It all started with a great forecast with only a 40 Nm run to home base. So we left our “squat” early with a nice breakfast, in prevision of a 7-8 hour run which would allow us plenty of time to arrive before sunset. I did start my paragraph with the term: great forecast. Which means to us; downwind or beam reach wind in 15-20 knots range with 3-5 foot waves.
Now as we are getting “smarter” (or at least think we are…) we decided to raise the sail on our way out of the slip in the protection of the marina. We negotiated the channel, then setup ourselves nicely and fairly quickly. The protection of the island gave us a really easy ride to get slowly into the groove. But…we should know by now, when it gets too easy you should think twice! And it sure didn’t take long for Mother Nature to remind us. Not only we could start seeing white caps ahead of us, but also the wind was picking up fast. Promptly we determine that it was going to blow faster than we had anticipated, and reefing came to mind… (remember that old saying when you think of it!)
And yes it did get higher fast, it jumped to 28-30 knots while we still had full sail up, full genoa which means on a catamaran : not the best option. In the wind we went with engines on, because our little beast didn’t want to stay long enough in iron for us to drop sails, she likes the speed and the wind! After a few futile attempts, we finally were able to bring in the Genoa. One reef in and then followed the main! Pfiouf we were back on track, the wind didn’t die on us and steadily stayed on 25 knots with gust at 30 knots. We reduced sail one more time and now were moving at 8 knots with a very small sail area. Incredible to watch, and feel for us, (remember we are still learning) the boat was very comfortable riding the waves smoothly, even with 5 ft on the side. Most definitely a good test for us of what it is to be out there. In the background we could hear the Coast guards broadcasting every 30 minutes a small craft advisory, and we were (it seems) the only ones on the water. Although further away was another sailboat hiding along the coast with engines on…
As we were getting closer to home, the wind died down a little to 20 knots and we increased the sail area via Genoa and main sail, when it finally let us down about 8 miles from our final destination. Evidently we had to motor and made it in 6 hours instead of 5 and ½. We learned a lot today, discovered new noises, realized that we are really confident in our boat, she is comfortable to have lunch and for our future daily life, we love it! Wow we escaped that trap, the only scary moment was when the fore sail didn’t want to come in and it was flopping hard, it was a cringing noise as *V* would say.
Funny enough we don’t have pictures during the hardest of the sail!
Arriving back at our marina, we are escorted in by the USCG : May be they felt we needed help or just wanted to prove that we were not the only ones out!
One of the few thing we did right away on our return: add protection for the bimini tubing.
We may be hard headed but some padding is lovely.
And then there was one thing was left to enjoy : a nice drink in the cockpit and enjoy the beautiful sunset that brought this first cruise to a successful conclusion.
Last but not least : We need to find a way for enough resources to do it full time! *sigh*
76th Island could have been The French Polynesia`s Tuamotu archipelago but we are still on vacation sorry.