I was woken up a 5am today with the waves slapping on the back of the boat, the wind had died and the boat was now pointed in the wrong direction and I realized that since I wasn't going to sleep I should get the boat ready for passage and get going one day earlier than planned, perhaps even leaving before Zig Zag, whose crew I had met the night before at Jumbies.
Since the dinghy garage was still full of all the stuff I'd picked up from storage, I just removed the engine and all items from the dinghy and planned to pull it behind me on a 50 foot length of rope. I wasn't worried about problems as the sea state and winds were supposed to be light. As I was in a hurry, a number of things went slightly wrong including a dinghy oar drifting away after I'd removed the engine; but I quickly stripped of my clothing and swam after it (it is a family-oriented blog, but suffice it to say that it was still dark before sunrise) but somehow everything got ready shortly before 6am and I got going.
Once outside of the North Sound the wind stayed calm but the waves were very high and on the on the first hours of the passage the seas were significant with some pounding and I was only making 3-4 knots despite running the engine at 1800RPM (which normally gets me 7 knots). I opted to put up some sail and motors ail, going 30 degrees off the wind in both direction for several hours, that gave me a good speed of over 7 knots but unfortunately also took me off course. In the end the waves subsided a bit and I motored the rest of the way on a rhumb line. I arrived after 7pm in the dark and anchored very far outside as I know that many, if not most, of the boats at anchor in Marigot don't have lights and I didn't want to bump into things in the dark. Unfortunately there was still a bit of swell outside but I'll re-anchor closer inside once it is light.

Dinghy bouncing at sea The dinghy, sans motor, bouncing around at sea on passage between the BVI and St. Martin. I was in a hurry to leave in the morning and the garage was full of cases, so I took then engine off the dinghy and removed the gas, oars and other items and towed it behind me on a long leash.
(2012-01-05 21:43:11 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.0, 1/80s] ISO 100 Focus 21.10m)
Dinghy bouncing at sea
St. Martin in the distance The island of St. Martin slowly growing larger dead ahead as I motor at about 7 knots to get there before it is too dark. I knew I wouldn't make it to the anchorage in time, but I wanted to traverse the minefields of fishpots before it got too dark.
(2012-01-05 21:44:44 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/3.5, 1/160s] ISO 100 Focus 1.12m)
St. Martin in the distance
Sunset during St. Martin passage The sun getting ready to set in the evening on a passage between the BVI and St. Martin. The seas don't look like much, but there was a base swell of over 3 meters and I had to wait until I was at the top of a wave to take the picture.
(2012-01-05 22:47:17 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.0, 1/100s] ISO 100 Focus ∞)
Sunset during St. Martin passage
Ships passing at dusk As I was coming into St. Martin this big sailboat was coming out. Our AIS systems showd that we'd pass within 50 feet of other, so I changed course as I was motoring and they had sails up - but they had their engine on as well.
(2012-01-05 22:50:34 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.0, 1/100s] ISO 400 Focus ∞)
Ships passing at dusk
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