We left Los Roques last Thursday morning with a very good weather window as a cold front was in place over Cuba allowing a suppression in the trade winds long enough for us to make it north before it shifted and the north east wind returned.
Just before leaving the anchorage, we had trouble with our generator which has a hydraulic attachment to run our windlass (this deploys and retrieves our anchor and chain), it was shutting down after a couple of minutes saying it was overheating. Jez cleaned out the filters on the water cooling intake and found several small jellyfish had made their way in and were stuck in the filters. We were rather hoping this was the problem, but the generator would still not stay running despite plenty of water coming out of the exhaust, although we were able to lift the anchor before it shut down again.
The first 24 hours were a bit overcast with a reasonably strong swell still running, but conditions improved on day two with the swell easing and the wind moving south of east, the season is also definitely on the change as we both took to our waterproof leggings and fleeces overnight. On day two and about a third of the way to St Croix, I was woken for my next shift with the cry ‘Fish On’! Jez was reeling in a big fish, and as it got closer to the boat we could see it was another barracuda – we were rather hoping for a change from Barry but beggars can’t be choosers I guess. He was a very strong fish, too big for our net so as we don’t have a gaff I improvised with the boat hook to lift him out of the water. In a bid to avoid a gnashing Big Barry nibbling at our ankles on deck, we kept him hung over the side until we were sure he was dead (and even then we kept poking and prodding just to make sure!). Twelve meals were added to the freezer before Jez got his sleep time.
With a nice dose of south in our easterly wind, we made good ground gaining as much easting as we could as our grib file had shown the wind turning north east late Saturday and we wanted to ensure we could get to St Croix, the southern-most US Virgin Island, comfortably. As it happens, the wind turned to the east only and so we had a very enjoyable beam reach until we arrived at the eastern tip of St Croix early Sunday morning, with the usual visit from a welcoming party of dolphins.
With the early morning sun beating down on us, we sailed through the channel between Buck Island and the mainland which has reef both sides, and into the harbour at Christiansted where we dropped anchor just outside the marked channel.
Jez had time to strip the generator down and found the problem….
We of course have a spare belt, but now discover that the hydraulic attachment has to be removed to be able to fit the new belt, requiring a special alignment tool to be able to refit the hydraulics. So after checking in at Customs we set about finding the local Cummins agent on the island.