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Date: 07 Dec 2009 22:38:41
Title: Fai Tira arrived in Antigua . 17:03.98N 61:53.02W Monday 7th December

Fai Tira Blog 16.00 UTC  Monday 7th December

Fai Tira arrived in Antigua .   17:03.98N 61:53.02W

 

 

We’ve done it !!!  23 days 4 hours and 2851miles after leaving Lanzarote we moored up in Jolly Harbour Antigua.

All the time as we were closing in, I found myself trying to resist the temptation of relaxing in the conviction that we’d made it safely. After all we were only 40 miles from Spain during our Biscay crossing when we were hit by force 8 and 9 winds.

Just as well then. The last night and following day, as we approached, turned out to be some of the more difficult and demanding sailing of the trip.

For once I was looking forward to my watch. We’d made really good progress and the extra speed meant that our original ETA of early afternoon, Saturday, was once more a distinct possibility. As a result the first sighting of land was likely to be during my watch, such excitement!!

However before then there was still a boat to sail. I’d tried, unsuccessfully, to get my head down a bit early to make up for some recent poor nights’ sleep and was again struggling to drift off mainly due to the rolling sea and the heat. Then abruptly the boat changed direction accompanied by a bang that told me the boom had moved across, the saloon table prevented me from falling out of bed as the rolling motion changed, the boat was now see sawing and the wind sound suddenly exaggerated.

Pete had encountered a number of squalls and the unstable and unpredictable winds, meant we were travelling too far north and a jibe had been required. The execution had proven difficult, with the winds now in excess of 20 knots so I, in just my bed attire which wasn’t much, stumbled out of the hatch and helped to complete the manoeuvre.

The seas were now big and starting to break over the side, but the beam reach meant at least we were going the right way.

It’s weird how your senses get tuned in after such a long time, and instinct has such an effect on how things feel, and although I was now back in bed, the boat felt unstable and very skittish. Again I checked with Pete, he was feeling the same way, so it was back on deck again to re-set the sails for downwind sailing. Far more comfortable now, but again direction was a problem. I still found sleep difficult and when I came on watch the night was dark and squally. The tiller pilot struggling and with foreboding clouds all around and the rollers sending the boat in unpredictable directions, I switched to standby and took the helm, where and spent most of the rest of the watch.

At about 4.30am I peered into the darkness ahead, and there on the horizon was a broken  line of horizontal flashing lights, no definition, but there it was Antigua.

Alright we were heading for the wrong bit, but that didn’t stop it from feeling good.

As the skies started to lighten it became possible to make out shapes, Time to wake Pete, this was something not to be missed.

I was tired, but who wants to sleep at a time like this, and stayed at the helm. It felt somehow poignant not to be on self steering. Fai Tira had taken all the way across the big pond, now it was our turn to give her a hand for the last bit.

We put in another jibe and started to point the right way at last.

It was now light and the detail of the Island clear. Helming was difficult as the boat, assisted by the strong winds broached down the huge rollers. We were about 25 miles out then as we crested a wave, about 200 yards away at the bottom of a trough, there was what looked like a rowing boat with just a couple of black guys on board. One with a big  floppy whooly hat and dressed in a bright green top, was languidly leaning back, he just looked up and gave a nonchalant wave and looked away.

Welcome to the laid back Caribbean!!!

As we neared Jolly harbour, we passed the entrance of our next destination, Nelsons Dockyard (great names aren’t they) At the moment it’s the scene of an international super yacht exhibition, and we were treated to the view of some very impressive boats out sailing. They were no doubt providing some lavished corporate entertainment to some prospective customers.

Impressive indeed, but bet that they hadn’t just sailed the Atlantic.

Our arrival at the entrance to Jolly Harbour was fantastic. The sea turned turquoise against a back drop of golden beeches and palm trees. It was greeted by Brian, off Miss Tippy, and some of his children in their inflatable, while they filmed our entry.

Waiting for us on the pontoon, with rum punches and fruit, Were Richard and, his wife, Boot from the rally organisers, the rest of Brian’s family and a whole bunch of people from the earlier boats and after a whole load of congratulating, back slaps, hand shacking and hugs, two weary

(suppose we can call ourselves sailors now) partied into the night.

 

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            Leaving Lanzarote                              Swimming in the middle of the Atlantic

 

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            Sun Set                                                           Down Wind Rig

 

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            Another Sunset                                               The Moon and the Sunset

 

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            Watch out Squall on the way.                         Squall is here.

 

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            Land in sight.                                                   We are here

 

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                                    Jolly good entrance to Jolly Harbour

 

 

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            We have made it                                             Welcoming committee

 

 

 

 

 

Bye for now.

Pete and John

 

 


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