Back to Falmouth

After a leisurely breakfast, it was time to head back down to Antigua. We had the full main up, and took an easy sail down towards the East coast of Antigua.

This was up into the wind, a little too tight to make the East side of the island on a single tack. We tried our best, including moving the traveller up and pulling the kicking strap very tight on a powered winch. Not something you'd normally do upwind, but every little bit of tension helps flatten the sail.

As we approached Antigua, there were some squalls and we started to get some serious wind, around the time we needed to take a couple of tacks. The wind then changed, and we continued round the island on a broad reach. There was a fair swell and we were rolling around a lot, as we came round the East side of the island.

Then we noticed that our (almost brand new) rigid vang had bent in two.


When sailing, the mainsail pulls the boom up. But when you lower it, you don't want the boom hitting the deck, so the rigid vang holds it up, cushioned on an internal spring.

We had bought the yacht with its original gas-strut sprung vang, but the struts had leaked out all their gas, and it wasn't holding the boom up any more. As a back-up, one can hold it up on the topping lift, a line from the top of the mast to the end of the boom.

When we asked the riggers in Grenada about re-gassing the vang, they'd suggested that we replace it entirely with a stainless steel sprung model, that would never need to be re-gassed. This seemed sensible, and they fitted one for us. Unfortunately they were very busy, and we weren't getting their full attention during the job, it was rushed just before we launched.

The main sheet is usually pulling the boom down, when sailing downwind. The lines around the vang (the kicking strap) also pull the boom down, compressing the vang's spring. All of the usual angles that the boom sits at should be within the range of travel of the vang's spring. But it must have been over-compressed when we were sailing tight upwind. This was the first time we'd given really tightened the kicking strap, since installing it.

We were under a full mainsail at the time, which was hauled up tight, so my best guess is that the vang wasn't fitted in the correct position, and should have been shortened or had its mounting moved further out on the boom, when installed. Of course, the riggers that fitted it disclaimed all responsibility. This is a good lesson to not just blindly trust professionals.

Aside from that it had been a lovely couple of days of sailing with Martin and Sofie, having an experienced crew to push the boat a bit. We limped back into Falmouth Harbour, and anchored in the muddy back of the bay. Our usual corner off Pigeon Point was pretty packed. They took us out for a fancy dinner in Nelson's Dockyard, and we did our best to forget broken rigging and the terrible war in Ukraine.

Time on the water: 7:35
Distance covered: 45.7nm
Avg speed: 5.8kts
Max speed: 9.9kts
Crew: John, Clare, Stefano, Martin, Sofie

Navionics Track

Barbuda for a night

To really stretch our legs a bit, we headed up to Barbuda for a night. We took the (safe) South route out of Nonsuch Bay, around Green Island, and up to Barbuda on a single tack.

Time on the water: 4:43
Distance covered: 34nm
Avg speed: 7.2kts
Max speed: 10.4kts
Crew: John, Clare, Stefano, Martin, Sofie

Navionics Track

Green Island

Sitting around Falmouth, Antigua, you see a lot of big super yachts. But also the odd tall ship, and this case tall ship cruise liner - the Royal Clipper.


When we bought Aweh, we weren't the only ones interested in the yacht. Martin and Sofie, were also looking for something similar. They made contact after the sale, and eventually met up with us in Antigua, to see it in person, and come for a few days sail.

To give them a feel for the boat, at anchor, and under sail, we planned a quick trip to Green Island, and then up to Barbuda and back if the weather would permit. This would double as a scouting trip for them to see Antigua's anchorages, for a bareboat charter they were planning with family.


They are both experience racing sailors, so it was fun to give them the reins and see them push things a little further than we would have. We had a good day out, and spent the night in Nonsuch Bay, behind Green Island.

It was interesting seeing Martin's perspective on the boat, he knew many things about it, and its relatives, that we didn't. We'd been looking at a lot of the same yachts, for sale, so there was a lot of boat talk. I have to imagine it was a little sad for them to come and see what may have been their next boat, if things had worked out differently. Writing a this a year later, they have now found their next boat, Marlin, and are busy refitting it.

Time on the water: 4:05
Distance covered: 19.7nm
Avg speed: 4.8kts
Max speed: 8.5kts
Crew: John, Clare, Stefano, Martin, Sofie

Navionics Track


Spent several days anchored off the Pigeon Island. The wind howled the first night, when we arrived. But after that, it calmed down and we enjoyed our time there.

I'm writing these after the fact, so most of that time was covered in the last post.

After saying goodbye to the Coxes, we resupplied, did pre-arrival COVID-19 tests and sailed up North to Antigua.


I don't remember much about the sail up, but it looks like we got good wind and had a nice easy sail. We went straight into our usual corner off Pigeon Beach, where we found Mark at anchor on "Pom".


Antigua was teeming with racing yachts for the RORC Caribbean 600. John and I went out on the dinghy to catch the winners streaking over the line with raised hulls, outside Freeman Bay.

Time on the water: 7:35
Distance covered: 53.0nm
Avg speed: 7.0kts
Max speed: 9.6kts
Max speed: 11kts
Crew: John, Stefano, Clare

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North to Pigeon Island

After one night in the corner you can anchor behind Îlet à Cabrit, we took one of the mooring balls the next day, closer to the shore and more protected.


We climbed to the fort on the hill, snorkelled the corals surrounding the anchorage, and braaied on the beach. The local tree lizards came down to hunt insects escaping the hot fire wood.


After a few days in the Saints, we decided to go up to Réserve Cousteau, by Les Ilets Pigeon off the West coast of Guadeloupe.

We picked a very windy day for the sail, so we used just a double-reefed mainsail. This carried us up the coast at a good 8kts, and the wind kept going most of the way to the Pigeon Islands. We only had to motor-sail a little towards the end.


We spent a few days in the Pigeon Island anchorage, snorkelling the Réserve Cousteau, and the turtles on the swimming beach.

Lexi and Clare opened the pop-up Flying Cloud Hair Salon for a couple of brief sessions on the back deck.

Finally, we had to say goodbye to the Coxes. They flew back home, and we prepared to head North to Antigua.

Time on the water: 3:44
Distance covered: 27.2nm
Avg speed: 7.3kts
Max speed: 9.5kts
Crew: John, Stefano, Clare, Rachael, James, Lexi

Down to the Saints

We picked up James, Rachael, and Lexi from the airport, and brought them back to a very rolly boat. The anchorage in Le Gosier doesn't have much protection from the swell, especially when you're at the back of it. This wasn't the easiest transition to boat life, and it took a couple of days to get their sea legs, but they fought through it.

While we still had a hire car, we went up to see the enormous waterfalls on Grand Carbet on the mountainous side of Guadeloupe, Basse-Terre.


The next day, we set off South for the Saints. It was a nice windy day, so we used a single reef on the mainsail, and sailed fast broad reach all the way down to the Saints.


There was quite a bit of swell, so it wasn't the smoothest ride, but once we were behind Îlet à Cabrit, in Îles des Saintes, we were nicely protected from the wind and swell. To protect the reefs, anchoring close to the island is prohibited, so we anchored off in deeper water, in the one corner where it is allowed.

Time on the water: 3:06
Distance covered: 22.6nm
Avg speed: 7.3kts
Max speed: 11.8kts
Crew: John, Stefano, Clare, James, Rachael, Lexi

Navionics Track


Yesterday, first thing in the morning, we went for a walk on the circular Trace du Vieux Fort trail. Starting out from Anse de Canot up North, along the coast, where we ran into some beach chickens. Down the Rivière du View Fort, past a very cute little bird hide, and then up the hills through farmland. The way back to the beaches took us through Trou du Massacre (which was home to more than one massacre, from what I read), and then back up the coast to our dinghy.


Doug flew home today, so we had to get him up to Pointe-à-Pitre, to the airport. His flight was in the afternoon, so we could sail up in the morning.

After breakfast and a last swim, we set off, at about 8am. Motored up to behind Îlet de Vieu Fort to raise the sails, into aligned wind and current. We were expecting some reasonable wind (>20kts) so we reefed the mainsail to the 1st reef, and used a reefed genoa. Caught the wind pretty soon, and we were zooming up to Pointe-à-Pitre at 9+kts on a beam reach. It was a lovely sail. Quite a bit of swell, to keep the helmsman bus. And, as we got into the shallow areas again, many fishing pots to dodge.


We were expecting some wind shadow as we approached the main island, but there wasn't much, so we finally dropped the sails behind Îlet du Gossier, to motor into Pointe-à-Pitre's main channel, to anchor somewhere near Pointe Fouillole.

This is rather a muddy anchorage, and we couldn't get a solid hook, so after another try on the other side of the channel (behind Îlet Cochon), we motored back out ot Îlet du Gossier.

This was a little less convenient for taxis and shopping, but the water is much clearer, and we're out of the commercial harbour area.

Time on the water: 2:43
Distance covered: 21nm
Avg speed: 7.7kts
Max speed: 11.7kts
Crew: John, Stefano, Clare, Doug

Navionics Track

Day Trip to Îles de la Petite-Terre

As I mentioned in the last post, we liked the look of Îles de la Petite-Terre, but we can't overnight there. Instead, we decided to visit the islands for a day trip, and see what they were like.

We set off first thing in the morning, motoring out of the bay and picking up some light wind to sail up North, under full sails. The wind wasn't ideal for getting to Petite-Terre, almost directly upwind of us, it would take a few tacks to get there. So when we were close to the closest point we'd reach, on the first tack, we motored in.

The entrance to the anchorage in Petite-Terre is a narrow, shallow channel through breaking waves. Once inside you can't anchor, only take a (reserved) mooring ball. So, we anchored to the south of the islands, somewhat protected from the northern swell, but not the eastern current and wind.

John, Clare, and Doug took the dinghy round the island to try to enter the channel and do some snorkelling, but the waves were far too big to enter by dinghy. All they could see were masts sticking up above the backs of waves.


Instead we all snorkelled on the reef on the South side of the South island. This wasn't a lazy swim, the currents were strong, and we were sometimes in breaking waves, dodging sharp rocks. But, this was easily the best snorkelling we've done so far in Guadeloupe. The fish were big and plentiful: we saw some barracuda and a reef shark on the prowl. Being a protected marine park obviously makes a huge difference to the reef life.

After that, we had a lazy sail back to Anse de Mays on just the Genoa, averaging 4kts, until the wind totally died and we motored in the last few miles.

Time on the water: 6:58
Distance covered: 35.7nm
Avg speed: 5.1kts
Max speed: 9.7kts
Crew: John, Stefano, Clare, Doug

Navionics Track


The Îles des Saintes, were very pretty, we've had a good couple of days anchored in the Terre de Haut bay. The town was a lot more touristy than we'd expected. During the day the streets bustle with day-visitors on golf-carts, scooters, electric bikes, and foot. We followed the crowds in the midday sun up to Fort Napoléon, to see the view. The fort museum was decent, and worth its fee just for the succulent garden.


The next day, first thing before breakfast, we climbed to the top of the hill next to us, Morne du Bois Joli. A steep climb up a concrete road got us to the fort at the top, quite quickly. We took a steep path down the other side, through the forest.


The bays around Terre de Haut have lots of good snorkelling. We went a little off the beaten track, diving on the rocks in the middle of the bay's northern entrance, by the channel markers.

We also tried Anse Marigot, which looked like it had amazing reefs, from Fort Napoléon. But they were less impressive when we dived them. There are more areas around the bay that we should explore, next time.

Next we thought we'd try another island with good snorkelling, ideally Îles de la Petite Terre, to the South East of Guadeloupe. But you have to book a mooring ball there long in advance, and we're a little big for their moorings. We'll have to visit it on a day trip, some time, and anchor off-shore.

Marie-Galante, on the other hand, is closer and has a range of good looking anchorages, so we set sail for Saint Louis, in the North West of it.

The wind was light, so we sailed with full sails, but it was coming almost directly from our destination, so it was going to take some big tacks. Towards the South end of the second tack, we lost wind entirely and decided to motor-sail in to our anchorage. We'd had a nice couple of hours sail, but we wanted to arrive well before sunset, to anchor.

As we were dropping anchor, the beautiful old tuna-fishing boat Biche that we'd seen in Terre de Haut pulled in along side us.

Time on the water: 4:38
Distance covered: 12.3nm
Avg speed: 4.6kts
Max speed: 8.6kts
Crew: John, Stefano, Clare, Doug

Navionics Track


To ensure we'd arrive in Guadeloupe with good light, we set alarms for 4am, and got started early. There was no wind in the anchorage, so we lifted the main sail at anchor. Predictions for the day were for light wind, with gusts in the low 20kts, so we used the full main sail.

We could see a couple of other boats in the anchorage lighting up, getting ready to make the same crossing.

Had to motor out a while, to catch the wind, but we caught it, and had a nice easy sail across the South side of the Dominica-Martinique channel, with relatively flat sea and light wind on a broad reach. The perfect time for breakfast and coffee. As we got further North we hit some squalls, sometimes speeding us along, but mostly just killing the wind entirely.


Once we got behind Dominica we were becalmed and had to motor up for a few hours. This was expected from the weather forecast, which predicted <5kts of wind behind the island. So we got to motor across an almost perfectly calm sea, alongside the green mountains of Dominica.

This was the perfect time to be visited by a pod of dolphins, which we could clearly see swimming under the surface. They didn't stick around for long, but we got a couple of pictures...


As we approached the Northern end of Dominica the wind started to pick up again, and we got a really nice fast sail up to Îles des Saintes, a steady >10kts reach.

As we approached them, we found ourselves in the middle of a field of fishing pot buoys. I thought we did a good job of dodging them, but I think we may have clipped the first one. Doug had been trolling a fishing line all day, which suddenly took off after we passed the first pots, and snapped the steel lure. He'd like to think he caught a massive fish that got away :)


After the pots, we passed through the tight passe des dames channel, and entered the Saintes. Found an anchorage in Anse Galet, next to the tall ship Eye of the Wind.

The rudder had also started feeling a bit weird after the fish pots, as if it was being pulled around by prop-wash while we are in reverse. It's possible we had a rope snagged around it. But by the time we got to anchor and could have a look, it was behaving normally again, and looked clean.

Checked in to Guadeloupe at Multi Services and went to bed early to catch up on sleep.

Time on the water: 10:26
Distance covered: 75.7nm
Avg speed: 7.2kts
Max speed: 10.9kts
Crew: John, Stefano, Clare, Doug

Navionics Track