Cat Club Marina, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Mike and Liz Downing
Mon 9 Mar 2009 12:00
One of the reasons for sailing to Antigua was to get our wind generation fixed. The problem was that in the strong gusts (35 to 40kts) that we get out here, the blades of the wind generator were feathering and bending in so that they hit a support strut on the pole holding the wind generator. The impact broke the blades and including carriage, a new set of blades costs £300 or so. We used the wind generator for 18 months in the UK without any problems.The frame on the stern, which includes the wind generator pole, was made by Fusion in Lymington and they agreed to send out an extension (at no cost to us) to raise the generator above the strut. Neither they nor us were sure it would work, so we arranged for it to be sent to Antigua where there are fabrication firms that do work for superyachts, that could help if we needed it. It only took 4 working days to arrive, which we thought was pretty good.
To fit the extension we went into the Cat Club Marina in the north of Falmouth Harbour. To our amazement and delight the extension, which was a hefty bit of kit, fitted like a glove and all the holes lined up perfectly. We had some fun and games pulling the extra wire we needed through the frame and re-making the connection, but we did it. To test it we had to repair the latest set of chipped blades (it took two sets of blades before we realized what was happening) which we did using araldite as a filler and using wet and dry to get the shape and fine polished finish. It all worked and we are still using the repaired blades. Talking to the manufacturer in Germany, while they thought our repair was good (we sent photos), they were concerned that if the repairs came off at the zillion miles an hour that the blades go, it could be dangerous. Like us they thought it highly unlikely, but they offered a much reduced price for another new set of blades. So we agreed and they are on route to Antigua, expected to arrive early this coming week.
The Marina office at the Cat Club marina. The marina, which is not only for catamarans, had a lot of large yachts in, most with professional skippers with 2 or 3 crew. However, it was very quiet, very friendly and well laid out with plants. You can just see us, with the blue stripe, moored outside the office. 
Aurora B at the Cat Club. This was our first stern-to mooring - letting the anchor go 2 boat lengths out and reversing back into the berth, setting the stern lines and then taking up on the anchor chain. It worked perfectly coming in, but was quite tricky getting out as we had a strong cross wind. We only had about 8ft of water in the berth and we draw 6ft 7ins, so about a foot under the keel.
We used our fender board as a gang plank to get ashore. We've not used it as a fender board yet, but this is the second time we've used it to get ashore (the last time was in Las Palmas). We can't get much closer or the davits on the stern (which normally hold the dinghy) hang over the dock. We also have to be careful of the hydrovane (self-steering gear) on the stern. All the boats moved around in the wind and occasional swell that came across the bay, so we had a bit of bungy cord tied to the board so it was held above the dock until we stepped on it. It worked well and cost next to nothing.
The wind generator with the extension and repaired blades fitted. The winds here are not constant in speed and the generator can give us anything up to 18 - 20 amps, but on average it's around 5, giving 120 amp hours a day, which is certainly worth having to keep all the electronics, including this computer, running.
A deep sea fishing boat was two boats down from us on the dock and went out on charter most days, leaving at first light and returning about midday. When they had a catch, which was most days, the fish were gutted on a table on the dock and sold to the local restaurant. We believe these were wahoo. We still don't fish - don't like the thought of having to do the gutting (or getting blood on the teak deck!). We might try it on our next long passage, but we'll try for something a bit smaller than these.
The motor vessel Kismet on the hammer head at the end of the Cat Club Marina. They invited all those at the marina to a bbq on the dock, but it rained and we all went on the aft deck, meeting the skipper and 17 crew! It's 223ft long, had outside air conditioning and when it refueled it took on 20,000 gallons (several of the smaller fuel tanker lorries that they use over here). It was truly splendid on board. With the owner not visiting that often and no charters in the current climate, the 17 crew keep it spotless and just visit the megayacht harbours of the world (of which Falmouth, Antigua is one).