From Annapolis to St. Martin

PART II: From Annapolis to St. Martin, 1988

Last week we shared the first part of the Matko and Francoise sailing journey from Annapolis to St. Martin. If you didn’t have a chance to read it, please do so before continuing with the second part. And for those who did, here is the second part of the story that includes a beautiful and exciting ending. Let’s jump to the Matko’s diary once again.

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“… Around 5 a.m. suddenly I hear a loud BOOM!!!!

I jump on the deck and see that the roll-flock commander has been damaged and unwound (100m2) as a result of the strong wind. Francoise is on the helm and I go all the way to the front deck, which is flooded with the sea water. I can’t do anything else but to dismast the flock down on the deck since its being thrown into the sea. I am soaking wet!

Pulling it out took more than two hours!! After that, I went to the cockpit to rest and to get my strength back which lasted for several hours…

I dismast the main sail and raise the “MEZANE” sail from the back. The boat is finally well-balanced. I’d say it is fantastic in these conditions!

We changed shifts on helm from two to three hours depending on the need and capability of both of us. Navigation should be considered since the satellite navigator is not functioning. Americans are disturbing Loran because of Cuba. There is no sun so I am navigating based on the log of the miles crossed and some hypothetical calculation of the current and wind.

19 November 1988

One more calm night passes by. Waking up is always hard, but we support one another and take care of each other. The smallest gesture of attention like bringing a cup of tea or coffee with some cookies makes things way easier and better.

Today, Nagrafax is announcing even stronger wind, up to 50 knots. It’s already a stormy day so let’s hope it won’t turn into a cyclone. We are in a so-called good quadrangle which pushes us out of the center of the storm.

In the afternoon, I make sure that everything is prepared in case of the storm so I can take a nap with a bit of ease. The most important thing is to have enough speed so the boat holds its maneuvering capabilities.

What a joy! Finally, the sun is up for a moment and I jump out! I get the sextant to try to make some measurements while the boat is jumping on the 5-meter waves. “I see it, I don’t see it…”

Unfortunately, it’s hard to measure something in such conditions. I should repeat the process in three hours or so to get more precise results, but this won’t happen.

The night is ahead of us and around 9 p.m. we notice light from another boat on the horizon. To stay safe, we turn on our lights as well. We also try to reach them by the radio to confirm their position, but no answer.

20 November 1988

We barely slept because of the storm wind. High waves continuously swamped our deck and the cockpit. Luckily, the weather condition is now a bit more favorable. It’s getting warmer. Under the deck, everything seems so quiet and pleasant, but for the one who is above the conditions are still challenging.

21 November 1988

Morning is here, and it’s the same as yesterday. Only the wind changed direction and now it’s going to the west. Still strong.

I check the weather forecast. It says that the wind should calm down slowly and head up northward. Great! UF!

From Annapolis to St. Martin

22 November 1988

It’s cloudy. The wind is 30 to 35 knots. Sea isn’t calm.

We are in a good mood and feel deserved for some good time with a glass of wine.

Navigation continues on schedule.

23 November 1988

The wind speed calms down significantly. It’s around 30 knots right now. The sea remains quite strong. We are full of adrenaline because of all the effort and sleepless nights.

According to my calculations, we should be somewhere close to the Caribbean Islands. One more challenge is coming. This area is famous for having an abundance of coral reefs, and we don’t know our exact position.

Radar shows only the bay so cluter has no purpose. I am only left with a sonar, but still as we approach the Caribbean, the depth of the sea will decrease. So, I am watching both the radar and sonar like a hawk!!!!

24 November 1988

Early in the morning, I see that the sky is clearing up. Though the waves are still high. Seems like the radar is functioning and the sonar as well!!!

All of a sudden there is a big change in the waves and there are some broken signals. When the boat is at the top of the wave… Palms!!! I can see palms on the horizon!

A quick look on the sonar 60 meters. UF! I know where we are! Island Barbuda is on our left. Although we were doubting ourselves we were on the right path all along! It was the radar that was poor at predicting the height of the waves.

Francoise! Hold the helm, I jump to the navigation desk and calculate our direction towards St. Martin. I raise our main sail and go along the side wind. Super happy!!!!

We entered Philipsburg at 4 p.m. and anchored, super happy that we finally made it!

We passed 1400NM through the Bermuda triangle!!!”

The End.

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