Monday, December 10, 2012

Escape to Nonsuch Bay and passage to Guadeloupe

We did some more snorkeling while still in Falmouth Harbour at the beginning of last week. Even on the northern end of Pigeon beach there were some nice things to see.

Like this Yellow Sponge.

This is the green variation of Variegated Urchin - they like to camouflage themselves with pieces of corals, small stones, sea grass or even with an empty shell or another urchin.

There were lots of fish, these are Horse-eye Jacks.

I saw lost of Rock-boring Urchins. The whitish almost see through bunch of small branches above the middle urchin are Christmas Tree Hydroids.

The small green things in the middle belong to Green Grape Alga.

The weather forecast for the week was little wind and sunny weather for the first couple of days and some more wind from Thursday on. So we decided to escape to Nonsuch Bay on Tuesday morning and sail to Guadeloupe on Friday. Our friends Dana and Wayne sailed to Nonsuch also, a little later in the same day. We were hoping of having a few nice days in good company, and some good snorkeling, and of course some boat projects. But the forecast was completely wrong. Already on our way to Nonsuch we had far more wind than forecast, but we were actually glad, since we were able to sail most of the way. But already in the afternoon the big black clouds came with lots of rain and lots of wind. Dana and Wayne just had enough time to tie their boat to the mooring buoy before it started to pour. Then it rained and rained for the rest of the day and wind was getting stronger and stronger. We downloaded new forecast - and it was completely different. Lots of wind, some rain, and even more wind towards the end of the week. After some deliberation we decided to stick to original plan. On Wednesday we did the laundry, the gods of rain were kind to us and there was no rain the whole day. But the wind was strong and laundry was dry very quickly. In the evening we were invited to Journey to have dinner with Dana and Wayne. It was great - all of it, food, and of course the company. Next morning Dana and I went snorkeling, all around the Bird island. It was very pretty, even visibility was not too bad despite the wind and the waves. And then it was time to say goodbye. We liked Dana and Wayne's company so much, they are such nice and open minded people, so easy to be with. Hope we meet again.

We sailed back to Jolly Harbour and were naturally too late to clear out already on Thursday. So we changed the plan - we would clear out on Friday, do some shopping and sail off on Saturday morning.

On our way to Jolly Harbour we again passed the pretty rocky southern coast of Antigua.

This is Shirley Heights above the entrance to English Harbour. There are some good parties up there Thursdays and Sundays. It is named after admiral Shirley, who was British commander at about the same time as Nelson, and is mostly known not so much for his military records, but for poking his eye out while chasing cockroach with the fork.

On Friday we checked out, and did some last shopping. On our way from Budget Marine we stopped at Claudia's restaurant, which caters mostly for workers in marina and boatyard. We've eaten there plenty of times, it is simple, good and cheap. We were lucky and got conch roti (a bit like a burrito with conch curry filling) and dungee with saltfish - some kind of mildly sweet corn dumplings with a sauce made of vegetable, salt cod and spices. Very nice. Then we did some last moment provisioning in Epicurean supermarket. Just the things they don't have in France. I was able to resist my favorite ginger-lemon biscuits, but not the Antiguan yoghurt, beef pastrami and fried chicken. Chicken was meant for lunch on the passage. But it nearly went right away - I was waiting my turn in the line with half a dozen of locals, chicken was being fried fresh right there and it smelled so nice, I almost forgot we just had lunch.

It took us some time to get ready the next morning - we knew it was going to be a wild ride, so we stored away everything in the boat that might fly around. We ate breakfast and then we prepared the storm jib. We haven't used it since Atlantic crossing and on many occasions when we needed to reef our small flock captain wondered if it wouldn't be better to have storm jib out. So we sailed off at about ten.

At the beginning, when we were sailing along Antigua's western coast and were still protected from the waves, we put out all three sails - main on second reef, storm jib and whole flock. And we just flew through the calm see, at 9 to 10 knots.

But after a while the waves started to build up, the dark clouds in front of us came closer and grew darker, and the wind got stronger. So we put the flock away, but with 25 knots of wind we were still making 7 to 8 knots. The sailing was very wild and bumpy, thanks to very strong wind the waves were very annoying. They weren't too big, 2m on average, every now and then there were couple of 3m, but they were very steep, close to another, and all wearing white cap at the top. Heron was making very good speed, but was jumping like jung bull from one wave to another.  Every couple of waves we got a hefty amount of sea in the cockpit, so everything, including us, was wet and salty. We realized we are not going to have lunch while on the way. Instead we just ate some cookies. Unfortunately not only cockpit got a lot of water, but also our front cabin. Port side hatch (levo okno) is bent at the hinges and it is not always closing very tightly. We forgot to check it before leaving, since it was behaving well lately, and sea water managed to get on the beds, into captain's tools and on some of my clothes. We managed to temporarily fix it with the towel that we stuck between the hatch and the curtain and it managed to soak all the water that followed. But I was really sad - it meant a lot of washing and cleaning to get all the salt out.

The nicest moments on the passage were when a booby (strmoglavec) joined us and was fishing around the boat for flying fish that were jumping out of the water. This is the second time that we saw this and obviously the birds learned to use the sailing boats to get their meal. Clever.

Shortly before reaching Guadeloupe we got this barracuda on the hook. I'm not sure we were really pleased, we were sailing with about 8 knots of average speed with no possibility to reef the sails any more or turn the boat in the wind, the waves were too big and with turning they would be right from the side. Still we decided to keep it...

... and captain managed to do the cleaning on the swimming platform while we were surfing down the waves with 11 knots.

I was glad all went well. At half past four we sailed into Deshaies. We were cold, wet, very tired and totally hungry. But first we washed the cockpit, then we washed ourselves, then we wiped the water from the front cabin and only then there was the time for the chicken. We heated it up in microwave and it was unbelievably good, accompanied with tomato and fresh basil salad, bread and some wine. And some lemon cake for desert. All this still didn't much improve our opinion of the day. There are good days on the boat and there are "the other" days. This one was surely "the other".


  1. Hey!
    Your sail to Deshaies sounds very much like our passage today from Barbuda back to Antigua. We don't get 8 knot hull speeds, but it was a very bumpy and wild ride.

    Please tell the captain that if he is going to wrestle baracuda on the transom in heavy waves and wind, that he REALLY needs to think about wearing a harness or something. ;)

    Nice post and pictures!

  2. This surely sounds like our trip together. Lots of wind, bumpy and rainy and if you remember - rainy also in Deshaies the day after. I can imagine that chicken was to die for after such a day! Enjoy for us a bit as well - we have Siberian weather here these days!