November 1, 2010 through January 31, 2011
Since my last letter at the end of October, we have travelled from the Canary
Islands of Spain, to the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, and across
the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. We made landfall in Antigua,
visited Barbuda and then sailed to St. Martin. I might be starting to feel
like my remaining sailing days are numbered (Oops! Did I say that out loud?).
I won't write about the ocean crossing because I kept a blog for the entire
trip. It can be found at http://svaquila49.blogspot.com
if you would like to read it. However, I did post a Photo Album on this
website with pictures of our crossing, since I didn't post any pictures on the
It was wonderful to see Antigua in the distance after being underway for
almost a month! And to see so many American Flags in the anchorage was
terrific! We met up with several of our friends who also did the crossing
(Wings, Swanya, Leilia, Barefeet), and met a few new friends (Djarrka,
Ascension, Lady). We stayed in Falmouth Harbor to visit friends as
long as we could, but we had to get around to Jolly Harbor Marina to fill our
water tanks. Our water maker quit working on the first day of our ocean
crossing. We had to be very conservative with our water usage. Now
Mike was like a kid in a candy store. He went crazy with the hose, washing the deck and the hull and anything
else he could squirt the hose on. I warned him that water wasn't free at
this marina. We were on a meter. After a week at the marina, Mike
estimated his usage would cost about $25. It was $156. But we sure
We sailed over to Barbuda (about a 5 hour sail) and anchored at Low Bay on
the northwest side of the island. Barbuda is a very flat island, so we
didn't even see it until we were right there. We anchored along an 11-mile
white sand beach. Barbuda is a natural, mostly undeveloped island. The
beach is beautiful and pristine. We went to Barbuda mainly to see the
frigate bird sanctuary. We hired a tour guide to take us in his small boat
into the protected
lagoon. It was really amazing. There are tens of
thousands of frigate birds in the mangroves and it is mating season right
now. The male birds have a red pouch on their chests which they expand to
attract the females. Check out my pictures of this in the Photo Album.
tour guide, George Jeffries, also agreed to help us check out of the island by
escorting us to the Port Authority, Customs and Immigration. It's a good
thing he offered to help us! There is absolutely no way we could have done
it on our own. First stop was Port Authority. We followed him down
little streets, some paved, some not, some marked or not, to a house. He
went through the little gate and knocked on the back door. A woman who was
doing laundry came out and said she didn't have the book, and referred him to
another place. We walked for 20 minutes to another house with no sign, but no one answered the door (even though we heard a radio playing and
the window was open).
So we left and went to find Customs. The Customs agent
wasn't home, but George was able to get him on the phone. He returned to
his home office and got us cleared through Customs. Then we went to
Immigration and waited for the Immigration lady to come (the Customs guy had
called her to tell her she had a customer). We never did find the Port
Authority guy, but the Customs guy said we were cleared to go. He was very
nice, but it was the most unusual check-out we've ever experienced. We
never would have found those people on our own!
We left Barbuda at 8 a.m. to do a
full-day 75 mile sail to St. Martin. Everything was going great for the
first hour. We put up the spinnaker with about 12 knots of wind on our
back. Then the wind picked up to about 17 knots and while Mike was
hand-steering (because I was on the SSB and didn't want the interference from
the autopilot), the wind shifted, the spinnaker collapsed, the wind got behind
the sail again, the sail inflated and then exploded! The sail could have handled the sustained
wind, as it did so beautifully for our Atlantic crossing, but the force of it
inflating the sail at 17 knots of force just blew it out. It ripped up
both sides and across the top like an explosion. The flapping pieces hit
the water and Mike fished it back on deck, stuffed it in the bag and that was it
for the spinnaker. We unfurled the genoa, prevented the main out, and sailed
the rest of the day doing 7.5 to 8 knots of speed on a broad reach. It was
a good sail! In St. Martin, we got a quote to repair the spinnaker for
$1,000. I guess we won't be sailing with a spinnaker for awhile.
anchored in Simpson Bay for the night and waited for the morning bridge opening
Lagoon. We stayed in the Lagoon for a week and got all of
our important projects done. You can get anything you need in Simpson Bay
Lagoon. It is a major yachting center. We found the American
veterinarian and Lucy got her annual shots and health certificate. We went
to the big market and stocked up on food. Mike fixed the water maker and
replaced a defective part on our generator. We bought a new BBQ grill and
a bunch of other stuff from Budget Marine which got us invited to their big
Customer Appreciation Party (pictures in Photo Album). On another day, we
got together with some other cruisers at Shrimpy's and played Mexican Train
Dominoes. That was fun since we haven't played in quite a while.
Today, our week was up (lagoon and bridge fee was $82 for the week), so we left and sailed around to
Phillipsburg. Phillipsburg is a major shopping mecca for cruise ship
passengers. There are four huge cruise ships here right now. Duty free shopping
with many stores competing for your business. We bought a new laptop computer.
This is also where I bought my cameras the last time we were here.
Mike is still dealing with a
cough that is the only symptom remaining from his bout with the flu that hit him
on Dec. 31 when we were crossing the ocean. He's never had a cold or flu
(or whatever this is) that has lasted this long. It sounds better each
day, so we're optimistic that it's nothing serious.
it. We're heading to the Virgin Islands tomorrow. Looking forward to
seeing our friends Frank and Patti who live there.
Love to all.