Fuelling Up

We spent a couple of weeks in Falmouth. Generally taking things easy and trying not to spend too much time watching the news about the Ukraine invasion (probably the reason I'm a year behind on these blog posts).

We hiked from Pigeon Beach to Nelson's Dockyard, past the old Forts Culyer and Berkeley. This is a easy hike with a spectacular view over both harbours. But also exposed to the sun, and hot.


Sailboats may sound like the perfect green travel vehicle, but we burn diesel too. Motoring is the easiest and safest way to get in and out of anchorages. And the wind isn't always favourable. Sometimes if you want to get somewhere it makes more sense to motor than wait for a perfect weather window.

We also run a generator occasionally, we don't quite have enough solar power to keep up with all the electrical usage. So, yeah, we need diesel.

With our large tanks, at our current usage rates, we only need to fuel up every couple of years. Some countries only allow commercial vessels access to duty-free fuel, or have other difficult restrictions. So, when it comes to fuelling up, we can wait until we get to an island that will give us a good price. Antigua is usually a reasonably-priced place to fuel up. As a foreign vessel, one can buy duty-free fuel there. The fuel docks are plentiful and easy to get to, and the quality is good.

We could predict that the Ukraine invasion would send fuel prices soaring, so we tried to fill up before this happened. We didn't want to be rushed, filling up, so we waited a few weeks for an alongside berth to open up on the Antigua Yacht Club marina, for a day. They'd bring a fuel cart to us, and we could fill at our leisure, filtering the fuel on the way into the tanks.


But the marina was packed with super-yachts, and all the convenient berths would be immediately taken by these massive and well paying guests. One of them turned out to be Amadea, a Russian vessel fleeing sanctions. She filled up in Antigua, went dark on AIS, and turned up in Fiji a month later, where she was arrested and handed over to the US.

We stopped waiting for a berth, and booked a fuelling at the fuel dock in English Harbour. Mark came along to give us a hand with the tight manoeuvring and docking. On the way out of Falmouth Bay, a hat flew overboard, and Clare dived in to save it. So, we got to practice a man (and hat) overboard drill in the middle of a tight busy channel. Both were picked up, and we continued round the corner. We were now a little late and had to wait for the dock to empty, so did some loops in the bays.

The fuelling itself was simple enough, and we were able to go faster than we thought, through the Baja fuel filter.

But things got busy. Another yacht rafted up alongside us to fuel. And our old broker, who was relocating back to South Africa, came by to sell us their folding bicycle and Iridium Go. They gave Mark a lift back to Falmouth. These distractions meant we were a little under-crewed and overfilled a tank by mistake, causing a (very small) spill. Exactly the kind of rush we were trying to avoid, a good lesson. It was almost entirely contained, on deck, at least.

At this point the diesel price was going up twice a day (when it had previously changed once a month), so we got caught in their IT crisis. They had offered us the morning's price, but charged us the afternoon's price. This took some time to sort out, but they made good on their offer.

We motored back to Falmouth, and anchored off Pigeon Point.

Time on the water: 4:42
Distance covered: 6.2nm
Avg speed: 1.3kts
Max speed: 9.6kts
Crew: John, Stefano, Clare, Mark

Navionics Track


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