This is it. We’re on our way to Antigua. Sunday morning?

It’s been a long time waiting, having arrived here in Hampton VA a week ago, but it now looks like we will head out for Antigua on Sunday morning at first light.   I am still a bit up in the air on this but unless Chris’s forecast this afternoon is different Sunday first thing is probably best.

The timing of all this is very important as the conditions in the Gulf Stream will be very nasty if we arrive there too early and bad again if we don’t exit soon enough.  When the NE current in the Stream is against the wind life can be miserable, or worse, with steep waves with a very short period, the distance between crests of only a few seconds.  Miserable!

So, it will be very important for us to cross the stream when conditions are more settled, a sort of meteroligical “threading of the needle” to arrive and depart when conditions are good.  All this suggests a departure sometime early tomorrow morning.  Later this afternoon we will hear another briefing from Chris and then I will sit down with George and Cliff to settle on our plan.

It’s been a great week of events here in Hampton along with the skippers and crew of the nearly 80 boats that are participating in this year’s Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean.  Nearly half of the boats are headed to Antigua with the rest split between the Bahamas and various other ports to the south.

As port officer for Antigua, I have enjoyed telling everyone about the week of events that we have planned for their arrival along with sharing some of my favorite places to visit at other islands to the south and around Antigua.   We had visits from the USCG, someone to tell us how to fish off of our boats and there was even a fun afternoon of trick-or-treating by the kids on the trip.  They were just adorable. Just about every seminar was terrific but certainly the most photogenic was the life raft deployment in the marina pool.  We even had one of our members jump in, wearing a “gumby” survival suit, to show us how to climb into the raft, once it’s deployed.  These suits are made of neoprene and are insulated to keep you warm in cold conditions.  Pandora doesn’t carry these so we will just have avoid the whole “abandon ship” thing on this trip.  Wish us luck on that.

All of the boats in the rally carry a variety of safety gear to ensure that we are safe if things go badly.  Perhaps the most important item that we all hope we will never use, is the life raft.  The good news is that most sailors, even those who sail around the world, never have to climb into theirs.

The demo raft was one of the type that is stored on deck.  This one was donated by one of our members.  I guess that they had decided to get a better one.  We tossed it into the pool. Gave the attached cord a hard yank, harder than you’d expect, actually.   And it started to inflate.It didn’t take more than a few seconds before it resembled a real raft.Then the upper part, to protect you from waves and weather, popped up.  And, in went “gumby”.  As a participant in Iron Man competitions, she made climbing into the raft look easy.  Trust me, it’s not, especially as it’s almost never needed in calm conditions.   She was a very good sport about the whole thing. The week included lots of social events, happy hours and a “departure pig roast” with over 220 attending.   Everyone made many shopping runs to pick up supplies.  For me, even though I had already packed Pandora with lots of stuff, I still had three trips to the local grocery.  As we will be at sea for perhaps ten days, that’s a lot of meals.

One unfortunate thing that happened this week was that I now have a really nasty nasty scratch on Pandora’s new paint job when she rubbed badly against a piling during a particularly nasty thunderstorm the other night.  It didn’t need to happen but when I tied her up in the slip an important spring line was not secured properly.  My mistake and now I have a nasty scratch in my brand new paint job to have fixed, perhaps in Antigua.  Made me sad, I’ll admit.

So, we are on our way very soon, probably early tomorrow morning, so please follow along with the fleet.  As I mentioned this in my last post click here to see how to follow the fleet or Pandora alone.

For now Pandora’s all snug, if a little worse for wear, here in her slip, crew ready and raring to go.    And, of course, I’ll be keeping you up to date with frequent posts, I hope.

It’s looking like Sunday morning so stay tuned.

3 responses to “This is it. We’re on our way to Antigua. Sunday morning?

  1. Fair winds Bob

  2. Chris and I just tracked you on the map, it was so neat! Safe travels, wish we were with you!

  3. Expecting a sailmail message everyday, otherwise I’ll worry….

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