Location: Charlestown Bay, Canouan
“Guys guys, get up, get up. It’s a beautiful day with birds-a-chirpin’ and wind-a-blowin’ and waves-a-rollin.’ Mike’s breakfast looks amazing and don’t forget your sunscreen and a good hat and your water bottles and to greet each other and the friendliest of smiles and no attitude but the best and pay attention now because this will be one of those days you’ll be writing about in your journals where fifty years from now your grandkids will be saying ‘again! Again! Tell us about that time you took Ocean Star out for a magnificent sail on the splendid Caribbean Sea where you saw dolphins leaping and spinning and the wind-tossed your hair and the sun-bronzed your skin and the salt seasoned everything!!!…!” On I went with my spontaneously improvised wake-up recital until I either ran out of breath or saw feet on the floors. I was hoping to remind everybody just how excited I was to be going sailing today, and the groggy smiles I received in response were assurance that I was not alone in my excitement. Indeed, what a fantastic day it has been. Mike’s patented Pancrepes were flattened without hesitation. But as we all ate, we did indeed feel the glow of the sun on our skin and a new freshness in the air. The winds have been calm to nil for a while, and now, on the day of our sail to Canouan, they had stiffened from the east and arrived with fresh excitement.
Clean-up was sped through, and the final bits of passage prep were whipped out. Soon, the main engine was rumbling away, and the metallic clinking of the anchor chain rolling in could be heard from across the bay. Margeaux was today’s flaker, neatly stacking the rode (anchor chain) as is piled into the anchor locker, earning herself a coveted spot on the chain flakers wall of fame, placing a rust-grubby thumb-print on the bulkhead above the chain box. Up till now, the setting of sails has been a deliberately slow process, taking the time to show and teach each step in its order of many. But today, the proverbial tides had a-shifted as the crew eagerly and swiftly moved from line to line without much need for instruction or explanation. The sails were set in record time, and we were able to get underway, initially heading west on a dead run before practicing our first gybe. With the new maneuver safely behind us, we set a new course south for Canouan. Twenty knots of consistent Tradewind breeze hushed us along, so we shut down the main engine and were, majestically, sailing. Soon after reaching out of the Bequia wind shadow, a call rang out along deck, “DolphinStarboard bow!” Faces soon peered over the leeward rail, and squeals of excitement peeped from our delighted onlookers. Soon after, the Jib sail was set. This advent always comes with much excitement as the job requires crawling out along the plunging bowsprit at the very head of the vessel. Water rushes past below, and the stem slices through the waves with a sense of important authority. All the while, the sail handlers Riley and Calum are perched delicately on the martingale netting, one hand on the stays while unfurling canvas and losing sail-ties with the other. Finally, the halyard is hauled on, and the sail extends up the jib-stay. On a beam to broad reach, Ocean Star is the happiest sailing. We made a steady 5.5kts for most of the day, making good time to arrive in Canouan mid-afternoon. Again the sails were struck (brought down), and the brave jib handler this time was Will. As we were finishing the jib, however, the staysail was itself just wrapped up and furled. So with a team swiftly onto the foresail (the gaff sail for which we are called a gaff-rigged schooner), we were working efficiently along when all of a sudden another team was onto the main, and down with it in moments. The smoothness of deck operations is impressive, and the crew is undoubtedly settling into the lifestyle of the sailor.
Mike, Luke, and Isabel L. brought it all home this evening with homemade ham-“borgars.” These, I knew to be astounding as when I arrived on deck for the meal, the entire crew was munching contentedly in near silence. Squeeze had us reflecting on how our “new self differs from our old selves.”
Ocean Star now rolls gently in a new anchorage, and we’re eager to see what the new little island brings.
Well done on passing your driver’s test, Teak!