Leaving Antigua, W. I.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Resting in Antigua

Deshaises, Guadeloupe, F.W.I.
We're in Antigua, resting from four days of great sailing on the way up from St. Lucia.  There was good wind for the trip, with one or two small storms each day to keep us on our toes and give us a little practice at dropping our big Yankee jib in a hurry.  We blew out a panel in it a couple of years ago in a squall, and we couldn't remember to get it fixed.  Most of the time, we fly our smaller Yankee in conjunction with our staysail.  With one reef in the mainsail, that's the right combination for the normal 15 to 20 knot winds that we have in the islands.  While we were in St. Lucia, we saw a forecast for lighter winds and remembered to take the sail in to the loft  for repairs.  It was nice to have it back in the 12 knot winds we had for most of the trip.

The last day, from Deshaises, Guadeloupe to Jolly Harbour, Antigua, we had a forecast for 20 knots on the beam, so we changed down to the smaller Yankee, surprised again at how much easier it is to handle.  The wind came as forecast, and the seas were sloppy, but we had a 7 hour trip over the 52 nautical miles.  We averaged over 7 knots, pushing the boat at hull speed the whole time.  Glad we weren't trying to fly  the big sail.

There's a trough affecting our weather at the moment, with winds out of the southeast.  That would certainly push us to St. Martin, but we would be dead downwind the whole time -- not our favorite point of sail, especially in sloppy seas.  Besides, our friends Kim and Sandi on Kewaydin are stranded here with engine trouble, so we're enjoying their company while they wait for parts.  We'll probably leave for St. Martin sometime next week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

You know you've been in one place too long when the excursion boats add you to their itinerary.  I looked out the port the other day and saw the folks along the rail of this schooner with their cameras, making pictures of the little boat.  That would be Play Actor, I think.  We have been here in St. Lucia for a little over two weeks, and we are still enjoying it.  We always do -- Rodney Bay is a favorite spot of ours.  It's a good anchorage with attractive scenery and clean water in which to swim.  There's a lot of water-toy activity with people from the resorts capsizing their Hobie cats and paddling their kayaks, so we can drink our coffee in the shady cockpit and watch the tourists change color from pasty white to hot pink, right before our eyes.  At just 12 degrees above the equator, the attenuation of UV by the atmosphere is much less than at higher latitudes, because the rays have a much shorter trip through the air.  It doesn't seem any brighter or hotter, -- in fact, it's in the low 80's here -- but exposed skin will burn in minutes.  We're planning on leaving later this week.

We've been watching the weather, waiting for a few days of good breeze to take us to Antigua, and then on to St. Martin.  The low pressure system that's east of Bermuda has been blocking the trade winds for the last few days, otherwise we would have left already.  We went grocery shopping several days ago to provision for the trip,  and now we've eaten our stock.  It's time to go shopping again.  We tried it yesterday, but discovered that it was really time to rebuild the carburetor on the outboard instead.  That done, we're off to the grocery store this morning, with an eye toward a Thursday morning departure.

We'll probably spend Thanksgiving Day at sea.  Think of us when you're eating your turkey -- we'll probably be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, unless the fish happen to be running.  If we get lucky with a tuna or mahi-mahi, we'll steam some rice and have sashimi in the cockpit.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Changes in Latitude

Port Egmont, Grenada

It's that time of year again.  Fall is in the air, even in the tropics.  It's cool enough at night so that we're often sleeping under a sheet.  Hurricane season has fizzled out, and we're actually sailing again.  We've moved from 12 degrees north all the way up to 14 degrees -- about 120 miles.

The beach at Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

We've been in St. Lucia for about a week now, enjoying the change of scenery.  We're anchored right off the beach, near a couple of big resorts.  We enjoy sitting in the cockpit in the shade, watching the folks from Sandals sail by on the Hobie cats, or paddle by in their Kayaks.  We manage to ignore the occasional jet ski -- they're like mosquitoes, only bigger.  We already miss the peace and quiet of Grenada, but we're excited at the prospect of sailing again.  We'll be here a few more days, and then we'll move on.

We have about five days of sailing time between here and St. Martin, where we'll settle for a couple of months and stock up on the things that we can't get in the islands farther south.  We'll do a few minor repairs -- no new engine this winter -- where it's easy to get parts.  St. Martin is also one of the few places we've found in this part of the world where we can get fresh pecans, that staple in a southern boy's diet.  We always leave there with a few pounds stashed away to mix in our breakfast cereal.