Archive for May, 2012


May 26, 2012

(posted from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia)

The race weeks were over, Bob flew home, and we began to think about moving on. We got a couple days of rain, so we had to resort to running the engine to keep the batteries charged up. The first time we did so, the engine overheated right away. I checked the engine room and found antifreeze in the bilge. I soon found that a drain spigot had failed allowing the coolant to escape. The local Yanmar dealer had one in stock, so I installed the new one, refilled the coolant, and we were good to go.

Three Hour Tour

The weather wasn’t conducive to sailing between the islands, but it was fine for moving around to Jolly Harbour. We weighed anchor, put up the sails, and had a lazy downwind trip around the end of the island. Three hours later the wind was failing as we approached Jolly Harbour. We motored into the channel and the engine overheated again. We swerved into the anchorage and dropped the hook next to Morgan on Nirvana. I had been on the radio with Debbie on Chimayo when the engine overheated. Bob from Chimayo was visiting Morgan and they heard the conversation, so they came over to help. We had them tow us into a mooring in Jolly Harbour.

I dug into the cooling system and found that the raw water impellor had lost some blades and they had lodged in the heat exchanger. I replaced the impellor and added more coolant. We motored around in the anchorage for a while until we were satisfied that we had found all the problems and got all the air out of the cooling system.

Southbound to Guadeloupe (May 13)

The weather cleared and we headed south to Guadeloupe. The trip was a bit windy and bumpy, but all went well. We cleared in in a little shop in Deshais and spent the night. The next day we awoke to a deck full of ash from an onshore trash fire.

In Deshais we wake up to a deck full of ash from a trash fire

We worked our way down the coast to Anse a la Barque. This small anchorage has a boat ramp and is home to a lot of little local boats. We stayed here once before and each time there were only one or two other cruising boats. We went ashore to drop off our trash and met a local fisherman who had a boat load of nice fish. We bought a couple of big Mahi steaks and the fisherman threw in a small tuna. Good eating!

Tiny anchorage of Anse a la Barque

 Dominica (May 15)

We were up early and worked our way down to Dominica. We made good time and eventually grabbed one of SeaCat’s moorings in Roseau next to Mark and Willie on Liahona. This mooring couldn’t have been more than one hundred feet off a small dock behind a boatyard. The boatyard seemed to be a local gathering place in the late afternoon and early evening. If we were any closer we would have been part of the crowd.

On the mooring in Roseau – the dock is closer than it looks

Hard working local fisherman

 Martinique (May 16)

We were up early the next morning. Liahona was already gone. We set out for Martinique. Again the wind was up in the high teens and the waves were up, but we sailed along pretty well. The current and our leeway were setting us west pretty badly at first, but as the day went on the current subsided and we were able to work our course back to Martinique.

We anchored in St Pierre at the northwest end of the island. We went ashore to check in, but the customs/immigration computer was in the tourist office which closed early that day.

Quaint St. Pierre

Despite the experience that comes with sailing around the world, this cat anchors right on top of us. Later they move.

The next day we motored and sailed down the coast to Grand Anse d’Arlet. We found the customs/immigration computer in the restaurant at the end of the dock and cleared in. This anchorage is a beach with a row of restaurants and small guest houses and not much more. We have always liked it.

The beach at Grande Anse d’Arlet

Perhaps the ugliest catamaran made

The next day we walked around to Petit Anse d’Arlet, the next bay south. This is a real village with all the amenities of a small Caribbean village.

The beach at Petit Anse d’Arlet

Church in Anse d’Arlet is right across from the dock – very convenient at the end of a sea voyage

St. Lucia (May 19)

Once again we were up early and headed south towards St. Lucia. There were wind and waves in the forecast, but we expected all to go well. Unfortunately the wind angle, waves, and current set us drastically west. Our GPS shows us the bearing to our waypoint and so the day was spent trying to get our course over ground as close to this bearing as possible. Sometimes we actually did better by pointing the boat a little more away from the destination so we could gain speed to cut down the effect of the current.

We were pushed almost five miles west of St. Lucia as we reached the top of the island. The only reasonable course was to sail towards the island and the tack back to Rodney Bay. Our eventual landfall was between Castries and Marigot Bay and we had to sail close to shore to tack back.

Rodney Bay is huge. We tried anchoring on the south side in front of the beach and hotels. It took three tries before we found enough sand to hold the anchor and even then most of the holding power was because it wrapped around a big rock.

Next: Laid back in St. Lucia

Antigua Sailing Week

May 18, 2012

(posted from Grande Anse d’Arlet, Martinique)

Antigua Sailing Week is five days of round the bouys racing off Antigua’s south coast. Add in the feeder race from Guadeloupe on Friday and the race around Antigua on Saturday and you have sailing/partying marathon.

Our friend, Bob Starbird, has raced for Peter Morris on his Frers 43, Jaguar, for a number of years. When Bob found out we would be in Antigua around Sailing Week, he asked me if I would be interested in crewing on Jaguar. I jumped at the chance. Bob put me in contact with Peter and I was on the crew.

You Can Check Out, But You Can Never Leave

Coming up to Sailing Week I realized that some boats go from Antigua to Guadeloupe on thursday before Sailing Week to do the feeder race on friday. I talked to Sailing Week chairman Kathy Lammers about finding a ride to Guadeloupe and she put me in touch with Steve Schmidt on Hotel California Too, a Santa Cruz 70. Steve was anchored almost next to us, so I helped him with a couple boat projects. I got invited to join him and some friends for a day to watch the Classic Regatta from his boat. A few days later I sailed with him to Guadeloupe.

Hotel California Too even looks fast at anchor

The Santa Cruz 70 is a downwind sled designed for the Transpac. Steve had Hotel California Too custom built as a cruising boat. The modifications included a shorter mast and a cutdown stern that can be used as a dance floor when their isn’t a dinghy parked on it. Despite these and other modifications, the boat flys. The trip to Guadeloupe took us eight hours on Compass Rose, but only six on Hotel California Too.

Jaguar (pronounced jag-u-ar)

Jaguar and crew were waiting when we got there.  They had to deal with emergency repairs to the high pressure fuel pump in Martinique, but they made it. The next morning we lined up for the race. Only about half of the race crew had been available to deliver Jaguar up from Trinidad, but the wind was such that we didn’t fly a spinnaker, so we did OK short handed. Of the available jobs, I selected mainsheet duty figuring it would be simple. Wrong! The sheet is setup to be trimmed from either side of the boat, so there are winches and traveller controls on both sides. If you are not careful, you can let the double-ended sheet work its way to one side of the boat and then you don’t have enough line to manage the sail from the other side. The whole boat is like that. For example, there are three genoa traveller tracks with position controls on each side and two spinnaker poles. During the racing with the full crew on board I shared the aft end of the boat with two other crew who worked the check stays and the hydraulic controls for almost anything you can tweak on a boat.

The feeder race was a warm up for me. By the next day the full crew had arrived and we went out for a short practice sail. (While I was practicing, Jackie was doing the around the island race on Hotel California Too).

Jackie races around the island on Hotel California Too

Practice was a bit bumpy, with a lot of people trying to learn new positions on an intricate race machine. One crew member dropped out after the practice. The next day was the first race and there were still a lot of rough edges. Another crew member dropped out with a sore back, so we were getting shorter handed. Peter said he was looking for one or two more crew, so I approached Sam (Samantha) and Jon from Imagine of Falmouth who are part of the crew for Hotel California Too. They had met Peter before, and all agreed that they would join the crew.

The rest of the races went much smoother. We had to skip the second race one day because of an equipment failure so that was our throw out race. Our best finishes were a 4th and 5th and we finished the series 7th of 11 boats. El Ocaso, a J120 out of California won the class and was top boat in the regatta. We felt we did pretty well with a 30 year old design against primarily much more modern equipment.

Jaguar going to weather

Racing was tricky because the best wind seemed to be close in to the cliffs

Things got pretty busy during tacks

Spinnaker run

Lay Day

We had a Lay Day in the middle of the series. The organizers scheduled a beach party with lots of fun events. I entered a heat of the stand-up paddleboard race to fill out the field. I had the lead out to the bouy, but had a lot of trouble turning the board. I forgot about the skegs at the back of the board. Then I fell off a couple times and the guy in second passed me. I figure I did pretty good considering I have never been on one before. The experience confirms my opinion that it’s a pretty silly way to get around on the water.

Beach bums Allen (Mendecino Queen), Eric, and Bob (Jaguar crew) hanging out on Pigeon Beach

I got volunteerd to enter the sailing race on Laser Picos. The deal as one kid from the local sailing program and one adult. I asked him if he knew how to sail and he confidently replied, “Yes”, so he got the helm and mainsheet and I got the jib – about the size of a handkerchief. We sailed well, but need to work on tactics as we got squeezed at the first mark. The lead boat didn’t know the course and with the exception of a couple of us, the rest of the pack followed. The organizers were more interested in having fun than having to explain to the first boat across the finish that they didn’t Complete the course, so we didn’t quite win, but we did have fun.

Captain and crew (Eric)

Next: We leave Falmouth Harbour

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta

May 12, 2012

We returned to Falmouth Harbour from Green Island/Nonsuch Bay in time for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Here is a little about the regatta.

To borrow with minor modification from the website: The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, hosts between 50 and 60 yachts every year and enjoys a wonderful variety of competitors including traditional craft from the islands, classic ketches, sloops, schooners, and yawls making the bulk of the fleet, together with the stunningly beautiful Spirit of Tradition yachts, J Class yachts, and Tall Ships….


“To be eligible for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, all entries should have a full keel, be of moderate to heavy displacement, built of wood or steel, and be of traditional rig and appearance. Old craft restored using modern materials such as epoxy or glass sheathing, or new craft built along the lines of an old design, are acceptable. Vessels built of ferro-cement may be accepted if they have a gaff or traditional schooner rig. Fibreglass yachts must have a long keel with a keel-hung rudder and be a descendant of a wooden hull design.”

The yachts begin arriving well before the event.  To get a good spot in the marina?  No, so they have time to polish and varnish and put on a spectacular show.  A substantial part of the event is the Concours d’Elegance judging.  Even Old Bob, a ferrocement cruising boat that is a favorite with the crowd gets scrubbed, polished, and painted.

Some of the boats lined up in Antigua Yacht Club Marina

Carriacou sloops – fast, classic workboats

We watched the five days of racing from the cliffs above the mouth of Falmouth Harbour and from a couple of friends’ boats.  The view from above was hard to believe because there were so many beautiful classic yachts sailing Antigua’s south coast.  The view from spectator boats let us get up close and personal with these amazing yachts as they passed by.

Check out the guys on the bow sprit. Setting the headsails is not for the faint of heart.

This appeared to be standard practice for setting this sail

View from the hilltop of the start of one of the classic classes

Just how many sails can you fly on two masts?

Spirit of Tradition class – a modern yacht built to look like a classic – except of the hi-tech sails

Elena, a 136 foot Herreschoff design

Old Bob, a 40 ft ferro-cement boat (left) may be one of the slowest boats, but she and her fun loving crew are crowd favorites. Jambayla (right) is a 73 ft wooden Windward Schooner recently built with traditional materials

Watching a race from Nirvana 64. L to R Capn. Morgan, Steve (Sailacious), and Laurel (Here Today)

Watching the race from the Santa Cruz 70, Hotel California Too


It may surprise you, but yes, there are parties associated with the regatta – pretty much every day.  In addition, Mount Gay Rum sponsers happy hours at many of the local establishments.  You purchase three Mount Gay Rum drinks and you get your choice of either a Mount Gay Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta T-shirt or a voucher that can be turned in for a Mount Gay Antigua Sailing Week red hat.  In other words, you can drink yourself a wardrobe.

Jackie and Janice (Sailacious) show off their new Mount Gay Rum t-shirts

Our friend Peter (Jabiru) stands in on saxaphone with a local band

Shirley Heights

No trip to the English Harbour/Falmouth Harbour area would be complete without a visit to Shirley Heights.  This is an array of gun emplacements and military buildings overlooking English and Falmouth Harbours which is a great vantage point for spectacular sunsets.  You can munch on local food and get cool drinks from the bar while listening to a pan band.

Sunset from Shirley Heights

Cream Tea Party

There are many parties and events associated with the regatta, but there are none like the Cream Tea.  Held at the Admiral’s Inn in Nelson’s Dockyard, the Cream Tea boasts wonderful food served by ladies dressed in high style for afternoon tea.  The entertainment is gig racing held in English Harbour off the back lawn of the Inn.  A grand time was had by all.

Jackie selects some tidbits to go with her tea

Julia (left) and her photographer friend.

The gig racing was fun and entertaining

Next: Antigua Sailing Week