We're in Antigua!

Tue 20 Jan 2009 23:22
Well we made it! It took 4 long days and 3 very long nights!!
It seems a very long time ago since we made the decision to leave the BVI. The weather forecast saw no improvement for the next couple of weeks, infact it was becoming even more unfavourable. So we hot footed back down from North Sound to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour to check out of customs, only to discover that we were too late and they had closed 15 mins earlier, 45 mins earlier than advertised. But a little sweet talking and we were cleared and ready to set sail.
The first mishap occurred as we were ready to pull up anchor - the wind was a 'mild' 15-18 knots - the bulb in the cockpit light was blown out and came crashing down onto the cockpit deck, so dustpan & brush out, sweep up, slosh down with the bucket & we were off.
Two reefs in the main and sailing by moonlight we were on our way.
We decided that the dolphins who came to play alongside were an auspicious start to our journey, but after half a day of heavy weather Alyson was considering turning back.
Mishap 2 happened on the second night as I was on watch, when the wind suddenly got up and before I could let more sail out, we had heeled over and the crockery had shot out of the cupboard and smashed on the floor of the saloon, once more out came the dust pan and brush - didn't like those plates much anyway, and thank goodness I packed the plastic red ones Belinda bought me, which are still intact!
Mishap 3 came as we had just a narrow escape with some fishing pots that were in our line of sail. We decided it was time to reef in for the night, 2 reefs in the main and a tiny bit of jib out we couldn't set a course to sail, and as we were very near St Kitts we decided to put the engine on until we were sailing again. Unfortunately the gears had stuck and we couldn't leave neutral. Alyson then had to go below and get under the bed to reach the gear box, and free the gear shift. A lot of WD40 later and we were motoring! 
Mishap 4 or just a blooming nuisance is the steps that take you from the cockpit to the saloon and cover the engine, kept pinging up whilst we were crashing through the waves in our haste to get here yesterday afternoon, which meant Alyson having to leap up and try and resecure them every 15 mins for a couple of hours.
There has been some excellent sailing, and a very long stretch of motoring yesterday to get us into Antigua before dark, as to sail the last leg would have meant another 24 hours before we reached Antigua. So as night fell yesterday evening we picked up a mooring ball in Jolly Harbour and raised the yellow the flag warning everyone that we were in quarantine until customs opened this morning. The approach into customs took us a while to work out, but all went very smoothly once we were docked along side, with the lady at immigration kindly booking Alyson into the Hair Salon at 2pm this afternoon, so she is now looking her usual self.
Just been down to Budget Marine (thank you Betsy for the book), and spent a small fortune, (nothing budget about that store) on new light fittings (for above mishap) which Alyson is fitting as I type, and various pieces of kit that became obvious in our first passage (or as Alyson prefers to call it a shake down sail) that we needed.
We learned a few things along the way, what things we need, where we need to put them,which things need to be made more secure etc.  All very well having all the Emergency gear on top for easy access but we are much more likely to need the toolbox! 
There were a couple of pictures taken on route which we will upload once we have caught up with some sleep - the 10 hours straight through last night hasn't hit home yet and now we need to go and eat Pizza. Especially as Alyson did the whole trip on Ginger beer and rich tea biscuits (thank heavens for Rich Tea) and those savoury crackers (thank you!) that Marion and Susan gave us when they went home. To say the journey was a little rough would be an understatement! But somehow I managed to eat all the hard boiled eggs and preprepared meals - until the last day when I joined Alyson's diet, swapping the ginger beer for diet coke!!
Weather in Antigua today has been hot and showery, we have found the supermarket and will be raiding it tomorrow.
Over and Out standing by on 16 (on our lovely new handheld VHF)!