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Antigua / Guadeloupe Tracks

Have a google at these – it’s our tracks around Antigua and Guadeloupe. I have coloured the antigua track by week so as not to confuse the points where our path crossed over itself.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Interesting sail to Guadeloupe

We’re here in Guadeloupe safe and sound. It was an interesting trip.

We left Falmouth Harbour around 7am this morning and very soon had the sails up. It took another 30-40 minutes before we were out of the lee of the land and had the full benefit of the winds. The sailing was good. We were sailing along between 7 and 8 knots making plenty of juice for the batteries.

The highlight of the trip was spotting a whale. It wasn’t satisfied to be blowing water through it’s spout which would have been exciting enough. It actually leapt out of the water about 6 or 7 times about 200 feet from us. We tried to get pics but the best we managed was a splash.

The next piece of excitement came when we put the generator on. One quirk of the system is that when the drive batteries get down to 80% charge, the cross charging from the drive banks to the house bank gets disabled until we’re back up to around 86%. Because we’d hit the 80% mark here we were making plenty of energy but all it was doing was trickle charging the drive banks and none of it going to the house. With the house bank being at a low point having not run the genny properly for two days we couldn’t make water. So we decided to run the genny for a bit to accelerate the charging of the drive banks and to put more juice into the house bank.

The genny died within seconds. Checking the flashing lights I could see that there was no raw water intake for cooling. I was due, within 20 more running hours, to change the impeller. Given that we had earlier run the genny with the raw water intake closed (an earlier error) it was quite possible the impeller had packed in early.

In theory this was not an immediate issue as we had more than enough battery power to negotiate an anchorage. If push came to shove we could have sailed onto anchor. However, we had a few hours left so I felt it prudent to effect a replacement. This is a part I carry a few spares for.

The replacement went ok except for it nearly tipping me over the edge of seasickness. I finished just in time to do some horizon watching and calm down while Helen tidied away the tools.

We didn’t quite make Port Louis on the one tack. We could have done if I had made the most of the early winds to get further east but I felt it was more important to have a smoother ride. When the wind shifted round a bit we didn’t have the easting we needed to make it on one go. Despite that we were within 1nm so it wasn’t much of a final tack to make it in.

Soon after arriving we both went ashore, principally to check in but also to explore the town. We secured the dinghy in the fishing marina and walked into town. As we expected, customs was closed so having made the effort we continued to wander around. We’ve heard Guadeloupe is fairly relaxed about this so we didn’t confine ourselves to the boat. The place was so laid back I felt the most relaxed I have in three months of cruising despite the days earlier excitement.

Most of the town was shut (by 12:00 pm Saturday for the weekend) although a few grocery shops were open. We picked up some small groceries and cheap plonk ($2 bottle of wine) before heading off to the beach the locals frequent. We decided we would eat at the restaurant by the dock but found it closed for the day when we returned. We have plenty of provisions so we’ll save this treat for Deshaies.

Back on the boat I set about rewiring the feed to my battery charger. The way it had been installed placed it behind a 15A breaker which required severely cutting back the charging capacity of the unit. This translates into longer genset run times. Having had to deal with the failed impeller earlier in the day I felt motivated. The hard part of the job, as ever, was fishing the wires through to the right place. Having done that it worked fine. Now we can bulk charge considerably quicker than before and hence reduce our genset maintenance and fuel bills.

For this evening we are well protected from the easterly winds. The sea is almost flat with a gentle swell. We witnessed a wonderful sunset over Bass-Terre, the westerly half of Guadeloupe. We’re sipping our cheap plonk. I feel pleased with today’s work. There is NO internet of any sort here. Nor will there be for the next few days. We’re quite chilled.

In a lot of ways, this feels like a new start, if not the start of our adventure.

Last few Antigua Pics

Got a good connection this morning so all photos now synched. Check earlier posts too.

Ready to go

Yesterday was a small projects day. In the morning we trundled off ashore to obtain cardboard and sticky tape to box the Hookah and then on to the Fed Ex affiliate to send it back to the manufacturer. We also went to a sail loft to see if we could buy a little extra sail tape in case we have any further issues. For $25 we were sold a piece 36″ by 56″ – a huge sheet. This works out a fraction of the cost of buying the stuff at a regular chandlery.

Back on the boat I first tried to read and relax. It worked for a bit but then I got antsy so I knocked off /pushed forward a lot of little boat projects. Won’t bore you with the details.

In the evening we collected Dave and Elana and shared a curry dinner with them aboard Dignity.

This morning we took a walk to the other side of English Harbour to peruse the chandlery there. We found a few bits and pieces we needed so we picked them up. We hadn’t brought our clearance papers so we had to pay sales tax which was a little annoying. Not the first time we’ve found ourselves in this position.

In the afternoon we checked out of Antigua then went round to Elana and Dave’s for another shower. We spent a couple of hours there before heading back to Dignity to do our final prep for our trip to Guadeloupe tomorrow. We intend to leave at dawn to buy as much extra time at the end of the day as possible for any surprises.

The big news circulating by word of mouth today is the fact that the captain of one of the superyachts was murdered last night. From what we understand he had rented a villa where his wife and kid were staying. Returning there after an evening meal they were accosted. During the robbery his wife was shot in the foot whereupon the captain went ballistic and ended up being shot three times. This is awful for the family. It is aweful for the locals too who all depend on tourism for there livelihood.  Particularly here, the big yachts must bring in a lot of business. If their captains don’t feel safe here big business will go away. All the locals were in a meeting around lunchtime to discuss the event. We don’t know the outcome but I hope for everyone’s sake they catch the culprit(s).

So we’re now all quite excited about Guadeloupe. This is the first island we’re visiting without being under the gun of a timetable. Also, Guadeloupe is more of what the Caribbean means to us: lush forests, hiking, waterfalls with pools, high peaks, views, isolation.

So now the sun is setting on Antigua for the last time for a while. All but dinner and washing up is done. That too will soon be behind us and no doubt we’ll be asleep soon after dark. At dawn we’re off. Life Is good.

Looking like Saturday

It looks more and more like we’ll be leaving here on Saturday. Beginning then is a sustained period when the wind is forecast to be east or north of east which is what we want to get to Port Louis. If it’s not Saturday then surely we’ll be off shortly after.

Yesterday we took the offered shower in the apartment Elana and Dave are renting. We ended up staying far too long and drinking their beer and liqueurs. So in return we’re inviting them back to Dignity this evening for curry. Normally Friday is our curry night but we’re bringing it a day forward so we can have a beer or two. As we intend to sail on Saturday we’ll want to be dry on Friday night so we are fully ready for the sail to Guadeloupe and alert.

That meant we failed to send our hookah which we must do this morning.

We also took a dinghy ride and walk to the town of Falmouth. Turned out to be a grocery store. Well worth the trip as I found a packet of chocolate hobnobs. Result.

Not sure what we’ll do today yet. Maybe we’ll go for a walk.