As many of you know, we are fortunate to have friends that winter each year in the Caribbean on their B 36.7 and they frequently invite us to join them for a time. Since my college was closing for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics we chose to head down for the two weeks. Fearing airport congestion in Vancouver, we flew in and out of Seattle instead.
This led to a delightful evening in Arlington WA, hosted by Scott (Stillraining) and his family. We were joined by John and Laurie (jrd22), Ray and Sandy (erps), Jody (artbyjody), and a few members of Cruisers forum as well. A very nice pot-luck dinner was put on as we all got acquainted after which Ray and Sandy drove us to the airport while Scott stored our car and picked us up upon our (eventual - 24 hour late) return. It was great to meet these people and and a real testament to the Sailnet and other communities. Huge thanks to all for coming out and for everyone's help there.
We flew into Antigua via Dallas/Miami with clean quick connections and arrived on time, but hungry (no such thing as food on an airplane anymore!) Our friend arrived from London minutes later and we shared the cab to Falmouth with a couple of Brits flown in to repair "Sojourner"s broken mizzen boom.
After some provisioning we weighed anchor and proceeded round the east coast of Antigua to Green Island, anchoring in Ricketts Harbour for an overnight layover.
The following day had us sailing briskly under small jib and reefed main towards Barbuda. Sea conditions were mild, allowing easy entry into the reef under Spanish Point at the south end of Barbuda. We shared this anchorage with 3 other boats on the first night.
You don't get avocados like these in Canadian supermarkets!
The east coast of Barbuda is all beach... pretty much to yourselves. Barbuda is only lightly developed with a couple of high-end but small scale resorts like Coco Point and only one settlement, Codrington village alongside a sizable lagoon that is unfortunately far too shallow for even shoal draft boats.
We taxied into the village along 8 or 9 miles of very rough 'road', sharing the cab with another cruising crew and took a trip to Barbuda's Frigate Bird sanctuary. It's possible to get quite close to those birds settling outside the boundaries, and for the most part they seemed quite relaxed about it.
However we did get close enough to chase one off an egg and that did engender some excitement.... (note the delicate nest formation)
Here's the inevitable AFS picture...
As it happened, the boat and its skipper had outstayed their welcome in Antigua so we had to clear out in Barbuda to anywhere else to satisfy the immigration people (24 hours would do - but we needed docs to prove it) so we headed down to Guadaloupe and spent the night in the small town of Deshaise on the NW corner of Basse Terre.
The sail down was altogether civilized, about 10-12 knots true just ahead of the beam and flat seas that caused nary a drop on deck. Unusual Caribbean conditions that would continue and get stranger still as our visit drew to a close. We had several days of a full main and larger jib - another rarity for this boat.
After a night in Deshaise we stopped briefly at Pigeon Island, (Jacques Cousteau park) for a bit of snorkeling on the way to Les Saintes, a small group of islands 10 miles south of Guadaloupe. This is a delightful place, with a good harbour, an excellent museum at Ft Napoleon and numerous snorkeling beaches and Le Bourg, a vibrant (if a bit touristy) little town. Due to an unusual NW swell that had been set up by the nasty weather further north and west, this harbour seemed busier than normal.
Along the way we crossed paths with "Sea Cloud", seen here plodding along at maybe 3 knots broad reaching in about 15 knots of wind.
The harbour in Les Saintes as seen from Ft Napoleon.
After a delightful couple of days trooping around the island, visiting the fort and swimming the beaches we headed back up to wrap up our trip in Antigua for the flight home.
Overnight the trades had stopped completely - nada - zilch... We motored for a couple of hours before and even stranger SW
wind to 18 knots drove us up the "leeward" side of Guadaloupe for another (slightly bumpy) night in Deshaise.
We left Deshaise in a light NE breeze that eventually died completely again, leaving us to motor the last three hours into Falmouth harbour.. our skipper was fit to be tied.. (this NEVER happens, says he)
Very non-Caribbean conditions:
And the next morning in Falmouth looked more like a BC summer morning:
While clearing customs in English harbour, I noticed this posting of their mooring rates: Read it and weep! No wonder everyone leaves their boats here for months at a time (prime time transient rates in BC are near $1.60/ft/day as a comparison)
Still, all in all another great trip. No rain to speak of (also unusual) and in the calm conditions the surface water temp crossed 30 deg C (84F) - a worrisome condition vis-a-vis the coming hurricane season. Also the lack of rain has seriously compromise the islands' water supplies on those not relying on desalinators.