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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.)
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 🙂