We departed Gorda Sound at 5:15 with enough daylight to clear the reefs between Necker and Eustatia Islands on the eastern end of Virgin Gorda. The reason for doing the passage at night was so that we would arrive at Saba Island during daylight. The easterly trade winds were blowing a little north of east allowing us to sail rather than motor to Saba. We had reefs in both our main and genoa and still our speed would put us in Saba before sunrise. It was fast but not comfortable sailing conditions. The waves were large enough to occasionally break over our dodger and as we approached Saba the sea state became confused with waves reflecting off of the island.
The first time we had a diesel leak was on our passage from NYC to Portsmouth, VA. After that passage, I tightened all of the fuel line clamps and checked everything that I thought could be the source of the leak. We completed our passage to the BVIs without smelling a hint of diesel so I was confident I'd corrected the problem. But on this passage the smell was so strong you couldn't go below without feeling sick. When I removed the cushions on the starboard side settee I could see fuel sloshing around. The fuel was contained between bulkheads and on top of the fuel tank and very close to the electric connections for the refrigeration pumps. I had to clean up the fuel. It took me two hours and every rag and paper towel we had on the boat to absorb the fuel. I doubled bagged the rags in plastic garbage bags and had to divide the waste into three to handle the weight of the fuel. My estimate was 7-8 gallons of fuel in total. After getting the fuel cleaned up I found the source of the leak at the fuel tank clean out. The cap of the clean out is pretty much like the cap on the strainer basket of a swimming pool pump. There is an O ring under the cap to make a liquid tight seal. I couldn't remove the cap in the sea conditions, so used a lever and tightened it as much as I could and the leak slowed to an occasional drip. That was the best I could do given the conditions. I would make a final repair when we were at port.
The clean up took most of my off watch rest period. I felt pretty sick after breathing diesel fumes for hours and now we were in the cross seas conditions as we approached Saba. Yeah, it was a pretty crappy morning and still two hours to sunrise. Two hours to our decision to sail on another 7 hours to St. Kitts. The sun brought an end to a tough sleepless night and once we crossed the passage between Saba and Eustatius we had flat water with 15-20 kts on our beam. A good finish to a bad passage.