Antigua Photo Essay

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We like to base in Jolly Harbour, then sail to Deep Bay and also to Falmouth. Sailing the west side of Antigua is a dream.

Jolly Harbor

Our view out the galley porthole anchored off Jolly Harbour looking at the mountains.
Full moon rising over Jolly Harbor.

Sailing dreams

During the two weeks, we were here, the winds were calm for the Caribbean, 10-15 knots which are perfect for our code zero sail.

Anchored out in Falmouth is Fun

The view of the mega-yachts at night from our anchored position.
Notice the crew member washing the roof of this mega yacht. MOONRISE is owned by the guy who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $20 billion in 2014. He split it with his partner.
Simply riding the dinghy around these multi-million-dollar yachts is always so interesting.

A new world record set

These three ladies rowed across the Atlantic in 42 days, 7 days, and 17 minutes. They smashed the previous women’s record by seven days! The finish line is in English Harbor at Nelson’s DockYard. Their arrival was amazing to witness.  Take a look at this incredible event here: 

https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/

Arrival after 42 days at sea! We were so fortunate to be there and to cheer for them! Charlotte Irving, 31, Abby Johnston, 32, and Kat Cordiner, 42

Left to right: Charlotte Irving, 31 , Abby Johnston, 32, and Kat Cordiner, 42 after crossing the Atlantic Ocean in their 25-foot rowboat, “Dolly Parton.”  Kat has incurable cervical cancer and is believed to be the first cancer patient to row the Atlantic. They are raising money for cancer research in England.

Walking Falmouth to Nelson’s Dockyard is required daily

The guardhouse overlooking the English Harbor entrance was built in 1745.
A simple hike of about 2 miles

Boat Buddies at Antigua

Pizza night at Al Porto with boat buddies: Ed & Ann of IP38 Windswept Dreams, Jim & Gerry of IP 445 Watermaker III, and Dean & Kim IP38 DreamCatcher.
IP38 DreamCatcher and IP445 Watermark III were just launched after 22 months of storage in Jolly Harbour Boat Yard.
Hayden and Radeen after Kim and Dean introduced us to GGT’s – grapefruit juice, gin, tonic, and a slice of lime. Very refreshing!

Life on a Boat off Antigua

Sunset glowing on the beach and casting long shadows at Deep Bay is always a beautiful sight.
Sunset over our stern off Jolly Harbour. Each day there were only about 25 boats anchored here. In previous years, there were 100!
Sunset highlights the clouds over the beach homes at Davis Bay, Long Island, North Sound, Antigua. This was our first trip to beautiful North Sound.

Thank you IslandSpirit

On anchor off Antigua, We will miss this island with its gorgeous scenery and easy living!

Conclusion

Radeen and I always seem to enjoy the simple life around Antigua. We both agree that this island is our favorite of all the Caribbean Islands. Yes, the check-in and check-out are very time-consuming, but that is forgotten when you enjoy the beautiful beaches and historic towns.  The yachts that call into Antigua seem to agree as there are many that stop here for services and repairs. Sadly, the pandemic of covid-19 has hit all of this hard, as we are seeing so few yachts when compared to years past. People worldwide are hurting from the decline in travel. 

Looking ahead

Our goal is to sail our boat back to the Chesapeake Bay by mid May so we can enjoy the boat this summer.  We find that it usually takes us two-plus weeks to put the boat away and 2-3 weeks to get her back up and running, so we have decided to take these 4-5 weeks and simply keep the boat running. No storage.  For now, these are our well-known destinations ahead.

      • Barbuda
      • St. Barth’s
      • St. Martin
      • British Virgin Islands
      • United States Virgin Islands
      • Puerto Rico
      • Turks and Caicos
      • Bahamas
      • USA, Florida to Maryland
      • Home
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SuperYachts in Antigua

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We really enjoy pulling into Falmouth Harbor, Antigua and then taking a dinghy ride around all the billionaires’ yachts. We have seen big yachts in Annapolis, MD, our home waters, but nothing like the yachts in the Caribbean where there are deep harbors. The hub of this location is the Antigua Yacht Club and Falmouth Harbor Marina. Our boat is far too small of to dock at these facilities, there is no way we would ever even try to dock here. It’s amazing to see a sailboat that is 90 feet long with a mast of 150 feet with 5 spreaders look like a dinghy and is dwarfed by the yachts on each side. FORGET IT.  Here is a photo essay to show the scale.

ATHENA is owned by JAMES CLARK, inventor of NETSCAPE web browser. She is for sale  for around 100 million dollars
The two young ladies walking under the bow of ATHENA gives it scale!
Super Yacht ANNA is owned by a Russian billionaire named: Dmitry Rybolovlev. Notice the helicopter under full cover.
Yacht ANNA’s owner, Rybolovlev’s fortune comes from Uralkali, Russia’s largest producer of potassium fertilizers. He sold his stake for $6.5 billion in 2010.
Price: US$ 250 million with Annual Running Cost: US$ 10- 25 million
Moonrise, 325 feet long and 51 feet wide. Owned by Jan Koum who is a Ukrainian American billionaire businessman and computer engineer. He is the co-founder and was the CEO of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application that was acquired by Facebook, Inc. in February 2014 for US$19.3 billion.
Moonrise has 18 steps leading up the stern from the swim platform.
MAYAN QUEEN is owned by Mexican multi-billionaire Alberto Baillères, 85, from Mexico City, who has mining, retail and insurance interests. He is not currently on board. Launched in 2008, this yacht was built under high security in Germany by Blohm & Voss
His beloved Mayan Queen IV is worth about $200 million and is one of the largest — and most admired — superyachts in the world
NERO….was commissioned and designed by London-born entrepreneur Neil Taylor. Nero’s design is based on a line of Corsair yachts built by J.P. Morgan. Taylor intended to restore a yacht from J.P. Morgan’s era but was unable to find one that met his requirements, so he planned to build a modern replica. This owner created DIGICEL the cell phone company!
Comanche holds the 24-hour sailing record for monohulls, covering 618 nm, for an average of 25.75 knots
Comanche holds the 24-hour sailing record for monohulls, covering 618 nm, for an average of 25.75 knots
All of these yachts are CHARTER YACHTS, you can rent these. This is a 35 million dollar yacht KAMALAYA: https://www.superyachtfan.com/yacht/kamalaya/
To give the yacht scale, look at this crewmember cleaning the roof. He is harnessed onto the yacht.
Look closely at the mast and the boom, see the person?
That crewmember was removing the head of the mainsail from the mast track. This gives scale to the boom and gooseneck!

SUPERYACHTS are charter yachts

That is right, you can charter many of these yachts for a vacation and the rich do rent them. By making the yacht a charter yacht, for rent, the owner can use the expenses to offset their income. So, these yachts help the owner pay fewer taxes.  It really is amazing. If you want to see the inside of these yachts, here are links to some of them. 

https://www.superyachtfan.com/yacht/anna/

https://www.superyachtfan.com/yacht/nero/

https://www.superyachtfan.com/yacht/athena/

https://www.superyachtfan.com/yacht/moonrise/

https://www.superyachtfan.com/yacht/mayan-queen/

Thanks for sailing along

Antigua, what a great place to sail, explore, sightsee and simply enjoy. We really do like this island. I hope you enjoyed the superyacht tour of the yachts here on the island in Jan 2022.

ONE LAST TEASE….

If you have AMAZON PRIME and or shop with AMAZON, then maybe you might like to see JEFF BEZO’s yacht. We saw this off Sint Maarten at Christmas time. Yacht FLYING FOX is reported to be his, but it is not confirmed. It is only 446 feet long!!!!!!!!!!

https://www.superyachtfan.com/yacht/flying-fox/photos/

 

 

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Moon Rise Sunsets

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Our days here in Antigua are melting together as we have been enjoying life on anchor off Deep Bay and Jolly Harbour. Added to this, joy has been the full moon rising at or very near sunset, making for beautiful moonlit nights. We really do need to make ourselves up anchor and move to Carlisle Bay and Falmouth and then re-explore Nelson’s Dock Yard. For now, we are spoiled with this peaceful life here off Jolly Harbour.  The best part is we have cruising friends here working on their stored yachts prior to launching. Trust us, we will up anchor and move, but for now, it is peaceful right here. Allow us to share some photos.

Sunset off Deep Bay, so protected because the wind is ALWAYS EAST!
Oh look, a waterspout! YIKES. Lucky for us all,  it never moved into the harbor. FYI: A waterspout is a tornado over water!
Full moon rising over the beach of Deep Bay with our boat well lit below. A beautiful evening.
Sailing out of Deep Bay is downwind, so we rolled out the code zero and sailed back to Jolly Harbour.
Pool time with boat buddies, Kim & Dean IP38 DreamCatcher and Gerry & Jim IP445 Watermark III. Thank you for the invitation!
Back in Jolly, the full moon peeks over the mountain and reflects on the harbor.
My best artistic photo with the full moon inside our mainsheet block
Another wonderful sunset and full moon rising on anchor off Jolly Harbour.
We love looking at the moon reflecting on the water

All is Good here

With all yacht systems running, life is good here on anchor. The Epicurean is a very, very nice grocery store only one block from the dinghy dock, we have a fuel dock, and we have several beaches to enjoy. The upscale neighborhood of beautiful homes on the beach with their boathouses across the street on the harbor side makes for interesting daily walks. Plus,  we have fun friends here to visit!

Covid Data for Antigua

Covid cases are reported every day on the VHF radio net. Today they have 74 new cases and 1 death, Wednesday there were 305 new cases, with no deaths. The population here is 61% fully vaccinated.  In all time, Antigua has had 5800 cases with 122 deaths and a population of 98,000. 
https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/region/antigua-and-barbuda

We are staying isolated and we only visit our 4 boat buddies. We do not eat out,, except for pizza on the porch at Al Porto, we do not hang out at pubs, or go to happy hours. Covid has changed so much and the last thing we want is to get covid in a remote country.  So, we are simply enjoying the cruising life, walking, swimming, beaching and dining onboard with our own happy hours. Not a bad thing at all. 

From Here?

After exploring Anitgua, we will sail north to Barbuda where there are about 500 people. We will stay anchored off the pink sand beaches and enjoy that for a few days, Then we will turn downwind and sail northwest to St. Martin French side, Marigot, and from there back to the USVI and BVI. We hope to spend most of Feb in BVI. After some time there, we need to move west to Puerto Rico and then make the offshore two day jump from PR to Turks and Caicos. Then onto the Bahamas for April. May 1  we will sail to the USA east coast. From there it will be a reach up the coast to Annapolis, MD / Rock Hall MD, HOME by mid May. This is our current plan. Now to keep all these boat systems all running.

Thanks for sailing along!

Hayden & Radeen

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Antigua Sailing

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One of the great aspects of Antigua is the sailing. Antigua Sailing Week, the Antigua Superyacht Challenge, and the RORC Caribbean 600 Race are based here. plus the Classics and the mega-yachts all call into Antigua. Since 1700 when the tall ships sailed into Nelson’s Dockyard to be serviced and careened, Antigua has been the yacht service and premier sailing area of the Caribbean Sea. What we like best about Antigua is that there are fantastic harbors on the west side, like Jolly Harbor and Deep Bay.  When we want to go sailing,  we simply up anchor and roll out a sail and go. Now we beam reach on the west side of Antigua until we have sailed enough, then turn into one of the harbors and drop the anchor in flat calm waters. PERFECTION, ANTIGUA….

Beam reaching on the west side of Antigua is a dream.

We Rolled out the Code Zero…

We have a really great furling spinnaker called a code zero and almost always get to roll this out and sail it on the west side of Antigua. This sail is about a 165% jib and it will sail downwind to 160 degrees and then upwind to 50-60 degrees. It is such a versatile sail. In winds 15 knots or less, this is the dream sail. We keep it hoisted and secured, ready to unfurl anytime the winds are right. We love this sail.

Hayden and Radeen on Island Spirit with the Code Zero out, autopilot set to wind vane steering…..a happy place
Looking over the bow as we north sail for Deep Bay
Sailing out of Deep Bay on a port tack. Code Zero only, 10-15 knots of wind, sailing at 4.5 knots

Anchored in Deep Bay, Antigua

It would be very tough to beat this harbor, Deep Bay, Antigua. A near-perfect beach, plus Fort Barrington to hike up to, and to top it off, a sunken ship in the harbor to snorkel. Welcome to Deep Bay….Look at this view.

The view from Island Spirit looking East to the beach, perfect
The Deep Bay beach to our port bow, We shared the anchorage with only one other boat.
In the late afternoon, cruise ships can be seen leaving the capital of St. John’s. Antigua

Sailing Back to Jolly

After sailing back to Jolly Harbor, an easy beam reach, we dropped off laundry and provisioned a few items. Ashore, most businesses we remember were open or reopened with new names. For example, the fabulous Crow’s Nest Restaurant is now called Sea Dream. The very large Jolly Beach Resort has closed and so has the fun bar there. It was a sad surprise to count only 22 cruising boats anchored where we have always seen more than 100. 

We also wanted to check in with our buddies, Dean & Kim of IP38 DreamCatcher and Jim & Gerry of IP445 Watermark III, to see how they were coming along preparing to launch their boats. Plus, Jolly Harbor is a dream anchorage because it is so calm.  We enjoyed a special full moon rising at sunset. Beautiful.

Sailing home and doing 6 knots under code zero alone. Too easy
Sunset as seen from Jolly Harbor, every night
Full Moon Rise as the sun sets….perfection

Thank you for sailing along

Thank you to all our friends and family for sailing along with us. This has been a lifetime goal, a lifetime dream of living on our boat and sailing to remote locations. Now, here we are and every day we reflect on this goal accomplished. We are appreciative of our strength and good health that allows us to do this.  When wake every morning, we recognize how lucky we are. Thank you for allowing us to share this joy with you. 

Hayden and Radeen out for our 2-3 mile daily walk. Life is good.
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St.Martin to Antigua

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We have been enjoying St. Martin since arrival here on Dec 24th. We spent a week plus on the Dutch side buying up boat repair items. Then we spent a week on the French side eating baguettes and drinking fine French wine.  Now, we really needed to set sail and move to a new location, Antigua and Barbuda. Radeen and I both might agree that Antigua and Barbuda could be our favorite Caribbean Island. But then again, it has become a toss-up with the FRENCH vs the ENGLISH. I mean, really, Martinique, St. Anne, can you beat that? But wait, Antigua has 365 beaches and many of them are on the protected downwind side of the large island which provides easy beam reach sailing anytime you want to sail. Ahh, the Caribbean Islands, so many to explore and learn and so little time. We are lucky to be here.

The view of St. Barthelemy under our jib as we push southeast.

75 nm St. Barth’s to Antigua, course 120-130

Here in the Caribbean sea, the winds are all driven by the never-ending Tradewinds, that blow from Africa to Florida. These winds are from the EAST usually at 20 to 25 knots. The course from St. Martin to Antigua is 120-130 heading which means on an East wind of 090 this places the wind 30-40 degrees off your port bow. Well, that is not sailable for most “cruising boats.”  So, we wait for the tradewinds to shift NE even if it is just 10 degrees or more, this is what you hope for. 

What shifts the trades? Large massive cold fronts that are Nor’easter storms, snow storms coming off the USA east coast and blasting out to sea in the North Atlantic, these are the fronts will pull the trades north or push them south. This is exactly what we had, a massive storm off the USA east coast. But, like most of these predictions, the winds were pulled NE briefly and then, the darn trades took over and won. See this outline….

The NE winds were 12-15, perfect….then the trades won, and the E 15-20 arrived at 0200!

It is always a bashing to Antigua

We have made this run 3 times now, and every time it is like this. A bashing into the East trades and waves which break over the bow and roll up and over the windshields. The boat becomes a total salty mess and we even take salt spray at the helm. Yes, we have an enclosure, and it stops most of the waves, but with the engine on to push through the waves, we need to crack the windows to let the air push out the exhaust fumes. It is not pretty and we always want to divert to Nevis or St. Kitts as they pass our starboard side. The forecast for this trip was that the east trades would resume at 0900-1200 and by that time we would be in and anchored. that is why we departed at 1800 sunset off Anse Colombier, St. Barth’s. Well, the east arrived early at 0200, so we bashed into this until daybreak when the winds usually die down.

This is what we found at daybreak, one salty boat

The first part was a dream

We had a beam reach from St. Martin down to St. Barth’s where we went for a nice swim before dinner in the harbor of Anse Colombier. 

Reaching St. Barth’s

Then at sunset, we dropped the St. Barth’s mooing ball and headed out to sea for a perfect night. The sunset was amazing, and the course of 130 with a beam NE winds made for a spectacular sail set and a comfortable ride.

Sunset as we depart St. Barth’s

Then at 0000 to 0200 the winds moved forward to ENE about 075-085 and we had three squalls up to 25 knots. Of course, these storms always arrive at night. But as CAP’N RON says, “They come up on you fast and they leave you fast, Boss!” and so they did. Lucky for us, our digital radar with watch alarms caught the squalls 4-6 miles out and we were ready when they reached us. The radar sees the rain that is associated with the squalls. As for sailing full speed ahead into the night, this is what you see at night…..look at this flash photo!

Nighttime photo of what you can see sailing full speed ahead into the night….nothing

Arrival into Jolly Harbor, Antigua

This is such a great harbor, it is wide open to the west, no danger, no channel to run, simply head east into the harbor and drop the anchor in 10 feet of water everywhere. There is room to anchor hundreds of yachts. Sadly, on this day, Jan 12, 2022, there are only 20 yachts on anchor. The covid pandemic has hit the cruising community and travel community hard.  It is very very obvious to us as we return to all these places.

The view of Jolly Harbor as you fly in is really cool. We anchor to the bottom right, just out of this photo frame. Look at the beach we go to! (This is my own photo from an American flight in April 2021 on our way to Courtney Less’s wedding to Zach Kenney.)

Re-Exploring Antigua

Our time here will be shared with cruising friends Dean and Kim IP38 DreamCatcher and Jim and Gerry IP445 Watermark III and others as they sail in or thru. We hope to be here another week, with a stop in Marigot, St. Martin. Then we plan to get up to the BVI and USVI islands for all of Feb. For now, we will enjoy Deep Bay, North Sound, Falmouth, English Harbor, Nelson’s Dockyard, Shirley Heights, and BARBUDA with the Pink Sand Beaches! So much to explore and enjoy, so little time. Welcome to Antigua! Thanks for sailing along. Please leave us your comments, they are emailed directly to us.

Facebook Page

Here is our public Page, so please bookmark it and follow along there. Of course, if you want to “comment,” ” like,” or “follow,” then yes, you would need a Facebook account. Welcome…

https://www.facebook.com/svIslandSpirit

 

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Mailchimp’s on strike: TEST POST

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I have been having trouble with my Mailchimp being on strike. The CHIMP needs more bananas I guess.  For some reason, since Jan 3, the CHIMP stopped sending out my emails announcing the new blog updates. Now, with old posts, I am making this new post to see if the CHIMP will find this and email this new post.

If the CHIMP wakes up and finds this new post, then it is scheduled to send the email at 0900 NY Time. Well, that is 1000 Antigua time. SO, now I wait yet again.

Sailing the Code Zero off Antigua, Jan 2022

Meanwhile, here are the latest posts that did not send….

https://svislandspirit.com/new-yamaha-15-enduro/

https://svislandspirit.com/christmas-2021-simpson-bay-sxm/

https://svislandspirit.com/st-thomas-to-st-maarten/

https://svislandspirit.com/departure-season-20-begins/

Thank you to my fellow CHIMP TRAINER, Greg Kerlin who is helping endlessly with trying to get my chimp back to work and off strike. Greg and Kate are running a BEAUTIFUL LAND YACHT and Greg writes a fantastic blog with amazing photos here. You should subscribe to his blog as well and enjoy the land yachting scene. Thank you, Greg!

http://eilean350.blogspot.com/
https://tailsfromthehighway.com/

 

 

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New Yamaha 15 Enduro

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We have been without a working outboard since we left Puerto Rico on Dec 20, 2021. Now, on Dec 27th in Saint Maarten, the Dutch side, we bought a new Yamaha, 15 hp Enduro Short Shaft. We bought this from Island Water World but later found out they buy them from Outdoor World which is the authorized Yamaha dealer. Still, the price was fantastic, $2600 and no tax or duty. The nice aspect about Island Water World is that they really cater to the cruising yachtsman. They are boaters and they are here to help. They even installed a set of planing fins for free. What a great service.

What happened to the Dinghy?

We last bought our Yamaha 15 hp two stroke in Abaco Bahamas in 2012. We have run that one 10 years and never had to service it at all other than normal items. What led to the failure was the impeller. When I launched the dinghy in Nov in Puerto Rico it started up on one pull like always, but it did not pump water. No problem, I will replace the impeller. Well in the process of this, I busted a bolt that holds down the impeller housing. So, I decided to take the lower unit to a certified Yamaha dealer, Fajardo Outboard Parts. Four weeks later I am given the motor back in parts and told they can’t fix it and they did not have time to fix it. That was after 4 weeks and $350 in parts.

This is how my motor came back. In parts with a $350 parts box. Good luck.

We tried to buy a motor

Now, with only a few days until we depart, Dec 20th, we tried to buy any outboard motor in Puerto Rico and also in USVI, St. Thomas. Like you all know, there is a supply chain shortage and nobody has any motors in stock or even any used motors. The service shops also were all backed up and they would not take our repair until the end of January at best. That is when I learned about Dutch Saint Maarten and how they have everything in stock. Of course, they are DUTCH and they love to trade. Island Water World had 15 Yamaha 15 two strokes in stock. So, we made a plan to move to SXM as soon as we could. We needed a working dinghy because we never dock and we anchor out every day. 

The Run to SXM was calm.

As you know from the previous posts, the run to Saint Maarten was calm and we arrived on Dec 24th at 11 pm.  We met up with John of IP420 ADVENTURESS and shared Christmas together and New Year together of Simpson Bay. John kindly towed our dinghy into shore where Island Water World installed the new motor. We finally, on Dec 27th had a working dinghy after a week on anchor without one. What a relief.

Thank you John for towing our dinghy in to get the new outboard.

What a difference

Imagine not having a car while living at home in a snowstorm, well that is similar to not having a dinghy while anchored out in a harbor. You are stuck and can not get out and you can not go for supplies. It is a very confining feeling and it is not safe. If you are going to be anchored out in remote harbors, you need a way to get to shore, hands down. So, now we were whole again with the new outboard and the running dinghy. Sint Maarten is THE PLACE to buy yachting items. They have the inventory and the goods. The best in the entire Caribbean hands down.

The Old Yamaha

We traded it to a kid on the docks and he was able to fix the lower unit in ONE DAY. Do you believe this? YES, a kid fixed it who lives on a motorboat at the docks with his Dad. Hereafter 4 weeks with a certified Yamaha dealer, FAJARDO OUTBOARD PARTS, who could not fix this in 4 weeks, this kid fixes it and has it running in a day. UNREAL. But buy this time, we already had a new motor so we made a deal with this kid and it all worked out fairly for both sides.

Breaking in the new motor

I have done this before and it is simple. You need to run a rich oil mixture, 25:1 for the first 6 gallons. During this time you need to not run ti wide open but for a minute. You need to vary the RPMs and you need to run it for a good 6 to 10 hours. Then after the initial warm-up and running you need to run it wide open for a full minute then back it off. At wide-open, I am guessing the boat is doing 25 knots, it is crazy fast. Almost too fast for a 125 lb boat. It wants to lift off the water and fly while just standing on the prop and airfoil fins. I will clock this and get a full speed test on the boat and motor. I believe this Enduro is way faster than the 15F Yamaha. The speed test will tell.

LOCKS and Security

We tried several styles of motor locks and finally went all-in on the very expensive STAZO Lock from the Netherlands. This is a solid piece of stainless steel that totally encloses one motor bracket spindle. The way pirates rob motors is that they simply cut the spindles off between the bracket and the transom. They use portable power tools and can cut a spindle in a minute. Once cut the motor can be lifted off easily. So this lock prevents the cutting of a spindle. To get the motor off they would have to cut the entire transom off, and that they do as well. The other item we use is a 25 foot 1/4″ stainless steel cable and a master lock. This cable goes thru the dinghy transom eye then the outboard than the fuel tank then the dock. So now they have to cut the cable and then also deal with the massive STAZO lock on the motor. We hope this will prevent theft. Then at night, we haul up the dinghy in the davits and lock it to the stern of Island Spirit. 

The STAZO LOCK, we bought in Saint Maarten, In the US these are $110 here $180 !!!!

Thank you for reading about our dinghy motor and all we went thru to get back up and running. We are currently in Antigua and will be here a few weeks before heading back to SXM.

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Christmas 2021 Simpson Bay SXM

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Arriving Simpson Bay last night, Dec 24th at 11pm with all the island lights and all the yachts in the bay lit up was a real challenge. It was far more difficult than we expected. HELLO….you are entering a new harbor at NIGHT on Christmas Eve….what did you expect? I know, I know, I know….don’t enter a harbor at night. But that is how it worked out and we knew we would be arriving around 11 pm. Thanks to digital radar and C-Map NT charts on our B&G Zeus 3 Chartplotter set-up in split-screen mode, we did it.  Here you can see the screen at 11:30 pm and we are going 0.5 knots as we are ready to drop anchor!

The Chartplotter in split-screen. Charts on left, radar on right. The red dots are boats or anything SOLID around us. Radar is in heads-up orientation, so 12 o’clock is dead ahead.

Christmas Day Shared with John Knight

Our long-time friend and sailing buddy, John Knight had just crossed the Atlantic sailing from Spain on IP 420 Adventuress. His crew had left and he was waiting for his lovely wife Nancy to fly in. He was smartly anchored over on the French side off Marigot, and we sailed into the Dutch side into Simpson Bay. We did this because the Dutch side did not require covid testing and would accept our triple vaccination status. Plus, our new outboard was on the Dutch side. So we decided to check in there.  We invited John to come on over and share Christmas Dinner aboard Island Spirit. He took us up on this and the next thing we knew, he was dropping anchor off our port beam. What a JOY! While Radeen was baking, John took me ashore to clear in with Customs and Immigration. All of our documents had been uploaded from USVI, but I still had to fill out every single one of them again by hand. 

IP 420 ADVENTURESS arrives off our stern, Chrismas Day
Perfect, John dropped anchor off our port beam. Merry Christmas, John.
I love to take photos and this view out our porthole is always a great photo. To take this I back up as far away from the port as possible and then zoom in and out the port, keeping part of the port frame. Perfect.

Christmas Dinner, Radeen outdid herself

This is a very brave undertaking, cooking for John. Why? Because he grew up spending summers in France and was taught for many years, as a child, how to cook! Consequently, John is a very, very impressive gourmet French chef. So, here we are, we have just invited John for Chrismas Dinner aboard. What will we make? YIKES!

First off, Radeen LOVES to BAKE so she started with baking homemade banana bread for a gift to John for his breakfast treats. Next, she baked a homemade crustless pumpkin pie for our Christmas dessert. Now, the meal. She planned ahead and marinated a flank steak. (Anyone that has had dinner at Saltbox 13, our home, knows this is our go-to meal. Thanks to Sharon Gabor, IP 420 Lucille, for the recipe!) Next, she made roasted carrots with thyme that were planned to be served chilled. The final dish was white beans and pasta with beurre blanc. This made for a very colorful plate and it all turned out delicious. Here are some photos of the meal.

Our Marinated Flank Steak, 4 minutes per side on a very hot grill pan, as suggested to us years ago by John. Next, rest it, and then slice. Always so good.
The plate with chilled thyme carrots, white beans and pasta and medium-rare marinated flank steak.
Dessert, a homemade crustless pumpkin pie. Radeen loves to bake.. NOTE: Radeen uploads her favorite recipes to a website I made for her…. www.BoatRecipes.com

After Dinner, Cigars and Wine or Bourbon

One of the joys of a fine meal with John is that he always has great cigars, and today was no exception. After the meal, we sat in the cockpit, enjoying the 78f degree Caribbean breeze and we smoked these fine cigars. Thank you, John!

A Gift from John

John gifted us one of their homemade hammocks used to store fruit or snacks while on passage. This hammock crossed the ocean to Europe and then sailed back. John added the dates of each passage to the band on the hammock and also added CHRISTMAS 2021. THANK you, John, and thank you, Nancy for making this. It will be a treasure on Island Spirit.

The handmade fruit hammock that crossed the Atlantic, twice!

A Great Day it was…

Anchored in Simpson Bay with our buddy and sharing great meals together and drinks and stories was a real joy. What a great life the cruising life is. So different from land life, so spontaneous, so unplanned. No schedule, no plan, just enjoy every day to the fullest. Merry Christmas!

This was our Merry Christmas 2021 spot. Simpson Bay, SXM.
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St Thomas to St Maarten

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This passage is known as the OH MY GOD-A PASSAGE, or the Anegada Passage, the leg from the USVI / BVIs 90 miles East Southeast to Sint Maarten (Dutch) or St. Martin (French) Caribbean Island.  This passage is usually rough, very rough, with big seas. That is because it is open ocean with nothing between here and Africa. The course is 120 degrees and the winds are ALWAYS 090 degrees.  This places the winds 30 degrees off the bow and a sailboat cannot sail this close to the wind. So, we put up a staysail, sheeted it in hard, turned on the motor and pushed into the waves. Here is Happy Radeen as we are leaving St. Thomas to stage up at Christmas Cove off Great St. James Is.. We need to go for a swim, and Charlotte Amalie harbor is not the place but Christmas Cove certainly is.

Radeen wanted to drive past the cruise ship because we both enjoy taking cruises, as well as cruising on our own little ship.

Stage up at Christmas Cove

Christmas Cove is a dream spot in the USVI. With the anchored PIZZA PI boat there, what else would you need? Sadly, this stop we never did get a PI as we swam, and snorkeled, and worked on firing up the Spectra Watermaker.  Remember, we are only 2 days out of Puerto Rico and we are still working on setting up the boat and getting all systems back up and running. So, starting the watermaker was a big deal. This is the unit we had to tear down and have rebuilt in Grenada. It had been pickled (storage chemicals installed) for 10 months, then in May 2021, pickled again for 6 more months. Not a good thing, but lucky for us, it fired right up and started producing fresh drinking water from salt water, all the while only using 8 amps of 12-volt battery power. WILLAMINA WAS BACK, We named her Willamina Watermaker, another valuable team member on the Island Spirit.

This is what 8 gallons per hour looks like, it is the amount of a drinking straw.
Snorkeling off Christmas Cove, we saw a “squad of squid” eleven of them, a first for us. So interesting to watch them swimming in formation!

Anchor up at O500, depart in the Dark

We were going to leave Christmas Cove at 1000 to 1200 on Christmas Eve day, but the calm was here early and we said let’s go at 5 am. This meant getting out of the harbor in the dark and it would also mean arriving in St. Maarten in the dark. Both harbors are wide open, so we decided we could do this with our digital radar, and bright spotlight, and also the moon. Well, it is still stressful moving a boat in a harbor at night, but we were in the back of the pack, so we cut between two yachts and then took the stern of another one and we were OUT. Next, we pointed the boat onto a 120-degree course heading and watched the sun come up. The sea was calm, the winds were 10-15 knots, which is quite calm for the Leeward Islands. We set the boat on autopilot to hold the course and off we powered.

Our B&G Autopilot is #1. We can set it to run to a coordinate, or to hold a compass heading or, best of all, to hold a given wind angle. We rarely sit at the helm offshore, auto takes over.
The sunrise at sea is always a joy to behold. This one was so beautiful.

What you can see at NIGHT

This passage would be 90 miles and at 6 knots that would take 15 hours. Well, in actuality it took us 17 hours as we left at 0500 and arrived at 2300. We went slowly in the beginning, taking an hour to get out, and then we went slowly at the end, going into the harbor at night. It is always interesting what you can see at night from the helm of a sailboat. First off, your red-lit compass is #1, here you can see we are on a course of 120, and that was the course the entire 17 hours.

It is crazy, that course 120 degrees is the course from Miami to Antigua, 1,200 nm. Here we are running 120 degrees from STT to SXM, into the wind we go.
This is the view from the helm. The compass at the bottom, then the digital radar with the red lights from below deck also seen. Over the bow, it is pitch black, we can see nothing but stars, maybe.

THERE SHE IS….Sint Maarten

Arriving into Simpson Bay, Dec 24, 2021 at 11 pm from sea might not have been the smartest thing we have done in a while. Guess what? There were tons of other yachts anchored there as well. All light up with Christmas lights, plus the shore lights and it was like arriving into Times Square. WOW, was this a difficult entrance, but we went slowly and watched our digital radar making sure there were no targets off our bow. We simply pushed onward and navigated our way into Simpson Bay, which is a big open bay. Look at the view from the helm as we approached the island.

Arriving Simpson Bay Dec 24, 2021 at 11 pm, from sea

Hello Daybreak, Sint Maarten

The next morning at daybreak we looked at the beautiful mountains of Sint Maarten and the calm harbor where we anchored. We were so happy to be here as our new Yamaha 15 hp outboard could be bought here. That is why 4 days after launch, we pushed 200 nm east to reach here, so we could get a running dinghy again. Hello Sint Maarten, Merry Christmas all….

Our anchorage in Simpson Bay, just behind the old broken down “DRY DOCK” structure that is abandoned in the center of the harbor. It was on the radar and it was on our charts. Good item NOT to hit at 11 pm at night because it has no lights on it.

Now, it was time to check-in and  to plan our new outboard  purchase so we can have a running dinghy. You can not row in these tradewinds, you need a working dinghy if you anchor out all the time, like we do. A big thank you to John Knight of IP420 Adventuress who had just completed his Atlantic crossing. He moved from the French side to the Dutch side and cheerfully provided transportation to Customs and Immigration for us to clear in. More about our fun Christmas Day with John to follow….

Merry Christmas to ALL.

We did it, Arrival Sint Maarten / St Martin Dutch / French Merry Christmas to All.
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Departure Season 20 Begins

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Yes, this is our 20th year of owning and sailing Island Spirit. She is family! We never thought we would keep her 20 years, as we always thought we would move up to the IP40. Now after 40,000nm+ we see that she does not stop us from going anywhere we want to go.  We have sailed her 10 times down the East Coast ICW and 10 times north. We have pushed 8 winters into the Bahamas and now this is the 4th winter in the Caribbean. Two of these runs to the Caribbean started in Annapolis, MD and ended in Grenada!  Island Spirit loves to run and we know this boat inside and out due to our 4 total refits. Here is our yearly send off photo….ten x two 🙂 December 20, 2021.

Hayden and Radeen start season #20. Here we are flashing 10 two times :-)…oops it is not a video.

Departing Puerto Rico

Leaving the dock after your yacht has been in storage for 16 months is not an easy thing. The number one concern is…WILL SHE RUN and WILL SHE KEEP RUNNING? Imagine this. You leave the shelter of the protected Puerto Del Ray Marina, turn EAST directly into the tradewinds on your bow. The waves are 4 feet at 6 seconds and you need to power directly off a stone wall jetty UPWIND. Of course, this would be the perfect time for the fuel tank to stir up some dirt and your fuel filter to clog and your engine to die. (This is why we polished the entire fuel tank ourselves before departing.)  We were nervous to say the least. Here is a photo taken about 1/4 mile out as we bashed east!

Island Spirit bashing East into 15-knot trades and 4-foot seas at 6 seconds.

Departed with IP40 Gypsy Soul

We left PR with new friends aboard IP45 Gypsy Soul. Todd and Kitti were heading to STT as well and we all were hoping to depart on the calmest day possible Well, 15 knots and 4-foot seas are calm here. You can see what an Island Packet 40 looks like in this sea state.

Notice the swell as it passes midship at the mast, this is an IP40 and the wave is at the deck!
Of course with 4-foot waves, the ride is a bit bouncy. Many times their anchors would punch into the next wave.

Blue Water is WHY

Why put up with such “calm” conditions you might ask. Well, one of the reasons is that the water is so beautiful. When compared to Florida, or the coastal waters or even the Bahamas, the Caribbean Sea and Ocean water blue is like no other blue. Look at this photo,  just a simple cell phone photo from the helm. The gorgeous is one of the reasons we love to sail here. It is worth all the effort and expense.

Bluewater Sailing

Arrival St. Thomas, USVI

There is something very special about sailing your boat to St. Thomas, USVI, and dropping the anchor off Charlotte Amalie. As the sun sets over your stern and the full moon rises over your bow, the city lights come on and illuminate the harbor. The water reflects the lights and makes a beautiful show of colors. 

Welcome to St. Thomas

Tradition, The Greenhouse for Lunch

Since 1986 we have always celebrated our arrival in STT by going to THE GREENHOUSE and looking out on the water and reflecting on all that we went thru to get here. This year we celebrated with Todd and Kitti and shared a very fun lunch together.  Here is the required selfie in front of The Greenhouse.

Hayden, Radeen, Kitti, and Todd at The Greenhouse on the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie.

You sail, you get presents!

One other tradition we (I, Hayden) have is that I like to buy Radeen a treat for being the great sailor that she is. Every time we sail into STT we go shopping, it is tradition. This year, with an exorbitant amount of boat expenses, and travel expenses, and dockage expenses we did not go wild. We simply wanted a necklace pendant of freshwater pearls and some pearl earrings.  So, off we strolled to our favorite place, GRAND JEWELERS and sure enough, I found exactly what I wanted. Radeen was thrilled and we were very happy with the deal. Again, WELCOME to ST THOMAS.

Notice the streets are empty, with only one cruise ship in port that day. Five ships were scheduled the next day. We had fun finding a pretty pendant for Radeen.
A few small diamonds with a drop pearl and a very nice chain. Perfect.

The Season has FINALLY begun…

Now that we have left the docks and we are out on the anchor, we feel the season has begun. You all know as boaters, the hardest part of any trip is simply leaving the dock. If you can do that and just keep going, then you are cruising. Sure the boat will break down, systems will fail, winds and waves and squalls will build, but, you left that slip and you are finally out, Once out, you simply learn to deal with these normal boat challenges along the way. They say, Cruising is….Fixing your boat in remote locations….and that is so true. We are so happy to have left the dock!

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