Friday, September 26, 2014

Eight days at sea, “Expect the unexpected”

We left Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgins Islands, last week for Grenada, on the Southern part of the Caribbean Sea. That was our first goal. However, the trip we expected for 4-5 days ended up with 8 days just for half way!

Why? Because your plans always have to be flexible when you sail! This time we decided to really sail as much as we can instead of motoring to save money on diesel. We had to fight with the wind that tried to push us back to the place where we came from for more than 2 days even we tried tacking but it was hard so we finished up using the engine to try to make some way against the wind and the currents. The weather prediction for week of our trip was perfect, the wind during the day was quiet and no squalls until the night. The cracking noise of the wood and the swing were horrible after the dark. We stayed in the same place on the sea for 2 days without making any progress, taking back and forward but with no way forward!  At least we didn’t break anything!

But wait, on the third night while I was trying to rest from putting my little girl to sleep, I heard a weird loud noise and strange smell, right after I screamed to Joao and ran to see what was happening. I felt so lucky that my captain didn’t fall asleep after all his tiredness. It was the connection of the propane gas bottle that broke, giving place to havoc of noise and gas being spilled in to open air. The gas was leaking out but Joao was able to turn off the main valve on the bottle on time. Sometime later he told me that if we were not able to do it he was already thinking on throwing the gas bottle to the sea to save us. In the end he got some frost burn on some fingers from the gas leakage and his attempt to close the valve with bare hands. We had no idea why it was broken but I feel very lucky that we didn’t had an explosion. Probably because lots of swing that made it came out of place. That is the big problem of sailors, we bring along something useful for our life aboard but, at the same time, we carry a time bomb! The rest of our trip, for five days, we had to eat uncooked meals like fruits, cereals, sliced bread, crackers and canned food, drink milk and throw away all our fresh meats! We didn’t even had way to boil water for our cup noodles or making hot coffee, poor me! It was ok, I only missed hot and freshly cooked food. The baby Maria Dee was no problem because our boat is loaded with baby packed food, baby cereals, baby juices, baby snacks and UHT milk. Even we have no way to cook she still can eat nutritional food and fruits. In fact, I was disappointed because I planned the whole trip meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time but they were screw up.

As a special note for our family and friends, don’t worry with us we ate well, we ate fresh cantaloupe, pineapple, apple, orange, pear, carrot, tomato, onion and barely ate canned food.

I loved all the moments we sailed this time. Our family spent time closely together. We taught Maria Dee new words and she is now able to say new ones. We looked at the waves and pointed to the birds together. We listened to music, we danced and of course Maria Dee copied what we were doing. We took shower together with the swinging motion of the boat and she said “ai ai ai” many times. She drew many pictures or, better, I may say she made a mess on the boat with her water pens and she painted herself! She played with Noel and tried to put her “human-like doll” to sleep. She played under the rain with her father. We slept together in the same bed and she slept in my arms (because normally she would sleep in her own room alone). And many more activities that we’ve done together. I love this happiness moments, anything can ever replaced them.

I don’t mind to hang on the blue water for a month. I was enjoying the waves and I didn’t even have the need to take the anti-motion sickness pill anymore! I loved to see the sky every day because it was interesting to see the same sky but, after all, it’s different every day. It’s changes every minute and no sunset is the same. The problem was we started to run out of diesel and the wind was horrible and not helping us at all. We tried to tack but it was impossible. Sometimes it was possible to make some way in the right direction but then the wind either died or started pushing us out of the route. After tacking our way for several days on a perpendicular route, heading to the nearest islands (Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe), we bet on spending our last jerry can of diesel and prayed to be able to arrive on the nearest island. It was Dominica!

We didn’t plan to stop anywhere else but Grenada. Actually, the initial plan was to sail island hopping without clearing into but just stopping to rest if needed before arriving in Grenada. But for no reason we changed the plan to sail straight to Grenada for around 430 nautical miles. What I learned is, if you are comfortable with your initial plan, don’t change it. From now on I will just trust my instincts. We arrived in Dominica somewhere between Roseau and Portsmouth in the early morning. It was foggy, quiet and very green. These were my first impressions of the island. It’s really like one of the sailing guidebooks say “if Christopher Columbus returned to the Caribbean, Dominican would be the only island he would be able to recognize.”

Finally, we have our bellies full of hot and fresh cooked food after refilling the diesel tank. Now we are ready to explore Dominica as we are “unexpected” to be here.

We left Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands behind
First day sunset
Activity of our crews
First time we open both sails
"Sea garden"
Our passenger
When no wind,captain's activity
Second day sunset
Third day sunset
Forth day sunset
Fifth day sunset
Sixth day sunset
Rain in the afternoon of seventh day
Arriving in the early morning
It's Dominica
The place where we arrived in Dominica


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