Sailing to Antigua

Suzie Too - Western Caribbean
David & Suzanne Chappell
Fri 25 Mar 2011 14:25
This is such a powerful yacht â just amazing how fast she is. Since we left Grenada it is really the first time up have sailed on the wind. When Nicky & David were with us we sailed with reef 3 in the main, stay sail and yankee, going upwind at 8-9kts in 25kts of wind pushing a F7 over the deck.
Then on Thursday we set off from Portsmouth in Dominica, past Plymouth buried under the volcanic ash on Montserrat and onto Falmouth on Antigua (sounds like sailing in the West Country) with a reef 2 in the main, stay sail and then played the yankee to control the pressure. We were romping along at 9-10kts with up to 11.6kts in the gusts â wow â so fast. But this sailing is not easy as you head up the west side of the islands, you have wind shadows in the lee of the 1,200mtr mountains, katabatic winds between them, acceleration zones at the north and south of the islands, sea open to the Atlantic in the channels between the islands, with wind going from 5kts to 30kts in just a few seconds. You can see the pressure coming and can anticipate it, but it comes very slowly at 10-15kts then the edge hits you and itâs 30kts â amazing.
Now when I look at the magazines of the racing out here, I understand why the boat hulls have disappeared in a wave trough and waves crashing over the foredeck. They have a deck full of gorillas, 12-18 crew, on the sheets and winches â but itâs just me and Suzanne doing all that on our own. Those pictures you see in the brochure are taken between the storms in the wet season, when the trade winds are not blowing at 20kts +/- 5kts every day.
As we came in all the race boats eyed us up, the 3 On Deck Farr 65, Swan 80 footers, big Oysters (those not taking part in the Oyster Regatta in Grenada) probably sizing us up as competition Antigua Race Week. I imagine when they saw we were just and old bloke and a very attractive woman in a pink bikini they didnât rate our chances of taking any silverware too highly. Then there are the Super Yachts, Tiara, Mirabella 3, Salperton etc to have a wander around the docks and ogle later in the week, all before Classicâs Week â a few of which, William Fife designs, are already here.
We also hope to hook up with Minnie B and African Seawing, whom are both in Jolly Harbour, and get all  the dirt and gossip on this years' RIDS â which seem to have been rather problematic â so good we chose last year, which they all said was the best ever â just sounds like itâs now been followed by the worst ever. Phil gave me a little taster over the phone yesterday, so some good stuff to catch up on.
We are now anchored in Falmouth Harbour, we walked into English Harbour and Nelsons Dockyard to clear in yesterday and have about 10 days to explore and re-provision for the 900M leg to Bermuda and meet up with Lisa and Andy for the 650M leg to New York.