On our way north. The Journey begins.

It’s May 2nd and Pandora is anchored in Jolly Harbor, Antigua.

There is a gentle breeze and the sun is just peaking up above the hills. The light is playing on the clouds to the west, giving them a gentle glow.When we arrived at the customs dock yesterday some of the staff had left for the day.  What, it was only 3:00?

Last time we cleared out here a similar situation had occurred, with some staff on hand and others gone.  At that time, I had been told that some had left at 3:30, but that the office was open till 4:30.  Yesterday, the left at 2:00.  I have no idea when they close.

We were told to come back today at 8:30.  Fingers crossed.

George, who flew in a few days ago, and I headed off to a bar to drowned our sorrows in a Carib beer with a fellow cruiser who was also trying to clear out.

It’s been hot since I arrived on Sunday with unusual light winds, sometimes out of the west.

You may have read about the “blob” heading toward Florida, a huge mass of Sargasso weed, the size of a state, RI or CT, whatever, that is being driven shoreward.   We have noticed a huge amount of that floating weed this season, sometimes so dense that our prop fouls as we pass through it.

Well, that west wind blew a mass of it into Falmouth Harbor a few days ago, nearly filling the harbor with brown stuff.It’s prickly and when it washes up on a beach and rots, makes for quite a mess to clean up.  Some beaches we saw this winter had several feet of the stuff lining entire beaches.   It’s nasty stuff.  Here’s what it looks like up close.I’m told that mats of it floating on the sea creates cover for many critters, crabs, small fish and stuff.  For us and others, it’s a nuisance.

Amazingly, when the wind shifted back to the east the next day, all gone like magic.

Yesterday we got fuel in English Harbor before heading here.  The view, a photo I took a few days ago, is quite impressive.  The sleek black bow peaking out is one of the classic J America’s Cup racers, I think Hanuman.  Not sure but she’s a beauty.   This is the harbor where most of the rally boats check in.  I think it’s the most impressive harbor in the Caribbean. The last week has been crazy with meetings and planning for the arrival of the rally fleet next year.  However, the overwhelming issue I faced was learning, a few days after I arrived back in Antigua, that one of my two crew had to deal with a health issue and could not make the trip.

For nearly a week I scrambled to find a replacement, no easy task with less than a week to plan.  I met some crazy characters that were interested in making the run.  A young Antiguan that wanted to enter the US illegally, a vagabond sailor from the Netherlands and a recently divorced woman that was clearly still in recovery mode.  There was even a very nice woman from Maine, a professional delivery skipper that was willing to make the run with me for free, I expect with the hope that I could open some doors for her to get some paid jobs.  Fair enough and even in our brief discussions, it was clear to me that she’d be an asset aboard.  She had actually delivered boats for Dawgs in the past.

I’m sure that would have worked out well as we have a good number of skippers that need to have a professional on board given a relative lack of experience.  I was very pleased with how patient she was with me as I tried to sort through all of this.  I look forward to meeting her sometime. Perhaps next fall.

Finally, and just a few days ago, I received a note from a fellow member of Salty Dawg that had recently retired and was looking to do the run.   Amazing!  He was willing to join us in St John, all the way from San Francisco.  No problem. The lure of the sea!

Lucky me.

Originally, I was going to head to Bermuda and stop there, to break up the trip.  However, when I spoke to Chris Parker a few days ago, and checked the route on Predict Wind, the run looked like a slow one that would likely include perhaps 4-5 days of motoring.  Not the way I wanted to start the trip.

Furthermore, Chris thinks that by the time our rally from St Thomas begins on May 10th, that there may very well be good winds.

So, that’s where we are going now, perhaps with a stop in St Barths or St Martin along the way.   I do need one more dose of France before we head back to the US.

Well, that’s about it for now so I will leave it at that.

Remember, you can follow me on this blog under “where in the world is Pandora”.   In the past I have generally put up a post every day, describing our run and this time, conditions permitting, I plan on doing that.   And if you want to get a “ping” when I post, sign up and I’ll let you know.

And this year, I am hoping that my Starlink will allow me to include photos and videos.  Who knew that within my lifetime there would be affordable, if $250/month is affordable, broadband for small boats at sea.

Ok, enough for now.  Time to make the coffee and relax until the customs agent deem it appropriate to open up for the day.  Fingers crossed for a smooth trip.

The journey begins, well after 8:30 if I am lucky.


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