Simon Ridley
Sat 2 Feb 2008 22:21
17:00N 61:50W
Feb 1st 2008

Catamaran Marina, Falmouth, Antigua

We are now back in Antigua, and Gertha will be put to bed in the next
two days, having had a romp around the Carribian.

The sailing has always been good, have had winds 15-25 knots from north
west most of the time, squaly showers at any time. We only used the
engine a couple of times and this has been when we are in the wind
shadow of an island. We have sailed apox. 1000 miles since leaving St.
Lucia and not one of the sails has been relaxing fast sailing, always
needing to be on the ball, sometimes big seas 7-12 feet and sometimes
big squals, only bare poled one . If coming to this area leave your
coloured sails at home and if you want to relax when sailing then bring
a heavy boat with a long keel. Although with the way wind moves around
,with the effect that the islands have,Gertha has been well up for the task.
One of the many clasic sails was from B.V.I. back to St Barts. , one
owner of an 80 feet cat. had told me that it was not good to sail as the
seas were too big as they funnel in from the Atlantic and he has not
sailed his that way, another owner of a large american thing said he had
never heard of anyone sailing the route, he was sugesting power was the
only way through, we were lucky as the winds and sea were down and
sailed most of he way with a couple of tacks in all we sailed 130 miles
on 110 rumb line. However the next leg , St. Barts to here, we had very
big seas , there was a high presure off America that was producing a
swell from the north and as that hit the shalows where the depth goes
from 4000 mts to 30 mts big waves are formed and we were on the down
side from the shalows. Also the wind was 20 knots with a couple of
sqauls to send us home.
The weather is mainly sun 75-80f, although on the radio this morning the
comentator said he was not sure about global warming as some parts of
Antigua had dropped to 67 the previous night, all the old ex-pats will
be breaking out the flannel pjs. We have had days holled up when wet and
windy weather has blown through, for us the weather was worse in he
British Virgin Isles than else where; but that could be our bad luck.
Electricity is a hasle, most of the time we were at anchor , the solar
pannels can nearly keep up with lights and fridge assuming its sunny,
and the engine for 30 mins a day boosts the battery and gives hot water.
However the engine would need to be on a very long time to rearly charge
the batteries , 10-12 hours, so marinas are good every 7-10 days ,as
then the batteries are pluged in for a long time; but since Martinique
all our marina stops were on US electric. There is a way of using 2
phase 110 volt to get 220 volt; but I do not know what it is, Tortola
had a leed that worked ; but I could not work out how it was wired.
Fortunatly we have small petrol genny and this has helped, saves chuging
engine at low revs and also is more effective at getting power in to
batteries. Also when we did use the cable on Tortola I was getting an
earth fault on the mains plus this computer showed a charging fault and
that was through onboard invertor; so I think Gertha may have been
earthing the whole Marina as we obviously link earth/neutral different
to the US.
Fuel is available fairly easely ( the US influence), we have not filled
since Cannaries ;but have had a fuel virus, have been checking and
cleaning filter every 20 hours, in St Lucia it was very bad so I do not
know when it developed, will be leaving a near empty tank, which I will
check on return and if is looking bad will dump last few galons and
start fresh. Gas , they can fill anything if you ask around and the
French islands all have camping gas refills.
Customs clearance is always a fun game, Antigua is the most long winded,
a form which has five copies the bottom one does not come through so has
to be re-writain. This form you start at customs, then you go to
immegration, back to customs then to cash desk and they all stamp and
sign every copy. Steph has the job of form writting and on last visit to
Antigua customs she had 4 people saying how good her writing is, most
forms having been done by grumpy arogant owners who never write in there
Food is hit and miss for supermarkets, if you see something you are
going to need buy it as the next place may not have it. The old British
islands are far poorer than the French and this shows in the merchandse
you can buy, although the French islands are less freindly proably
because they are still a part of France rather than free islands. Eating
out is the same, we had a superb europian meal on St. Barts the other
day served in the traditional french grumpy way, here in Antigua last
night the staff could not have been more helpfull and the meal was
traditional Carribian. If you buy Red Stripe beer from Jamaca it is made in Bedford England!
We see odd ARC boats that we recognise, this marina is a record with 5;
but I am here because George was in Antigua punting for business.
Scorponi , the largest boat on ARC is parked up on other side of bay.
Turtels have replaced dolphins as the comen sea animal, we see hem everywhere; birds are mainly Pelicans and Egrets at sea with humming birds on land, have not seen a gull or turn anywhere.
If you have a fire in Antigua the fire brigade will not use salt water
in ther pumps. Last week in this marina a 90ft super yacht had an engine
room fire, the brigade could not put it out with the water they had so
went home, the boat was pulled off the dock to save all the other boats
and went aground, then burnt for 4 days. Now a multi million insurance
job as only a sad hull left, could have had a whole new fire engine for
less money. The moral is if you have a fire, take your boat out and sink
it , you can refloat and refit, if you leave it to the fire people will
need a whole new boat.