Short Tacking in Heavy Wind Is Really Not Fun
Well, this was a day from hell. I knew it was a bad idea when we started, but felt pushed into a corner. In two days we would be illegal unless we got our passports stamped and to do that we had to sail across the Bight to Spring Point on Acklins Island. The forecast was for 25 knot wind (not my favorite kind) on the nose (really not my favorite kind). A 25 knot wind on the shallow bight would mean some very choppy seas.
As before we sailed on a lovely beam reach on our way down Long Cay and as before once we rounded the point and got into the Bight conditions were just awful. DJ tried to say they weren’t as bad as before, but it seemed that way to me. We had to sail 25 miles across the Bight and the last 15 would be short tacking, my least favorite kind of sailing, in a heavy wind. Since we wouldn’t be following the charted rhomb line we also had to be on the lookout for coral heads. Does this sound fun yet? After the first tack I realized I couldn’t make headway the way my sails were trimmed. I sheeted them in harder and of course we heeled more and the crew was unhappy. I had no choice because otherwise we were going to sail back and forth in the same spot endlessly. I had two reefs in the mainsail and a small jib out but it was no good. We made a little forward progress on the next tack, but after about 3 hours of this fun I was exhausted and in tears and we still had several more hours to go. I hurled myself on the aft cockpit seat, crying that I just couldn’t do it. Coleen reminded me that “Connaughton’s do not give up.” Why did I teach her that! She also said that we might be miserable but we would be OK and it would be over in a few hours. Out of the mouths of babes! I swear she is a better sailor that me. In desperation I finally used the engine to motor sail so we could point a little higher and make more forward progress. I’ve had a few tough days sailing, and will probably have worse, but this was pretty bad. All that being said, Coleen was right it was at no time really dangerous, it was just stinking miserable.
We finally dropped the hook in Delectable Bay on the western side of Acklins Island around 7 p.m. I was too tired to even make a cocktail.