Sun 18 May 2014 19:55
Sunday, 18th May, 2014
Freeman Bay Anchorage, English Harbour, Antigua.17:0.2N 61:45.62W
A good conclusion to this first 'serious' leg of the trip home: 300 miles due north, with the wind just forward of the beam: a beat so far as 'Fleck' is concerned! Arrived early ysterday afternoon after a tiring final 36 hours, all the result of Guadeloupe being in the wrong place. I'll try to explain. By keeping well in the lee of the Windward Islands I was initially able to enjoy fairly settled winds (although I have already complained in this blog about the very long wind shadows that the islands cast). Guadelopupe, the first of the Leeward Islands, is directly beneath (due south of) Antigua, and to stand a chance of sailing across to Antigua without a protracted beat against both wind and current, I needed to set off from the Northern tip of  Guadeloupe, and not from 20 miles downwind, in its lee. Therefore I had to motor up the lee coast of Guadeloupe in the middle of the night. That close to shore I couldn't stay off watch, but it was so difficult to stay awake. Anyway we were rewarded by a good final beat , about 40 miles, across the channel in glorious conditions, and without tacking, we fell just a mile short (downwind) of the entrance to English Harbour. So, the game plan executed almost to perfection; and if the wind holds up for a few days we should be able to hold a northerly course towards Bermuda for the first few days.
English and Falmouth Harbours are almost deserted, it is the onset of the hurricane season, and so the boats that were here two weeks ago for the prestigious Antigua week have all departed. Quite a lot of charter boats around, all enjoying the reduced rates! And all anchoring far too close to my home in this notoriously tricky anchorage where the boats tend to lie all over the place in the middle of the night, with curious wind over tide effects. I feel particularly threatened by a French registered catamaran, rather battlescarred, and with four big German blokes on board. Cats don't swing around their anchors like other boats, but at least the winds in here are not strong, so any comings together will hopefully be fairly gentle.
Several nice Americans here are headed south, where I have just come from, to lay up in Prickly Bay, and then fly back up to the States. Others have been tying their boats into the mangrove swamp at the head of the Harbour: the time honoured way of seeing out a moderate hurricane. Most of the yachtie shops and bars seem to have closed down,  but perhaps there will be more signs of activity tomorrow. I only need some food for the journey, and hopefully will leave sooner rather than later; I find that I am not in a holiday mood at all, and the 'job' of driving the boat back to England is at least a focus for my wandering old brain. The Ice Cream War ended in melancholic style, with most people dead, and no one any the wiser. A lovely piece of writing though.