Beirut: a pleasant weekend, still no government, progress planning the sailing trip

Mach 22, 2021

It was an uneventful weekend. Saturday we were invited for lunch at a friend’s house to celebrate her birthday. We had home-made Lebanese food, arak, plenty of wine, and multiple desserts. We came back late and Sunday we paid the consequences.  But I did manage to go for a run at the Cornish and, later in the day, Marina and I rode the bike up north to Biblos. 

Today things were supposed to go back to normal but not quite.  The president and the presumptive prime minister were scheduled to meet and agree on a new government but they didn’t.  Restaurants are now open, but only until 7pm and after 8pm there is a corfu. So not much to celebrate. 

Otherwise I have been planning the upcoming sailing trip.  Not surprisingly, because of COVID things won’t happen the way I had envisaged.  I can make it to St Martin from the US, no problem, as long as I have my PCR test.  But the French islands were I was planning to stop are closed. There is also a 7 days quarantine in Grenada. 

Originally, I had plan to arrive to St Martin on April 19th, take a couple of days to prepare the boat and provision and then sail south at leisure visiting Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Martinique. But now I won’t be able to depart St Martin until April 27.  The reason is that before then I have a few work related commitments that require me to have access to the internet for virtual meetings. Since I can’t stop in the islands and in the boat I only have the Iridium Go, I have no choice but to wait.  

Moreover, since I have to do a 7 quarantine in Grenada and my return ticket from the US to Beirut is on May 10th, I have to be at anchor in St. Georges Harbor on May 1st at the latest.  Bottom line, I now have only 5 days to sail from St Martin to Grenada.

I was thinking whether I should still try to break the trip in stages to be able to rest at night; you can’t enter the islands but if you ask permission you can spend the night at anchor (still no internet). I asked Webb Chiles with whom I have been corresponding for his advice.  This was his reply:

I was just looking at the iSailor app chart of the Caribbean and find the distance St. Martin to Grenada is about 350 miles.  I cannot tell you what you should do, but I will tell you what I would do and that is sail it direct and without stopping.  My reasons are that is my preferred way to sail:  to just go out and get it done.  Also, pressure of time can push one into undesirable situations, so it is useful to keep as much in hand as possible.  Third, I would be reluctant to put myself in control of local officials along the way who may or may not act rationally.  Fourth the direct course is likely to provide a faster and slightly more comfortable angle to the wind.

This was also my preference and what I am now planning to do.   Fly to St Martin, prepare the boat and provision while I deal with work related stuff, then sail to Grenada non-stop.  It should take 2.5 to 3 days if all goes well.  More updates will follow…  

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