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Farting Our Way Through the Caribbean

When our boys were little nugs, we used a lot of cutesy euphemisms to describe bodily functions. Farting was called “the winds”: “Does someone have the winds around here? Better head to the potty!” That kind of understatement has been on our minds recently, as we endure another round of high winds here in Martinique. The winds of our sailing have aligned with the winds from our butts far more than we expected.

As we prepared to leave Grenada back in November, we were excited at the prospects of sailing up and down the Lesser Antilles, taking advantage of the famous Trade Winds, which we hoped would stay on our beam. Then we heard discussions about something called the Christmas Winds. From December through the end of January, the Trades strengthen and stay hard out of the northeast, pushing into the 25-30 knot range.

We discovered this on our sail up to Carriacou, and later to Bequia, where the wind was consistently on our nose, between 50 and 70 degrees. This also meant seas were in our face, and even with 3-to-5-foot waves, having them hitting us like that meant a lot of bashing, and a lot of motorsailing. Our most extreme experience came while at anchor in Chatham Bay, on Union Island, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which I wrote about here:

So we were looking forward to the dissipation of the Christmas Winds upon arriving in Martinique in early January. And we did have some lovely spells of light to moderate winds, which would have been perfect if we were ready to continue up to Guadeloupe. But we were busy enjoying the Delights of Ste. Anne, and in no rush. Imagine our surprise when the Christmas Winds morphed into the Valentine’s Day Winds.

Mid-February found us riding out another prolonged period of sustained high winds that keep rookie sailors like us on anchor. Even super-meteorologist Chris Parker was saying things like, “High winds through the end of the month.” We learned that this has something to do with fronts and troughs moving off the U.S. coast and degrading the Atlantic High that causes winds in the Eastern Caribbean to become enhanced. For us that meant watching boats drag their anchors though the bay, and fitful nights listening to Camino groan as she pulled on our chain. When we were able to get ashore, we were jelly-legged and giddy.

Following the holiday pattern of wind rollout, we are now looking ahead with trepidation to the St. Patrick’s Day winds and what they will bring for us. In an effort to prepare, I did some research, but I could find no mention of these winds. Maybe I am projecting too much here, allowing my mind to make leaps that don’t exist. Maybe I have the winds of imagination, and they are gusting out of the wrong end of me. But if a plague of leprechauns comes rushing out of the sky on a 30-knot breeze in mid-March, I won’t be surprised.

We are hoping for better results in mid-April, with the arrival of the Easter Winds. Again, there is no mention of this breezy phenomenon in any cruising guide or weather almanac. But we know they are out there, and since at that time we will probably be making our way back to Grenada, they will no doubt be on our nose. But that’s okay with us. If we are forced to hopscotch through these beautiful islands and keep enjoying their bounties while dodging a progression of winds that have anchored themselves to calendar holidays, we’ll take it, no matter which end the winds come from.

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