After a delayed departure out of San Juan and a two hour taxi ride from Sint Maarten airport to Oyster Pond, the mad rush was on to catch the favorable weather window for a night sail to Bitter End. The plan was to leave from Simpson Bay at sunset on Saturday, however the ever worsening weather forced a hastily decision - leave tonight or spend Christmas in St Martin. There was one caveat, the customs computer in Oyster Pond was broken, thus forcing us to stop at customs in Simpson Bay. $47 later (for a piece of paper) and a mad dash to load up on essential supplies, away we go just before 5:30 pm with favorable winds to make the BVI all too soon.
From midnight onwards we slowed down, but the more we trimmed, the harder it blew, and so it went on until 3 am when we decided to heave to and wait for sunrise, about 9 miles offshore. We were welcomed to the BVI with 3 squalls reaching 36 knots, torrential downpours and 3 to 4 meter swells. Did the bad weather arrive early or was the forecast as accurate as it always is? We got what we paid for.
At first light, we continued the last few miles to Virgin Gorda, cleared customs again and burnt more money for a slip of paper and now sit comfortably at anchor, albeit with a 20 knot wind to keep things interesting. So what time is happy hour? any time for us as it's still day time.
We also had live entertainment for part of the voyage. A yacht "Faraway" hailed the US Coast Guard reporting that they were taking on water and requested assistance. Five hours later the 5 sailors were rescued from their life raft by a passing cruise ship. A happy end to a potential tragic situation, the up side, an all you can eat hot breakfast.
After a casual sail from Oyster Pond to St Bart's, it was an early start for the approximately 50 mile sail to St Kitts. With a fresh 20 knot breeze, the plan was to head for the gap between St Kitts and Eustatius rather than passing south west of the island and fighting our way through the tankers and oil pipelines. The first few hours were uncomfortable with high swells and choppy seas, subsiding once we passed between the two islands.
Once on the lee of St Kitts it was a pleasant two hour trip motor sailing close inshore with a wonderful view of the villages and the cloud covered volcano. We spent the first night anchored outside the main town of Basseterre under a beautiful clear sky. The following morning, after clearing customs, we headed to Nevis for a few days.