November is still classed as the hurricane season. Although hurricanes are much rarer now than in the peak months of August and September, they can and do still happen. Today, NOAA’s National Hurricane centre released a tropical storm warning – about 500 miles north of our position.
We’ve been looking at this system for a number of days already, wondering why it’s taken until now for NOAA to release the warning. Although I don’t know it, I guess there’s a reason. It hasn’t escaped our attention that Greta Thunberg and her dad are currently skirting along the edge of the storm either, sailing to the climate conference in Madrid on a cruising family’s catamaran, Sailing La Vagabonde.
This weather system is large enough to suck all the wind out of our air. In that sense, even this late in the season, it feels like typical hurricane season conditions. The weather became proper balmy on Sunday afternoon. Quest swung peacefully on top of her anchor – enough for Jack and I to play the old hurricane season pastime of ‘drag yourself to the bottom.’ Instead, holding onto the anchor chain, you take a deep breath and go.
I killed it baby! Seven metres, three times equalising my ears and I had sand in my hand. Jack won – he dragged himself along the chain a further 20 metres all the way to the anchor. I was just glad I could get down to bottom.
We picked up said anchor at first light yesterday. Barely a ripple. Like Jack said, ‘it’s like Wales on the best summer’s day. He’s right too – it’s how it is. We ended up having to motor sail all the way to St Lucia – just under 70 nautical miles. Today was the last we could travel without waiting until the following Thursday. On Monday the heavy school session begins. If Lu misses it, she’ll spend days catching up.
It was a beautiful passage though, strangely beautiful. It was dreamy, as if we were cutting through velvet clouds. And with the sea so calm, it gave us a chance to creature spot. Ok, here we go, I feel a list coming on! Creatures spotted on our passage:
1. A sail-type fish. Its large dorsal fin broke the surface, looking like a dinosaur’s back before it went back down. We had two bites of the fishing line.. but both times the line went dead.
2. A long-tailed tropicbird flew high above us off the coast of St Vincent. We haven’t seen this stunning bird since a tropicbird landed on Quest during the Atlantic crossing. Just like that. It flew off a few hours later.
3. Flying fish! These are the eponymous fish here – forever skimming across the water’s surface as we sail past. In these calm conditions they reminded us of jumping frogs.
4. An actual whale! The first whale I’ve seen in the Caribbean. Typical – we saw loads on the other side of the Atlantic.. This one we spotted just as we reached the southern tip of St Lucia, about three miles out. It was quite far away but we managed to see the tail rise up vertically and disappear in the water. We think this whale was going hunting.
5. The brown beautiful booby. These large seabirds are as common as seagulls back home. They are smart too. As we disturb the flying fish, they are right there to scoop them up.