Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The flavour of Antigua

Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club

Well represented in English Harbour, Antigua. Jonas and Heather Marshall on their
38' Ocean going Bavaria helped me celebrate my birthday. Their Club burgee put ours to shame - got to get new one. We've worn out about 3 now.
Antigua – 2 weeks later – we’re almost natives
Antigua is beautiful, and we haven’t seen very much of it yet – our anchor is dug in very well which is important as the ‘williwaws’ in this part of the bay are interesting to say the least. Many times when we look out into the anchorage its possible to see wind gusts on the water in different places and the boats anchored will all be facing in different directions according to which ‘williwaw’ they happen to be in. Its actually been pretty windy and gusty for the past few days. Also some rainfall – we leave
the water catcher up all of the time now, plumbed directly into the water tank. We still have to collect water in our jerry cans from the gas station, but its supplementing it, and it certainly changed our attitude towards rain. Now when it rains we don’t complain – Oh no not again; now we’re happy, the bigger the deluge, the more we like it.
Wish I had taken my camera with me a couple of days ago when new friends Dana and Joe took us to the market in St. Johns in the back of their truck – not the back seat, but the box at the back. Never done that before, it was alright once I got used to the feeling of not being quite as dignified as I usually like to perceive myself. We also went into the countryside on some pretty rough roads as Dana wanted to pick lemon grass which grows wild in the remote area we found – also guavas, which we picked and ate right off the tree.
We’ve been on another hike from English Harbour to Falmouth Harbour which goes over a couple of pretty big hills and the ‘path’, a word I use loosely is sometimes a difficult climb up over rocks where one is actually looking for hand and toe holds. Its worth it when you get to the top – there are remains of a couple of forts – sorry I can’t remember the names and am too lazy to look them up. Anyway when standing on the now quite overgrown gun implacements the view is spectacular. A couple of pictures are herein and I’ll put a few on facebook.
Speaking of pictures – each time we dive now I find the environment around me so incredibly awesome that it takes my breath away – almost makes me cry, and each time I wish I had a camera so that I could share those images that I see. That will be the next addition to our cruising equipment.
Yesterday was my 61st birthday. Unbelievable, but true. I know all of the old people say it and so will I – how did that happen? But then I look at those years and all that I have accomplished in that time - the wonderful family that I have and the fact that I am still game to cram as much more in to it as I can and I’m grateful. I know that I can be intolerant and grumpy and a bit of a loner, but I thank God for my life. And I thank all of the people in my life for tolerating and loving me.
Yesterday, not long after we got up and were in the cockpit about to have our second cup of coffee, along came a dinghy bearing a couple who were saying ‘yes that’s Moondancer’. And then the woman who I did not recognise at all said ‘Hello Nancy’. I usually remember the people I meet even briefly, but people we meet in the winter in Canada, completely covered up with clothes and hats are quite different from the ones we meet in the Caribbean, wearing brief bikinis, sunglasses and no hats. The couple are Jonas and Heather Marshall on Sea Otter. We met them when they joined the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club. It was a meet and greet day where existing members welcome new members into the club. Heather had been following the blog at various times over the past couple of years, and so remembered me.
We drank pina colada sundowners on their boat and then continued our information sharing over drinks for a couple of hours. Most of the flags in this harbour are Canadian, but almost all of them are from Toronto, Montreal and the East Coast. So far the opportunity to meet with them has not arisen. This is not like Mexico when people dinghy around to other boats just to introduce themselves and say welcome. It feels like it may be an intrusion on privacy here.
That’s it for now – I’m going to make dinner. We plan to sail around the island in the next few days – see what all the fuss is about – especially Barbuda.
Just tried to upload pics and videos. Internet connection too slow. I'll put an album on facebook - its quicker.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Freeman's Bay - English Harbour - Antigua

Unbelievably we've been here 6 days already. And what have we done? A helluvalot of snorkelling. We are anchored behind a reef which has so many different species of fish to look at - we've already learned where most of the different species like to hang out. There is a wrecked both mostly submerged on white sand and a huge ancient anchor which is almost rock now. The reef is made up of natural boulders which have falled from cliffs in the area and been moved around by fierce hurricanes which come by from time to time. Its also home to many beautiful, colorful sponges and coral. We've snorkelled around the outside of the reef aswell and this is truly spectacular - we plan to dive there quite soon - we haven't located a air tank filling place yet. Yesterday we went to 'town' on a bus. The bus drive going in was very nice - a careful driver considerate of his passengers which felt like an economy sight seeing tour. 'Town' is St. John's harbour - a bit rough, actually we were quite glad to get back to English Harbour. There were a couple of cruise ships in, so being white pretty much brands one as cruise ship fodder. And a half pint of beer costs U$5. There was an impressive market near the bus station which will be worth the 45 minute bus ride for when we need to stock up on fresh produce.

We will have to learn to do without some of the food products we are used to eating which are imported and have high import duties added. Cheese for instance - but I've noticed lots of goats running around - in fact a herd of goats stopped our bus yesterday to cross the road - all by themselves. We like goat cheese, so hopefully someone here is producing that. I'm glad I make good bread - as the bread here is very basic, doughy stuff.
So a diet of salad, veggies, a little bit of meat, swimming every day, we should be quite sveldt pretty soon.
More pictures on facebook - upload much quicker

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A few pics and videos taken on our Atlantic Crossing

Arrived in Antigua - Anchored in beautiful Freemans Bay

The following post is a daily I was keeping for the latter part of the Atlantic crossing. For the first week or so all I could really do was hold on - it was a rough ride - but then I got used to it enough to be able to sit and type a little on my night watches. Actually I started to look forward to doing it on the watch. 3 hours alone in the dark with nothing except the stars and the constant heaving of the ocean and the breaking waves that certainly keep the adrenalin flowing were a good reason to go below and turn on the computer.
Anyway its not much - but here goes. Pics and Vids to follow:

December 18th
One week away from Gran Canaria, and an unbelievable 3000 miles away from Malta. Since leaving Las Palmas on December 10th we’ve logged an unprecedented 980 miles – talk about a sleigh ride. Sleigh ride of course conjures up a pleasurable fun ride – not so with this sleigh ride, but can’t complain about the speed.
At time of writing its 10.47 UTC and we are rolling along with the same double reef main that we’ve been sailing with for almost the whole week keeping ahead of some pretty awesome waves. Actually today was the first day that we could see a change in the waves. For the past few days they have all been charging at us and overtaking us after dumping their frothy load tipping us over sideways at alarming 45 degree angles and sometimes unloading right on top of us, and water hitting us with that pressure behind it comes in, even through hatches that are very tightly secured. That really sucks.
I remember a few years ago attending a talk given by a seasoned cruiser at one of our Bluewater meetings. The first thing he strongly advised is to make sure you have a dry boat. Yeah right! In our dreams.
So in this week we have encountered only 2 ships, 2 pods of dolphins, and a couple of flyng fish.
We are almost at the 20th parallel which is where we want to stay for our crossing give or take a few degrees and once we are running roughly along this line we can make a choice to sail at a better angle on the wind which should reduce this bloody awful rolling.
Its amazing what we can get used to.
We have not been successful so far with SSB communication which is a bit disappointing and also means that we have been unable to post our position on ship trak. This worries us because we know our families will be looking for that info.
Well, back up top for my watch. What I’m looking at is pretty much waves and lots of bio luminesence – nice stars tonight too. Moon is not up yet.

December 19th

Had a few successes today. |Its great that we can actually DO things on board other than just hang on and sleep because we’re exhausted from just hanging on. Today we changed the propane tank – doesn’t sound like such a big deal unless you know where the full one is – bolted to the cabin top UNDER our deflated dinghy which is lashed securely to prevent It from being washed away in heavy weather. So now I don’t have to worry about the propane running out when I’m cooking our Christmas turkey. Speaking of which – I explained earlier that we bought a whole though small turkey in Las Palmas which would not fit into our freezer but will fit into a cold section pressed up against the outside of the freezer and packed in ice. Turkey checking has become a part of my daily routine. Its still always frozen on the side pressed up against the freezer and almost thawed on the other side – SO I turn it around each day. I really want to have the turkey on Christmas Day, not sooner because it thawed.

Now the turkey story leads to another accomplishment today – we lashed our honda generator up on top of our deck where we can see it, run it and not get poisoned by its exhaust. Which means that we were able to charge our batteries for 8 hours today – the first really full charge they have had since we bought them in Gibraltar.

The fully charged batteries now lead to another success. Our SSB radio which so far has not been much good to us since we left Las Palmas 1100 miles ago is now responding well to the fully charged batteries. We are now able to faintly hear the Maritime Mobile Nets we need to contact to get our position report onto Shiptrak on this blog.

This tiny floating island of ours is a very self contained system which though our sails will carry us along very efficiently to the other side of this vast ocean – the power we can generate on board is very important to our comfort and survival.

December 20th 0330 – 1634 miles to go

Five days until Christmas – Turkey still frozen, looking good. A couple of firsts today – we tried fishing, which also translates into – we threw away a perfectly good lure and leader in our first attempt. We use tackle which will probably catch us something around 3 – 5lbs, if its any bigger we can’t cope with it. So we lost our nice new lure – bright pink and fluorescent green wobbly squid thing. So we put an old one on and ran the line back out – no takers today.
Second first, I made my first loaf of bread on this trip. Now that its getting warm inside the cabin and still too rough to have portholes open I don’t really want to use the oven (except of course to roast the turkey). So I asked Tony ‘ do you prefer the bread made in the oven or the frying pan?’ (another method of cooking it which usually works well for me) - ‘either way is good with me as long as its not doughy’. So I made the bread, rose it to double its size, put it in the pan and covered it with the lid, which is glass. Checked it about 20 minutes later and was delighted to see that it was rising again to fill up the whole pan and come above the lip, and just as I was congratulating myself on another job well done the boat pitched, the lid slid off just as a gust of cool air hit the loaf. It fell in and never recovered – yep, doughy. Oh well it will be good for the stuffing. Actually I kinda like it.

When we left we had a full moon, now we have a thin sliver left – a couple more nights and there will be no moon. Its very dark out here without a moon and though that allows the stars to take centre stage the light they give off doesn’t compare to that of the moon.

We had a little rain today – just enough to wash the salt off the windows. The rain arrived with a beautiful vivid rainbow (another of the great wonders of nature).

Getting closer to the US we are able to hear quite clearly their Maritime Mobile Net – but they can’t hear us yet. It shouldn’t take much longer before we can log our position on shiptrak.

As I write Tony snores away – while at sea we sleep on the low side settee in our main cabin with lee cloths to hold us in. It doesn’t really work to sleep on our sides with the constant sideways roll of the boat and when Tony sleeps on his back he snores. Its just aswell I’m usually outside in the cockpit while he sleeps or I’d have to keep smacking him awake.

Sleeeeeep – only another hour and a quarter and I get my turn. Ciao!

December 21st – 0530 – 1538 miles to go

We’re motoring for the first time in 11 days. The wind decreased considerably today. We set up our spinnaker and flew that for about 8 hours which was really
Gratifying. We’ve had a problem flying our spinnaker as a cruising chute because we didn’t have the right ‘tackle’ at the bow and were making do with something that was not good for our roller furling genoa stay. I made a ‘stiff’ penant which brings the tack of the spinnaker way above the furler now which worked really well. Setting that up took quite a while and unfortunately caused us to miss the mid-day SSB contact we have been trying to reach since we left.
We’ll keep trying.
Started a seed/bean sprouting terrerium today – see how that goes, maybe we’ll get our greens that way.
Was just saying today that we had not seen dolphins for quite awhile and tonight on my first watch we had a pod swimming with us for about half an hour. Though I could not see them very clearly I could hear them taking their breath and see the swath of bio luminescence they make as they dart through the water. When they make their sudden turns under water it causes a flash of light just as if a flashlight is suddenly turned on and off. The wonders of nature!
Turkey still ok. Only 4 days until Christmas – I hope Santa can find us.

December 22nd – 0350 – 1458 miles to go

We’re going along much slower now. We flew the spinnaker almost all day today on its own. Its doing a good job of converting about 10 knots of wind to about 4knots. Its very pleasant. It also feels really good to be able to move around on the boat without hanging on.
We had a disappointment today though when we realized that our batteries are not charging up when the engine is running. Tony used his volt meter to check the alternator output which is good. So today when he gets up he has more investigating to do.
On top of that disappointment our wonderful Honda generator had trouble starting. Tony virtually took the whole thing apart and found that the actually switch mechanism has something wrong with it, but its in a closed unit which he hasn’t found a way into yet. He did get it going though and was able to run it most of the day to charge our batteries. This power issue is a bit deal.
As the wind has been quite benign for the past couple of days we decided to leave the spinnaker up tonight. At about 2300 hrs we were hit by a gust of wind which knocked us sideways and had us flying along really fast – too fast for our comfort level with a spinnaker up. So we took it down, the wind died and we are now motoring – and unfortunately wasting the engine power as the batteries are not charging.
Hoping for a better day today.

December 23rd – 0600 - 1359 miles to go

Haven’t sorted out the batteries not charging when the engine’s running yet and its hanging over us like a pall – we do have the generator thank God.
Made a loaf of very heavy bread today and my germinator ‘garden’ looks like some of the mung beans have popped open soon to turn into bean sprouts which we will eat. If that works I’ll try to turn our muesli into plants.
Didn’t watch Christmas movie today but we did listen to a Christmas CD which Josie made for me a few years ago. It made me sad. In fact the closer to Christmas we get the sadder I feel about not being with my family and worse still not even being able to talk to them which I always have from wherever we were in the past. Still no Maritime Mobile Net communication so we cannot even let everyone know that we are alright . Another pall. We encountered a ship a few hours ago – a Russian freighter. Tony called them and asked if they have the ability to send e-mail – yes they did but it was not possible to send an e-mail for us because it was only for business use. Tony thanked them and wished them Merry Christmas anyway.
This is my second watch which started at about 0500 – I woke hearing Tony calling my name just as the boat pitched over at an alarming angle and as climbed over the lee cloth was thrown across the cabin. I dressed fast as Tony let go of the spinnaker sheet, letting it fly and taking the power out of it. We were hit by a squall which caused the knock down. We put on our gear and went out to get the spinnaker down, ropes all in and prepare to sail with our genoa, all this took place in blinding rain, which in other circumstances I would have been delighted to meet with soap and shampoo. The wind had done a complete switch from NE to SE, so nowwe are motoring. We’ll deal with it when Tony’s had his sleep.
Turkey’s still OK.

December 24th – 0300 – 1298 miles to go
Th highlight of today was definitely our visitor – Minky. A lone minky whale swam with us for several hours today. He/she continually circled around our boat, sometimes swimming underneath rolling right over onto his back showing all white, sometimes going up to the bow of the boat and ‘waiting’ for us as if he was leading the way and we should follow. |It was such a wonderful experience. We thought he was a lonely whale and our company was better than nothing.

Unfortunately the wonderful experience came to an end when our skipper toilet got blocked and for the next couple of hours Tony was working at chiselling out of the bronze pipes years of salt/shit deposit as hard as concrete. This certainly changed the atmosphere on our boat and perhaps Minky didn’t like to be around us anymore – or maybe he wasn’t getting enough attention. So he left.

Still haven’t sorted out the battery charging problem – and to add to the problem our generator is not starting. This appears to be due to the switch. This Honda generator has been fantastic for us and has never failed – but it was not designed specifically for a marine environment and the switch is probably corroded. We’ll take it apart today and see what we can do. One way or another we have to fix it or we have no method of charging our batteries other than solar and that will only do for the fridge.

We need a better day today – Christmas Eve.

December 25th – 0515 – 1200 miles to go

Ho Ho Ho – Merry Christmas.
This day started out pretty bad in the morale department. Tony took the generator apart but after thorough investigation decided that it was beyond him to fix it. Then because we did not have enough power in our batteries the fridge would not stay on – so we were faced with the prospect of no fridge for the next 12 days or so – that would mean canned food which we do not really have enough of. I was trying to think of ways to preserve the meat we have in our freezer.
Thank God it did not come to that – the next thing we did was to change our alternators – we carry a spare. This we did, but when we started the engine it was only producing 12 volts, not the 14 approx. we need to charge our batteries. So take it back out and put the original back in. One of the connectors at the back did not fit well – kinda loose, so Tony put on a new connector and Voila – we have charging. As I said before – thank God.
So we ended our day on a much happier note – as it was Christmas Eve we allowed ourselves a cocktail which we do not usually do while on passages.
On my first watch of the night from 2300 – 0200 we were hit by a thunder storm, lightning all around us – big seas, we’re pitching and rolling and I’m hoping it will die down in a few hours so that we can enjoy Christmas day with a dinner of roast turkey. Not eating out of our tupperware containers in the cockpit, but off plates at our dining table. I guess we’ll see.
So now while Tony is asleep I’m going to rummage around to find our stockings – I hope and fill them up with fruit and nuts. No presents I’m afraid – but hey how many people get to go to the Caribbean for Christmas.

December 25th – 2120 – 1160 miles to go

Well we had our Christmas day on the ocean. I’d much rather have Christmas day at home with family, but this is where we are and it worked ok.
We spent the first part of the day running away from a huge and nasty storm cell which we did actually avoid. During that time when the sky was a menacing dark grey we were visited by a big pod of dolphins who seemed to be having a really good time. I think Dolphins like storms – this is the second time on our travels we have encountered this.
We put the turkey in the oven at noon and ate it at abut 5.00. It was a remarkably lean bird but very tasty and tender. We’ve lots more for the next few days.
As I write this I see that another electrical storm is brewing outside though in general the sky is pretty clear. I hope for a peaceful night – I really need a good sleep.
Each day we listen to the US Maritime Mobile Net, which is getting much clearer as we get closer. So far, however they have not heard our transmissions. We both feel badly that family at home have not been able to follow our progress on Shiptrak as we told them they would be able to.

December 27 – 0700 – 1015 miles to go
Boxing Day was a much better day weather wise, sunny, good breeze in the right direction and we flew the spinnaker aswell as reefed main for quite awhile which gave us much better speed than we’ve had for the past few days. For the first night we have kept the spinnaker up all night and even though we’ve had a few squall clouds which pushed us over quite suddenly in general its been a comfortable night with good speeds. We’re excited to pass the 1000 miles to go mark, the countdown after that seems so much less.
As I’m typing Tony is sleeping and we’re trucking along between 6 – 7 knots, yeah!
We had another whale visitor – unfortunately I was off watch and sleeping at the time. Tony said he was similar to the last one and did not stay long.
We are still unsuccessful at being heard by Maritime Mobile, but we can hear them very well so it should only be a matter of time before someone hears us and we can report our position.

December 27 – 2200 – 938 miles to go

Second night under spinnaker – now that we have worked out the bugs in flying and mostly the take-down of our spinnaker we really like to fly it. Its by far the least complicated and most efficient of our downwind sails. We’ve had a gorgeous day of perfect trade wind conditions. This night is going quite well also. We’re pretty much on course sailing between 5 and 6 knots. Today we broke the 1000 miles to go barrier which feels really good. Looking at 3 digits rather than 4 is very encouraging.
Our alternator is now working properly to charge our batteries which is also a really good feeling. A great stress reducer.
Today we almost caught a mahi mahi, about a 5 pounder. We had it right to the boat and just as we were going to gaff it – it got away. We were doing about 6 knots when we hooked it. So I guess those are the condiitons in which we are likely to do it again. So maybe tomorrow we’ll be eating sashimi.
Still no luck with SSB communication. We are beginning to think that our radio is the problem again. Its frustrating that we cannot let people at home know where we are and that we’re ok.

December 28th – 2345 – 819 miles to go

Today was a red letter day – we broke the communication – or lack of it – barrier. As usual it came in a connected stream of events. We decided about 1700 it was time to take the spinnaker down. The wind had picked up to way over 15 knots and the sail was really looking very stretched out. Also we were heading too far south so a jibe was in order. We took down the spinnaker, jibed and put up the genoa, a bit slower and very much more rolly. We’d been on the port tack for a very long time and after we jibed some things went wrong with electrics and we lost our nav station gps. So Tony had to go into the back of the nav station where all of the ‘crappy, shitty’ wiring and fuses are – and he discovered a loose fuse which must have dislodged during the jibe. So he put it back in place along with all of the other fuses on that panel.
Most of the time when Tony is working on things I like to help him, thus familiarising myself with the boat’s systems – but when he gets angry and starts calling our boat and most of the systems on boat ‘a piece of crap’ or words to that effect, I usually go away and leave him to it. So I went up into the cockpit and there was a freighter a couple of miles away crossing our bow.
Freighter means possible communication with the outside world. So Tony hurriedly reconnected the nav station and vhf radio and called them. We asked if they would be able to send an e-mail for us to family as we had been at sea for 17 days without the use of our SSB radio. The 2nd mate, Nicholas asked his Captain who agreed. They also enquired after our health and safety and asked if we needed anything else. How nice of them and what a difference from the last ship we asked to do the same thing on Christmas eve. We also asked them if they had SSB and could be do a radio check with them. Yes again, and this time the radio check was good.
Then at 1900 hours we tried Maritime Mobile again in the US and Hooray – we got through, posted our position and all is right with the world. Perhaps the problem all along was a loose fuse.
We will try to contact Nicholas on the freighter again tomorrow at noon – and then perhaps we’ll be able to contact the other fellow sailors we had arranged SSB schedules with before leaving Gran Canaria.

December 29th – 0345 – 660 miles to go

Well we may have been wooed into thinking that the trade winds were a lovely gentle 10 – 15 knots and we would be able to sail along under spinnaker sunbathing on deck and taking naps whenever we felt like it – NOT. Thank God we took the spinnaker down when we did. This day started out with big swells and nasty choppy waves on top with the wind blowing about 20 knots and increasing. Perfect weather to catch a fish – which we did; our first of this crossing, a Mahi Mahi, about 3 – 4 lbs. Catching it was the easy bit, cleaning it on our aft deck with the boat pitching and rolling was very difficult, but Tony did it. Its all gone now. We have sashimi for lunch and then I cooked the rest for dinner. A pefect size fish for us. Maybe we’ll get another one before this trip ends.
So back to the weather – the speeds we are achieving are fantastic, but its very uncomfortable and sleeping with this much movement is only possible when extremely exhausted.
When I came on watch and sat down to enjoy my hot marmite, I took the perfunctory look around and about 2 miles on our portside was a ship pretty much on a collision course with us. Amazing how often that happens, being out in the middle of nowhere and there is another vessel in your path. We woke them up and they altered course, so no problem.
Looking forward to a smoother sail tomorrow.

December 31st – 0700 – 508 miles to go

I’m a bit late with my diary entry – usually do them during night watch. The sun has just come up behind another bloody cloud bank and as usual the wind has picked up to even more than the 20 – 25 knots we’ve been crashing through all night. Now we can see the heart stopping waves that seem to be chasing us and trying with all their might to catch us and dump a ton on water on top of us. And then just when I jump off my seat and crouch for cover another wave sideswipes us with a flick that seems to say – ‘you’re not worth the full deal, take that’. Hmm! Waves in first person? Well, other than Tony and the occasional flying fish or one that we are just about to kill those waves are the next animate object.
So there has not been much to say about the last day – a day of hanging on. We just have out our genoa, running broad reach to downwind. We are on course, going very fast most of the time. We’ve clocked 12.5 surfing down the waves. Shouldn’t complain because it means this will all be over much quicker.
Even though we are sleeping because we are both exhausted the sleep is not really regenerative which means we are just always tired.
Its New Years Eve of 2012 and the eve of Tony’s birthday. I hope it calms down a bit so that we can have a ‘jolly’ celebration.
If not – we’ll certainly make up for it when we reach Antigua.
We have had regular communication with Maritime Mobile net for the past few nights which has been a great comfort to us. We feel less alone.

January 1st 2012 – 0330am – 398 miles to go

Tony’s b irthday today. Unfortunately the conditions outside are not letting up at all. Knowing that we only have 3 – 4 days to go is making it possible to endure this. We are receiving weather faxes now and can see that there is a huge low covering most of the western north Atlantic region reaching down as far as the Caribbean. This may have something to do with what we are in here.
I am extremely tired and cannot wait for Tony to wake up at 0500 so that I can get back to sleep.

January 2nd 2012 – 0615 – 248 miles to go

So Christmas, New Year’s and Tony’s birthday are all behind us now. Poor Tony didn’t have much of a celebration for his birthday. I had planned to bake him a chocolate cake, but quite honestly couldn’t stand to be in the galley any longer than essential. Everything that we do down below in the boat is very difficult as the boat pitches and rolls so much in these seas. I suppose this is what the trade winds are like at 16 – 17 degrees at this time of year. Its been pretty much the same thing every day.
Not much happened in this last 24 hours except that we ate, slept, talked to each other a bit, looked at weather faxes as they came through.
Its been great getting onto the Maritime Mobile net every evening.
Hard to believe that we have covered 4,823 miles since we left Malta late October, and we weren’t even on the move all of the time. Stopped in Menorca for about 6 days, Gibraltar about 10 and Las Palmas 11. So out of 9 weeks we were not sailing for 3 weeks. No wonder we’re knackered.

January 3rd – 0437 - 126 miles to go

I wonder if we’ll be able to stand up when we get onto land without falling over. We are both really looking forward to pulling into an anchorage, dropping the anchor and not having to hang on to stand up. And I really look forward to putting our cabin back together and sleeping in our own bed, together.

This day has been fraught with problems – starting with Tony waking up to change the fuel filter right away because without the engine running the fridge was not working and we would lose all of our frozen goods in the freezer – all this before coffee. Then straight into dealing with a blockage in the pipe leading out of the water tank – no water coming out of tap, and then the bilge – that’s another story, won’t bother to add that one.
This list of early morning wake up problems was exacerbated by the fact that I had a pretty good size Mahi Mahi on the fishing line. Sort of unintentionally. So my morning started with the excitement of catching this fish as soon as I dropped the line into the water. I hadn’t even let half of the line out yet. As I was letting the line off the back of the boat I got it tangled around the lower part of Mr. Chubbs, and as I was trying to pull it off it became very heavy.
It was time to wake Tony up anyway so I called to him to come and see what I had. And that’s when the day went bad. Tony was already in ‘piece of crap mode’.
I left the poor Mahi Mahi on the hook dragging it through the water for about an hour, or so it seemed while I came in to help Tony. The fish, amazingly was still alive when I pulled it out and landed it in the fish killing bath, and then Tony did the filleting etc. and the fish is in the freezer, which thankfully is working now because Tony changed the fuel filter on the engine.
Its 0500 and I’m off watch now – handing over to Tony. One more day and one more night and then we’ll be in Antigua. Its been a long journey.

January 4th – 0535 – 16 miles to go

Whew! The island’s lights are visible and we are very much looking forward to making landfall. Next post will be in real time.