Bashing to Antigua

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With one last push Southeast from St. Barth’s to Antigua, we were excited to make this run.  We waited in St. Barth’s until the winds were forecasted to be north of east giving us a better angle. When the forecast is “to the north of east” not “north east”, that means that it moves from 090 to 080, a ten-degree shift, that is all. This run calculated to be a course of 130 degrees. Place the winds at 080 and that would mean that the winds would be 50 degrees off our port bow. WOW, we should be able to sail into that. Here is a chart of this with 090 winds.

A beat to Antigua

Off we go at 0200

With 13-14 hours to go, we decided to up anchor at 0200, or as sailors say “oh dark hundred”  🙂 ! Luckily, we were anchored near the edge of the channel with only two others anchored between us and the deep channel. Added to that, we had a tall ship lit up at the end of the channel. So it was an easy nighttime departure to reach deep water and to turn southeast onto our course.

A quick cell phone photo of the tall ship, Sea Clould II

Protection from St. Barth’s

As we started out, the island provided a really nice wind shadow and a very calm sea. This lasted about an hour and by 0330 we were passed the protection and into the full force of the east tradewinds. The sea state was the problem that we did not expect, it was 4 feet at  5 seconds! If you know the ocean, then you will read that a 5 second interval is a very uncomfortable sea. The forecast was for 4-5 feet, 8-9 seconds. That we can do, but this 5-second sea was tough.  Here we were again leaping off of waves, bashing the anchors into waves, our bow light illuminating underwater and then highlighting the spray, with bow waves coming over the windward port bow into the windshield and over the roof. We have seen this several times from Miami to the Caribbean Sea. Daybreak came and once again we had saltwater covering our entire boat!

Saltwater running off the roof and down the windshield, so frustrating

Do we divert or push on?

As the sun came up, we started looking at the time and distance and we were worried that we would not make Jolly Harbor by sunset. Should we divert downwind over to St. Kitts? Should we push on and enter at night? These debates were thoroughly discussed as we bashed onward.  Fortunately, we have a fantastic engine remanufactured by Alfred Holtzer which Radeen and I installed ourselves. We call this “Yannie New” for Yanmar New and he never complains. We have so much faith in this engine. So we decided to bash onward into the sea. You may wonder why we are not under full sail? The winds were 090 to 095, NOT 080, placing them 45 degrees off the port bow. Add forward speed and the apparent wind is then 30 degrees off the port bow, so yes, maybe a J-35 could have sailed this. but not an IP as they like 50 off the bow at best for upwind sailing. Add in 4-5 foot seas at a 5 second interval and the boat would be beating under sail alone at about 3 knots.  So, it was “Yannie New” to the rescue…

Yanmar 3JH2e 38 hp diesel built by Alfred Holtzer
Alfred Holtzer remanufactures the best engines, if you need a new one, see: https://schoonerbaymarinallc.com/site/

Great Motor Sailing Photos

Our sail set was a full 110% jib sheeted close hauled and staysail in winds of 17-20 knots. With 2500 rpms on the engine , the boat was doing over 6.5 knots. In a sea state of 4 foot waves at 5 seconds, the bow was crashing into and thru the seas,  due to the 20,000 lb boat going nearly 7 knots. At this speed,  heeled over with a better waterline, the boat CAN power through these difficult seas without rounding up. This provided for some great video on the GoPro and some GoPro photos.

Bow waves make great photos
One of my favorite shots, this will be an IPYOA calendar page for 2020

The sea NEVER looks like it really is in a photo or in video. These photos look so calm, the sea looks like a lake, and the waves look like 1 to 2 feet. I don’t know why that is, but it is true. The above photos look so calm, yet look at our bow waves. Interesting. If you know boating and if you have watched the waves pass your cockpit then this next photo should show our speed and sea state.

Our bow wave and wake as it passes the cockpit. WOW! Healed over about 25 degrees, going 6.5 knots while motor sailing

Antigua rises over our bow

What a joy it was to call our “LAND HO” and to see our destination, Antigua, rising over the bow. Yes, we still had 5+ hours to go, but it was very exciting to see our destination.  On this run, we had 3 squalls when the rains came and the winds built to 27 knots. Like Captain Ron says: ” They come up on you fast and they leave you fast!” and so they did. Our digital radar with our guard zone set alerted us well in advance to these squalls. Plus we ran our autopilot on wind vane steering so as the wind shifts the boat will maintain the same wind angle. (Most autopilots will steer to wind. Learn how to set up yours to do that; we use it anytime the sails are up.)

Antigua over our bow, look closely

Drop Anchor 1530 Jolly Harbor

We arrived Jolly Harbor, our first destination on Antigua, and threaded our way between over 60 other boats, dropping the anchor near the head of the harbor. We were thrilled to have an anchorage that was NOT rolling and was calm, our first since Culebra. We were excited to discover this new port. We rested here and will spend a few days exploring this area and St. John’s, the capital, too. Welcome to Antigua, Island Spirit, a place we have never been before. Thank you, Yannie New 🙂

Anchored in calm Jolly Harbor, Antigua
Pop the bubbly for a new Island and new Country to discover!


A few more photos….

Autopilot steers and holds the boat to a set wind angle. We set off and we watch.
The view from the helm
We count an enclosure as a top 3 item. (#1 Radar, #2 Autopilot #3 Enclosure)
Our upper windshield soaked with salt spray. This is 8-9 feet high off the water.
Selfie in my harness. We are always hooked on at sea.
We will hand wash this boat with two buckets of fresh water when we get in. It is best to do it while still wet, before the salt dries.
The sea always looks so calm in photos. This really is 4 foot seas, I know, it certainly does not look like it.
Island Spirit heeled over under full jib and staysail on her way to a new island!
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5 Replies to “Bashing to Antigua”

  1. Great essay..well done – both the voyage and the report….Hopefully the rest of the journey will be easier as you head further south

  2. From Kathy McCoy: You two kids rock! Am enjoying re-living vicariously both the highs and the lows of travel on one’s own well-equipped sailing yacht. Thanks for the high-spirited, informative, and beautiful reports. Greetings from Gary, too. Safe travels!

  3. New Ports of Call. It’s nourishment for the soul.

    Loved the photos. Almost felt like I was with you. I assume the rest of the train heading south is all new territory for you guys?

    Party on!

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