Archive for May, 2014

MORE SOUTHBOUND, MORE FUN

May 31, 2014

posted from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

SOUTH TO DOMINICA

We finally got Compass Rose back together and sailed for Portsmouth, Dominica, some twenty miles to the south.  We had a good wind angle and relatively mild seas.  The trip went well and we arrived in Dominica without incident – quite a relief after our sail to Les Saintes.  One of the River Guides met us as we approached the bay and led us to a nice sandy spot to drop the anchor.

We have always liked Dominica, but we have not spent much time there since our first visit in 2010.  We arranged for a tour of the northern part of the island.  Our driver, Winston, was pretty knowledgeable about the island’s history.  We stopped just outside of Portsmouth to visit an agricultural exhibition where we saw a lot of interesting plants, fruits and vegetables.

Winston (left) took us to an agricultural exhibition

Winston (left) took us to an agricultural exhibition

Some other notable sites he took us to were the Emerald Pool, and the Kalinago reservation.

Jackie at the emerald pool

Jackie at the emerald pool

The Kalinago, better known as the Caribs, have a reservation on Dominica’s east coast.  Part of it is set up as historical site where you can see aspects of traditional Kalinago life.

Kalinago traditional building made with modern materials

Kalinago traditional building made with modern materials

Traditional Kalinago boat

Traditional Kalinago boat

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One sculpture for each of the elected chiefs

We also saw some beautiful views of Dominica.

Dominica's coastline

Dominica’s coastline

Dominica's mountains

Dominica’s mountains

And not to be forgotten, there was the restaurant where we had lunch while listening to Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits.

The next day we dinghied to Cabrits Park and walked around Fort Shirley.  The lower part of the fort is nicely restored and there are many ruins of old buildings and gun emplacements in the hills.

View of Prince Rupert Bay from Fort Shirley

View of Prince Rupert Bay from Fort Shirley

We also saw some crabs and a snake as we walked through the woods.

 

Dead land crab

Land crab was somebody’s lunch

The only snake we have seen since we sailed south

The only snake we have seen since we sailed south

Hermit crab

One of many hermit crabs in the park

 

Just another rainbow in Portsmouth

Just another rainbow in Portsmouth

We looked ahead to the weather and decided to do the eighteen mile run to Roseau, the biggest city in Dominica and the jumping off point for the crossing to Martinique.  It was an easy trip.  We sailed, motored, and motorsailed as the wind dictated. We tried to raise Sea Cat on the radio so we could take one of his moorings, but he never answered.  We picked up a mooring and figured that the owner would eventually stop by to collect the fee.  No one ever did, but the area is pretty rolly so we rocked back and forth most of the night.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

The next morning we motored out of Roseau.  The wind started to fill in wrapping around the island and coming north.  We worked out way out to get a sailing angle and found plenty of breeze.  We found ourselves riding a south flowing current and picking up at least an extra knot over the bottom.  The current ran headlong into the waves that were building on the shallows at the south end of the island, so the seas got lumpy and confused.

Compass Rose crashed along under reefed main at more than eight knots over ground.  The seas settled a little as we got away from land and the wind settled in to a good angle.  Just when it looked like we would have a fast, albeit wet trip, we heard a familiar noise and watched the bow sprit pop up and the jib slacken.

We had been through this drill before.  We dropped sails, stabilized the rig with spare halyards, and started motoring back against the strong current and through the confused waves.  I looked over the bow and saw that the bracket that holds the lower end of the bobstay had failed.

All spring Jackie and I had talked about spending more time in Dominica this year, but this wasn’t what we had in mind.

Pancho, a boatboy greeted us as we arrived back in Roseau and took us to one of his moorings near the Anchorage Hotel.  We told him about the problem and he recommended a welder and could arrange for transportation to the welding shop.

Dave and I got to work getting the bracket off.  I replaced the bolts that hold the bracket on while we were in the boatyard so I knew the process.  First we had to get all the chain out of the anchor locker so we could get to the bolts.  Dave laid down in the vee berth and got a wrench on the nuts while I sat in the dinghy holding onto the boat in the swell with one hand while unscrewing the bolt with the other.  The lower bolt hole is just a couple inches above the waterline, so I had to quickly put some caulk in the hole and shove the bolt back in to keep the water out.

Spreading 190 feet of chain on deck

Spreading 190 feet of chain on deck

Broken bobstay bracket

Broken bobstay bracket

The crack in the bow gets bigger

The crack in the bow gets bigger from the stress of holding the rig up without the bobstay

ISLAND TOUR II

We contact Pancho and talk to him about getting a ride to the welding shop.  The price is outrageous.  The he suggests we take a half day tour of the southern part of the island that includes dropping the part off at the welding shop and picking it up at the end of the tour.  The price is reasonable for a half day tour and he throws in the mooring rental for free.  We go for it.

Pancho picks us up early the next morning and takes us to shore where we meet Kelvin (sp?) our driver.  He takes us through town to the weld shop where I discuss the job with the welder.  He doesn’t have stock thick enough to replicate the part, but he will weld it back together and add reinforcements.  We agree to a price – not cheap, but we need the part and it has to be strong.

We hop in the van and head off into the hills of southern Dominica.  Our first stop is Titou Gorge.  There were two waterfalls separated by a very narrow gorge.  A small dam was constructed at the top of the second falls and the water diverted through a wooden pipeline – think of a very long barrel – to a hydropower plant.

Wooden pipeline diverts water to power plant

Wooden pipeline diverts water to power plant

The pool created backs up through the gorge to the base of the upper waterfall.  We swam in the water impoundment – it’s always a novelty for us to swim in fresh water.  But the coolest part was to swim into the gorge.  It is very narrow and has high walls so it feels like a cave.

Looking into Titou Gorge

Looking into Titou Gorge

We ended the swim by sitting under a small waterfall that comes from a hot spring.

 

Taking a warm spring shower

Taking a warm spring shower

Our next stop was Trafalgar Falls.  This is actually two waterfalls next to each other, and despite their proximity, they have separate water sources.  The hike down to the falls was easy and quite nice and the view of the falls was stunning.

From there we went back to the welding shop to pick up the part.  The welder had found a discarded piece of metal that was the right size, cut off the broken piece and welded in the new piece.  It was a much better fix and I was much happier with the solution despite the higher price tag.

We head back to the boat stopping at the fish market for some fresh tuna and mahi mahi, and then dropping Jackie off at the vegetable market so she could shop and then take a bus back to the boat.

Dave and I put the boat back together.  It’s a lot of fun hanging onto a bouncing dinghy while trying to tighten bolts and caulk the fitting.  The wrench and caulking gun spend more time underwater than above, but we managed.   The caulking looked perfect when we left the boat yard – now it looks like someone closed their eyes and put it on with a spatula.  Little Rosie is once more whole and ready.

MARTINIQUE BOUND

Once again we set out for St. Pierre, Martinique, some thirty five miles away.  The wind and waves are a bit milder, although it’s still windy and bumpy.  After two rigging failures so recently, I don’t think any of us really breathe easily until we drop anchor.

St. Pierre is a little town along the edge of the sea.  In the early 1900s it was considered the “Paris of the Caribbean”.  Then a volcano wiped out the town killing all but two people.  Some buildings use walls that survived the volcano, so there is a mix of building style in some spots.

We arrived too late to check in, but figured we could do rest and do it the next day.  The next day is my birthday.  It’s also Emancipation Day and there is a small carnival on the waterfront.  We dinghied in only to find that no one is allowed to tie up to the town dock or land a dinghy on the beach within 300 meters of the dock.  Eventually some other cruisers land their dinghies on the beach near us and the land owners look OK with it, so we do the same.  We visit the carnival, but it is small and few people are there in the heat of mid-afternoon.

We went back to the boat and spot some fishermen landing their boat by the beach.  They set up a portable fish cleaning table and proceed to unload a yellow fin tuna that is almost as big as the boat.  The boat in the picture is just the tender they use to get to their mooring, but the fishing boat wasn’t all that much bigger than the fish.

This was one big tuna!

This was one big tuna!

That evening the activity in town began to heat up.  We were already tucked in on the boat, so we stayed put, but we had a ringside seat for the great fireworks display on the waterfront.

CHEEKI RAFIKI

I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with this topic, but I finally decided to cover it about the time we became aware of it. We heard that a boat was lost in the Atlantic.  Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau 40.7 that competed in Antigua Sailing Week this year and won their class, was lost with all hands.  She was returning to the UK and the crew called in that she was taking on water.  Evidently she lost her keel and capsized.  The US Navy reports that there is no sign of life on board and that the life raft was not deployed.  It is now pretty certain that the four crew, Paul Gosling, James Male, Steve Warren, and Andrew Bridge, could not have survived this long in the sea.

Cheeki Rafiki winning her class at Antigua Sailing Week (photo by Tim Wright)

Cheeki Rafiki winning her class at Antigua Sailing Week (photo by Tim Wright)

Capsized hull missing keel

Capsized hull missing keel

While we did not know the crew, we competed in the same regatta with them.  In light of the issues we have had recently this strikes close to home.  Things don’t always go as planned.

GRAND ANSE d’ ARLET

The next day we ran down the coast to Grand Anse d’Arlet, another little vacation town.  We would be in the lee of the island and the wind and waves should be relatively mellow.  We expected a little jump in the wind as we passed the mouth of the bay at Fort De France.  We left St. Pierre, hoisted sail, and started motorsailing and then sailing down the coast.  The wind blew up into the high teens and twenties and stayed there all the way to Grand Anse d’Arlet.  It was not the semi-lazy trip we expected.

We motored into the bay and found that the planned moorings were now a fact.  We had always anchored towards the south side of the bay near the town dock, but the only moorings available were on the north side of the bay.  It turned out this was the rolly part.

We went into town and walked around and eventually had dinner in a nice little resort/restaurant on the beach.

The next morning Jackie took the dinghy and scouted the southern moorings, but none were available.  We did see a number of boats anchored inside the edge and just outside the mooring field.  We dropped our mooring and anchored just outside the mooring field near the middle of the bay.  It was much calmer there.

We went snorkeling that afternoon on the south side of the bay.  It was a pleasant surprise.  There was a lot of live coral and quite a variety of fish.  I was sorry I didn’t take the camera.

SAINT LUCIA

The weather looked good the next day and we made the twenty seven mile passage to St Lucia.  Martinique is the eastern-most of the islands we frequent, so you would think we would get a break on wind direction when sailing south to St. Lucia.  This is not the case in that we are going from the wide part of Martinique to the narrow part of St. Lucia and have to make easting the whole way.  The trip was a little less windy and rough than a lot have been this year, but the wind direction and westward setting current prevented us from sailing the rhumbline during the first part of the trip.  Luckily we got a little lift from the wind and the current moderated some as we neared St. Lucia.  We made landfall just south of the anchorage and tacked into the Rodney Bay.

Modern navigation

Modern navigation

 

Dave and I take turns steering

Dave and I take turns steering

We tried to anchor south of the channel off Reduit Beach, but found poor holding and our chain went under a couple large rocks.  We moved north of the channel off Gros Islet and sunk the anchor in nicely.   We got ourselves checked in and they told us we didn’t have to do anything special to get Dave off our crew list.

It has been great having Dave on board.  He is an easy guest and a great help when sailing – especially when things go wrong.

Which brings us to the end of this phase of our cruise.  Dave was able to arrange a flight out of the main airport near Vieux Fort at the other end of the island.  The Vieux Fort anchorage has a poor reputation for security and is an upwind slog once you round the bottom of the island, so we check options for getting Dave to the airport from Rodney Bay.  Taxi fare is about $80 US.  The bus to Castries is $2.50 EC (less than a dollar US) and the bus from there to the airport is about another $5.00 EC.  This is a no-brainer.

We get up early and catch the bus with Dave.  This is his first real experience on a Caribbean bus.  We have taken the bus to Castries and from there to Soufriere, so we know that there is no central bus terminal – each bus route has its own little terminal (sometimes just a side street).  We ask directions and start our trek which eventually takes us to the other side of town.

We find the buses to Vieux Fort, verify that it will stop at the airport, and put Dave aboard.  He will be on his own for the rest of the trip.  Now we know how parents feel the first time they put their kids on the school bus.  We restrain ourselves from pinning a note on his shirt telling where he needs to go.  The bus pulls out, we wave, Dave is gone.

 

We put Dave on the bus to Vieux Fort

We put Dave on the bus to Vieux Fort

For the first time in about five weeks Jackie and I are alone on the boat.

Next: More St. Lucia

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SOUTHBOUND

May 18, 2014

posted from Portsmouth, Dominica

Usually there is more time between posts but I’m caught up and there is a relatively long story to tell, so here goes…

GUADELOUPE BOUND

The racing was over, all the guests had left except Dave, Compass Rose was ready for sea.  It was time to leave Antigua and begin sailing south.

The first hop was from Falmouth Harbour, Antigua to Deshais, Guadeloupe.  The trip is a little over forty miles almost due south.  We kept going back and forth over which day to go to get the best weather.  We had actually cleared out stating our intention to go the following day, but when we got back to the boat we realized we had no need to stay.

We did the final bits to ready Compass Rose for sea, raised the anchor, and hoisted sails.  We got out of Falmouth Harbour and found the wind to be a bit lighter than we had expected, but we pressed on.  It eventually filled in, but we had to sail pretty high to keep from being pushed off course by the prevailing current and our speed was less than we hoped for.  Dave was at the helm and stayed there keeping us on the wind – a bit difficult in light wind.

 

Dave at the helm

Dave at the helm

The helming paid off by putting us in a good position to take advantage of a favorable wind shift towards the end of the sail.  Unfortunately the late start and the low wind speed caused us to come into Deshais after dark for the second time this year.  We managed to find a good spot in the anchorage, run up the yellow flag, and settle in for the night.

MARCHING INTO LES SAINTES

We got up the next morning, had a leisurely breakfast, and headed south for Les Saintes, a group of islands just south of Guadeloupe.  The trip took us down the leeward side of the island, which can be an interesting trip because the high mountains effect the wind.  We have actually sailed at another boat that was on the same tack as us, so the wind was hitting each of us from opposite directions.  We sailed, motored, and motor sailed as needed to reach the south end of Guadeloupe.

As we cleared the island, the wind and waves settled in from just south of east.  We couldn’t sail southeast to get directly to Les Saintes so we just did the best we could and planned to tack back in the lee of the islands.

Rosie rolled along well under autopilot, but I took the helm when we decided to tack.  Jackie released one sheet and Dave hauled in the other while I steered us through the wind.  We had just settled in on the other tack with the boat sailing nicely When a noise came from the front and the duckbill popped up.

(The duckbill is a piece of wood about three feet long that sticks out in front of the boat like a small bow sprit.  The forestay attaches to it and holds the jib and keeps the mast from falling over backwards.)

This was very bad.  If the duckbill let go the main mast would fall down.  I got the boat into the wind to take the load out of the sails and started the motor while Dave and Jackie rolled in the jib.  Jackie took over on the helm while Dave and I got the main sail down and stabilized the mast to the front of the boat with a spare halyard.  We then motored slowly into the wind and waves and picked up a mooring off Terre de Haute, the main town in Les Saintes.

It turned out that the wire in the bobstay broke.  This is a heavy wire that holds the duckbill down, thus counteracting the force of the forestay.  We were stranded in Les Saintes until we could replace this part.

The bobstay turnbuckle hangs down, the rest of the bobstay is in the water at the front of the boat

The bobstay turnbuckle hangs down, the rest of the bobstay is in the water at the front of the boat

IMG_0631

The duckbill has pulled up from the front of the boat

The old bobstay

The old bobstay

We began trying to track down someone who could make a new bobstay for us.  Remember that this is a French island – most people do not speak English.  This would require the proper fittings and a machine to swage the wire into the fittings.  We found a sailmaker on the island who thought he might be able to point us in the right direction, but when he saw the parts he realized no one on the island had tools big enough for what we needed.  He recommended a company in Pointe a Pitre on the Guadeloupe mainland.  We tried contacting them, but had no luck.  We did, however contact another rigger there who could make a new bobstay while we waited.

POINTE A PITRE ODESSEY

The adventure begins.  We have to figure out how to take the ferry to Trois Rivieres, rent a car and drive to Pointe a Pitre, have the part made, and return.  We get some info and early the next morning we catch the 6:45 AM ferry for the ride to Trois Rivieres.   The sailmaker assured us that there were two rental car companies on the dock in Trois rivieres, but one had no cars left and the woman at the other only spoke French.  We never figured out whether she was out of cars or just wouldn’t try to rent a car when the deal couldn’t be completed in a common language.

We talked to someone from the ferry company and he told us where we could catch a bus.  It was a ten minute walk up a steep hill to the next town.  Once there we happened upon a woman who spoke no English, but was going to Pointe a Pitre – just follow her. The bus comes and we get on.  We ride a short distance, get off, and run for another bus.  Our leader gets on and gets right back off.  The bus is a local, not an express.  We wait a few minutes and catch the express to Pointe a Pitre.

We’ve been to Pointe a Pitre before, so the rest is easy.  We catch a taxi to the marina, find the rigger and show him what we need.  He can make it – be back at 12:30.  We head for the chandlery and grocery stores to get some supplies, then grab some lunch.  We return about 12:15 and find the rigger starting to drive his wife to the airport.  We misunderstood the time.  He gives us the part, we pay him, and we head for downtown Pointe a Pitre.

We don’t find a taxi, so we get on a local bus.  Unfortunately the bus driver is going off shift and we have to wait for the next driver.  Finally the bus takes us downtown and we walk to the main bus terminal.  We know we need a bus that goes beyond Trois Rivieres and after asking around another bus driver directs us to the lane for that bus.  The bus arrives and we show the note with our destination to the bus driver.  He says oui and off we go.

We begin to realize something is not right.  The bus is making a lot more stops than it did in the morning.  We are on the local!  Our tickets say the ferry leaves at 3:45, the bus is moving slow, the clock is moving fast, and it’s a long swim from Trois Rivieres to Les Saintes.

We are sweating a lot more than usual for a warm Caribbean afternoon.

The bus finally drops us off at our stop, but we still have to get a local bus.  We wait.  Jackie starts hitchhiking.  The bus comes and the driver seems to understand where we need to go.  The street through town is one way, so the driver has to drop us off a few hundred yards from where we were picked up in the morning.  We start walking down the hill with time to spare.

We come to a little snackette where we can see the ferry dock.  We decide we have enough time to split two beers among the three of us before we have to board the ferry.  The cold beer tastes especially good after the fast hike down the hill.  We finish the beer and walk to the dock.

There is no ferry.  We had originally been told that the ferry left at 4:45, but our tickets said 3:45.  People are slowly wandering in to the area and some are sitting down and placing orders at another snackette next to the dock.  We finally join them. Dave and I have more cold beers.  Jackie has to find out what the tall green drinks are on many other tables.  After playing 20 questions and pointing at a lot of glasses on tables she finds it’s cold Crème de Menthe and water.  Very refreshing.

We board the ferry relaxed and refreshed.  We grab the three driest (a relative term) seats on the open upper deck and enjoy the view as we speed back to Les Saintes.

Jackie is happy to be on the ferry in Trois Rivieres

Jackie is happy to be on the ferry in Trois Rivieres

Less than seasoned travelers at the beginning of the ride are well salted by the end

Less than seasoned travelers at the beginning of the ride are well salted by the end

Part of the mooring field at Terre de Haute

Part of the mooring field at Terre de Haute

The next day is boatwork and wash day.  Jackie and Sherpa Dave take the laundry in while I start working on Compass Rose.  The fuel filter needs changing, batteries need topping up, and I install a new bilge pump float switch.  Dave and Jackie return and we install the new bobstay and put new backing washers behind the bolts that hold on the duckbill.  Then we tighten all the rigging that we loosened to get the duckbill in place.  Little Rosie is once again ready.

Compass Rose moored near the "Ship House"

Compass Rose moored near the “Ship House”

It wasn’t all work in Les Saintes.  We hiked around a little and ate French food.  We visited with Bruce and Carol on Wild Matilda and kept bumping into Rob and Ellen on Miclo III, and Anna and Hakan on Unicorn, and a few others.  The Triskell Cup Regatta passed through and we got to say hello (but not much more) to Steve on Hotel California Too.  And to cap things off, the French Navy rotated two ships through just as we were leaving.

We have to sail past a French aircraft carrier on the way out of Les Saintes

We have to sail past a French aircraft carrier on the way out of Les Saintes

We are off to Dominica.

Next: The land of Parrots and Rainbows.

 

OFF TO THE RACES

May 12, 2014

posted from Les Saintes, Guadeloupe

ANTIGUA CLASSIC YACHT REGATTA

One of the biggest events on the Caribbean sailing calendar is the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.  We had an uneventful trip around the corner of the island to Falmouth Harbour.  I started looking around for a boat to sail on.  I sailed on Gaucho last year, but their boat was for sale and I really didn’t expect to see them back.  Earlier in the year I talked to Leonard from Saudade about crewing and he was for it if he was still in Antigua.  As luck would have it Gaucho didn’t show and Saudade was gone.

I walked the dock on the morning of the first race and found a spot on Ocean Nomad, a Carriacou sloop.  These are traditional wooden vessels a little over 40 feet in length and originally designed to carry cargo.  They are built largely by eye on the beach in Windward, Carriacou.

It turned out that Ocean Nomad is normally used for day charters in Antigua but was chartered for the regatta. The deal was put together  at the last minute because the crew were flying in to sail on another boat, but it left before the regatta started.  The boat was Saudade, so I guess I was destined to sail with this group one way or another.

Ocean Nomad at the dock

Ocean Nomad at the dock

Ocean Nomad at speed

Ocean Nomad at speed

The crew turned out to be a great bunch of people.  We sailed hard, had a lot of fun on the water, and eventually finished fifth.

I got a couple turns at the helm.  She sailed like a big dinghy

I got a couple turns at the helm. She sailed like a big dinghy

My favorite day of racing was a course out and back twice. Our fleet was one of the first off, so we got to see the rest of the fleet coming at us and often chasing us down from behind.

Classics racing in earnest (photo by Margaret Richardson)

Classics racing in earnest (photo by Margaret Richardson)

Another classic (photo by Margaret Richardson)

Another classic (photo by Margaret Richardson)

 

The Ocean Nomad crew

The Ocean Nomad crew

ANTIGUA SAILING WEEK

Another one of the premier events on the Caribbean sailing calendar is Antigua Sailing Week.  Classics ends on Tuesday and the Sailing Week feeder race from Guadeloupe is on Friday, so there isn’t much of a breather.  Overnight the classic yachts disappear and Falmouth and English fill with modern boats.  Some are pure racers, some are cruisers, and some are charters.

Once again I was scheduled to crew on Peter Morris’ Frers 43, Jaguar, but as with Classics things didn’t go as planned.  Peter and a delivery crew that included my brother Dave, and friends from DC Bob and Dee were to sail the boat from its berth in Trinidad to Bequia for the Easter Regatta.  They would then sail to Guadeloupe for the feeder race to Antigua.  The boat would do Sailing Week and then return to Trinidad.  Crew would join or leave the boat at various points along the way.  Bob’s wife, Terry, would fly into Antigua and she and I were to try to find a ride to Guadeloupe for the feeder race.  Once we were all in Antigua, Bob, Terry, and Dave would stay with Jackie and I on Compass Rose.

The trip started well, but while leading the first race in Bequia the rudder broke off.  The captain and crew managed to keep the boat off the rocks long enough to get a tow.  Peter arranged to have an emergency rudder made and took the boat to Grenada where a new rudder would be installed.

Jaguar's broken rudder post

Jaguar’s broken rudder post

As you can imagine this had a huge impact on everyone’s plans.  Terry had to decide whether to fly to Antigua before Bob knew what the situation would be with Jaguar.  Bob helped sail the boat to Grenada and then caught a flight to Antigua.  Dave and Dee found a ride on Merengue, a crewed charter.

 

Dave at the wheel of Merengue.  He claims the autopilot failed, but we think he just likes to steer

Dave at the wheel of Merengue. He claims the autopilot failed, but we think he just likes to steer

Terry and I started looking for boats for us and got hooked up with Hobart, a Bavaria 42 Match.  The owner, Rainer, wanted to do a long term charter, but couldn’t arrange for a boat, so he bought Hobart.  He, his wife Renata, and their daughter Alina sailed the boat to the Caribbean, did some cruising, and then stopped in Antigua for Sailing Week.  They were joined by the twins, Michael and Christian, their girlfriends Maria and Angie, and friend Franz.  They were looking for a grinder and foredeck person and Terry and I volunteered.  We practiced Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Merengue arrived late Thursday night and since I was practicing Friday morning Jackie met their captain and crew at Customs and Immigration to get Dave and Dee transferred to our crew list.  The entire Merengue crew was there. Only the captain (or his agent) is supposed to go to shore before the boat and crew are checked in and Immigration decided to hold them to the rule.  They waited for hours to get processed and for Customs to search the boat – another unusual move.  Eventually all were free to go.

The Merengue crew waiting at Customs and Immigration

The Merengue crew waiting at Customs and Immigration

We practiced again Friday afternoon and Dave came along with us. I was inventing new ways to screw up spinnaker launches and drops, but we kept things sorted out.

Friday night was the Mount Gay Rum Red Hat Party where you could turn in the tickets you got for buying rum drinks during the previous weeks for Mount Gay Race hats and other goodies. Bob flew in from Grenada that afternoon and took a taxi to the party. Everyone was finally together on the island.

Saturday was the race around Antigua. We were in the first fleet off and were the second boat until we were about three quarters of the way around, when the bigger boats finally started catching us. We kept most boats behind us, but corrected to sixth place on handicapped time.

three quarters of the way around the island ICAP Leopard finally catches us

three quarters of the way around the island ICAP Leopard finally catches us

Around the buoy racing started on Sunday and continued through Friday, with Wednesday off.  Not knowing what crew he would pick up in Antigua, Rainer had our boat rated to use nothing larger than the #2 headsail.  Despite not using our largest genoa we still rated the fastest boat in our fleet.  That meant we had to finish in front of all the boats in our class and by enough margin that they wouldn’t beat us on corrected time.

The racing was tough and the wind was a bit light the first three days, so we couldn’t sail upwind very well with the small sail and gave up ground to the other boats.  We made a lot of it back going downwind, but not enough for any high finishes.  We had more wind on the last two days and that evened things up quite a bit.  We crossed the finish line in 5, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 3 positions for the races but never got higher than third on corrected time.  We had a lot of fun racing and saw some old Jaguar crew who were racing against us on Legacy, a Trini boat.

Crossing with Legacy

Crossing with Legacy

Hobart threads the needle

Hobart threads the needle

Getting the spinnaker ready to launch

Getting the spinnaker ready to launch – that’s me on the pointy end

Preparing the spinnaker - that's me almost in the water

Preparing the spinnaker – that’s me almost in the water

Out on the rail

Out on the rail

You will notice in the last three pictures that I’m the one wandering around out on the foredeck a.k.a. “adventure land” and when sitting on the rail I’m the first one in line to take the wave.  Brother Dave is farther aft kibitzing with the ladies.  Most of the time when I looked aft I would see Michael calmly steering the boat with a perfect poker face no matter what was going on around us.  The exception was when I would get soaked by a wave and he would get this little grin on his face and shrug his shoulders.

I didn't always get the big spinnaker up the right way around

I didn’t always get the big spinnaker up with the writing in the right direction

Flying the blue reaching spinnaker

Flying the blue reaching spinnaker – prettier and looks right either way

 

We get third on thursday!

We get third on Thursday!

 

Hobart crew

Hobart crew

I can’t say enough about the crew.  Everyone tried hard.  Mistakes were corrected and we moved forward.  We all wanted to go fast AND have fun.

So what was everyone else doing?  Part way through the week Bob found a ride on Cricket, a Benateau 35. We’ve met  Sandy and he is suppossed to be a good skipper, and we know other people who have crewed on the boat in the past and had a good time and Bob wasn’t disappointed.

Jackie and Dee have high standards.  Would they settle for your average forty foot race boat?  No way!  They hooked a ride on the Volvo 60, Cuba Libre.  Yes, this is a little smaller than Hotel California Too, the SC 70 Jackie did the Around Antigua race on a couple years ago, but she wanted something a bit sportier for the buoy racing.

Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre

Sailing Week is not just bashing around a race course.  There were evening parties and the lay day events at the beach.  We loved the lay day because it gave us a chance to rest our tired and battered bodies.

A restful day at the beach

The Legacy and Hobart crews team up for a restful day at the beach

We spent quiet evenings trying to gain back our strength.

The Carib girls stop by to suggest a brand of beer...

The Carib girls stop by to suggest a brand of beer…

...do you think it worked?

…do you think it worked?

Sailing week finally ended and people eventually found flights back to the US.  A calm descended over the Compass Rose crew.  Compass Rose had been in and around Antigua for over a year.  We spent some time in nearby islands, but we had spent the end of last cruising season and most of this season in Antigua.  It was time.  Dave, Jackie, and I prepared for our next move south.

Next: Marching into Les Saintes