10 am on Sunday morning, furled out the sails, but kept the engines running, since Al wanted to maintain 6 knots per hour. The channel between Bequia and St Vincent was passed about an hour and a half, and the lee of the island was achieved.
Doyle reminds the readers to be aware of th erratic wind schemes of St Vincent, probably due to it top heavy shape. He recommends reefing the sails when reaching the north portion of the island, since sudden burst of high winds were possible to encounter, due to the wind wrapping around the mountain.
We did encounter them, coupled with some storm cells, which gave our speed quite a burst at times. We reached the north corner in less than four hours, and started to sail in the channel. While we were riding the mini storms along the way, a depth finder reading caught my attention. It was 11.8 feet at some point off of the island I presume, but when I looked, the depth could not be measured, being over 500 feet.
This is a phenomenon that we had seen before about that area, which of course had scared me half to death. Moreover, both the GPS and the Imray chart mention that this particular area was not surveyed properly. Whatever exists at the northwest corner of the island, which we measured at 10-15 feet below the surface of the body of water which is close to 1,000 feet deep, seems to be also seen and reported by some people. Al speculates that it probably is a school of fish. Everytime we pass, in the same area and the same depth? We don't know what it is, but it did not hurt us yet.
The channel is 30 miles, and our estimation was six hours. We passed it in four, and reached the general area at 2:00 pm. Jalousie is the first sheltered bay between the Gros and the Petit Piton. It is small and very deep, so anchoring is not possible, but there are a few mooring balls that are maintained by St Lucia coast guard administration. And there are boat-boys to help find the pennant (deep in water, not fishable from high up), so we tied up around 2:30 and congratulated each other for our fearlessness (!). When it was over, I felt OK, but on the way the multiple mini storms were quite scary. The sea was relentlessly harsh - waves were not too high, but short and forceful. So it was a constant beating on the hulls. Thankfully, this time we were prepared and did not lose any of our breakables. But it was hard on the body. After a short swim, we were ready for bed around right after sundown.