I’m off to welcome the Salty Dawg fleet to Antigua.

It’s Monday morning and I am heading to Antigua tomorrow to welcome the Salty Dawg Fleet to that beautiful island.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that NOBODY has arrived yet and it’s still going to be a few days until the first members of the fleet will show up.

The problem is that weather in the Atlantic in November is generally not all that great.  As the summer SW prevailing winds begin to give way to the NW and NE winds of winter in the fall and early winter, things can be pretty unsettled.  As November is toward the end of the hurricane season and when insurance companies say that it’s OK to head south, that’s when most sailors move their boats to warmer climes to enjoy the winter season of sailing in the tropics.

Well, this year’s Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean has been pretty challenging with persistent SE winds making it tough for the fleet to make their way south to Antigua or the BVIs.   Additionally, it was a pretty rough crossing of the Gulf Stream due to strong NE winds the day before much of the fleet crossed, kicking up a pretty confused sea, and a number of boats had to stop in Bermuda to fix broken gear.  The winds after the GS were also fairly light and not from a favorable direction so many other boats had to make a stop in Bermuda as well for fuel before heading out again.

Add to all of this, a low forming north of Puerto Rico that will cross the likely track of the fleet, and it gets pretty interesting.   As a result of all this, the fleet is running behind and I am going to push back some of the events I have planned in Antigua to celebrate their arrival.

When I scheduled the first few events a few months ago I knew that there was some risk that we’d have to move it back and as of yesterday the full impact of delays to getting the fleet there in time, became clear.

So, off to Antigua I go tomorrow to wait.  However, my friends Bill and Maureen of Kalunamoo are already there, having sailed up from Trinidad last week so it will be fun to spend time with them.  My friend Craig will also be flying down on Thursday to enjoy the fun so I’ll be plenty busy.

Of course, staying at the Admiral’s Inn won’t be particularly tough duty.  It’s a really beautiful place.    What a spot to sit and work on a nice cool G&T.   No, make that a rum punch.  It’s the islands Mon!And, don’t forget about the infinity pool looking over historic Nelson’s Dockyard.  Yeah, I could do that too.  Now that I think of it, perhaps another totally excellent spot for a rum punch.  And speaking of rum.  How about hanging out a bit with my friends from the Tot club, better known as the Royal Naval Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda .  As a relatively new member, there’s still lots of Royal British Navy history to explore, along with an appropriate, make that a responsible, measure of rum.

I remember, well I sort of remember, becoming a member last spring and have a photo to prove it.   I say “sort of remember” as some of the details are a bit fuzzy.  Of course, after all of those “tots” it’s hard to be clear about anything.  But, it was fun and I, sort of, learned a lot about British Naval history. That reminds me, I don’t want to forget my “official” Tot Club shirt.

Anyway, I’ll make the best of this trip, one way or the other.

So, back to the Rally fleet and their run south.   It’s always tough to make the run from the US coast to the Caribbean and this year is a proving to be somewhat more challenging than most.  So far, only a bit of discomfort and some adverse winds. “That’s easy for you to say Bob!  You aren’t out there.” 

That’s true.  So, let’s hope that things continue to go fairly well for the fleet and that everyone arrives safely and without incident.   If you’d like to follow the fleet’s progress, click here to see a map of the fleet as they make their way south.  Put SDR in the “group” section along with the date range.  The fleet began to head out on November 1st but you may find it easier to see what’s going on with a narrower date range.

This is the location of the fleet as of Monday morning.   The fleet is roughly split between Antigua and the BVIs.  I have notated “the” destination, Antigua so you can see how much farther they have to go.  Yes, it’s a long way off but only 90 miles farther than the BVIs.Conditions may get bit rough for the fleet with the low that is going to cross their path as they get closer to the islands.  It’s fast moving and while it may bring winds in excess of gale force if they get stuck in the middle of it, it’s not looking quite as organized as it was forecast to be just a day or so ago.    The low is the dark blue section to the right.   This screen shot is of about 06:00 EST today and is currently east of the fleet’s track. However, by Wednesday, when many boats will be at about the same latitude as the stronger winds, it is expected to cross their track.   Chris Parker, the weather router for the rally, suggests slowing down to let the low pass.   Good idea. As they say, when you are on the ocean in a small boat “it’s always something”.

And, speaking of waves, which I sort of was, I came upon this video of the largest wave ever surfed, a 95′ monster a few years ago in Nazare Portugal.    It’s huge, and yet, in this short video, predictably looks smaller than it really is, a frustrating reality for anyone that has been in heavy weather on the ocean and has tried to document the conditions to share with their friends.

Ever wonder what those big rollers you see on the ocean look like when they reach shore?  Perhaps they look like this.  Ok, I said 95′ but who beyond the guys at Guinness care about such a fine detail.   It’s just a frigging big wave. And wonder what it’s like to get knocked down by such a wave as it crashes down on you?  No, me neither.  Anyway, this short piece shows what happens when a wave, again in Nazare crashes over a surfer and jet ski.  And so, you are saying that you do this for fun?Nazare, were these videos were taken, is of particular interest to me as Brenda and we were there, not by boat, a few years ago and were impressed by the size of the waves, even in the summer.   Interestingly, while there is a small well protected harbor nearby, many of the traditional boats that fish the coastal area are launched and retrieved from a ramp on the beach, pulled up by a tractor, in sync with the waves.   The boats have rub rails on their bilges to allow them to be dragged up by the tractor. And, as the videos showed, it gets pretty “sporty” in the winter so, to keep everything from washing away the breakwater is made up of huge concrete “jacks” that are more likely to stay put when those enormous waves come pounding down on them.I wrote about this beautiful village, waves and all, in a post when Brenda and I were there.

Still want more?  This post is mostly about the local fishing boats and what they catch.  I just love boats.  All sorts.  Perhaps this boat photo will tempt you to reconsider skipping my post and click on the link to read more.  So, there you have it, the Salty Dawg Rally fleet making their way south,  some wacko dudes surfing some of the world’s biggest waves and lovely Nazare Portugal during the “off season” when the waves aren’t all that big.

Well, that’s it for now.  Tomorrow I’m off to Antigua to welcome the fleet, when they finally get there.

4 responses to “I’m off to welcome the Salty Dawg fleet to Antigua.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *