Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Passage to Antigua

After a hectic morning getting fuel, checking the rig aloft and other last minute chores, Moonshadow finally put Portsmouth astern and found the Atlantic Ocean.  We followed a route that took us East South East for a point south of Bermuda.  Our first Atlantic Ocean sunrise brought with it the Western wall of the Gulf Stream with almost 20 degrees warmer water and seas a bit higher but not as bad as expected.  

We had some great sailing but once across the 50 mile wide Gulf Stream, the wind eventually got so light we had to motor sail.  These conditions continued for a couple of days until nearly south of Bermuda, when we finally secured the engine to conserve fuel.  Our third day brought temperatures warm enough to stow away all the fleece and everybody was finally wearing shorts.  We also brought aboard another crew member that Alli named Bernard.  He was a beautiful 48 inch Mahi Mahi who wouldn't stand watch so we ate him.  Bernard fed the ship's company for three meals when we tossed the  rest overboard because the fridge had quit.
Two significant breakdowns included the refrigerator which the Skipper got running but not for keeps.  Eventually, it quit for good, and remains down while we await a new motor.  The other problem which threatened our ability to make fresh water was the generator which shut down when the raw water impeller failed.  Fortunately, we carry spares for these kinds of things so we soon had the generator up and running so we could make fresh water.

The crew got some valuable experience putting in reefs in the mainsail and then later shaking them out.  We learned some of Moonshadow's preferences in different conditions.  Reaching in 23 knots with steep beam seas we found the best combination was a full genoa and no mainsail at all, discovering it added a knot to our speed by just taking the mainsail down!

The crew also learned just how fun Moonshadow is to sail, taking turns hand steering as we rocketed south at 9 and 10 knots.  It was tough not to smile at times like this.

We also got reminders of what the ocean can dish out as we sailed south in Easterly winds with an Easterly sea that built to 8 to 10 feet.

Every once in a while, a wave would board Moonshadow and wash everything in it's path with a warm saltwater bath.  Some of the seas would launch things below decks from their "secure" stowage place.  One such missile killed Deb's iPad...
As we neared Antigua the wind eased enough to shake out a reef,  but the normally simple job became a bit more complicated when the mainsail tried to throw a full batten overboard.  More able crew work by Alli and Ed had us back in business in no time.

A big event for anybody is crossing into the tropics  so we had a contest to see who could guess the time we would cross the Tropic of Cancer and finally be officially in the tropics.  

Ed won and will take home a treasure chest of momentos donated by all the crew.

Of course we will all keep many memories of the passage, especially the raw beauty of the open ocean.

Anticipating our arrival in a foreign country, the Skipper quickly made our Antigua courtesy flag while the rest of the crew watched the horizon for signs of land.

Even before arriving near Barbuda, an island north of Antigua, the water got shallower and the water turned a beautiful turquoise.

The anticipation was high as we hoisted the Antiqua flag, the Quarantine flag and our San Diego Yacht Club burgee.
Finally, Alli sighted the island we'd been aiming for over the last nine days.  LAND HO!

Suddenly the ten day passage was over and we were back in civilization clearing through customs at Jolly Harbour, Antigua, and buying fuel and ice.

But first a swim in the warm, warm lagoon...

And a well deserved dinner ashore!
We made it!  

Now it is just a matter of getting used to "island time".

 Cheers from Moonshadow!

1 comment:

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