Friday 25th Feb
Up at dawn after another windy night. The anchorage was fine and stayed silky smooth but the endless bursts of 25 + knot winds whistling through all the boats was a little disconcerting bearing in mind we were about to go out there in the morning.
Very reassured to find four other boats making ready and leaving the bay as well as us, so we were at least not the only ones to take this trip on. However as we left the protection of the deep bay, it became obvious that three of these other boats had no intention of sailing to Antigua and two headed south and one set a course for Montserrat leaving just us and another poor fool (flying just a bright orange storm jib) heading north into the teeth of the wind and the fairly large waves the Atlantic so likes to build up during these sustained blows. As it turned out the true wind never rose above 30 knots which gave us a peak of 35 knots across the deck as we sailed close hauled, over and through the rough seas.
We did make very good time however and we emerged 44 miles later into the relative calm of Falmouth harbour at 1.00pm. The bad news was that several of the small forward hatches had not managed to withstand all the water crashing over the foredeck and we had quite a lot of sodden bedding and furnishings below. This has been caused by us using hatch covers to prevent glazing (eventually) to the ‘window’ part of the deck hatches. They are attached by a thin elastic which has the habit of working its way into the rubber surround. As this has occurred to a lesser degree before we have now resolved to abandon this good practice and if in x numbers of years’ time we end up replacing hatches, well so be it! It is also fair to say that we had got fairly wet ourselves as the waves had occasionally broken pretty much right down the length of the boat and so rather too water much had found us sitting peacefully in the cockpit!
Entering the big anchorage that is Falmouth Harbour here in Antigua is a little bit of a shock. Not the bit where you wind your way in past the reef guarding the shallow entrance, but the moment when as you round the corner you first see Antigua Yacht Club and Marina which is home to some of the world’s biggest yachts. But believe me, big is not always beautiful (and yes, Maltese Falcon is berthed here at the moment!) but it does make a very impressive sight.
We dropped anchor in the bay, just off the Yacht Club Marina entrance in shallow water with fairly indifferent holding so we were not confident of our security for a while as the anchor struggled to get a deep firm hold. It was still blowing old boots and there was a fair chop because of the long fetch (it was bumpy because of the small waves).
We launched the dinghy and I went ashore and walked over to English Harbour (Nelson’s Dockyard) and did the Customs and Immigration bit while poor Sarah started the process of drying things out on board. I also took the precaution of finding out where we could watch the England v France rugby match and bumped into Ken and Kay on ‘Coyote’ which had just finished a 4 day, 600 mile race.
Anchored close to us was a Farr 56 called ‘Moonshadow Star’ and as they had their Cruising Association pennant flying we made a point of chatting to them as we had just missed a CA Blue Water Section party in Les Isles des Saints, which had been just two days before we could get there – it transpired that they were in fact the organisers of the event. Brian and Sandy kindly invited us over for a drink at 6.30 pm and we had a great evening before retiring to Serafina and a much needed sleep.