Sunday, January 22, 2012

clean bottom = fast bottom

(This entry is written by Tomaž in Antigua before departure)

We have put anti-fouling paint on Heron back in May, while she was on the hard in Koper.

This is ablative paint (self dissolving) and is approved in Europe. It is supposed to be environmentally more friendly then the old, toxic paints.

What this really mean is that the paint is not very good at doing it's job - keeping living things from attaching to the hull. The paint might be OK for short sailing period in Adriatic, but it is no match for fast growth of warm seas of Mediterranean, South of Portugal Canaries, Atlantic crossing and Caribbean sea.

So, Heron was very dirty. Long green grass, algae, slime, mussels, .... we were carrying a living reef with us.

The boat did not want to sail fast, could not beat high upwind and was slow on motor.  At beating we had to tack 120 deg instead of usual 90.

I first wanted to clean her myself, but in fact I have never even seen how this is done, so we bite the bullet and we hired professionals to clean it. The price is higher here in Antigua then it is in US for example.

So, divers did their job and - wow. Heron sails like a dream again.

One day we needed jib + motor at 2200 rpm hardly making 5 knots, next day we were easy doing 6,5 knots under jib alone (without main).

Under motor alone she is now faster at 1600 rpm then she was before at 2200 rpm.

I could not believe that the difference is that big.

On the negative side: The divers took off almost all of the anti fouling paint - so I will have to clean Heron very often until we haul her out and apply new anti-fouling.

And the latest news: Joži, our friend is here with us.

We are leaving Antigua heading NW to St. Barth. We already cleared out. We will do a night passage and plan a daytime landfall. Approaching a port during night is dangerous here as there are almost no lighthouses or some may not work. We do have very precise electronic charts, but they are based on hundred year old data, so are not accurate enough to take a chance arriving at night.

P.S. As I have a very slow connection there are no pictures today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Atlantic passage summary: the crew

We were so lucky to have the best crew we could have. All experienced sailors, nice people and great friends. With the weather like we were having we were glad to have so many extra hands on board and so many people that could keep the watches. I'm not sure if we could have made it alone. Well, not without selling the boat and getting a divorce once in Antigua anyway....

Admiral Lili (that's me)
 Captain Tomaz

There was a sixth member of our crew that was not on board physically but was also a very valuable member - our weather guru Matjaz, who regularly sent us weather forecasts on our sat phone. He was sailing with us from Alicante fo Faro, photo is from Gibraltar.

Dear crew, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Atlantic passage summary: the weather

It was not like we expected – we've been sailing in Caribbeans for several times now during six years now and we thought we knew how the weather in the trade winds zone looks like. We were expecting more days with nice sunny weather and wind about 20 knots. Of course we knew there would be some rain and storms occasionally and some calms with not enough wind. What we got was a very adrenalin sailing from Canary island almost down to Cap Verdes, then couple of days of “normal” weather, then lots of wind and waves again. We got wind up to 30 knots, high waves and much more rain than we wanted. Then couple days before Antigua wind died, waves also, then wind started to blow from west. We certainly didn't expect that. And the last couple of days the wind was again over 25 knots, waves high and there was plenty of rain. It was like traveling from one bad weather front to another with two short breaks. Even arrival in Antigua was stormy, just as we were preparing to throw the anchor, rain came down with full force. I heard a lot like how this passage was an easy one and how getting to Canary islands could be tricky and that getting back from Caribbeans is hard. Our passage from Portugal to Canary island was really easy, but for now i have no desire to try the passage back to Europe very soon. So we are staying here until we get tired of it.

After a week on the passage we were able to tell which clouds are coming our way and do they carry rain or not. Radar was a big help, it showed the rain quite clearly, if there was enough of it. So sometimes we were able to maneuver to avoid the rain. We also learned a lot from a great book – The RYA Weather book.

This is how rain looked coming towards us ...
.... and so it looked on the radar.

This is the latest in "Atlantic passage" hairdos: the form is kept by 30+ knots of wind and sleek and shiny look is result of frequent rain showers .... forget the 3-weather Taft

 This was on "good weather" day .... still it could be called "extreme washing"

 As already said, the waves don't photograph well - this doesn't look as wild as it really was

 On a day with no wind the big Atlantic roller waves were still rocking and rolling the boat

 This photo was taken after the passage on our way from Low bay to Coco point, both on Barbuda. Believe it or not, we were able to keep sailing east through the crack in the clouds (in the middle of the photo) and hardly got any rain at all.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why we love Antigua and Barbuda so much

 Our crew left ten days ago and ever since we've been busy. We managed to get the broken rail repaired and we brought torn genoa to sail maker for repair. There is a number of things we did ourselves - we did the laundry, cleaned the boat, reorganized all the food that was left from the passage and moved it to more accessible places. We also disassembled the engine control panel and find out that the buzzer is dead (that's why it didn't make any sound when starting or stopping the engine), we figured out why the SSB radio didn't work - antenna had bad contact inside the radio - it's fixed now and it works great, we cleaned the water maker filters, we did full maintenance on front head, and we mend the bimini by sawing together the broken zipper.

And in between we had some fun - swimming, enjoying the nature in Nonsuch bay, ... Yesterday the weather was calm and we were feeling brave, so we sailed from Bird island in Nonsuch bay towards the north through the Spithead channel, then entered the Boone channel on the north side of the Antigua through the Horse shoe reef channel and then sailed to Jolly harbor and entered it between third and fourth island of Five islands group. All went well, although we found that none of the charts - neither Garmin nor Navionics or paper charts - are completely accurate and good eyeball navigation is very much needed for such adventure.

Why we love Antigua and Barbuda so much? See for yourself ...
Sailing in Jolly Harbor

 One of the two species of hummingbirds that live here

 Heron in front of the Lighthouse hotel in Low bay on Barbuda

 Coco point on Barbuda - it's still the most beautiful place on earth
 Heron in St John (capital of Antigua) in company of other "small" ships
 Main street in St John

 Food market in St John

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

After Atlantic crossing

 After crossing the Atlantic we are staying in Antigua for now to relax and to bring the boat back in shape.
List of broken items is not very long, but here in hot climate all repairs take longer and cost more.
Otherwise life is good here.
Christmas and New year parties were great, so was our sightseeing tour and swiming in warm ocean.
Here are a few pictures.

Christmas party band in Nelson's Dockyard:

 Christmas pudding was good. So was our mood.

This is without a doubt a best looking and most tasteful Christmas decoration on any boat in Caribbean.

The view from  Shirley heights.