“Sailed Off To Antigua…

…it took her three days on a boat.”  from Fins by Jimmy Buffett.

(posted from Les Saintes, Guadeloupe)

One of the worst things you can have on a cruising boat is a schedule.  It forces you to sail at times or in ways that you might not want.  We had a friend flying in to Antigua and we had been waiting in Martinique for the weather to settle and the northerly swell to diminish.  Once the weather looked good we had to make tracks so we wouldn’t get held up along the way.

St. Pierre

Well, that’s what we did – from Martinique.  But first we started with a short hop (32 miles) around from the south side of the island to the northwest corner and anchored in St. Pierre for the night.  This is a cute little town with an unprotected anchorage, so we only stop there in settled weather.  Someday we need to spend more than one night.

The anchorage is a narrow shelf parallel to the beach.  We got there early enough in the afternoon to find what we considered to be a good spot.  Six or eight boats came in after we did and we watched them all wander around and try their luck.  One boat anchored and dragged a couple times and finally moved to another part of the anchorage.  Late in the afternoon the wind dropped and got kind of funky and we found ourselves way too close to another boat, so just before dark we moved up a bit and reset the anchor.

Dominica

We got up early the next morning for the 56 mile trip to Portsmouth, Dominica.  We had a good sail up to Dominica and most of the way along the lee side of the island.  We had a fuel system clog just outside of Portsmouth.  Evidently there is still some stuff in the port side tank – the one that has hardly been used since we topped it off in St. Marrten about a year ago.

We anchored in Portsmouth, a harbor at the northwest part of the island and the jumping of place for Guadeloupe.  This is a big anchorage with lots of room and generally good holding.  While we were anchored there Randy and Diane from Sinbad stopped by.  We last saw them in Antigua about a year ago, just before the set out for Bonaire.

Guadeloupe

We thought we might stay in Portsmouth while I sorted out the fuel system, but the glob must have come loose and dropped off the fuel pickup in the tank. We could run on the other tank for a long time, so we decided to head out for Guadeloupe.  It’s about a fifty mile run from Portsmouth to Deshais.  In the past we have split this into two shorter days, but we wanted to make it in one shot to take advantage of the good weather.  Again we had a pretty good sail, but we didn’t quite make Deshais.  We stopped at the the anchorage by Pigeon Island in the Jacques Cousteau Marine Park – about a 42 mile trip.

We anchored at the park once before for an afternoon to do some snorkeling, but didn’t stay overnight.  We got the hook set in about twenty feet of water.  Shortly after we got there the wind went around 180 degrees.  We went for a swim and checked the anchor.  It had turned 90 degrees and was holding.  Then the anchorage got rolly.  One boat put out a stern anchor to keep them into the waves, but we didn’t have room to do that.

Antigua

The trip from Pigeon Island, Guadeloupe, to Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, is 51 miles.  We got an early start and had a spirited sail.  We tried to anchor and finally got the hook to hold.  I dove on the anchor and found that only the tip had dug in, so we raised the hook and moved to a different spot.

Including our trip around Martinique we travelled about 180 miles in four days and averaged a little under 5.7 knots from anchor up to anchor down.

Sailing to Guadeloupe - we spent most of three days like this between islands

Sailing to Guadeloupe – we spent most of three days like this between islands

Playing Tourist

The dash north was over and we could relax.  We got the laundry done and did some shopping to restock the galley just in time for our friend Andrea to arrive for a couple weeks on the boat.  We picked her up in Falmouth Harbour and then explored some anchorages.  We visited Jolly Harbour, Deep Bay, Great Bird Island, and Jumby Bay.

In Jolly Harbour we arranged for an island tour by land.  The island tour was a lot of fun.  Our driver, Rodney, was quite interesting and knowledgeable.  Among the places he took us was a the ruins of an old rum factory.  One of the two windmills used to crush sugar cane was well restored.

Windmill used to crush sugar cane at the rum factory

Windmill used to crush sugar cane at the rum factory

One of the fun spots we visited was the Devil’s Bridge on the northeast corner of the island.  Jackie and I vacationed in Antigua about ten years ago and we could walk to the Devil’s Bridge from the resort.

Devil's Bridge

Devil’s Bridge

The view of the Atlantic Ocean rolling in from the east and Nonsuch Bay to the south was still impressive.  There were more tourists than in the past and there were vendors selling touristy stuff.

Jackie and Andrea take advantage of a shopping opportunity

Jackie and Andrea take advantage of a shopping opportunity

Great Bird Island was another nostalgic stop for us.  We had taken a trip from the resort to the island for a picnic, snorkeling, and hiking.  The things we always remember are the great picture we got of a Tropicbird and looking down from the top of the island at a cruising yacht at anchor.  We picked up one of the few moorings available and visited the island.  It was just as we remembered.

Tropicbird flying over Great Bird Island

Tropicbird flying over Great Bird Island

View of OUR cruising boat from atop Great Bird Island

View of OUR cruising boat from atop Great Bird Island

This is what the chart plotter showed after we picked up the mooring ball - not very confidence inspiring

This is what the chart plotter showed after we picked up the mooring ball – not very confidence inspiring

Hermit crab thinks out of the shell

Hermit crab thinks outside the shell

Bird Island lizard

Bird Island lizard

ANTIGUA CLASSIC REGATTA

Andrea left just before the start of the Classic Regatta.  The regatta features an amazing array of classic yachts that enter the races and is attended by many modern superyachts like The Maltese Falcon.

The Maltese Falcon's masts look like some kind of modern art

The Maltese Falcon’s masts look like some kind of modern art

Last year we watched the regatta from hills on the south coast and from friends’ boats.  This year I asked around a little and got a crew position on Gaucho, a 36 ton, fifty foot, double-ended ketch.  The boat was designed by Manual Campos, one of two pioneers of yacht design in Argentina (the other was German Frers) and built in 1943.  The boat has been the home for the current owners, John and Roni for nearly 30 years.

Gaucho before a race

Gaucho before a race with main reefed and genoa furled.

The four days of racing started off with a bang – actually many bangs.  We saw winds in the high twenties and some fairly lumpy seas.

Gaff rigged classic yacht

Gaff rigged classic yacht

Another classic clawing working to weahter

Another classic working to weather

Classic schooner crashing through the waves

Classic double-ender crashing through the waves

Five of these beautiful classic yachts broke masts – three mizzens (although one boat cleared the wreckage and finished second), a main topmast (they re-rigged the gaff and raced the next day), and a main mast.  Gaucho came through almost unscathed – we only blew up a block.

Blue Peter's mast splintered

Blue Peter’s mast splintered

The weather gradually calmed down as the week progressed, so no more boats had major failures.  Crewing on Gaucho was fun. I even got to steer for about an hour during which I managed to get past Old Bob – something the skipper had been working at all morning.  Steering with the tiller was a challenge because waves could hit the boat hard enough to launch you across the cockpit.

Eric (in red) at Gaucho's tiller chasing Old Bob

Eric (in red) at Gaucho’s tiller chasing Old Bob

Old Bob

Old Bob

Of course people watching the races from very large catamarans have fun, too.

Happy race watchers

Happy race watchers

Antigua Race Week

Antigua Race Week starts less than a week after the Classic Regatta ends.  There is barely enough time to catch your breath.  Like last year I caught a ride on Hotel California Too down to Deshais, Guadeloupe, to join Jaguar for the feeder race to Antigua.  We had a good race back, but Hotel California Too won overall.  The next day we had a practice with the whole crew together for the first time.

Peter gets interviewed just after we arrive from Guadeloupe:

(right click on the link and select open in new window to save your spot on this page)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLTTslf6guk&list=FLEKCVa0lWpgjvVcUaLNQ-_A&index=11

Racing started the next day.  We started slow at first and then started pushing Scarlet Oyster (a boat thought to have a chance at winning the regatta overall) and Caccia alla Volpe, the eventual winner of our class.  We ended with two firsts, one second, three thirds, and a fourth which got us third in class for the regatta. Not bad considering that in one race we got a third despite having to restart because we were over the line early.  We even managed a sixth in the race we dropped despite having to go back and fetch a crewman who fell off.

Our scores helped bump Scarlet Oyster to second in class for the week.   This was especially gratifying in that Scarlet Oyster failed to give way on a port – starboard situation and we had to crash tack and then they had our protest disallowed on a technicality.

Jaguar leading Scarlet Oyster

Jaguar leading Scarlet Oyster

Spinnaker launch

Spinnaker launch

We get a lot of time in the Day 3 video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao9iQzaqmGc&list=FLEKCVa0lWpgjvVcUaLNQ-_A&index=6

You see us at 18 seconds: putting up blue and white spinnaker – pole topping lift shackle fails,

35 seconds: sailing with red (Scarlet Oyster) and dark blue (Wings) boats

1 minute: more sailing with red (Scarlet Oyster) and dark blue (Wings) boats

Winding Down

After a month of catching up with old friends, having a guest on board, and sailing in two regattas, we finally had a chance to breathe.  We found a couple nice pond/marsh areas with lots of different birds and other interesting critters.  At one point we stumble into a nesting area.  The nests are on the ground so we had to carefully leave as to not step on any eggs.  Here are pictures from our various hikes in Antigua.

New born baby goat greets us

New born baby goat greets us

Where's the kid?

Where’s the kid?

Local guy fishing with a cast net

Local guy fishing with a cast net

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

Another lizard

Another lizard

Roosting frigate bird watches another bird fly by

Roosting frigate bird watches another bird fly by

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Least Tern with fish dinner

Least Tern with fish dinner

Black Neck Stilt

Black Neck Stilt

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Next: Gone to Guadeloupe

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One Response to ““Sailed Off To Antigua…”

  1. lchanchow Says:

    Hi Jackie and Eric. I quite enjoy your blog and ‘field naturalist’ photos. Keep it up. Hope you able to visit Trinidad some day. Leo

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