January 16, 2014.
The water here is crystal clear and consistently around 79°. The air temperature is 82° during the day and 78° at night. But even here in paradise Mother Nature can be a bit of a cantankerous bitch.
We gather our weather information from 4 main sources. There’s OCEANS Weather, Spot Weather, weather forecasts through our Skymate system and we listen to weather guru Chris Parker on the SSB every morning.
We knew there was a pretty nasty cold front headed our way. We've had 3 days of 15ish knots out of the south southeast so we've been hiding in Double Breasted Cay.When the cold front arrived the wind was basically going to flip from the south southeast to the northwest and intensify. Double Breasted Cay wouldn't be much fun in 20 knots out of the northwest. But “when” is the big question. It was supposed to reach Georgetown at dawn and we're 90 miles further south so we should get the wind flip a few hours later. You don't know how adorable it is that I still believe crap like that.
So we went to bed with plans of pulling the hook at dawn and getting some protection from the north before the front arrived. Sailors making plans just makes me shake my head and laugh.
At 0200 the wind generator stopped spinning. It's a very subtle difference but the lack of spin woke me and had me bolt upright immediately. I went topside and sat for a bit as we slowly clocked to the southwest and finally west with 10 knots of breeze filling in. I was hoping this calm would happen a little later but it is what it is and I went back to bed.
It was now 0430 and look who's here, The Cold Front. Damn it. I was back in the cockpit as the wind built to 25 knots out of the northwest. There were 3 of us anchored there and we're all facing the opening to the northwest riding 2 to 3 footers driving through the anchorage. Christy & I debated whether we should pull the hook then or wait until dawn. There was a full moon and we're familiar enough with the surrounding water to get underway towards better protection. The wind was now between 25 and 30 knots with higher gusts. The leading edge of these fronts is usually the nastiest and since we were riding at anchor comfortably we opted to wait for dawn and hopefully less wind.
But there had to be a little drama first. Fine Lion and Veranda were sitting like the 7 & 10 pins and Starfish 9 has become the bowling ball and is now dragging down on us. Crap. I hailed them on the VHF and she answered me back right away. They were aware that they were dragging, they're getting it together and they'll be underway shortly. Fortunately, they're shitty bowlers and failed to hit either pin as they slid right between us. They retrieved their hook and moved away into the darkness to anchor again.
The wind stayed upwards of 25 knots until 0930 when we had 5 minutes of 19 to 22 knots. We all pulled the hooks and set sail for Southside Bay on Ragged Island.It's a 15 mile trip moving from broad reach to run, then a jibe and beam reach into the anchorage. With so much wind behind us and such a short trip we opted to put out just a slice of the genoa. Fine Lion was next to us and had chosen a similarly sized headsail.
We were discussing this on the VHF when they shared with us their Shipboard Headsail Size Classification System with us. They were currently flying the “Anorexic Thong” while it looked like we were flying the “Full Thong”. The next size up in their system would be the “Plus Size Thong” followed by “Training Panties, Hospital Panties, Granny Panties” with the full genoa being “Longjohns”. French Cut Panties are probably some kind of staysail, I dunno. The headsail nomenclature alone was enough for me to absorb in one day.
I urge all the sailors out there to memorize these various headsail sizes. Because if you get caught with too much sail up in a freshening breeze you could be sporting a pair of crotchless panties before you know it.