Jo-Jo under sail

Ten days to Christmas and the winter trades are here! We looked at the forecast, and we have one day to get to St Martin from Guadeloupe before the 20-30 kt winds and 10-12 foot seas kick in and are forecasted to last through at least Christmas. We were debating going to Antigua and then over to St Martin, but we thought we would get weathered in in Antigua, so everyone decided to make the 125 mile over night trek to St Martin to make sure we are there for Christmas. Leaving Guadeloupe, we had decent swells – 6 to 8 footers, but they were of the slow roller variety so actually relaxing! The winds were fairly light but forecasted to pick up early in the morning, so we motor-sailed for the majority of the night. It was a pretty easy night sail and right about 5 am the winds picked up to about 20 kts and the seas heaped and instead of the long 9 second interval, we were pounding in to 6 – 8foot seas about 4 seconds apart. Luckily we had less than 20 miles to go so only had to beat into it for about 4-5 hours. As always, Jo-Jo performed like a champ! Our downhaul on the flying jib did unravel and was trailing in the water so I had to go forward to retrieve it. Josh was at the helm and I swear he steered into the biggest wave he could find and I went airborne and then got smacked in the face with a wall of water! What a rush!!

Everyone made it to St Martin with no problems and we anchored in the bay before coming into the lagoon the following morning. What a nightmare that is going through the bridge! It is only about 50 feet wide and there are only a few bridge opening times. The bridge operator is very impatient and wants all the sailboats in the front of the line, right up close to the bridge before it opens and then all the mega yachts (and I do mean mega, mega yachts) behind. The channel to the bridge is lined with rocks and on the morning we went through, the winds were a healthy 15-20 kts. We were in line fairly close to the front, about 5 feet behind Sol mate, so we had to be careful not to ram him, and we had a 250 foot mega yacht right behind us – maybe 10 feet away, trying to nudge us up. There was a very handsome deckhand on the bow, about 50 feet above us, peering down trying to tell Maria to go forward, and she glared, communicated through certain hand signals, and held our ground! We made it through the bridge with no problems, but lots of stress, and found our anchoring spot on the French side, where we will be through Christmas.