Monthly Archives: January 2017

Back to Antigua

We returned to Jolly Harbour on Antigua after enjoying Barbuda’s wonderful beaches. Unfortunately, our last day was rather rolly – with significant swell, such that it was impossible to land the dinghy for fear of capsizing her on the way in.

We had a romping sail back to Jolly Harbour, leaving Barbuda with 3 other boats – but by the time we got to Antigua, they were barely in sight – behind us! :-)

There were 7 other OCC boats in the anchorage or mooring field, so we arranged an impromptu club meeting at the West Point Marina Bar for the evening and had a great time chatting with new faces and some familiar faces. It was great to finally meet Bob and Laurie from Hedonism, an Outbound that I’ve been chatting with online for probably 5 years – so it was great to be able to finally meet in person.

OCC Gathering in Jolly Harbour

OCC Gathering in Jolly Harbour

 

We’re now moored off Great Bird Island on the North East coast – quite a difficult place to get to as it’s surrounded by reefs. We took a short walk this afternoon on the island which was well worthwhile – great views, wonderful smells – Privet we think – and interesting rock formations – much like glorified buttertubs from back home.

Very fragrant shrub - Privet?

Very fragrant shrub – Privet?

Buttertubs like formation - but these ones go down to the sea!

Buttertubs like formation – but these ones go down to the sea!

Pretty anchorage

Pretty anchorage

Laurie battles the wind!

Laurie battles the wind!

We’ll stay here another day perhaps and then head back to Falmouth to pick up a replacement radar dome and then meet Mike and Jane who will be staying with us for 10 days and sailing on down to Dominica.

Looking forward to Dominica – we’ll be there for “Yottie Appreciation Week” and then sister Kate will join us there for 2 weeks!

Fantastic Day in Barbuda

Great beaches, super visit to the Frigate Bird Colony with George – beach to die for – but sadly it’s only 11 miles long!

Baby Frigate Birds

Baby Frigate Birds

Showing off for the ladies

Showing off for the ladies

Rescued from the Mangrove

Rescued from the Mangrove

Hey, Look what I got!

Hey, Look what I got!

Are you coming home soon dad?

Are you coming home soon dad?

George and the Frigates

George and the Frigates

Pink Beach in Barbuda

Pink Beach in Barbuda

Peter and Patty (Serenipitous)

Peter and Patty (Serenipitous)

Antigua and Barbuda

We left Falmouth Harbour and went exploring – Nonsuch Bay was our first stop – Green Island. There’s not much there, but it’s strangely relaxing. We were anchored behind a reef – no land in front of us until we hit Africa – and there was no swell – all taken down by the reef! We enjoyed a couple of nights there with our new friends Tom and Suz on Nomad and Peter and Patty on Serendipitous. We also enjoyed a spectacular sunset – first really good sunset in the Caribbean.

Sunset - Green Island Antigua

Sunset – Green Island Antigua

We then moved on to Barbuda – a new island but part of ‘Antigua and Barbuda’ about 30 miles north of Antigua. It was a lumpy sail with not much wind – but we sailed the whole way, trying different sail combinations along the way – and enjoying quite a long time with spinnaker.

Barbuda is a very flat island – max height just 125ft so we didn’t see it until we were really quite close. We anchored by the longest beach I’ve seen in my life! It’s also the location of a failed resort that Robert Dinero is attempting to buy and re-establish. It’s an enormous resort with about 50 chalets right on the beach – which is called Princess Diana beach – since she apparently stayed there a few times.

Miles of Beach

Miles of Beach

Pristine Beach

Pristine Beach

Interesting Signage at the Airport

Interesting Signage at the Airport

Sunset - Barbuda

Sunset – Barbuda

Getting to the beach proved challenging in the dinghy – quite a surf rolling in meant you had to time it just right and then pull the dinghy up the beach – not easy! More difficult however to launch it – and we ended up getting overwhelmed by the surf and both ended up in the drink! Fortunately, the dinghy remained right side up and a second attempt managed to get us going.

We plan to move a little further up the coast tomorrow in search of a Frigate Bird colony. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a tour by boat up there.

Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

We sailed and motored from Jolly Harbor to Falmouth. Nice sail until we headed east along the south coast and got blasted with 25 knot winds right on the nose and 8 ft swells! But we made it in to find a bunch of friends – hence the Wine Mopping Up post…

Falmouth and English Harbours are next to each other and are perfect refuges in heavy weather. Their strategic importance was recognized early and Nelson was stationed here – and gives his name to the dockyard in English Harbour – now home to mostly super yachts!

We had a lovely walk between the two harbours – ending in a wonderful view of both. I hope the panorama posts well – unfortunately I had to dumb down the resolution to get it to post… If you click on it, hopefully it will get bigger!

Falmouth on the left, English Harbour on the right.

Falmouth on the left, English Harbour on the right.

We’re back into the land of fixing stuff – the radar (less than 12 moths old) packed in on the way to Antigua, so it’s hopefully going to be replaced by a refurbished one in the near future – and, even more hopefully; before we leave Antigua! Radar isn’t completely necessary down here – though it is good for spotting squalls well before they hit you when travelling between islands.

And… The head’s acting up again – seems to be a periodic hassle that everyone deals with. Unfortunately, our on board rebuild kit appears to be a collection of old and used components, so I can’t rebuild it until a new kit is brought to us by our good friends Jane and Mike who will join us here in just a couple of weeks.

Then there’s washing to do…

The new washing machine!

The new washing machine!

Still, all is well in paradise – we could be sitting in Providence in the cold, watching amazed as America confirms the strangest president ever!

Cheers to all!

Rip Roaring Time

Since we had been at anchor in St. Martin’s “Lagoon Jail” for a while, I had removed our hull speed sensor – which amounts to a paddle wheel stuck on the end of a stalk of electronics – to prevent growth building up on it which results in inaccurate speed readings. So, when we departed St. Martin, it was time to replace the sensor, I asked Laurie to give it her evil eye and make sure the thing was properly clean and would spin freely. True to form, Laurie set to with toothbrush, scissors and tweezers to make sure that the sensor was clear of absolutely everything.

When the sensor was back in position, it indeed performed flawlessly… but… in the process, a piece of her cleaning equipment – the tweezers – managed to puncture a hole in one of our 5L bags of wine which were stored in the same locker – a particularly good bag of Cotes de Rhone – disaster! She stemmed the flow with duct tape, but the fix was somewhat leaky and the longevity of the wine was now in question.

Disaster averted however – and turned into a major benefit – when we got to Falmouth Harbour we were surrounded by numerous familiar boats so we had a wine mopping up party aboard Toodle-oo! with Peter and Patty from Serendipitous, Tom and Suz from Nomad, Baxter and Molly from Terrapin and Malcolm and Elia on Orion – and by the end of the evening we had demolished all of the Cotes de Rhone and a little bit of Bordeaux to boot!

Needless to say, heads are somewhat heavy this morning!

Antigua

So, the escape was not without its challenges…

We raised anchor at 3:00pm and exited through the causeway bridge that separates St. Martin from Sint Maarten and then out through the Simpson Bay bridge to find that the “huge swells” we’d been hearing of really were not that bad. Even so, it took us an age to get the mainsail up – we’d decided that 2 reefs would be prudent in the weather we were to face – but that means putting the whole thing up, putting in a first reef and then putting in the second – it all takes rather longer than normal. No matter, we managed to avoid the sexy looking ketch we were about to crash into when we finally got it all done and turned for the open water in about 20 knots of wind.

We brought out the little jib and starting making good progress… then the wind came up a little more, with gusts hitting close to 30. The swell filled in and we were in for a painful trip with the boat heeling suddenly when a gust came through and frequent waves coming over the cabin top – it was going to be an uncomfortable night – even more so because we’d managed to leave the forward hatch open (underneath the dinghy which was stowed on the foredeck).

We reefed down to the third reef and furled about 25% of the jib and the motion settled to a degree and we were still making 5+ knots and 8 knots in the gusts. Occasionally we’d get hit by a bigger wave and I managed to take a bath about 4 times through the course of the night. One wave decided it wanted to have a look down below – so it did but fortunately the mess it made was cosmetic not serious.

I’d been running the autopilot and draining amps – so started the generator, which was reluctant to get going and then quit after about 20 minutes… Time to turn on Gail the Monitor windvane – and she steered us flawlessly all the way without consuming a single amp.

In the end, we made it to Jolly Harbor before morning, so with 3 or 4 miles to go we furled the jib and forereached towards land at 2 knots, arriving at the customs dock at the head of the harbor at 7:30am, tired and wet having not slept at all.

Serendipitous is in the harbor as is Maia, an OCC boat that I know to be vacant as they are back in England welcoming their son to the finish of the Vendee Globe the Singlehanded Around the World race – in which he placed second. He’s the guy in the Hugo Boss ads that walks up the mast in a suit when the boat is going like stink and heeled over to some ridiculous level…

We anchored almost out of the bay – seeking clear water so that we could make water – but I foolishly anchored in too little water (12 ft) and it was rather cloudy with stirred up sand and after a couple of hours running, the watermaker quit due to clogged filters – they had been brand new 2 hours ago! Live and learn. At least it made us some much-needed water…

Right at the back of the harbor - Another squall on the way...

Right at the back of the harbor – Another squall on the way…

We slept well as you can imagine – I got nearly 12 hours and feel much better this morning. We’ll probably make our way over to Falmouth or English Harbor later today where I believe there will be a gathering of Outbounds – a party in the making!

 

Escape!

We’re finally getting out of St. Martin – it’s been a great stop, but we are soooo ready to move on.

Weather is what one might call boisterous – with 20 – 25 knots predicted, gusts to 30 and waves 12-15ft to contend with, but if we wait longer it gets lighter, but in our face… we’d rather sail if we can!

Expect to arrive English Harbour, Antigua tomorrow morning – unless we duck into Jolly…

 

Back in Jail!

So, after a brief respite, we’re back in Lagoon Prison, St. Martin (the French side this time). We had to come back here to pick up our new watermaker membranes – and also to pick up Laurie’s new washing machine! Yes, Toodle-oo! now has a washing machine aboard and after her first load she expresses satisfaction. Storage of the bloody thing is a pain – since it encroaches substantially on my ‘garage’ space, but it’s not too bad – and at least I’ll be able to ditch storage of the home made washing machine (two 5 gallon buckets) to compensate a little…

We want to start heading south now but unfortunately, we are kept in prison for several days due to the weather – which is rising to 30 knots sustained tonight – and there’s a huge swell outside the entrance making coming and going through the bridges challenging – but also making our desired destination, St. Barts untenable as apparently, the anchorage there is extremely rolly at the best of times and hopeless in a northerly swell. Hopefully we’ll be able to wait for decent weather to head there – or we’ll just make a B-line for Antigua…

Had a nice get together with a couple of OCC boats last night on Toodle-oo! – Steve and Mary from Willow, fellow Salty Dawgs and Bob and Leslie of Moon Rebel – who lived in Leyburn, just a few short miles from the place I call home, Muker… Small world…

 

Anguilla

We escaped the Lagoon of Sint Maarten! It was a great stay – super for getting things done on the boat with really convenient chandleries and super for meeting new friends, but not being able to get into the water for fear of catching some dreadful disease was getting old. So, we sailed up to Anguilla.

The sail was very nice – with 15 – 20 knots and seas of 3 – 4 ft. We worked out that it’s basically been a month and a half since we’ve sailed properly – since arriving in the Caribbean. We’ve done little jaunts between the British Virgin Islands, but they were mostly motor sailing and when we came over to St. Maarten, we were motoring the whole way. So, nice to get the sails out and do some proper sailing for a change – and it started off down wind, as we turned north it became a broad reach and then as we rounded Anguilla, we were tight on the wind – so we got it all! Our speed wasn’t great – but I suspect some of that is due to heavy growth on Toodle-oo!’s hull.

We’re here in Anguilla to decompress! As a consequence, we’ve been off the boat just twice – to check into Customs and immigration and then last night we headed over to Elvis’ Bar for “Happy Hour” Not sure what’s happy about it – the drinks were $10 each! – but the company was good. The rest of the time we’ve been reading, playing our instruments (trying to learn Southern Cross) and swimming.

Island Paradise

Island Paradise

Elvis' Beach Bar

Elvis’ Beach Bar

It’s amazing what 3 weeks in the Lagoon did to the bottom of Toodle-oo! – we went from a nice clean hull to one with ¼” of slimy growth and barnacles! We spent a good hour snorkeling around scraping the bottom and probably have twice as much more to go to get her cleaned up. It’s no wonder we were sailing slowly!

Interesting power boat right behind Toodle-oo! – Sleek looking thing that they’ve been cleaning up… Turns out they were preparing for a photo shoot – quite entertaining!

Samsung Advertising?

Samsung Advertising?

Interesting transportation to and fro the boat!

Interesting transportation to and fro the boat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well must dash – the beach awaits!

 

Friendships

It’s interesting how many new people we meet as a result of cruising… We left Newport in October and went down Long Island sound and in Port Washington we met our good friends Mike and Jane, but also were introduced to Erica and Jos Coobs, a really nice Dutch couple on Endless Summer – who we met again in Hampton Virginia, the start of the Salty Dawg rally. There, we joined 83 other boats in the rally – some of which we initiated close friendships with – Patty and Peter on Serendipitous, Tess and Al on Ingomar, Rick and Julie Palm on Archer, Mike, Cindy and Steve on Integrity, Chris on Bristol Head, Reinhart and Mindy on Rockhopper, Lee on Hippocampus, Hank and Seal on Flash and many other folk we met, drank and ate with and will recognize again when we see them along the way – giving us another chance to form more close friendships.

Reinhart & Mindy (Rockhopper) and Lee (Hippocampus)

Reinhart & Mindy (Rockhopper) and Lee (Hippocampus)

Tom (s/v Courage), Tess and Al (s/v Ingomar

Tom (s/v Courage), Tess and Al (s/v Ingomar

Laurie leads Patty and Peter on a shopping mission

Laurie leads Patty and Peter on a shopping mission

Since we’ve been in the Caribbean, we’ve met more – Ken and Judith on Badger’s Sett, Bas and Agnes on Di Sento, Tom and Susan aboard Nomad, Matt and Kathleen on Kindred Spirit… as well as a host of other new faces – some of which we’re bound to see again as we ply the seas hither and thither… We also hope to bump into Rob and Julia a delightful couple we met at the Bubbly Pool on Jost van Dyke – hoping you guys will contact us!

This cruising way is an interesting way – in some regards the friendships we form are very temporary – but in others ways, they are very lasting as we are sure we’ll see many of these new friends along the way and will have many stories to share over a sundowner – the infamous yotie religion!

Cheers!