Passage to Antigua

We planned to leave as early in the morning as possible from Bermuda to avoid a front that was nearing our location. Because of this we arrived at Bermuda customs in St. George’s at 8am. As we pulled Boundless up to the customs dock, an official was on the dock, which was odd. He offered to catch our line and said “we have a problem, and unfortunately, our problem is your problem”. They were unable to clear us from customs because the customs building was locked and they did not have the key. We waited 2 hours for someone to scooter to Hamilton to get a key before we were able to check out and leave Bermuda, but now much closer to the incoming front.

The approaching front

This was unfortunate because in the early afternoon of that day the front caught up with us and it started raining. We were prepared for rain – each of us has foul weather gear consisting of a heavy rain jacket, boots, and a bib. But this proved to not be enough with the rain lasting 2 and a half days. Everyone was constantly damp and in a grim mood.

Our mood was not helped by the fact that a day into the trip the rope clutch, a device that holds a line in place for the main sail, broke. This caused us to have to use a winch to hold that line. This made furling and unfurling the main sail harder. For any non sail-boaters, furling is making the sail smaller. We do this for safety and comfort when the wind increases. Winds during storms are very unpredictable, heavy one minute and blowing hard the next. So, there was a lot of furling and unfurling.

The broken rope clutch

Then about 2 days in, the electric main sail furler got jammed, so to furl in the main we had to leave the somewhat drier cockpit to go on the deck and crank it in or out manually. All of this was made worse because the wet ropes in the winches (pully-like cylinders that take the tension off lines making it easier to pull them in and let them out) would often slip, usually causing a line to be released a few inches, but at the worst, letting go of the line altogether. Things were wet, windy and we were all getting cranky. This video gives you a sense of the situation we where in during the first few days of the voyage.

After two and a half days, the rain stopped and the trip became much more bearable. We still had the problems with the main sail lines, but it was much easier to deal with them when it was not a constant downpour. As we continued south the temperature continued to get warmer until we were all wearing shorts and t-shirts.  Another effect of Caribbean weather is that occasionally small storms would pop up, only to dissipate shortly after. Because we were so sick of rain by this point we made sure to dodge every storm that we saw on radar, and where able to dodge every one of them. After my Mom’s success catching a fish on the last passage, my Dad decided that he would take a second shot at fishing. Within 20 minutes of putting out a line he had caught a Mahi which we had for dinner.

The Mahi that we caught

On the fourth day, Erin and my Dad were having a particularly hard time furling the main and the boat was rocking around a lot in the waves. A particularly large wave caused the boat to quickly heal well over and the boom slammed to the other side. This violent action caused a window screen with a heavy wood frame in my mom’s room to hit her head, giving her what we think was a mild concussion. While at first this had a large effect on her (headaches and dizziness), she laid on the couch for a while and had to promise to not do anything too taxing when on watch; and by the end of the passage she was completely recovered.

The family enjoying a meal together after the front passed

By the Fifth day our family had gotten used to our watch/sleep schedule of 3-4 hours on and off, and I, feeling well rested, decided to listen to a podcast during a 4-hour period that I could have been sleeping. I later regretted this, as during the remaining afternoon of the 5th day and the early morning of the 6th day I was finding it increasingly difficult to stay awake, until my Mom told me that she was willing to let me sleep during half of 2 of our watches. By late morning of the 6th day we could see the Caribbean islands, and continued to watch them get bigger until the early afternoon when we anchored in Antigua, with the total travelling time of the passage being around 6 and a quarter days.

Our view of Antigua upon arrival

8 Replies to “Passage to Antigua”

  1. Oh that sure was an exciting passage to write about, Andy. That picture of the front coming in is really frightening! Hope that doesn’t happen again but enjoyed seeing your smiles after the rain.

  2. Andy, Great blog entry. I was watching your track and noticed the major jogs – no I know the reason! I’m glad your mom healed up – pretty scary getting beat up so far from shore.
    Thanks for sharing the trip with all of us voyeurs!

  3. The adventure continues! Glad you are safe, have a Merry Christmas in the islands! We had snow last week, it is in the 60s today.

  4. Well done Sharpe’s! You continue to amaze me with your skills, your discipline and patience! What an incredible journey you are on; I love reading your posts. Merry Christmas!

  5. What a voyage! Thank you guys for sharing this… really cool to have little glimpses into your experiences. And happy holidays!

  6. Finally caught up on the blog – what a crazy journey! I’m ready for Erin’s next photo blitz. Hope your noggin is better.

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