Vanish Leads NARC Fleet to St. Martin!

Bermuda/St. Martin was suppose to be the fun part of the trip - variable winds for a day or so leaving Bermuda, then the trade winds kick in and its a broad reach down to sunny St. Martin. Instead we had southeast to southwest winds the whole trip, beating our way to land.

On board for leg two were Renee, me, and three excellent sailors from the OPO (Offshore Passage Opportunity) program created by Hank Schmit. We had Bill Lowsteader, who did the first leg and seems to equally love both the foredeck and the helm. Leeann Avery and Clay Sanborn got on the boat in Bermuda. LeAnn can't get enough of being offshore, and Clay is a purest who's building his own 26' wooden boat in his backyard.

Eighteen boats left Newport with the NARC rally on Sunday November 3rd. However, on Tuesday November 12th, there were only seven of us leaving Bermuda - six Swans with delivery captains and us. All the other boats were either delayed in Bermuda, or stayed in Cape May due to weather on the first leg.

After fueling up with duty free desiel arranged by Hank, its out through the cut at St. George and south to St. Martin. We were second to last leaving Bermuda, passing through the cut around noon. We only saw one other boat, Sky, a Swan 51 as we left and then by night we were all alone.

Our forecast called for southeast breeze then switching southwest and finally having the easterly trades kick in. Overall, our forecast was correct, with the exception that we should have gone more east. We did get a southwest shift but it was light winds and we ended up motoring a bit anyway.

Nightime was squall time. After day two, each night the squalls would come out. We'd spot the squall on radar, then alter course to dodge it. Sometime you win, sometimes you get very wet. Storm track radar at its finest.

Around day three, we started seeing stronger (20 - 25 kts) winds which we beat into for the next couple of days. We had a reefed main up the whole time. As the seas built, we switched to our staysail with no loss in boat speed.

Nighttime day three, off to our southwest we spied a masthead light in the distance. We learned the boat was the Swan 46 "Babe" during the next morning's radio check. All the next day and night, we saw Babe off to our right. It was nice to see another boat out there in the deserted sea, especially, when you have to look back to see it!

The final day was a nail bitter. After seeing a boat on your tail for two days, you don't want to have them pass you right at the end. Babe, fell in line behind us as we were about 50 nm away from land. Our glances back became more frequent. By midday, it seemed their mast was getting bigger. We tweaked the sails, ate some lunch, and kept checking aft. Still bigger. Staysail came down, we unrolled some headsail and took off - sorry, Babe!

By nightfall, we crossed between Prickly Pear and Dog Island. As we passed through the cut, dolphins swam and jumped across our bow welcoming us to land.

See St. Martin Leg Photos for more pictures.