Down past Guadeloupe

Sadly, it's time to leave Antigua, and head South. We've really enjoyed our time here, but all things must come to an end, and it's time to head South, before the hurricanes get more frequent. We plan to pick up some friends in Martinique, so we want to get there before they arrive.

The last couple of days were a rush to get ready to go. Suddenly all of those tasks that have been postponed until later, can't be pushed back any more if they have to get done before we can sail. Got our 2nd AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shots and scheduled PCR COVID-tests for the day before we sailed.

The only test slot was at 5:20am, so our final day was a long one, waking up at 4am, to dinghy to the dock in the dark and drive half an hour into town to the hospital.

We got to explore a peninsula we hadn't visited before, to pass the time before coffee shops opened at 7:30am.


Just made it to the customs office in time to check out of Antigua on Friday afternoon, before they closed. Checking out took the best part of an hour, because of some paperwork difficulties and a misbehaving printer, but we got it done, and got ready to leave, first thing in the morning.

First thing ended up not really being first thing, because my COVID test result hadn't arrived with John's. So we needed to wait for the hospital staff to arrive, see my email, and forward me my test result (they'd typoed the email address).

Set off at 9 sharp, got the sails out (on 2nd reef) and took an easy 7+kts sail south.


Started fairly close-hauled, but as we went South the wind direction changed, until we were almost running, when we approached the Guadeloupe coast.

You can tell you're approaching Guadeloupe, because you start to run into fishing buoys, they're everywhere down the coast. Some nice and visible, some just empty water bottles with string tied to them. Have to stay vigilant to avoid getting one wrapped around the propeller shaft.

Guadeloupe was shrouded in cloud and rain. We got a good dose of it to wash our decks, and drop visibility down to under 100m. But then the sun came out, and the island is stunning, definitely want to come back and visit it when we can.


We expected the wind to die down, in the shadow of the island, but we got almost half way down before this became a problem, and we had to motor-sail on and off for an hour or two.


The last bit, past Basse-Terre got some nice gusts on our bow, and we got to briefly race down the coast with another yacht, watching them catch the gusts before we did.

Anchored off the southern tip of Guadeloupe, Point du Vieux-Fort, near the lighthouse. Bit of a roll-y anchorage, but perfect for continuing South, early in the morning.

Time on the water: 9:41
Distance covered: 67.5nm
Avg speed: 7kts
Max speed: 11.4kts

Navionics Track

Freeman's Bay

Supplies have been getting low, and we need to head South soon, so time to leave the horses, donkeys, and bright green sea of Barbuda for Antigua again, today.

Quick breakfast and a last swim off Cocoa Beach, and then time to head out. Pulled up the sails just offshore of our anchorage, 2nd reef on the main, and headed out through the coral heads and down due South. We got a lazy jack caught around a main baton, but only realised once we were out at sea. Went to grab a boat hook to pull it off, and realised it's gone missing. We were just congratulating ourselves on not having broken anything recently... So, that's how it stayed, stack pack hanging at and odd angle, for the whole sail.

The seas were big, but not huge, maybe just bigger than 2m swell at times. Wind was strong but steady, and kept us at a good 8kts most of the way. I was expecting more of a beam reach south, with the prevailing winds from the east, but with the our slightly eastward course and the current against us we were about 60° into the wind, the whole way down.

Didn't see another yacht all day, until, just as we were edging down the North-West shore of Antigua, a little open fishing dinghy crossed our bow, out of nowhere. Got to keep an eye out for them...


Slowly eased into a run, as we came around Green Island to the South end of Antigua. Pulled into Freeman's Bay, suddenly going from 20+kts winds to complete calm. First anchor attempt put us on top of a buoy, so tried again a little closer into the corner. Totally unpredictable winds in this corner, we're swinging 360° around our anchor, but it's well protected and seems safe.

Back to the comforting sounds of Antigua's squeaky frogs.

Time on the water: 5:52
Distance covered: 41.1nm
Avg speed: 7kts
Max speed: 11kts

Navionics Track

Hurricane Elsa


We've been watching Atlantic storms brew, soon after we got to Barbuda. First Invest 95L (1 on the map), and then hot on its heals Invest 97L (2 on the map).


The first one looked like it was dying down, and would pass well south of us. So, we decided to stay put off Cocoa Point on Barbuda, and wait for it to pass, south of us.

Meanwhile, the second storm grew and grew, and became Hurricane Elsa. Fortunately also passing south of us, but we'd get some strong wind on Friday.


(Click through for an animation of the storm's progress.)

Because we've been waiting for the storm, we haven't been adventuring around Barbuda much. We've just been enjoying the Princess Diana beach we've been anchored off, and occasionally visited the one and only beach bar, Enoch's Shak-a-Kai.

Aside from some recent developments, Barbuda is communal land, and domestic animals roam freely. Donkeys and horses are the frequent visitors to the beach, with their foals.

Good snorkelling on the reef off Enoch's bar, too.


Enoch gave us a lift into the town, Codrington, for some provisions and see the sights. There aren't that many, the town got flattened by Hurricane Irma in 2017.


To prepare for the storm, we tucked in a little closer to the coast. Pulled out and assembled our Fortress storm anchor, running it off the bow at an angle, as a backup to our primary anchor.


The storm never really made it here, in the end, we got some 30+kt gusts, but not much more than that. Maybe we'll get some rain this evening, and there's still strong gusts predicted tonight. At least it was all good practice for dealing with storms in the future.

Even though we've been largely stuck on the boat, really enjoyed the time we've spent in Barbuda, so far. Got to know our South African neighbours and enjoyed the desolation of this island.

Across to Barbuda

Up early in the morning, checked the weather, and it looked good to make a crossing. Breakfast and a quick swim, and off we go.

We weren't quite as adept as the catamaran moored in front of us, who pulled up sails on anchor and then reversed back down the channel, keeping the bow into the wind, before sailing out through the south channel.

We put up our sails (1st reef) behind middle reef, as usual, and sailed out through the south channel. Up past Man-o-War point, the desolate (and spectacular) east end of Green Island that gets regularly beaten by the ocean, and straight towards Barbuda.


The sea was quite big, 2m swells at times, and some huge waves that broke over the entire boat. Set a course, and just kept heading North on a broad reach. It was surprisingly shallow for a lot of the way, we were sailing above a reef 20m below us, that may have contributed to the sea-state.

Antigua slowly faded away behind us, and we were out on the open ocean, with no land in sight, for the first time.

At 9kts, that didn't last for long, and by midday we could see the thin outline of sandy Barbuda up ahead.


A few yachts nestled up along the beach, and some kite-surfers further down towards the point.

We dropped the sails, picked our way through the reefs, and anchored off Cocoa Point in crystal clear green water. A totally different world to muddy Falmouth.

Again, we ran the water-maker all day (at low speed, on one pump). We need to get the failed pump replaced, this clear seawater is just perfect for making drinking water.

Time on the water: 4:45
Distance covered: 34nm
Avg speed: 7.1kts
Max speed: 12.1kts

Navionics Track

The Road to Barbuda

Barbuda's anchorages are surrounded by reefs, so it's wise to arrive around midday when you can easily see and avoid them. Departing first thing in the morning from Green Island is a good way to make that crossing work.

So, we loaded up with mangos and some last minute shopping in the morning, and headed out to sea in the afternoon, to Green Island.

We don't have a chart-plotter at the wheel, so we'd bought a tablet to display charts on, there. However, the model we got had no GPS. Doh! It had correctly pinpointed our anchorage, so we hadn't noticed until we got under way to put up sails. Debugging this was all rather distracting, but we got them up (1st reef) and headed out of the bay. Back to charts on a phone, for the moment.

Immediately, it was obvious that the wind and sea were bigger than we'd expected, so we pulled in sail to the second reef, half-way out on the first tack.

Around the time we were doing this, we could hear a mayday emergency going on on the radio. Someone had run aground, north of Green Island, and [the ABSAR]( were heading out to sea to help out. They couldn't speak directly to the grounded yacht, so a French boat was relaying messages in French. Made it hard to understand exactly what was going on, but eventually we heard that the yacht had been towed off the reef and to a nearby harbour. Nobody was hurt.


The weather wasn't ideal, the wind kept picking up, and we could see that we'd arrive at Green Island together with a rain squall. So, reefed in again to 3rd reef, and ran up the channel, through the rain, to tuck in behind green island.

Probably a little bit close to the island, it gave us a somewhat sleepless night, worrying that the wind would change, and we'd be blown onto it.

We've been trying to fill up our water tanks, since fixing the water-maker, so ran it the entire day as we were sailing around. However, when we arrived we found that its pumps weren't making any pressure, and one of them had failed. At some point it must have got an air-bubble into the line, and air-locked the pumps, that may have pushed the weak one over the edge.

We have some spares, we'll replace it at Barbuda.

Time on the water: 3:26
Distance covered: 16.1nm
Avg speed: 4.7kts
Max speed: 10.1kts

Navionics Track


We went back up in Jolly Harbour to load up with provisions for a trip to Barbuda, there's a far bigger supermarket there than in Falmouth. Also had to do some admin, collecting an original bill of sale, from the brokers, to courier to the registry. And get a certified copy for ourselves, in case it goes missing.

With that done, we were planning to sail back to Falmouth, to collect a shipment from the US, and then sail to Barbuda on Wednesday.

Got a bit of a surprise in the morning. We've been trying to empty our tanks to get rid of the undrinkable water, and we thought we'd been emptying our Port tank. But I looked at the tank gauge and found the Starboard tank was completely empty, and the Port one mostly full. After a lot of head-scratching, our best guess is that we've been pumping all the water from the Starboard tank into the Port one, via the fridge's fresh-water coolant loop. The valve from the Starboard tank's output line has a plastic handle that we found has subtly broken and can slip on the shaft. Just because it looks closed, it doesn't mean it actually is. Called the local chandler and they didn't have a replacement handle, so it'll have to be a spanner, for now...

So, an hour or two later than planned, we raised anchor, and got our sails up. I tensioned the halyard quite taught, maybe too much? Coming around onto sail, we had an accidental crash gybe, in maybe 15kts of wind. The halyard snapped, and the mainsail dropped. Oops!


One of the lazy jacks (the lines that hold up the sail cover) was on its last legs, and gave out too. Tied up the bundle of mainsail as best as I could, with the boat's jack-lines.


And we sailed round to Falmouth on the genoa. Got some wind-shadow towards the South-West corner of the island, but then things really picked-up offshore, to the point that we were thinking about reefing it.

Tacked back (far too soon), had a far tamer beat back to the shore, and then motored the last little bit into Falmouth. We'll have to visit Ashley, the local rigger again, ASAP.

Time on the water: 4:17
Distance covered: 19.3nm
Avg speed: 4.5kts
Max speed: 9.0kts

Navionics Track

To Jolly Harbour

We've finished all our repairs in Falmouth (for now), and decided to head round to Jolly Harbour to provision for a trip up to Barbuda. We also need to take collect some original registration paperwork from the broker, and get it couriered off to the registry.

We haven't been back to Jolly Harbour, since we left for Falmouth with Alexis, over a month ago.

Had intended to sail on Friday, but the day quickly got away from us, and it was mid-afternoon by the time we were ready. So, first thing on Saturday morning, instead.

"First thing" ended up being close to midday, after a lazy morning, a nice swim to Pigeon beach, etc.

Put up sails in the corner of the bay, where Ocean Star was anchored, and the Saturday morning dinghy races were kicking off, as usual.


Easy sail around the South West corner of the island, well clear of Cades Reef, broad reaching most of the way.


When we arrived in Jolly Harbour, there was only one other boat anchored there, our brokers, we virtually had the bay to ourselves. We have hundreds of litres of undrinkable water, so set to giving the boat a good soapy wash-down. It hasn't looked that sparkly, since we got it.


By the time we were done, the anchorage had filled up with charter catamarans. So much for the solitude...

Time on the water: 2:44
Distance covered: 15.7nm
Avg speed: 5.8kts
Max speed: 12.1kts

Navionics Track

Test Sail

Our rig has always felt a little loose to us, Alexis, and other sailors that have looked at our boat.

So, after they replaced some of our running rigging for us, we got Ashley from A&A Rigging out for a test sail, on Monday morning.

We went fast and hard upwind, to load up the rig. Put some pressure on the backstays (about 1200-1400lb), and found the right running backstay tension to support the mast and stop it from pumping, without flexing it.

Repeated this on the opposite tack. Ashley, being a racing sailor (and Olympian, at that), is used to a genoa that can tack (without an inner-forestay in the way), so there was some confusion when we went about.

Ran back towards Falmouth, for running, about 800-1000lb of backstay pressure seems to be enough.

Ashley agreed that our staysail inner forestay tension was a little loose, and instructed us on tightening it. But that's a task for another day, the staysail has to come down and the furler partially disassembled, to get to the turnbuckle to tension the stay.

Time on the water: 1:38
Distance covered: 5.4nm
Avg speed: 3.3kts
Max speed: 10.2kts

Navionics Track

Green Island

If Antigua is Spanish word for ‘ancient’ then this strange dog-shaped island off Antigua’s eastern edge sure surly be called Perro Antigua. We dropped anchor near the snout. It’s head and back are protected by a large reef, the neck and tummy have soft sand beaches. The tail and arse are exposed to of whatever the Atlantic throws at it. The isle is both lush and arid. There is but one constant here and is the wind.

Within minutes of our arrival we are greeted by Roberto aka ‘Robby’ who lives on his Island named Full Moon. He comes here for one reason — to kite-surf.

Not much in the way it paths oh the island so we rambled around along the edges, across beaches though lush mangroves and up jagged cliffs. Lizards, snakes, birds and crabs appear to be the main residents. Small black tips patrol the reefs. The walk around the tail of the dog — marked as on map as ‘Man of War Point’ and is somewhat treacherous and wildly beautiful.

A large fat nesting gull told me bugger off and by the end of the exploration we were scuffed and scratched.

On our last night there, Robby made us dinner aboard Full Moon. It’s been his home for the last five years and he’s super happy about it and life in general. He makes a mean Kombucha and a delicious vegan pasta with fresh chilli, garlic, onion and olive oil. As we are planning a trip to Barbuda soon he showed us us his map marked with preferred anchorages and routes through the reefs.

His plans for hurricane season aren’t clear. Ether sail back to Italy, or head south or just stay put and keep kiting.

The next morning as we headed to Falmouth we watched Robby skilfully raise his main and two fore sails, lift anchor and zig zag through the corals and out to sea without burning a drop of diesel. That man loves the wind. Where he is going isn’t clear but probably involves harvesting mangos and getting more garlic.

We are back in Falmouth for a few days to settle with rigging company, harass the watermaker guy and find new starter batteries.

Time on the water: 3:15
Distance covered: 11.8nm
Avg speed: 3.6kts
Max speed: 10.9kts

Navionics Track

To Green Island

Now that we're not waiting on anyone any more, we could get out of Falmouth, and go for a sail to Green Island. Bought some fresh fruit and veg, and headed out.

Pulling up the mainsail in front of a crowd of optimists and lasers, about to start their Saturday race. Wind was forecast gusts up to 27kts, so went with the 2nd reef on main and the staysail.

Fairly big seas, and plenty of flying fish. Even with the 2nd reef, we were flying at around 7kts, most of the time. Was a fairly easy sail down, although the wind and current were pushing us harder than we thought, so we tacked too soon, and had to take a second tack out.

Ran down-wind through the channel, beyond York Island, on the same route as last-time, and anchored off Green Island west beach. An Italian neighbour came to say hi, so we invited him over for dinner.

Lovely to be out on the water again, after a week at anchor.

Time on the water: 4:04
Distance covered: 18.7nm
Avg speed: 4.6kts
Max speed: 13.1kts

Navionics Track