Jolly Harbour Marina, Antigua, 28 March 2009.
Night sailing from
Anguilla to Barbuda: Chef du Jour,
Jean (l’oignon)’Cody pre-prepared a curry for the passage. Dusk came as we rounded Anguilla and
sheeted in to pass between the islands.
It looks OK on the plotter but we can’t afford to lose any ground to
leeward, and anyway, I thought Gentlemen don’t sail to windward.
It took ages
to reach the end of St. Martin, it was pretty black, there were rocks and small
islands nearby, so I decided to go around the island of Tintemarre rather than
through the channel. So far, so
good, we could ease the sheets a bit, but all we could see was the occasional
flash of a light, which we reckoned was on the end of Tinitemarre (nothing
marked on the chart). Eventually we
were past it and into deeper, ‘safe’ water. Sailing well, 18 to 20 knots of wind, a
bit rolly but OK – let’s heat up the curry. Robin was helming as John and I tucked
into a bowl full of goat and rice.
We’d almost finished when Robin’s
dulcet tones filtered into
the saloon, ‘Bugger, we’ve picked up a pot.’ Sure enough we were towing a couple of
small buoys about 5 metres astern.
I hooked the line with the boat hook and hauled the buoys aboard, now
what do we do? Before a decision
was reached there was another ‘Bugger, we’ve picked up another lot.’ This time we were towing about 4 or 5
buoys and our speed was down to around 2 knots. We tried to tack but the boat wouldn’t
come around. ‘Oh shit, this could
be serious’, Phil (half-full) Pascoe noted. The lights of St. Martin were not far
away to our starboard side and I was thankful that it hadn’t happened half an
hour earlier when we were close to rocks.
Thoughts of radioing the coastguard, or whatever they have here, went
through my mind. How could we
determine what was under us? Should
we just cut the lines and hope to release it? What if it’s a net around the prop? Doom and gloom was gathering momentum
and we weren’t. Then suddenly the
two buoys that were sitting on the aft seat, shot through the guard rail at
about 20 knots and the whole mess disappeared into the darkness. One could almost feel the boat surge
forward - we picked up speed to over 6 knots, about what we had been doing, but
were still worried that ropes might be around the prop. Robin put the engine out of gear and I
listened below to hear whether the prop was turning. It was – thank God for that. We saw a few more pots but didn’t snag
any more. I went back to my curry,
and Robin eventually got his, probably cold by now.
2 hour watches, pretty
boring stuff, not much sleep, but we were making good progress. Dawn came on my watch – always a good
time of day, but we couldn’t see Barbuda.
We had some breakfast and although we were pretty close, we still
couldn’t see the island. It must be
the lowest island in the Caribbean At 10 am we were investigating the
anchorage on the west side near Tuscon Rock, but it was pretty exposed and the
surf on the beach would make going ashore difficult, if not dangerous. We headed South to Palmetto Point and
around towards Cocoa point. At
midday we anchored in Cocoa Bay, but again going ashore would have meant a long
dinghy ride and tackling the surf.
We had lunch and admired what there was to see of Barbuda from afar. I may be back!
A final, slowish sail
down to Jolly Harbour where we anchored out by Reeds Point for the night, with
the plan of going into the marina in the morning.
All went according to plan,
the Dockmaster was very helpful with instructions and rope-handling and by
09.00h we were in a secure, convenient berth with access to water. Beer; cheers chaps, a fairly heavy, but
good, two weeks, thankyou. First,
it was hoisting the skipper up the mast to investigate the roller reefing system
– I think I can see the problem, but not sure how we fix it. It then took ages to clean the outside
of the boat, as it was very salty and grubby. In the end Robin and John almost ran out
of time, and we hadn’t touched the inside yet, apart from their packing. They just had time for a shower a quick
lunch, with which I had opened our last bottle of white wine, and then they were
off to the airport by taxi.
Phew, end of another era.
Pics: View from the top of the mast - knees not
shaking so much now. Jolly Harbour from top of the mast and anchorage in