Fiu in Adriatic
From St Martin to Antigua - April 19 – May 2, 2004
Leaving St Martin we sailed the 20 miles or so across to St Barthelemy (St Barth) an island which retains signs of its past Swedish influence, such as the name of its capital, Gustavia. (The island was sold by the French in 1784 to Sweden and bought back 1878).
We overnighted in a small bay NW of the island (Anse de Colombier) and the next morning we sailed down to Gustavia for a quick walk around to have a look at this quaint place, and a coffee and an ice cream. Later that afternoon lifted anchor and headed out for a night’s sailing down to Antigua.
So, after a month of hard work (yes I know that some of you don’t equate West Indies cruising to hard work! But try to do some form of physical activity sitting inside a sauna…and you will know how it feels like) our 2004 journey really begins at the end of this Antigua racing week when we’ll seriously start our 15,000 mile journey toward Australia.
We recovered Fiu on the 1th May and sadly the person who charterered the boat during Antigua Sailing week had not treated the boat with respect and some damage to sails, the stern and the interior was evident. But that’s all in the past, we have repaired most and have finally settled into life onboard. We did have the opportunity during Antigua sailing week to spend a day or two as crew onboard and it was a great experience to see 200+ sailing boats participating in the race.
The wind during the week steadily increased and each day had its share of breakages (even dismasting) and collisions so all in all it seems that Fiu escaped lightly from the carnage of the Antigua Sailing Week.
On Saturday May 1, Sonny our new crew member joined us in Jolly Harbour, Antigua. This was Sonny’s first real sailing experience and he had the chance to not only get acquainted with sailing offshore and life onboard a yacht but also to discover the islands in the West Indies from Antigua to St Lucia. Sonny lives in Canada with his wife and two daughters but is originally from Serbia.
So on Sunday May 2 with three reefs in the mainsail and a nr 4 genoa we set off with strong winds of 25 knots to 35 knts and more under squalls. After a brief stop in front of Dickenson Bay (one of the Sailing week’s stopovers) for lunch and a quick swim, we continued to North Sound. Some navigation has to take place in order to enter the Sound due to the many reefs although everything is much easier these days with the use of GPS. We eventually anchored up in front of Bird Island where a few other boats also were stopped.
We still had plenty of time in the afternoon to get into the dinghy and go over to the nearest reef for a swim. Susan was nervous swimming in these waters and when she saw (at least she is convinced she saw) a small shark coming close for a look (& a bite?) she had had enough and climbed back into the dinghy. The others followed suit soon thereafter. Back to the boat and a rest before we then went to the Bird
There was a small group of locals enjoying themselves in the water by the beach – drinking rum punch and being happy. We walked around a bit and even saw a snake… And Ivo “picked” three baby cacti to have onboard on his chart table (now installed in their very own homemade Dominican bamboo plant pot with sand and soil from Tobago Cays).
Overnight the wind picked up even more and it also began to rain under each squall. So in the morning after installing the furler (after racing week) we left this anchorage at about 11.30 am to aim for Guadeloupe. So here are now all the conditions reunited of what not to do when sailing in the Caribbean waters: Strong winds (now gusting up to 40knts), needing to exit the reefs with very poor visibility, and a late departure which in turn implies night arrival (also something highly discouraged in these waters). Off we go and of course at a crucial moment negotiating around some reefs, one of the heaviest squalls is over us with zero visibility and very strong winds. But with technology we manage and soon have the wind behind us and therefore easing the sailing. We still speed at 10+ knots but now its fun. We are aiming for Anse des Haies in the North western corner of Guadaloupe.
Next - Guadaloupe