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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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