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Waltzing to Antigua

1600 miles/9 days

So, a few years ago Nancy and I thought we could add a bit of spice and sophistication to our lives, (I know, as if, right?) and take ballroom dance lessons. After a few trips to the podiatrist we decided sailing would be safer. Anyway, the takeaway was that all the dances had variations of quick and slow step patterns. Our trip down was waltz-like: Quick-quick-quick, slow-slow-slow, quick-quick-quick.

Nancy getting her land legs

Our crewmate Rick arrived in the middle of the night before a Saturday, 12 November departure. We had moved to the fuel dock at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club to top off the tanks and they let us stay the night. Dark and early Saturday we cast-off the lines and headed out to sea, along with dozens of other boats. By midnight we had 18kts of wind abaft the beam and were flying. Unlike last year when we wore our fuzzies most of the way to Antigua, this year we were in shorts from the first to last. Over the next 72 hours we covered over 600 nautical miles! We even had a reef in the main much of the time, and the staysail some of the time. I’ll tell you it was quite exhilarating to be making such good time. We three rotated 4 hour watches so sleep wasn’t a problem, usually. Meals were good and hot and we sat in the comfort of the doghouse and watched the waves go by.

Rick wondering what just happened
Night skies underway. Amazing.
Nancy tried her luck with pictures of planets. Using her iPhone13. Kept her amused for an entire watch.

We had a bit of drama when I discovered one of the forepeak cowl vents had been swept away and the forepeak was flooded up to my chest. The seas were on the beam and we were taking considerable water over the bow, but the motion was smooth and we were fast! Anyway we set up the manual pump and got the water out, and back to normal. Of course this all occurred in the middle of a black night. Everyone did a great job and we all slept well.

By Wednesday morning the wind had veered around to the south so we gybed and continued to the east. The wind continued to drop and we loitered around until early afternoon before adding the engine to the mix to get our easting in a timely fashion. Over the next three days the wind never got above 10kts, but never too far ahead of the beam so it was comfortable but not as quick. Wednesday-150nm, Thursday-175nm, Friday-182nm. But all was not boredom and slow going: Nancy hooked a 28lb 53″ Wahoo that we dragged in and filleted. At that point Rick decided he would be most useful driving the boat, so Nancy and I humped that fish around and got it all vacuum bagged. We also used the calm weathertime to do some laundry and general housekeeping. Ah, the ease and relaxation of cruising!

Wahoo! Our big wahoo. Still feeding us in Antigua
Wahoo spring rolls for lunch… again?

Many of the boats followed the wind to the south but we were worried about hitting the tradewinds too far to the west and getting pounded. We stayed fairly far North and worked our way SE about 130-140 true. Nancy also decided, based on the forecast, to go as far East as 60.3 degrees rather than the standard 62 degrees. This turned out to be a brilliant strategy, for when we hit the Trades at 26 degrees North and 60.3 degrees West they were aft of the beam and we again took off! We turned South and Katie bar the door! We saw a lot of 10kts with 18kts of wind. Two more 200nm days. Lots of squalls, but most of them we spent more time reefing for than the duration or strength of them. Again, we were back to exhilarating sailing. Sunday night and Monday we changed sails more than the rest of the trip combined, but we were ready to get here and wanted to arrive in daylight so we kept our speed up right into Falmouth Harbor, racing a final squall as we dropped the hook.

Waltzing on the foredeck

All in all it was a milk run of a sail. We traveled some 1600 miles, 200 more than the boats that turned south early, but we arrived ahead of most of them, with far less wear and tear on boat and body. We averaged better than 7.5 knots for the trip. Nancy’s navigation and weather analysis was great, Rick did yeoman’s duty on watch and in the galley and I just tried to keep everything working. You can’t have a better ocean passage than that, really. Monday evening cocktails for everyone!

Arrival in Falmouth (thanks Rick for the photo)
No end to the dramatic views
Laundry day in Zephyr world

After scrubbing the boat from top to bottom, inside and out, pulling all the soaked gear out of the forepeak (affectionately known as the attic) washing it, drying it and repacking it, laundering all the linens and sea clothes, making water and charging batteries (aah more of the relaxing idylls of the cruising lifestyle), putting up sun awnings and loading trash into the dinghy we ventured ashore to clear customs Tuesday afternoon. While Nancy and Rick watched from the safety of the Galley Bar, I wrestled that behemoth bureaucracy into submission in only an hour. Then we were free to relax!

Maintenance day in Zephyr world
Finally, a day to take a hike… English Harbor
More English Harbor
Still practicing our selfies.
Easily 6 inches… what are they going to become?

Rick stayed with us for a couple of days and got to participate in some of the SaltyDawg activities, then headed home on Thanksgiving. A Big thank you to Lisa for letting us have him for a couple of weeks. Since then we have been doing our weight workouts in the morning so Mallory will be pleased. We do a bit of maintenance, like rebuilding the main halyard winch relay, so it turns ff when you want, changing fuel filters, forward bilge pump rewire. Little stuff like that. Then we are free to roam the island as we will. There have been a few Dawg events we have attended and we’ve made some friends among the crowd.

Salty Dawgs gathering for another great party
New friends AmyMarie and Roy (and Phil and Roy)
This is what happens when you have too many cocktails
Happy to have the babies cast off
This view though
More Salty Dawgs at the Shirley Heights bash

Anyway, Nancy’s sister Sue is coming next week so we’re hanging around English Harbor until then. The Super Yachts are in town for their show this week. Lots of glitz and shine, but very little soul. Check out the new Book Nook! And don’t forget to subscribe.

They do create something spectacular

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  1. jennifer


    Very lovely indeed! looking forward to more adventures. How funny that I mentioned Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain in one comment of your blog the other day and I just found out today that you have the book in your book nook… I definitely want to pay you and Nancy a visit sometime!

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