Now it’s the beginning of April and there are about 3 weeks left before we need to be ready to sail across the Atlantic back to Europe. We have finally got the new sails. Before we can leave the Caribbean, we need to fix a few things to get the boat ready to cross the Atlantic. We also want to take the opportunity to make one last visit to our favorite places, Nonsuch Bay and Cocoa Point.
Nonsuch Bay Paradise
It takes just under 2 hours from Falmouth Bay to Nonsuch Bay going by motor. The last part of the route can be tough when the trade winds push the Atlantic waves towards Antigua. We chose a day with a light wind to have a pleasant ride. There are not many boats in Nonsuch Bay and we find a good anchorage at 4 m depth just inside the reef a bit north of Green Island
The next day it is very calm and we hoist up the new sails we received. The genoa looks good with reinforcements at both ends of the bolt rope. I have not seen such before, but they seem to do good.
When we hoist the mainsail and the sail mark begins to appear, we do not believe our eyes. Both me and Carina stare at the sail, it does not look like a Hallberg-Rassy brand. Have they put the wrong mark on the sail or is it the wrong sail we have received? The sail mark is for a Hanse 505 and the sail is sewn in Dacron, we have ordered Hydranet. We interrupt the hoisting and pack the sail. I inform Elvström Sails and a few days later they tell us that our sail is in Barcelona and must be sent back to them before it can be sent to us. We will leave the incorrect sail to AF-Sails. Now it will be an exciting time to see if the right sail has time to come in April., we got the wrong mainsail. The sail mark is for a Hanse 505 and the sail is sewn by Dacron, we have ordered Hydranet. I inform Elvström Sails and a few days later they reply that our sail is in Barcelona and must be sent back to them before it can be sent to us. We will submit the incorrect sail to AF-Sails. It will be an exciting time to see if the right sail will arrive during April.
Nonsuch Bay from the air
There have not been so many opportunities to fly the drone from the boat. I find it difficult to take off and land the drone on the boat when it is windy. But the day we hoisted the new sails, there was almost no wind and I took the opportunity to fly with it. Unfortunately, I did not have time to do more than one take off with the drone until there was a squall with a lot of rain. Quickly down and try to land on the boat, which is not as easy as it may sound. The boat is constantly moving back and forth behind the anchor. I find it difficult to follow the boat’s movement with the drone and once it has contact with the boat and is to turn off the engines, the drone thinks it is still moving sideways and wants to compensate by flying the other way and crashes into something. The only way to land is to catch the drone and hold it while turning it off. I managed to film a bit, but I did not have time to calibrate the camera and the exposure was wrong.
Kite surfers with foiling boards
It is quite common for sailors to kite surf in Nonsuch Bay, there is nothing that disturbs the wind and a reef that keeps the waves down. It has become quite common with foiling kite boards that are equipped with a sharp wing that lifts the board out of the water at some speed. We have wondered how common it is for them to run on something underwater with the wing sticking out. They go at over 20 knots and a turtle that is going up and fetching air does not have a chance to swim away for the wing that sweeps forward like a knife a few decimeters below the water surface. Personally, I refrain from snorkeling when the kite boards cross the reef.
Visited by Flying Penguin
Flying Penguin arrives here a day after us and we take the opportunity to meet for a sundowner.
When we want to spoil ourselves with extra good food onboard, we take some frozen shrimps that we season with olive oil and rosemary before we grill them on our electric table grill. It smells and tastes delicious and this was our last dinner on board before it was time to return to Falmouth Bay where we would return the faulty mainsail.
Sunsets in Nonsuch Bay
In Nonsuch Bay, the sun goes down over land, but there can still be spectacular sunsets.
I Nonsuch Bay går solen ner över land, men det kan ändå bli spektakulära solnedgångar.
To Barbuda one more time
We sail back to Falmouth Bay and leave the faulty main sail with AF-Sails in Nelsons Dockyard. While waiting for the new sail we sail up to Barbuda one last time. Now we are without a mainsail, so we sail using the genoa only. It works quite well even if it does not give the same drive in the boat as when using it together with the mainsail.
Princess Diana Beach
Flying Penguin has joined us here and we have a wonderful last week at Cocoa Point. Flying Penguin has joined us here and we have a wonderful last week at Cocoa Point. They are to transport their boat to Europe and they have been given a two-week period around the turn of the month April-May when the freighter is expected to arrive at St John’s in Antigua to load their boat. They are looking for somewhere to stay in Antigua from the time they have left the boat on the freighter until the flight to Europe leaves Antigua. The freight company change the destination several times. First it’s Amsterdam, then Bremerhafen, later on Southampton, Rotterdam, Zeebrügge. In addition, it is not easy to find flights from Antigua to Europe in a pandemic, especially when you don’t know the destination. We do not envy them and think we have it easier who just need to sail, it feels like we will be back in Europe before them. We enjoy life here every day with swimming, beach walks, snorkeling on the reef, grilled lobster at Shack-A-Kai and wonderful sunsets. What remains to be fixed on the boat before we sail back to Europe is servicing the engines, installing new capacitors in the power plant, replacing the burned cables and doing a rig overhaul and hoisting a new mainsail. All that can wait until we’re back in Antigua
During our last week at Barbuda, it’s Håkan’s birthday. To celebrate his birthday, Mirja arranges a small birthday party on board the Flying Penguin. This week I take the opportunity to make an apple pie which we take to Flying Penguin when we are going to watch the live on-line concert Mirja and Håkan have bought a ticket for.
One of the last evenings we take the dinghy to the headland of Cocoa Point and enjoy the sunset. We get a close visit from a group of kite surfers who live at the resort. Especially one surfer likes to sail past right in front of our feets, he almost drives up on the sand before turning back.
The last visit to Shack-A-Kai
The last afternoon at Cocoa Point we spend on the beach at Shack-A-Kai and we say goodbye to Inoch who is looking forward to welcoming us next season. We’ll see, you never know.
Back to Antigua
The right mainsail will soon arrive in Antigua and we need to prepare for sailing back to Europe. In other words, it’s time to sail back to Antigua and Falmouth Bay. We divide the sailing into two parts and stay one night in Deep Bay, it is a little over halfway to Falmouth Bay when coming from Barbuda.
Falmouth bay for the last time
Nex day (April 25), we raise anchor in Deep Bay and sail on to Falmouth Bay to wait for our new mainsail. While we wait for that, we will prepare ourselves and the boat to sail across the Atlantic back to Europe via the Azores. The plan is that we will be ready for departure on the last day of April, ie in 5 days.
Since I have ordered spare parts from abroad, I need a customs agent to handle the import for me, AF-Sails in Nelson’s Dockyard has promised to help me with the other deliveries as well, not just the sails. Here in Antigua, visiting boats do not have to pay any VAT on imports. However, customs always want to know what the purpose of the parts is and what value they have, even if they are warranty parts that I do not have to pay for.
Capacitors to the genset
The generator has been faulty for a while and I came to the conclusion that it could be because the capacitors that are to stabilize the AC voltage have lost capacity and need to be replaced with new ones. I can order new capacitors via Mastervolt’s website and have them delivered to AF Sails. It should take about a week according to Mastervolt. It only takes a few extra days to get this delivery. I have already moved the capacitor box from the engine compartment to a cooler place, so now it is easy to access and replace them as well. After the change, the power plant leaves almost 230 volts. The problem was clearly due to the capacitors having lost capacity.
Hallberg-Rassy sends the parts and wiring needed to replace what has been damaged when a cable from the power plant overheated and burned some terminal blocks and cables. Since all the cables have to be replaced, it takes several meters of cable, and you who have been working with electrical cables know that they are always longer than you think. They seldom go straight between two points, and in a boat they can really wriggle through all possible and impossible paths.
When I discovered the problem, I made a temporary connection that bypassed the burned parts. I can keep some of those connections and in this way I eliminate the high power over affected parts. The new connections means that the power plant delivers power directly to the charger and the 230V system on board. The burned parts are now used only for the function that indicates which power source is connected.
I will replace the cables myself, it is difficult to remove the old cables and get the new ones there. All cabling goes in cable trays together with several other cables and in some places the cable trays is quite cramped for space. After a lot of work to disassemble things that are in the way, I get the new cables in place. In situations like this, it simplifies beeing two people, one who can pull at one end and another who makes sure that the cable does not get stuck at the other end.
Several weeks ago we discovered that water was leaking in the front edge of the foredeck hatch. It looks like the water is coming in between the sealing strip on the door and the frame in the deck. Fortunately, Budget Marine in Falmouth Bay can deliver such a list (Lewmar) from its second store in Jolly Harbor. I ordered the strip several weeks ago and it would have arrived at the store the last time we were in Falmouth Bay. It did not and they did not find my order. They asked me to return in a few days. When I did, they had no information about my order. Now they promised to order the list when I enter the store this time, it has finally arrived.
With the help of instructional video on Youtube, I managed to unscrew the hatch from the deck. With the help of another video on Lewmar’s website, I learnt how to mount the new sealing. It looked very easy but in reality it was much more difficult. For a while I thought I had got a too short seal, but after stretching the rubber seal really much, it was long enough to fit around the entire lid. The seal is in one piece and glued together and I was afraid that it would break in the joint. The repair was successful and there is no leak any more.
Maintenance of engines
It’s soon to time for service of the engine and the auxiliary engine. To avoid the need for doing it during the crossing, I fix it now, even if it is not really time yet. After hot running of the engines, I change the oil in both and in the gearbox of the main engine. I also install new oil and fuel filters, together 6 filters to change. We put the old oil into empty and dried water bottles and if there is no place to leave old oil for recycling, you leave the bottles with oil where you leave garbage. The oil is then reused by people on the island and it only takes a few minutes before someone is there and take care of the oil.
The windscreen can be folded up and the fittings that are to keep the windscreen open have a knob that locks the fitting in position. Carina has complained that the knob is so sluggish that she can not turn it loose, it has been so ever since the boat was new. Now the fitting tightens so much that not even I could unscrew it. When I used pliers to unscrew it, the screw came off and I got a new thing to fix. Since we have the windscreen either fully raised or completely closed, I drilled holes in the bar and put a pin that holds the windscreen in place.
We need an electrical socket that can handle 16 A and at the stove there is cabling that can handle it and there I mount a new 16 A socket that we can have to drive the submersible compressor.
Updating European charts
As our charts for European waters are 2 years old, I want to update them before we get there. We have 3 different sets of electronic charts to update. In the plotter (Raymarine), in an iPad (Navionics) and in PC (MaxSea). On paper, we only have overview maps and we do not need to update them yet because they are not used for navigation, only for planning and plotting a position when crossing. We can download updated charts and fortunately we have good bandwidth on our mobile broadband (Digicell) here in Antigua. It takes several GB, so in addition to the cost for charts (around 150 EUR for updating the chart in the chartplotter and 50 EUR for Navionics one year) there is also a cost for mobile data which will be around 15-20 EUR for the download. Since we hardly use a PC for navigation anymore, I ignore updating that chart, it would cost around 150 EUR and it is not worth it I think.
Second try with the main sail
On April 27, the mainsail arrives from Elvström Sails. This time we are lucky with the wind and it is possible to hoist the sail the same day. It’s the right sail! As this was the last point to fix, we are ready to sail back to Europe when a suitable weather window opens for us in early May.
The new sails look good, but I am a bit thoughtful for the wrinkles that are in the seams between the warps. It looks like there are pulls in the seams. Hope the wrinkles will go away with time, I don’t think they affect the function of the sails.
I (Jonas) had an old tooth repair that breaked when I chewed on pop-corn at a sundowner when we were in Falmouth Bay. Waiting to repair it until we have sailed to Europe is not something to think about, it is at least 4 weeks before we are there. So then I have to find a dentist in Antigua. After some searching and a few phone calls, I get an appointment with a dentist in St. John’s a few days later.
We take the bus from Falmouth Bay in the morning, the journey takes less than an hour and we get to experience the calm pace of the Caribbean islands. The roads are narrow and often in poor condition, they park cars where they want and when they see someone they know, they stop the car to chat for a while. It seems that they do it without much thought that it may prevent others who want to drive past. But everyone accepts that it is like this and does not get stressed or angry, they honk happily and pass by if possible, otherwise they wait calmly until the others have finished their chat. The bus driver does the same and stops several times and talks to people. The bus stopped almost anywhere to pick up or let off people, very convenient. We knew it was like this so we traveled well in advance to be in time to the dentist.
The dental clinic is located in an old house on Market Street, near the harbor, and after filling out a health declaration, I was invited to the dentist. The clinic has modern equipment, how about a small hand-held X-ray machine and according to the dentist it is harmless (no leakage of X-rays). I get the tooth anesthetized without an injection needle, he said it was also a new technique. The dentist has two assistants and I feel really well taken care of. The dentist does a good repair and the price is about what I have to pay at home in Sweden.
Now there are only a few days left of April and it looks like it will be good weather to start Atlantic sailing in early May as we intended. We have hired Chris Tibbs to help us interpret the weather development in the slightly longer term. We remember it’s time to change cartridges in our inflatable life jackets. When they are to be replaced anyway, we try what it is like to end up in the water with the old cartridges in the vest. It turns out that it was a good exercise and we learn a lot.