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!

 

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