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Old 26-01-2014, 06:42   #1
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Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

I'm sailing up some of the islands at some point in the next two weeks. Given the course between a couple is actually slightly to windward in the usual ENE winds, are there any cunning strategies to make things easier?

Is it worth going very early or even overnight? Are winds lighter then (I'm in Bequia where it seems always to be blowing so wouldn't know)?

Is it worth working what tide there is?

How far out to the west from, say, St Lucia does the lee extend? How far out could I expect to be in relatively protected waters compared to the channels between the islands? I'm thinking of heading off the wind a bit to ease the bashing and then once in the lee tacking - or motoring - up to the island.

I don't care about using some fuel, I don't care about taking a bit longer, having been beasted by the Atlantic crossing I just want an easy life!
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Old 26-01-2014, 07:21   #2
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

Where are you going?
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Old 26-01-2014, 07:46   #3
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

In Bequia, heading north. We're planning on a stop in Cumberland Bay, St Vincent and then heading to Marigot Bay next day.

The crossing to St Lucia is particularly to windward and it is on this one that I considered heading off a touch to ease the motion.

We're aware of the security issues and don't plan to hang around.
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Old 26-01-2014, 08:14   #4
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

Oh, well, you are stuck with very short runs.
A longer run gives you more flexability like if you were heading to Deshaies in Gaudeloupe. But going island to island you take what you get.

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Old 26-01-2014, 08:19   #5
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

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The crossing to St Lucia is particularly to windward and it is on this one that I considered heading off a touch to ease the motion.
I've been doing that: falling off a little and then tacking back once in the lee of the island.

I don't know if there is a better strategy. In my limited experience it seems like the winds and waves are strongest on the North side of the islands, so it seems most dramatic when you are leaving and then mellows out in the channel and then mellows more in the lee of the next island. So we've been bearing off a little in the beginning and then heading up as it mellows.

I'll read here with interest if someone smarter and with more experience has a better idea.
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Old 26-01-2014, 09:50   #6
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

Leaving from Bequia to the north you have 2 ways , one is to take the winward side of st vincent , not many do that but we do in a couple of times and the reward is a good fishing day and a better chanel croosing , the other option is to follow the coast to the last tip in the north , dont be tempted to shoot across the chanel at first , reef down and after a blast you are in the chanel and with a better wind angle to easy sheets and point for vieux fort or Pittons, the same work for many islands leeward and windward all the way north..
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Old 26-01-2014, 10:10   #7
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

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Oh, well, you are stuck with very short runs.

Mark
We like to keep our daily mileage in the single figures where possible, will do the teens at a push.

Thanks NeilPride, you confirmed what I thought. We saw yachts sailing up the windward side of St V as we arrived from Barbados but the wind had a touch of south in it that day so it was probably an easy option.
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Old 27-01-2014, 15:11   #8
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

Winds are the same whatever the hour when crossing between islands in the Caribbean. In a Northeasterly of say 20 knots or more it will be great fun and very fast from Port Elisabeth (Bequia) to St vincent. I would not spend the night anchored on the coast of St Vincent. Far too many attacks.

In the usual northeasterly of 20 knots or more expect a rough 45 minutes or more when leaving the north end of St Vincent. The venturi effect of the high mountain (where you will see more pot than ever in your life) accelerates the wind and heads you considerably. You will have to bear off like it or not. It is not a good idea to head too low. And when closing in St Lucia the sea will be raspy and rough so heading up then you will pay the price.

If the wind is near 25 knots as is often the case in January this is not a peaceful crossing when going north. Forget the Pitons to overnight and yes continue to Marigot or at least Anse Cochon.

If you enjoy sailing this will be a real fun day. If 2 to 3 meters sounds like a rough sea, you will remember this in a different way. I have sailed this route probably a hundred times and some crossings have been sporting, a bit rough on the boat maybe, but none were ever scary.
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Old 27-01-2014, 15:21   #9
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

what about motoring east off the north of St. Vincent for 5 or 6nm (I know won't be fun) then aiming for the s.w. tip of St. Lucia.. this was my plan a few years ago, but ended up the water was flat and actually had to motor almost all the way from Bequia to St. Lucia
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Old 27-01-2014, 16:49   #10
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

From the northern tip of St Vincent to the Pitons on St Lucia can be quite a bash. Common practice is to motor-sail up the west coast of St Vincent, keeping as close as feasible to the shore as you near De Volet Point. Curve on around the coast to the NE if you can. This gains you as much "easting" as possible. If the Trades are blowing hard, you'll get a blast as you leave the protection of the lee of the island. Be prepared with a reef if needed.

Regarding tides, it's a no win situation. If the tide's against the wind (ebbing) there'll be chop. If with the wind (flooding) you'll be set westward and have to beat even harder.
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Old 27-01-2014, 19:34   #11
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

The most difficult time will probably be the first 45 min. after leaving the lee of St Vincent.

Yes take a reef or two and maybe leave the genoa mostly rolled. Set sail for a close reach instead of close hauled and sail as if you did not mind heading west. Keep the same wind angle and soon you will see St Lucia on your bow with sea and wind becoming more tame. After an hour the sailing will be fun and remain so until closing on St Lucia. Then sea gets choppy but much easier than leaving St Vincent.

Going to windward of St Vincent is a bit risky, especially in difficult conditions. It might not always be a really comfortable but if you reduce sail it will not be dangerous, only a bit bouncy and wet. And you know what? it will be much less impressive as you now expect this and know it is only for a little while.

Enjoy the sail.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:12   #12
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

We stayed the night in Cumberland Bay, St Vincent - a stunning spot with a couple of friendly, helpful boatmen. Carlos in particular was great and told us about the storm that hit the island recently, we gave him some bits to help out. A few other yachts were anchored there. We felt a little exposed given the bad rep of St V and were careful to take precautions.

As suggested we hugged the coast to close to the northern tip of St V before heading out, losing some ground initially in the bent wind before heading up and eventually making a spot about 4 miles of the Pitons when the wind became unpredictable, but light. Motored to Marigot.

The sea was feisty during most of the passage particularly during the first 5 miles or so but also - for no apparent reason - around half way when swells came from many directions at once.
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Old 03-02-2014, 20:51   #13
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Re: Strategies for Pain-free Sailing Between Islands that avoids too much Bashing.

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...The sea was feisty during most of the passage particularly during the first 5 miles or so but also - for no apparent reason - around half way when swells came from many directions at once.
That's typical of the Grenadines. The numerous large and small islands refract the Atlantic swells and create a real mish-mash of wave patterns. It can get quite bouncy!
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