Saturday, May 11, 2013

Girl Power

Benateau 50
When my friend Susan from German flagged vessel Peter Pan asked if I would join her on a delivery that she was to skipper to the BVI’s I jumped at the chance.  Not only was it an opportunity for me to experience sailing without Sim but also a chance to be part of an all women crew, something quite rare in this male orientated environment. 
We inspected the boat the day before we were due to leave, making sure we knew how things worked or the condition they were in. The main halyard’s electric winch wasn’t working but with so little wind it was going to be a motorsail anyway.  We provisioned, packed and met up the next morning at the crack of dawn to walk over to Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour where we set out from.  From the previous overcast days we were happy that blue skies made an appearance. We settled on course and pulled out the jib; which wasn’t to last for long as it flapped and flogged in light airs.  Most cruisers would balk at motoring such a distance but Sunsail were keen that the boat should arrive promptly and were not bothered about fuel consumption. We chatted for most of the day then in the afternoon took naps before the sun was about to set. Just as we were passing Saba and I was cooking us something to eat a plane started circling around us – no coincidence that only half an hour earlier I had been telling Susan how every time we have passed in Alianna we had had a plane or coast guard boat check us out as we passed the oil storage island of Statia just to the south of Saba.  Just at the same time we spotted a pilot whale about 50 meters off our port side. 
Susan taking us out of English Harbour
The night watches were not uneventful – the darkness bought out an infestation of cockroaches and just as Susan was settling down on her watch battery alarms started to go off.  With all the motoring we had been doing we aware that the engine battery was getting well charged but the domestic batteries weren’t taking anything and it seemed that our nav lights were running on this draining power source.  For love nor money we could not find any switches or buttons to change the charging over, so turned off the fridge and freezer etc to help where it could. 
Passing Saba
My watch was plagued with cruiseships, 5 of them all criss-crossing within a few miles of each other.  This might sound like a big distance but some of these beasts have limited maneuverability and its best to stay well out of the way.  One ship even put on a firework display announced over the radio as a firework drill!  It was never a dull moment. In the distance lightening lit up the darkening horizon.  But we were lucky and not a raindrop fell from the squally skies

Letting the autohelm do the work

We arrived early in the morning to Road Town, Tortola, in the BVI’s covering over 190 miles in a little over 24hours. We wrestled the large dinghy that we carried on deck into the water and then wrestled the heavy outboard onto the back of it.  We picked up the delivery crew of another boat who couldn’t get their dinghy to start and all trotted off to customs and immigration where Susan and I got duly fleeced.

The journey was nearly over.  We were pretty tired but we still had to get the boat into the marina.  We called and asked if they would come out to us but no, we had to meet them at the floating dock.  Slowly but surely Susan being the skipper carefully took us along side, and one of Sunsail’s boat boys jumped onboard and skillfully reversed us into the dock.  Elated to be there and chuffed at girl power we checked in with reception and then took ourselves for a well deserved beer.

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