Tuesday, 28 January 2014


We have been in Antigua for over three weeks now. We like it here. However we also have to stay here for a while as we have a problem with the mast step and the main mast needs to come off. We noticed on the way over a crack in the plate and we have spent many frustrating hours on the net trying to source a plate. Everyone we spoke to suggested using a firm called Rigrite. This firm has to be the most difficult firm to do business with none of the web addresses or telephone numbers are correct and it was only after endless calls to their answer machine that we finally got to talk to a person who informed us that the e mail address on the net and given out over the answer machine was wrong!! What a way to do business!! After all that they were unable to help us or we assume that they are not as they failed to answer our mail. We are now going to get a plate fabricated which will be more expensive but seems our only option.

                                                  Our cracked mast step!

We stayed at Jolly Harbour for nearly three weeks. It’s a well run marina and everything is to hand. There is a very good supermarket so we were able to re provision…not that we needed much as we are now slowly working our way through all the provisions we did not use on the crossing over. However, John has discovered a new drink… dark rum and Ginger Beer and the supermarket had Waitrose Ginger Beer which was perfect for the job. The beach was also very close by and wonderful to swim in.

                                                 Life's a beach!!
                              This is the boat they rowed over in !!!

 We left Jolly Harbour to come to anchor off Falmouth Harbour which has a marina for super yachts. They are all lined up in the marina and at night their masts and red anchor lights light up the horizon… it looks remarkably like Milford Haven Oil refinery! I know that the yachts are worth mega bucks but some of them are ugly. There is one that is military grey in colour with very straight, unattractive lines someone must love it but not me!
                           Night time in Falmouth Harbour

Yesterday we went over to Nelsons Dockyard to cheer in two brave young men Will and Dan who were part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They had left La Gomera in the Canaries 56 days ago and were arriving in Antigua having rowed all the way. They were not the first to arrive several other crews have arrived over the last few days and they were there to cheer the lads in as well. The boats around light up with flares, there were horns blaring and it was quite an emotional experience. Having sailed across at the same time as them I have nothing but admiration for their courage and fortitude. They had been rolled in heavy seas lost their lights some had even had problems with their water maker so fresh water was minimal. You had to be impressed by how fit and healthy they looked considering … all of them sporting varying lengths of beards and straggly hair. The general consensus of yachties we have spoken to is they must be mad!!

We are now waiting for Stan at Antigua Rigging to give us the nod as to when the mast is coming off in the next few days. There are worst places in the world to be stuck waiting for repairs and we have the Superyacht Challenge this weekend so it should be interesting to see if what these big brutes around us sail like!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Crossing the Atlantic at last

We were in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria for over two weeks waiting for crew and completing last minute repairs and purchases. They have very good facilities there, the chandlers are good and provisioning was excellent.

                                                   John and Simon preparing to go

 At Central Market the butcher will vacuum pack the meat, cut it up how you like it and he is very reasonable. The greengrocer was also excellent delivering to the boat and ensuring that the produce was such that you had ripe fruit as well as fruit and veg that would last for at least a couple of weeks.

 By the 10th December both Claire and Simon had arrived and we were hot to trot but the weather was brutal. We had 25 knot winds from the South the exact opposite of what we wanted! We were not the only ones there were a number of boats champing at the bit to get going. Every few hours we would check the weather in the hope that a weather window would appear and finally on the 13th we saw our chance and took it!
The first few hours were great sailing and we set up a watch list then the wind started to increase. George, our autopilot, was not happy and we had to helm through the night. Claire was feeling sick so Simon and John took the brunt of the helming.

  John at the helm .... note the Atlantic Roller in the background!

 It was exhausting but we slowly got used to it and five days in we had covered 7/800 miles and were looking for our turn with the NE trades. We had a team of weather forecasters sending us updates according to our position but we did not want to go too far South and miss the trades. By Day 9 we were confident that we had found them…. steady 20 knot winds with fluffy clouds scattering the sky. George was a lot happier and we were back to full strength with our crew.

                                           Our Position on Christmas Day
                        We are the green dot in the middle of the Atlantic!

Christmas Day on board was relaxed we were blessed with a good sea and able to serve up lamb shank, roasties and some veg without too much hassle. Santa did find the boat and each crew member had a small gift to unwrap and a glass of sparkly. We usually run a dry boat but Christmas Day was an exception with just one glass!

Simon is a keen fisherman and the day he picked to have a go was perfect. He had cast his line for no longer than two hours when he scared the living daylights out of us with a yell from the cockpit…’fish on!’ He had caught a 7kg tuna so it was fish for tea for the next few days. Lots of brain food!

Downward sailing is not my favourite point of sail. The rolling can be uncomfortable. John made the decision to reef every night as the night squalls appear from nowhere and can last nearly all night or just a few hours! We also had two on each watch at night just to help if George was unable to handle the heavy seas if the weather took a turn for the worst. It worked well but was tiring and towards the end of the journey we dropped it down to one with the proviso that someone would give the other a lift if needed. No sooner had we agreed to the one on watch at night system when Clare went on watch and came down to tell John there is a lot of lightening about. It was a long night with thunder, lightning and heavy rain all night. The one member on watch system went out the window!!

                                                                       Halfway there!

We had a couple of incidents worth a note …. A rogue wave came into the cockpit around Day 6 no one was expecting it Simon was clipped on and minding his own business and I was on the helm. The wave hit him full in the face, soaked him and set off his lifejacket! He said to me one minute I was sitting having a quiet chat the next I was wearing Dolly Parton Implants as his jacket inflated!! He was shocked at the time but we have a good laugh about it now.
Clare is doing a fine arts degree. She resolved that once we had found the trades she would throw overboard each day a message in a bottle hoping that she could develop this into a project for one of her assessments. She sent out a total of thirteen bottles I hope she gets some sort of response before she finishes her degree in two years’ time!

We were unfortunate that timing was such that we were due to make land in the dark. Something we definitely did not want to do so we laid a hull about 35 miles out and made our way in a daybreak reaching Jolly Harbour in Antigua at about 9.30am. After clearing immigration we made for a bar and the friendly bar owner George at Westpoint opened up just for us when we told how far we had come for a beer…. 2850 miles!! 
On January 3rd in 20 days we had come long way and the beer did not touch the sides!!