The long awaited weather window is due to arrive on Monday, giving a few days of calmer winds and hopefully some north-easterlies to enable us to sail south east towards Antigua. The waves and swell are still quite high, being over 2 metres but we really do need to utilise this brief spell of better weather to get going.
Although we hoped to meet up with Paul and Debra on ‘Tumi’ if we delay in the British Virgin Islands it might mean a more difficult passage south east and if we get ‘stuck’ in the BVIs I would have to pay for 2 LIAT flights to Antigua and back. So, we plan to clear out from Culebra tomorrow morning, although if we were stopping at the United States Virgin Islands we wouldn’t need to clear out here. If the weather continues to be kind, we will probably stop along the way between Anguilla and Antigua but only once we have made the easting, as that is the most difficult part of our passage.
If we arrive in Antigua earlier than planned that’s no hardship, as we would love some time in Deep Bay, one of our favourite anchorages before moving around to Falmouth to get safely anchored. I’m leaving ‘Beyzano’ in Rob’s capable hands for over a fortnight whilst I fly back to the UK and because I return on the same flight as our friend, Steve, all the cleaning, cabin preparing and fresh provisioning will be Rob’s domain. Luckily for me, he’s totally domesticated ☺
Last night 10 of us had dinner in the Dinghy Dock as ‘Smart Move’ returned from Puerto Rico with Robyn’s dad and aunt, Don and Glenys on ‘Agua Therepy’ sailed in yesterday and ‘Pelerin’ are moving on today. Barry and Robyn will be in Antigua in April, so we will definitely see them again before they head for Grenada for hurricane season. We hope to see Louise and Colin again in the Chesapeake or Bahamas but Don and Glenys are shipping their boat back to Spain from Florida in June, so it is unlikely we will meet them again. Such is the cruising life and Facebook enables us all to stay in touch, wherever we are.
We tempted fate by cleaning our watermaker with the manufacturer’s special fluid whilst in the marina and it naturally stopped working! ‘Leave well alone’ and ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ come to mind. So for the very first time we bought water to fill up 4 20-litre containers, which we borrowed from Colin and Louise on ‘Pelerin’. Ours are already full and deep in the locker so we appreciated being able to use theirs. Fortunately the Dinghy Dock Restaurant has a water hose just next to the dock, so we could fill the containers whilst they were still in the dinghy, as they weigh a ton when full. The water cost just over 4 British pence a litre but it means we aren’t in a rush to get to Jolly Harbour in Antigua now as the 2 full tanks are good for another 3 weeks.
Getting US dollars from the local ATM and one in Puerto Rico has proved troublesome, as none of our debit cards seem to work in some bank’s ATMs. We had to go into the bank so they could make a quick phone call. After that they happily gave us the cash.
With our big change of plans for this summer’s cruising, we have a lot to do. Getting Explorer Charts for the Bahamas isn’t that easy as the company is based in Canada but the charts are highly recommended. We need courtesy flags for Cuba, Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas plus several guides for the ICW in Florida for July and the Northern section, for next year. We also have to source a Navionics Plotter Chip for the USA and American cooking gas bottles, as we won’t be able to fill ours there.
We have been scouring the Internet for all the information we can find on Customs & Immigration procedures, marina, health insurance for the USA and all their regulations. So many rules! Stickers for the boat detailing rules about illegal drugs, disposing of garbage and wiring up holding tanks, lifejackets for the dinghy, etc etc. Apparently the officials can be very strict and we’d rather avoid any issues. We have a further problem in that our depth, 7 feet, will preclude us from many anchoring spots in both the Bahamas and along the ICW, so we will need to carefully plan our route, timings and where we can anchor for the night. We also have to allow for tides again, something we have pretty much ignored for well over 3 years! Plus the cold weather will require warm clothing again, perhaps, horror of horrors, gloves and thermals.
Despite all this we are really looking forward to sailing through the Bahamas in June and spending July cruising the ICW north to Deltaville, on the Chesapeake. In the autumn we will move south when it gets too cold, spend some time in Florida, then the Bahamas and Cuba before returning to the USA. Ideally we want to be in Maine for the summer, just moving south again when it gets cold.
So tomorrow we will leave lovely Culebra and bash against the wind and waves for a few hours to overnight in St Thomas. Then early Monday on through the British Virgin Islands to leave from Virgin Gorda towards Anguilla. During the night the wind is forecast to become more north easterly, which suits us better. We might spent a couple of days in Anguilla but could decide to spend another day sailing before it turns easterly and hope to be nearing Antigua by then. That’s the plan anyway!
Update Sunday: Plan has already changed and we leave for the BVIs at dawn tomorrow. Tuesday evening we will leave the BVIs to head east and south.