After the nights of rocking and rolling in Nevis and St Kitts, we were glad to get going and leave them behind us. Our night sail was uneventful, just as we like them and we passed close to the lights of Statia on the west coast before heading towards Ile Fourchue and St Barts.
The wind had died overnight and was behind us but once dawn broke we put the sails up, turned the engine off and had a lovely passage with hardly another boat in sight. We contemplated stopping in Ile Fourchue, then St Martin but having had such restless nights recently we decided to continue past them as we weren’t 100% sure the other bays would be completely calm.
It was a great sailing day and we were all happy to keep going for the 87 miles to Road Bay in Anguilla, one of our favourites. Not only is it protected from the south, it also remains calm in slight northerly swells so we were hopeful we would at last get some peaceful nights. The passage between the northeast tip of St Martin and the southwest of Anguilla is protected and with the Force 4 we had on the beam, we tore along at 9 knots and were soon anchored in our ‘usual’ spot in Road Bay in 3 metres of water.
It was calm!!
We missed the 1600 closure of customs by a few minutes but were happy to stay on the boat for a BBQ and I just cleared us in the following morning. The Customs and Immigration Officers in Anguilla were as wonderful as ever and clearance in and out is totally free, another big plus. There is a small form to complete if you haven’t used SailClear online and Customs cleared us out at the same time to save me going back.
We then had 2 whole days to chill out, wander along the beach, frequent the bar, swim, snorkel and watch the bay just teeming with turtles. A spotted eagle ray glided near the boat one morning and we saw barracuda too. The water is very clear and warm. I love this bay. We saw a dog enjoying a cooling dip but when he came out he rolled over and over in the sand – what a mess! The bars and restaurants are still open but it is clearly end of season with only a handful of yachts in the anchorage and few tables taken in each establishment. We had a great meal in Roy’s Bayside Grill last night sampling the ‘famous’ lobster bisque. Roy and Mandy have been here 30 years were originally from the UK and their daughter and son-in-law have joined them to carry on the business.
Just as we left the boat we had a bit of a drama. We locked the ‘door’ as usual but forgot the dinghy padlock and went back for it. The door wouldn’t unlock at all and we had locked every big hatch on the boat, for security. We tried unscrewing the vent plate on the lower hatch but the holes were too small to reach a hand in and up to the knob we can turn from the inside. Next we looked at the smaller hatches under the sprayhood and I tried to get down one of them without success.
We then had to unscrew the hatch surround completely to give us another half inch and Rob managed to get down and unlock the boat. Thank goodness! So a note to any 473 owners, if you get locked out think about how you can get inside but without it being obvious for thieves!
As our antifouling has been in the water for 6 months, I took some photos of the condition of the paint and we think it is in good shape. There aren’t very many barnacles at all and the few are easily managed by snorkelling to scrape them off. Using the 2 colours of paint has shown us, as hoped, where the paint wears first and we will not bother to put the extra coat so near the top in future as the wear is definitely a few inches lower and just under the waterline. As expected, the bow takes a lot of wear and I’ll put even more paint there next haulout. Still, we think it will last us 2 seasons and we will be moving into cooler waters in the autumn.
We inadvertently sailed past our friends, Bob and Lin on ‘Ile Jeudi’ who were in St Martin but fortunately they picked up our email and decided to sail to Anguilla for a catch up. It was great to see them again as they are going south so it could be some time before we see them again.
Next we need to ready the boat again for the night passage to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands as Steve’s flight is next Thursday. The lee berth will be used now and then, as we operate a casual watch system for just 1 night, sleeping if we need to but mostly staying awake to watch the stars. We should be leaving at 1700 so we clear the coast and fish pots before dark, hoping to sail most of the way and arrive in North Sound by 0900 so we can clear in and relax again.