The advantage of experience

Yesterday we left the island of Petit Nevis to sail up the windward side of Bequia and then across to St. Vincent. A quick ten miles on the charts.

tacking to St. Vincent

Our first tack had us heading the wrong way towards Mustique. We tacked the other way and after about six miles we had actually achieved half a mile. But we are sailors so thought “it can only get better!” and tacked again. It didn’t get better. We were just holding our ground despite doing five knots sideways to the wind.

Eventually we gave in and switched the motor on and sailed straight in to the wind, current and swell. We were barely managing two knots and it was a long haul to the end of Bequia where we once again began to sail and once again we were being pushed much too far west but we persisted.

Once we entered the shadow of St. Vincent and got out of the Atlantic swell our course improved and with two tacks we anchored in Young Island Cut.

That evening I mailed an experienced sailor who is anchored off Bequia and knows these waters well. I asked what we were doing wrong.

He answered “… because there is usually a strong E>W current running most of the time all the way through the islands & it is particularly strong between Bequia & St Vincent. … the chop tends to stop the boat hence the slow progress which reduces the angle that you can sail to the wind. Very frustrating but that’s sailing.

He also crossed to St. Vincent today but he took the ferry!

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