As usual, Al checked all the weather sites, and thought that Saturday night would be calm enough, 10 to 15 knot winds, 3 to 5 ft seas, ideal weather to sail. At that angle (almost 90 degrees), 15 knots is enough to push us 7 - 8 miles per hour (our absolute limit is 9 miles). Coming down was a bit stressful, but we managed to lower our speed by playing with the sheets. Al thought going back was to be easier still, looking at the forecast.
We hoistred the main and let the mooring ball go around 4:00 pm, and started motor sailing along the south west coast of Chaguaramas, toward the next small island on the west, and turned to the channel in between.
The wind was erratic due to the land effect, so we patiently passed through, and slowly started sailing into the open seas. Since the land mass was much bigger than all the other islands, the real strenght of the wind was not felt until after a few hours. By the time we got to the real open seas, it was pitch dark outside, and we started to fly on water. Letting out the sheets and the traveller, whatever we did was not enough to slow us down.
Al started the engines, turned into the wind, and ordered pulling down the sail to the first reef. Easier said than done; it was dark, we thought we pulled the first reef halyard to its mark while being beaten by wind and waves, and continued on. After ten minutes, Al saw that sail was not down enough, so we repeated the process. The waves might have been 3 ft, but the swells were much higher! Long story short, slowing the boat became a real ordeal. Both of us were out of breath and sweating buckets, until we came down to a steady manageable speed.
This time Al tried once to sleep a short while, but decided to keep going. I have to admit that my stamina did not last that long. I slept a few short periods during the dead of night.
We reached St George's around 6:00 am, in 14 hours as opposed to 15 on our way there. We had reserved a spot at the dock of the Yacht Club, but Keeron, the dock master would not show up before 7:00 am; so we motored into the bay, and turned the engines down, started drifting in the gentle breeze to wait. It was great, no sound, no waves, so peaceful. We had our breakfast, tidied around the boat, time passed quickly. Then Al called Keeron on the phone, and asked if we could come in to be tied up. Kiran told us to wait until 8:00 am, since our spot was occupied for the time being, but the boat was leaving. One more hour of drifting, and we went in, got tied in and relaxed.
I was planning on scrubbing the boat from top to bottom, which was the reason of coming into the marina again. Marina life is the worst life imaginable for me; usually it is hot, noisy and full of bugs, and there is no swimming; not the boat life we love. However, water is abundant and cheap at the club, and it is centrally located, close to the grocery stores we shop from. So we planned to endure three more nights to finish our chores, and get on our way.
The first night before we go to bed, I started hearing the old crackling sounds from the hulls. I almost fainted! After all the ordeal, were the damned termites still devouring our boat? However we listened carefully, and realized that they were coming from the hulls, and not from the bow or the inside of the boat. As a matter of fact, I could hear the noises from the open side hatch, which made me think that it was coming from the outside of the boat.
While we were lying in the bed, unable to sleep, Al searched the Internet, and found a lot of people writing about hearing noises in reference to pistol shrimps eating the nutrients stuck on the boat hulls, like barnicles and such. After reading some, Al opened the hull cover in our cabin, and looked all over. There was no sign of any activity inside, but the noise was more pronunced in the bilge area. We decided that it should be coming from the outside, and tried to get some sleep. It was torture, but we tried to beleive the other boaters' assessments. We even watched some videos, which depicted similar sounds as coming from the pistol crabs and other crustaceans feeding off the hulls. I was a bit relieved, but made a mental note to get the fumigators in Martinique to come and check our boat, if they could identify the source of the noise.
In the meantime, we did our scrubbing, shopping and laundry, filled our water tanks and got ready to start our trip north.