Saturday, May 08, 2010

The day of the passage was spent aboard the boat, we let the dinghy back in the water so that we could go out and explore the North Sound entrance reef and the snorkeling was interesting, with some large examples of parrot and other reef fish. We prepared the boat for crossing to St. Martin and departed at 16:20. Within minutes we were deviating from our planned course as Björn asked if we shouldn't go between Prickly Pear and Neckar Islands; I'd planned on going north of Neckar but the charts clearly showed navigable waters so we cut off a long section of the initial route. Unfortunately that was the only really good break that we had, since the winds had turned and were now coming almost directly from where we wanted to go. With reefed mainsail and genoa and 2000RPM on the engine we had a long slog upwind ahead of us. Always cutting through the waves at over 7 knots we made good speed but St. Martin was a long way away. Luckily the rain squalls all passed ahead or behind us and we only had 2 closer approaches to larger boats. The first was an AIS target 30 miles away which the chart plotter gave us a 0.2NM CPA (closest point of Arrival) which remained constant for the next hour, finally we crossed ahead of the freighter (which was moving at a leisurely 14knots) with over a half mile to spare. The other was a big bulk carrier which the AIS showed on a collision course to us, but I bore off 10° and I suppose the carries did the same in the other direction as we had an appreciable distance between us when our paths crossed. Several cruise ships were visible on the horizon during the passage but overall the traffic was much lighter than I'd been used to. Björn and I held up to the weather but when we arrived in St. Martin we were both rather tired.

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