Monday, April 28, 2014

Anchoring Fun in Deshaies

April 21st and 22nd.
I am sure all cruisers have had their anchoring challenges.  We experienced our own fun inDeshaies.   Below is the shortened version - believe it or not.  Immediately after some big excitement the second night, I wrote in detail - aka real time- all that we experienced.  However, I realized stories told in real time aren't always the best on a blog. 

The cruising guilds and fellow cruisers warned us that Deshaies is a notoriously tough anchorage.  Bad holding, winds the come screaming down the mountains in various directions causing boats to swirl around and drag anchor.  Ugh!

Day One -When we arrived, there was no wind.  None.  This meant boats were turned every different direction.  Question - which way do you anchor when it's the first time in an anchorage and all the boats are facing different directions?  We opted for the way we thought the prevailing wind would be from.  We got the anchor to set but when Tom dove on it he didn't like the look.  If we were to swing, it would probably come loose.  We reset on the far side of the field.  There was a cat sort of close by but the distance looked ok.  Nightfall and still little to no wind.  Middle of the night, rain but no wind.  Several glances out and we seemed ok.  4am'ish and time for another quick peek out the portlight to check our position....."Hum?  Wonder how we are doing in relation to that cat?"  I go out into the cockpit to find we are swinging very close to the cat!  We never hit but at one point I did fire up our engine just in case.  I stayed in the cockpit on anchor watch the rest of the night until morning.  My entertainment was watching boats swing every which way but loose.  It was crazy.

Day Two - The scream winds everyone talked about returned.  One good thing about this was at least everyone was facing the same direction.  Bad thing is screaming winds through an anchorage chuck full of boats.  21:30 we have remained set, however, I look out our portlight to see a boat with no lights dragging through the anchoring field.  There was no one onboard - no dinghy - they must be ashore.  A few yachts had high powered spotlights on it - us included.  VHF discussion between two boats about launching dinghies to go after it.  Wind is still screaming.  Awful sitting in the cockpit watching this boat drag!  Luckily it never hits any other boat.  Unluckily it never hits any other boat and is now dragging out towards rocks and/or open sea.  No sign of the dinghies that were going to go after it.  Horrible just watching her drag further and further out.  She was getting harder to see.  We can't take it.  We would want someone to do something if it was s/v Honey Ryder.  We decided to go after her.  As we launch our dinghy another goes by on their way out to see what can be done.  We grab handheld VHF, 200 ft of line, high powered spotlight, headlamps, knifes, gloves and our foulies.  The yacht next to us helps us find the way towards the drifting boat by shining their spot in that direction.  When we reach her there are two French guys already onboard messing with the anchor.  A Canadian is also onboard.  He found the ignition key but can't get the boat started.   He thinks the battery is dead.  The Frenchies dump out all the chain. They think 300ft.  They also set the secondary anchor.  She is just off rocks at the mouth of the harbor and seems to be holding.  The Frenchies can't get her started either.  We all decide that is the best we can do and head back to check our boats.  I go on anchor watch.  NO WAY I am sleeping below tonight!  1:15am.  Spanish dinner party on boat next to us breaks up.  One couple is dinghying back to their boat when their outboard quits.  The screaming winds start taking them quickly towards sea.  I watch closely.   Luckily they get the oars going and reach their boat on the far side of the field after some powerful rowing.  I dose a bit and then wake up to check our position.  We seem to be fine with boats on both sides and behind.  Whew!  A little later I hear very loud halyards banging, very close and look forward to see a boat very close to us.  It has drug down towards us.  The guy onboard is up messing with the loud halyards.  He doesn't seem too worried about the fact that he is slowly dragging - halyards take priority!  Finally he messes with the anchor and goes below.  BELOW!  I watch for some time.  He seems to be reset.  I set an alarm - 15 mins and then check.  He is still set.  So are we.  20 mins - still set.  30 mins, 45 mins and then 1 hour.  This continued through the night.  Finally morning came.  We made coffee and pulled the anchor up and headed south down the coast.  Enough anchor fun for now.    

Ok.  Not really short but not real time either.  Hey!  A lot happened each night!        

Antigua to Guadeloupe

Monday, April 21st
We left Antigua and sailed the 45 nautical miles south to Guadeloupe.  We had winds 13-15 and then squalls as we got closer to Guadeloupe.  We saw gusts to 21 but it wasn't too bad since we adjusted our sail set early.  We anchored in Deshaies.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Classics Week 2014 - Lady in the Rigging

One of the "events" on Thursday evening was a acrobatic performance in the rigging of the classic 1936 yacht The Blue Peter.  Huh?  I know.  I said the same thing.

Turns out The Blue Peter lost it's mast during last year's Classics Race Week.  This was some sort of dedication/performance/entertainment.  Okay.  This I got to see.  At 8pm we headed down the dock to The Blue Peter.  

There were a few lights placed on the dock and shining up into the rigging when we got down there.

This gal suddenly came out of the boat in a sparkly leotard and quickly shimmied up a halyard. Now when I say quickly, I mean quickly.  A monkey in the zoo couldn't have done it faster.  She then proceeded to preform a routine that would rival any Cirque du Solei act - sort of her own Cirque du Solei Old Boat Rigging act if you will.  No net, no safety line, no assistance. And she was no anorexic, teenage gymnast either.  She was a normal, fit, healthy size woman.  Perhaps she was a carnie in her previous life?  Or a Romanian Olympic gymnast, teammate and BFF to Nadia Comaneci - remember her?

Anyway, she did some simply amazing moves.  We happened to be standing on the dock by several fellow cruisers during all of this.  It didn't take long for the smartass comments to start flying - quietly among us only.  One cruising guy said "Wow.  Amazing.  Now quick, someone send her up a screwdriver so she can fix the windvane."  Another said "Send her up some LED's.  Hey, do you think she will come to my boat and change the masthead light?"  Still another said "Yeah, that's great and all but can she tie a bowline."   That last one might have been a female cruiser.  After the performance, one cruising gal said "Now I am all fired up to go up our mast tomorrow and fix...whatever."  I added "In your sparkly leotard?" And her husband said "Oh Yeah!"  Cruisers!

Classics Social

Sabrina with Anne s/v Receta and author of "Spice Necklace" and various other books and articles

Originally we were not going to stay in Antigua for Classics Week.  However, more and more cruisers kept arriving in the anchorage and telling us "You HAVE to stay for classics.  It's so much fun."  And they were right.
Baxter, Molly, Sabrina, Tom, Diane, Ric
The best part was all the cruisers we met.  Many we hear each moring on the SSB Coconut Telegraph but have never actually met in person until last week Classics.  We also met many seasoned cruisers that have been at this for awhile and many who we will continue to see down island as we sail south.  We even met fellow Caliber 40 owners Don and Heather on s/v Asseance.  Heather is going to take care of us newbies and get us two of the coveted "Mount Gay Race Week" red hats since we didn't stay until the end of race week.  Thanks Heather.  See you in St Lucia or Trinidad.

Each night there were parties ashore.  These were put on by the various sponsors meaning FREE food and drink.  Now what have I told you all in the past about cruisers and free stuff?  We LOVE free!  There was music, a raffle and a few giveaways.  Good times.

Classics Action

Day 1 racing action
Friday, April 18th we joined the crew of s/v Terrapin (Molly and Baxter) and hiked up to a point above Pigeon Beach to watch race one.  Soon several others joined us.  However, they weren't as forward thinking as us as none of them thought to bring lunch - roti's by Mama Roti and a crisp white to wash it all down.  Classics style - oh yeah!  The view was terrific and we got to see some good action.
Close crossing

Close for these type of yachts
J H2 boat and crowd favorite Rainbow with crew of like....18

More heading out to race

Pre-race maneuvers
Line honors and first in her class s/v Lilly Maid - yay!

Saturday, April 19th we again joined Molly and Baxter to watch the races.  This time we hiked over to English Harbor and then up and out to a very remote point between English and Falmouth Harbors to watch the action.  The wind was really blowing.  Later, we learned there were gusts to 35 out on the race course.  A couple of yachts retired due to breakages but everyone else hung tough and fought the good fight. We got to see some exciting action as we were right above mark three.  There were a couple of close calls rounding this mark.  Granted there usually are in yacht racing but these are not your average plastic fantastic sailboats.  Tacking a schooner or gaff rigged yacht with multiple sails is no easy feat.    
Day 2 the butterfly course - whitecap city

Wicked mark 3
Some rounded ok, some struggled
Even Rainbow was reefed down

Friday, April 25, 2014

sv Lilly Maid

Speaking of the characters of Classics week, we had a chance meeting with his Lordship and Captain of the s/v Lilly Maid.  Now he isn't really a Lord but he shared a very funny story about his yacht and a case of mistaken identity leading us to address him as "Your Lordship."

s/v Lilly Maid was built in 1904.  That is 100 years ago!  Michael (his Lordship) has owned her for 42 years.  He and his wife have cruised the world on her and raised 6 children aboard.  The last of whom looks to be about 13 and thus is still living aboard with his parents.  At this point we didn't know what the Lilly Maid looked like.  For some reason I suspected she might be bulky, old/worn out looking with tons of liveaboard "stuff" everywhere on deck and below.  We cruised by the next day in our dinghy to check her out.

I was so wrong.  She is spectacular.  Lean, sleek and sexy....and 100 years old.  WOW!  We immediately pledged our allegiance to her and crew, vowed to cheer loudly from the bluffs onshore.
She raced fantastically each and every day and won her overall vintage class with style, grace and grit.
  FYI - they weren't at the dock until late Thursday.  Prior to that, they were anchored out in the harbor with all us cruisers.  We met them Tuesday night.  When I asked why, his Lordship said "We'aven't a blood prop!"  Seems they lost their prop somewhere on the sail from Grenada to Antigua.  Stupid me - "How did you get in the harbor?"   "We SAILED in!" his Lordship said.  D-oh.  I felt like such and idiot but I kept going...."What are you going to do?"  "Well, I've a blood new one over in the dink just now.  I suppose now I've got dive under the boat and get the blasted thing on."  When we dinghy'd by the next day his wife was the one free diving under the boat to get it on!

Classic Characters

Classics week wasn't just about the beauty and racing.  Each and every yacht in the Classics Regatta has a story.  Or two!  We got to hear a few.  We witness a few on the dock and a few others on the race course.  We even got to met a few of the characters behind those stories.

Old Bob is a local favorite that has almost a cult following.  We saw the boat a few weeks before on a mooring in Jolly Harbor.  She/he didn't look so good.  But hard work, tons of elbow grease at the 11th hour and they put on quite a show.

Susie, owner of Spirited Lady of Fowey is another favorite each year.  We met her the week before.  Lovely lady.  She lives aboard her spirit of tradition class yacht full time with her two dogs.
Everyone seems to know Susie.  Her signature color is hot pink.  Her crew wears hot pink and she has a hot pink spinnaker.  Two snaps.
LOOK at the brightwork and she lives aboard full time.  wow!

Even kids got into the act.   Both of these yachts had kids aboard.  I am not sure if they live aboard full time but they did for race week and their sense of familiarity gives me the strong feeling that they are full time liveaboards and love it.  This kid raced.  I think the two girls on the other yacht raced as well.  

Speaking of kids.  The is s/v Grayhound.  It was build just two years ago.  It's a replica of a 1776 ship. 

It tacks like a river barge fully loaded with grain.  Day two of racing they dropped out because while the first yachts was crossing the finish line, s/v Grayhound had yet to make the second mark.  We heard them on the VHF to the race committee -  "We're going to call it a day and go in for gin and tonics but we have thoroughly enjoyed the day and we will be back out racing tomorrow!"  

Oh yeah....a young couple build this vessel, live aboard and have two very small kidos.  They were yah tall....I would guess 2 1/2 and maybe 4'ish.   
LOOK at the cockpit
The opposite of s/v Grayhound is s/v Whitehawk.  She is one fast lady.  She has a professional, full time crew of four.  FOUR!  Not one spec of rust, salt spray, corrosion, flake of varnish - nope, nada, zip, zero.  She is absolutely pristine 110%.   We had a chance meeting with the first mate a couple of days before the regatta started and then chatted with him several times during classics week.  When I commented on how perfect the yacht looked and that I needed to get busy on our brightwork, he brilliantly pointed out "Yeah but I get paid a ton of money to make her look like this and you don't."  Well there you go! 
The grandfather of race week Kenny Coombs died unexpectedly in Oct 2013.  There were many memorial tributes to him during 2014 Classics.  He was captain of s/v Adventuress.  Their crew raced with added purpose.  
Crew of s/v Adventuress pre-race crew meeting and pep talk
Last but not least, there was the tug Flying Buzzard.  

She acted as the race committee boat.  Good thing too as day two it was blowing stink out on the race course.  We got to meet and chat with the owners of this very unusual, liveaboard vessel.  They are equally unique as you might imagine.

Classic Week 2014

Spirit of Rani  -my fav - spirit of tradition class
We got our watermaker fixed within 24 hours.  However fellow cruisers convinced us that we HAD to stay for Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.  Ok - twist my rubber arm.

It was nearly a week of racing and events that celebrate classic yachts, vintage yachts and the spirit of tradition.  We saw some fantastic sailing vessels.
3rd day of racing, Guiding Light started taking on water - pumps were rushed out to the finish line for them
Would I ever want one of these beauties?  No way.

Owning a classic, vintage or a spirit of tradition is not only a labor of love but a total commitment - heart, soul, mind, body and cash to said boat.  No less than 150% on any of these babies!

Wait....that sounds like s/v Honey Ryder.  Ha!  No, these are non-stop brightwork and upkeep on top of normal, everyday boat maintenance and pop-up challenges.  Everyday, 365 days a year!  It makes me tired just thinking about it.

But man......where these something to behold.  See for yourself.  WARNING - many pics.  I tried to narrow it down but so much beauty.....  
This boat sailed THROUGH the anchor field everyday, tacking back and forth, practicing

Carriacou Sloops
Yes, THAT Ticonderoga!!!
Ohhh, the attention to detail!  Look!
Look closely at the cockpit - one of the prettiest on the Concours d'Elegance
And soooo many more.