This passage is known as the OH MY GOD-A PASSAGE, or the Anegada Passage, the leg from the USVI / BVIs 90 miles East Southeast to Sint Maarten (Dutch) or St. Martin (French) Caribbean Island. This passage is usually rough, very rough, with big seas. That is because it is open ocean with nothing between here and Africa. The course is 120 degrees and the winds are ALWAYS 090 degrees. This places the winds 30 degrees off the bow and a sailboat cannot sail this close to the wind. So, we put up a staysail, sheeted it in hard, turned on the motor and pushed into the waves. Here is Happy Radeen as we are leaving St. Thomas to stage up at Christmas Cove off Great St. James Is.. We need to go for a swim, and Charlotte Amalie harbor is not the place but Christmas Cove certainly is.
Stage up at Christmas Cove
Christmas Cove is a dream spot in the USVI. With the anchored PIZZA PI boat there, what else would you need? Sadly, this stop we never did get a PI as we swam, and snorkeled, and worked on firing up the Spectra Watermaker. Remember, we are only 2 days out of Puerto Rico and we are still working on setting up the boat and getting all systems back up and running. So, starting the watermaker was a big deal. This is the unit we had to tear down and have rebuilt in Grenada. It had been pickled (storage chemicals installed) for 10 months, then in May 2021, pickled again for 6 more months. Not a good thing, but lucky for us, it fired right up and started producing fresh drinking water from salt water, all the while only using 8 amps of 12-volt battery power. WILLAMINA WAS BACK, We named her Willamina Watermaker, another valuable team member on the Island Spirit.
Anchor up at O500, depart in the Dark
We were going to leave Christmas Cove at 1000 to 1200 on Christmas Eve day, but the calm was here early and we said let’s go at 5 am. This meant getting out of the harbor in the dark and it would also mean arriving in St. Maarten in the dark. Both harbors are wide open, so we decided we could do this with our digital radar, and bright spotlight, and also the moon. Well, it is still stressful moving a boat in a harbor at night, but we were in the back of the pack, so we cut between two yachts and then took the stern of another one and we were OUT. Next, we pointed the boat onto a 120-degree course heading and watched the sun come up. The sea was calm, the winds were 10-15 knots, which is quite calm for the Leeward Islands. We set the boat on autopilot to hold the course and off we powered.
What you can see at NIGHT
This passage would be 90 miles and at 6 knots that would take 15 hours. Well, in actuality it took us 17 hours as we left at 0500 and arrived at 2300. We went slowly in the beginning, taking an hour to get out, and then we went slowly at the end, going into the harbor at night. It is always interesting what you can see at night from the helm of a sailboat. First off, your red-lit compass is #1, here you can see we are on a course of 120, and that was the course the entire 17 hours.
THERE SHE IS….Sint Maarten
Arriving into Simpson Bay, Dec 24, 2021 at 11 pm from sea might not have been the smartest thing we have done in a while. Guess what? There were tons of other yachts anchored there as well. All light up with Christmas lights, plus the shore lights and it was like arriving into Times Square. WOW, was this a difficult entrance, but we went slowly and watched our digital radar making sure there were no targets off our bow. We simply pushed onward and navigated our way into Simpson Bay, which is a big open bay. Look at the view from the helm as we approached the island.
Hello Daybreak, Sint Maarten
The next morning at daybreak we looked at the beautiful mountains of Sint Maarten and the calm harbor where we anchored. We were so happy to be here as our new Yamaha 15 hp outboard could be bought here. That is why 4 days after launch, we pushed 200 nm east to reach here, so we could get a running dinghy again. Hello Sint Maarten, Merry Christmas all….
Now, it was time to check-in and to plan our new outboard purchase so we can have a running dinghy. You can not row in these tradewinds, you need a working dinghy if you anchor out all the time, like we do. A big thank you to John Knight of IP420 Adventuress who had just completed his Atlantic crossing. He moved from the French side to the Dutch side and cheerfully provided transportation to Customs and Immigration for us to clear in. More about our fun Christmas Day with John to follow….