Saturday, February 15, 2014

The “Oh-my-god-a Passage”

St. Martin to the Virgin Islands

The stretch of open water between St. Martin and the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) is marked on some charts as the Sombrero Passage and as the Anegada Passage on others.  Many sailors refer to it as the “Oh-my-god-a Passage.”  The passage has very deep water between the shallow water surrounding the Virgin Islands and St. Martin.  The fast moving current in the passage has a tendency to make the seas “lump up a bit” as it encounters the shallow areas.

 Simpson Bay Bridge

Standard procedure is to exit the St. Martin Lagoon at the 4:00 PM bridge opening, wave good bye to friends on the deck of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, and anchor outside in Simpson Bay.  The next outbound bridge opening is not until 8:30 AM. 

Sint Maarten Yacht Club

It takes Motivator 10 to 10 ½ hours to do the 81 NM to the BVIs.  The prudent mariner does not run the chance of being forced to enter an unfamiliar harbor after sunset.  So, an early departure (6:00 AM) is warranted.

Besides, it gives you a chance to enjoy another spectacular Caribbean sunset.

Friends we met on the way to the BVIs

We waited 3 weeks for a good weather window to make the passage, and our patience paid off.  The wind for most of the way was less than 15 knots and we had a gentle following sea with only the occasional large swell.

Riding our bow wake

The two pods of dolphins we encountered each had 7 to 8 healthy looking members of various sizes.  One pod had distinctive stripes while the other had freckles.  Each pod stayed with us for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Pollie thinks they liked us because she was on the bow waving and talking to them.  I think it was the Dire Straits album I was playing.

Motivator in Biras Creek, BVIs

While we enjoyed our time in Sint Maarten, we were ready for the quiet of Biras Creek.

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