It’s been a busy few days since arriving here in Antigua first thing Sunday morning, after a 1,500+ mile run that took 9 days and 23 hours, not to put too fine a point on it. It’s actually pretty amazing that we made it in ten days, my original prediction, considering that there was very , very light winds and plenty of weather “obstacles” conspiring to keep us from following the rum line.
My able crew, Chris and Jim. hard at work along the way. I won’t bore you with the “we motored this many hours, burned # gallons of fuel and sailed X % of they way except to say that navigating the fickle winds, currents and squalls, perhaps 20 or more of them actually. However, I think it’s sufficient to say that we had just about every weather option you can think of from flat calm with no wind to sporty sailing on a really close reach and had to go way east to get around a persistent ridge that plagued the fleet for days on end.
“No Bob, we really want to know. Just how many hours did you motor?” Ok, if you insist and because you asked so nicely… We motored 129 hours and were underway for a total of 239 hours. I guess that means that we sailed just over half of the way.
In miles of sailing, it was more than that as we spent plenty of hours moving along at 8-9 kts, and sometime with top speeds in the low double digits. Perhaps that explains how we were only the second boat to arrive here in Falmouth. And, on that subject, that the boat that got here a few hours earlier may have left the day before we did. Pandora’s a pretty fast boat.
As we left Hampton, along with many others in the 76 boat fleet, there was a full moon. It was beautiful.As the entire fleet was headed to a specific way point south of the Gulf Stream, to try and get on the right side of a large eddy, we were in sight of a number of boats for several days. It was pretty impressive to see magnificent clouds over the boats in the distance. As there were A LOT of squalls and plenty of rainbows. And some terrific sunrises. I always took the 04:00 to 08:00 watch, my favorite. Well, my favorite after I get over the shock of being awakened with “Bob, it’s 04:00. You’re on…”At the halfway point we found ourselves 500 miles from anything in every direction and days went by without us seeing any other boat. However, this 60’+ Swan came up out of the distance and passed us doing 10+kts, but not all that fast as Pandora herself was moving along in the 9kt range.
Pretty good turn of speed for Pandora as she is a lot smaller than that Swan. And with a crew of 6 and a bunch of hotshot sailors, they passed by less than a boat length, just to say HI and, I expect to say “mine is bigger than yours”. And on they went..As the sun rose on Sunday morning, spirits were high as we watched the lush green mountains of Antigua rise before us. So, here we are, on the dock for the first night all by ourselves. Did I mention that we had just about the fastest time to Falmouth? Thought so… Not a lot of boats were here in the marina when we arrived, but this 220′ sailboat was nearby. Huge. I heard that they had a party catered at one of the local spots and spent plenty including a cool $1,000 on a special cheese platter. The owner of the dining establishment told me that they also drank lots of expensive wine and the bill? Well, let’s just say “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Nope, not Pandora’s crew. Less than half of the rally fleet has arrived and many more should arrive over the next few days as for many it’s been a very slow passage. Nearly 20 of the 55 boats that are headed to Antigua had to divert to Bermuda to get more fuel so that they could make it all the way in the light winds and not run out of fuel.
The passage offered a wide variety of wind and sailing/motoring options and I have covered a lot of this in prior posts. We did a bit of fishing along the way and landed one Mahi Mahi and I won’t talk about other various “ones that got away” including one that somehow broke the heavy line clean off of winch we had it tied to and took the entire rig “hook, line and sinker”, as the say. That put an end to our fishing Well, here we are in Antigua and since arriving I have been swamped with details for all the events as we have something planned just about every other day between now an Thanksgiving, including our first “official Happy Hour” tonight.
I’ll be reporting breathlessly, of course, on all the goings on over the next week or so before Brenda and I fly out to visit our kids and the christening of our granddaughter Tori the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
For now, all I can say is thank goodness that the local folks here in Antigua have been so supportive to help pull all of this together. In particular, the Antigua Yacht Club has “lent” us Nesie, the office manager, to help with all the details including assembling some lovely pink “skipper bags” with all sorts of nifty stuff, even a sample of Antigua rum, to help the Dawgs enjoy their visit to Antigua just a little bit better. Oh yeah, Brenda arrives tomorrow. I CAN NOT WAIT!!!!
Well, there you have it. We made it. Back to Antigua for the second season this year. I love Antigua.