In April, we crossed the Anegada Passage in an uneventful 90 mile overnight downwind sail from St. Maarten to Tortola. The British Virgin Islands are always a favorite with our family and on Mira. In fact, we started our sailing charter lives in the BVIs. So, it’s appropriate that this would be our last stop in the Caribbean for awhile! Our good friends, Lori and Mark, were coming to visit for a few nights also, and we were excited to show them some of our favorite spots.
Lori and Mark arrived in the late afternoon to our slip in Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola. We were off early the next morning for the bouncy, up-wind slog in the Sir Francis Drake Channel to visit the iconic Baths on Virgin Gorda. Following a leisurely lunch on board, and we headed off to Marina Cay. Happy hour and dinner at the somewhat reconstructed Pusser’s was a perfect ending to our sailing day. Our third day started off with some amazing snorkeling at George Dog. The conditions and visibility were perfect. A quick sail over to Monkey Point on Guana Island ended with lunch on board and another perfect Caribbean snorkel off the boat. We motor-sailed down the back side of Tortola to the palm-tree ringed, white sand beach of Cane Garden Bay for the night and dinner at Paradise Club Sports Bar. The next morning we took off around the southern end of Tortola to snorkel the Indians and settled into our anchorage for the day and night in secluded Privateer Bay on Norman Island. A lazy afternoon was spent snorkeling the Caves off Treasure Point and swimming off the boat. Delicious Caribbean curry chicken on the boat was our last dinner. It was hard to drop them off the next morning for their ferry back to St. Thomas. But, we were so thankful for the chance to hop through the BVI one last time!
Then it was back to reality, full-on ocean passage preparation began in earnest. At the end of April, Mira would make her longest off-shore passage yet!
Lori and Mark relaxed and happy in vacation mode.
Our favorite picture-taking spot in the Baths on Virgin Gorda.
Our anchorage in Marina Cay
First mate maneuvers Mira to pick up a mooring ball.
One of the most peaceful, beautiful anchorages in Privateer Bay, and it is right around the boulders from the very busy Bight at Norman’s Island. We spent an entire day and night here – swimming, snorkeling the caves and rocks all along the bay.
Something tells me that Lori will be back for another visit on Mira – maybe in Europe???
We’ve enjoyed sailing as a family for many years. Our adult children love the water, the outdoors, and travel of all kinds, and the six of us sail and travel on Mira at least once or twice every year. Usually short day sails around a favorite Caribbean island, so we were excited when our daughter recently shared her dream of sailing across the Atlantic with us. We love that she has a passion for sailing and outdoor adventure, and we invited her to join us for an “intro passage” – a 2 night, 275 mile passage from St. Lucia to St. Maarten on Mira.
So …. in late March, she took a week’s vacation from work and met us in St. Lucia. A quick few days of showing her our favorite St Lucia spots for sightseeing and hiking, and we were off! Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, was left behind at 5:30 pm on Monday, and Mira arrived in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten, at 9:00 am on Wednesday. The remainder of her vacation week was spent working on the boat and some restful, sunny beach and pool time.
Kelly got a good sense of what an overnight offshore passage can be like! We sailed the entire way with strong beam winds never below 20 knots, and some pretty aggressive waves on the beam as well. A couple of waves even splashed over the bow for added excitement, as Mira happily rolled her way up the Caribbean chain.
For night watches, Glenn and I don’t usually do the conventional 3 or 4 hours on and 3 or 4 hours off schedule. Because Glenn can sleep anytime, anywhere – I usually take the first long watch from 8 pm to 1:00 am or so. Then, he watches from 1:00 am to 6:00 am, while I sleep. Kelly took watch with me from 8 pm to 11 pm then slept 4 hours and watch with Glenn from 3 am to 6 am. On the job training!
The passage was going very well. Despite strong wind and waves, the sail plan was stable – no dramatic increase in winds or change in wind direction was predicted. There were a few tankers and cruise ships sprinkled around the AIS display, but otherwise not a lot of ship traffic. Kelly loves the night sky and was feeling quite comfortable watching the wind speed and direction, sails, and instrument screens, even in the pitch dark. In fact, when I came up early one morning around 5 am to relieve Glenn, I discovered him sound asleep in the salon! Panicked, I discovered Kelly perched alone on the helm seat – carefully watching the ship traffic – scrutinizing the AIS and radar screens with Mira bouncing around underneath her! She was happy as a clam!
I think the Atlantic crossing might be in her future!
Leaving St. Lucia behind, heading out to sea!
Kelly enjoying her galley duty!
Approaching the bridge opening into Simpson Bay lagoon in St. Maarten.
Martinique is not only a French island, but actually a part of France. For us cruising sailors this means that we get to take advantage of all things French, as we hop from French island to French island. France ships food, cheese, meats, wine, etc to Martinique and do not add additional taxes. So what it really means is that Pam can buy her fav bottle of Sancerre for $12 instead of $28 (at the Whole Foods)!!! We love France!
With 20+ knots of breeze and 9-10 foot swells off our beam predicted, we set off cautiously from St. Lucia for Martinique. Sailing along the leeward coasts of all of the Caribbean islands is usually fairly benign with the topography of the islands as protection. But, things can get a little crazy in between the islands. It is pure Atlantic Ocean with waves and winds to match. This day was no exception. We had about 2 hours of rocking and rolling with strong winds and waves. But, arrived in Anse Mitan – a bay in the central part of Martinique – in about 5 hours.
Anse Mitan is fun beach town across the bay from the largest city and capital of Martinique, Fort de France. Fort de France is the home of Martinique’s famed Carnival. This is one of the reasons we headed to Martinique. We were going to catch up with other cruising friends for our first Carnival experience in the Caribbean.
Six of us grabbed the ferry from Pointe du Bout over to Fort de France on Fat Tuesday in time for the parade celebrating the Day of the Devil. Red was the color of the day with lots of wild costumes and colorful original interpretations. Our heads were spinning – there was music, singing, drums pounding all around us!
Friends from SV Alegria and MV Iriana.
Exhausted from Carnival celebration, we all headed down the coast of Martinique for St. Anne’s a few days later. St. Anne’s is a huge sheltered anchoring bay where hundreds of sailboats put down their anchors – sometimes for weeks at a time. The quaint town of St. Anne’s has restaurants, bars, laundry, markets, a beach – everything you might want or need. There is also the added bonus of Marin, just around the corner. Marin is a small town, but one of the largest yachting centers in all of the Caribbean. There are haul-out facilities, all kinds of marine stores and marine technicians for everything imaginable. We had our rigging adjusted and electronics updated and were thrilled with the quality of workmanship.
The next days in Ste. Anne’s were spent working on the boat, socializing, provisioning, eating, sight-seeing and a bit of hiking.
Experienced riggers in Marin repaired a sub-par rigging tune done in Antigua.
One day a group of us rented a van and did a bit of sightseeing, but mostly shopping. We hit every home goods, sporting goods and home improvement store we could find. Their stores were better than Home Depot and Dick’s Sporting Goods!!
We hiked down the coast from Ste. Anne’s 6 miles – through several interesting smaller beaches – Anse Trabaud, Pointe Catherine, and others culminating in a magnificent white sand beach, Grande Anse Des Salines. And, we had lunch and drinks at the end. Well worth it!
8 sailboats got together for a two stop night of fun. First, cocktails and appetizers on Mira and then, Mexican pot luck dinner on Freebird.
Grande Anse D’Arlet was our last anchorage in Martinique. We spent two nights there alone just winding down from all the merriment of the previous weeks. There is a little village with a white sand beach and magnificent mountains surrounding. We spent a lovely weekend there – hiking up Morne Champagne, snorkeling for turtles, relaxing on the boat.
St. Lucia is one of our favorite island destinations. Despite not having many “friendly” anchorages, we love it so much that we made 3 visits this winter! Mira had visitors for several weeks in St. Lucia this February and March. St. Lucia has a little bit of everything – gorgeous beaches, colorful snorkeling, towering mountains, challenging hiking, bubbly hot springs, botanical gardens, authentic fishing towns, and great people.
Marigot Bay resort and marina is especially friendly to cruisers. If you pick up a mooring ball or stay in their marina, you have full access to their two pools, spa and restaurants. Of course, we made full use of their beautiful, tropical facilities!
The towering twin Pitons (volcanic mountain peaks) are iconic symbols of St. Lucia. Our next anchorage located in between the Pitons was exceptional. The surrounding waters are a marine park enabling great snorkeling off the stern of your boat. Anchoring in this amazing place was a dream come true. A few years ago, there was some trouble between visiting yachts and the locals from the nearby town of Soufriere. Consequently, yachts stopped anchoring there. Luckily for us, it is once again a safe and beautiful place to spend time.
The posh Sugar Beach Resort is located beside our anchorage on the white sand beach between the Pitons. A beautiful spot to relax and enjoy a delicious meal with Glen and Marilyn.
Grilled fresh lobster is a wonderful treat in the Caribbean. Glen on SV Sirentie’ gave us a valuable lesson in steaming the rascals, which kept trying to escape.
Soufriere is the town just beside our anchorage in the Pitons. Adorable kindergarteners paraded around the town to celebrate St. Lucia’s independence.
Banners and flags for St. Lucia Independence Day decorated the streets of Soufriere. Colorful local fish and vegetable market provided fresh dinner on the boat for us.
Sunshine, our favorite local boat boy, caught some fresh Caribbean lobster for Glenn to grill for Patti and Jim’s first night on Mira.
Lying at the southern end of the Caribbean chain, the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are one country. Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Union Island, & Palm Island are just a few of the Grenadines. These relatively unspoiled islands have some of the most beautiful waters and scenery imaginable. We were lucky enough to re-visit three of them again this February.
Bequia has long been a favorite of cruising sailors with just the right mix of authenticity and entertainment and a dose of Caribbean beauty tossed in. Some cruisers spend many enjoyable weeks anchored off the expansive white sands of Princess Margaret’s Beach. The island was our first stop as we sailed south from St. Lucia.
Having visited Bequia many times over our sailing years, this trip was spent mostly socializing with other sailors accompanied by a bit of boat work. We were buddy sailing with our solo sailor friend, Glen D on sv Sirenite and were looking forward to reuniting with some other sailing friends from last year and making some new ones!
We barely had the anchor down before Glen D. was hustling us off to a happy hour at a local’s home up in the hills of Bequia. We were amazing at his stunning home overlooking the white crescent shaped beach of Industry on the northeast side of Bequia.
Next stop, dinner with old and new friends, at the Firefly Plantation, on the east side of Bequia. Passion-fruit margaritas, toasted, shaved coconut and lots of laughter were the highlights.
Long, lazy days on Bequia continued on with a mixture of hiking, swimming, diving, and lots of happy hours – our favorite kind of island!
Glenn, Glen D. and Pam spent a wonderful morning hiking to the highest point on Bequia. According to legend, Ma Peggy, with her spectacular eyesight, would climb to the highest point on the island of Bequia and perch on top of a rock and point out the schools of fish to local fishermen. We were rewarded with a tremendous view.
On our last morning, Glenn dove with 3 other sailors, off the coast of Bequia.
Mira and her crew set off early heading south from Bequia to the Tobago Cays. We only had a short window to explore a couple more Grenadine islands before we had to be back in St. Lucia to greet our best friends, Patti and Jim. It was a beautiful sail – 25 knots a little aft of the beam. Winds that strong make for a beautiful sail, but a little more uncomfortable in our anchorages. The wind had been howling since early February, but we were determined to keep exploring. We tried picking up a mooring just behind the reef in the Cays, but we were rocking like a rocking chair in 25 knots. We moved into the cut between the islands, and the rocking settled. Wind and current were still super strong, but Mira wasn’t rolling around.
The Tobago Cays is a national park composed of a group of small, uninhabited islands protected from the sea by Horseshoe Reef. The colors produced by the water and reef are spectacular. Snorkeling among fish and turtles in the Cays is one of the best in the Caribbean. This trip we spent most of our time snorkeling in the cut – waves and current were too strong out on the reef. We spent most of one afternoon playing with 3 turtles that were lazing and swimming around one of the islands.
We spent another entire day doing boat work. Pam polished the stainless, and Glenn did some maintenance work and went up the mast for an amazing 360 degree view.
After the Cays, we zipped over to Union Island for one night to attend the Full Moon party in Clifton and see the kite surfing exhibitions. Sadly, our weather router said we needed to take off for St. Lucia by 5 am the next morning – so our party plans were curtailed!
But, we did manage to have drinks on Happy Island! This is a tiny island built with shells by hand by the owner. Perfectly placed on the edge of the reef off Union.
And, we had front row seats on our mooring in Clifton, Union Island, for an amazing display of kite-surfing!
Sunrise between islands as we sailed back north to St. Lucia.
Grenadines – we will be back!
Our buddy boat, Sirentie’, was able to get some shots of Mira in action – on the way north to St. Lucia!
As Marie Galante and France retreated from our view one morning in early February, 15 knots of wind on our beam greeted us. The beautiful conditions allowed us to fly our screecher head sail and full main and make an average of 8 knots. Perfect Mira conditions! Prince Rupert Bay and Portsmouth on the north end of Dominica appeared all too quickly, and a mass of sailboats welcomed us. But, an even better site for us were the lush green mountainsides that barely looked touched by Maria’s viciousness just barely 17 months before. Mother Nature was rapidly repairing her own destruction. Closer look showed that the treetops are still sheared of like with a weed-whacker, but vines and greenery are climbing all over the forest and jungle of Dominica. So happy to see!
On our two previous visits to Dominica, we explored the southern end of Dominica extensively – Trafalgar Falls, Middleham Falls, Titou Gorge, and the Indian River. This trip we ventured into the waters above and below Dominica and into the north and east coast. Glenn had one of his best dives ever in the beautiful Dominican waters this trip!
After winding our way on switchback roads through tiny villages along the northeast coast, we stopped for an hour long hike up and down steep, rocky hills to the Chaudiere Pool. It felt awesome to wade into the cool water after our sweaty hike.
Red Rocks near Calibishie are made of compacted mud that has been etched into strange gullies and shapes. It looked and felt like Mars, as we wound our way – in and among the rocky cliffs.
Our mesmerizing guide for Red Rocks and a walk through “his” jungle proved to be the most interesting part of our day.
Virginie and Remi from Cabrits Dive Center took Glenn on one of the best dives in his life through the Toucari Canyons and Tunnel in the Cabrits Marine Park. The colors of coral and sponges and the variety of marine life took his breath away.
We can’t wait to return to this amazing island paradise!
After the relative excitement of populated Guadeloupe and Pointe-a-Pitre, it was time for some peace and quiet at anchor. Illes de la Petit-Terre consists of two uninhabited green islands protected by reef. A national park has provided moorings (no anchoring allowed to preserve the reef) in between the two islands for cruising sailors. There are day charter boats that come over from Ste. Francois, and their guests swarm the islands during the day, but after 3:00 – wondrous peace. The snorkeling right off the back of Mira is marvelous, and the hiking on the larger of the two islands is enjoyable, too.
Petit-Terre is not easy for the sailor to reach. With prevailing easterly winds, you must sail directly into the wind for several hours to reach it. Also, if the swells are over 5-6 feet, the waves start to break over the entrance reef and makes entry to the islands dangerous. We picked a fairly good day – winds were just under 20 knots and waves were about 6 feet, but we set off early from Pointe-a-Pitre, and we were so glad that we did!
The breaking waves on the reef were intimidating as we approached Petite-Terre. Even more nerve-wracking was threading the needle between the reef and the shallow beach, as entered the cut.
It was all worth it – as we saw the view inside the cut. In front of us were the crashing waves on the reef that separated us from Africa and on either side of Mira were tropical islands straight from Caribbean posters.
The kids gave us a drone for Christmas, and this was the perfect spot for Glenn to practice. The results are amazing!
The coolest part of Petite-Terre was the sea life that was swimming right around our boat. We usually have to swim or dinghy over to a reef or rocks but, here we jumped off the back of Mira with a snorkel mask, and were treated to spotted rays, turtles and tons of fish!
We spent the next few days – swimming, hiking, sunning, relaxing – cruising and sailing in the Caribbean doesn’t get any better than this!
As always, the sunset off the back porch can’t be described.
We could barely tear ourselves away from Petite-Terre, but we needed to keep moving. We headed southwest to the small French island that is also part of Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante. This island is fairly flat but is thickly wooded and green, with palm trees lining the coast. Marie-Galante is perfect for touring by scooter or car. Traffic is light, and there’s really just one road that circles the island. But, most importantly for us, it is a quiet, unspoiled haven.
We rented a car on a cloudy, drizzly day and saw all of the sights. Quaint colorful homes, rocky cliffs, mangrove swamps, beaches, wooded hiking trails, plantation and distillery ruins and of course, the BEST sunset happy hour beach bar ever – Chez Henri!!
This January 2019 we made our second pass through some of the most beautiful French islands. We were able to spend two weeks exploring the island of Guadeloupe and its smaller sister islands of Iles de la Petite-Terre and Marie-Galante. The French Caribbean islands are as varied as they are beautiful – with lush mountains and volcanoes, white sandy beaches and dense forests.
Since Guadeloupe is a French department (essentially France), the food, wine and cheese are divine. Every French island that we visit, we stock up. The only stumbling block was that the French prefer to speak only French. But luckily, Glenn, armed with his high school French, was a fearless interpreter. And, it was SO worth it!
As we sailed our way south from Antigua, Mira and her crew were in for the surprise of their lives. We were about 5 miles off the northern tip of Guadeloupe when Glenn spotted a large dark stain in the water that was not moving like the rest of the waves – then, a spout of water erupted – a whale – just in front of our boat!! The rush for phones was hysterical!
After the whale excitement, we continued sailing down the western coast and settled into our first anchorage in the bay across from Pigeon Island for the night. Pigeon Island is the home of Jacques Cousteau’s famed Marine Park – a world destination for snorkeling and diving. It lived up to its reputation! And, the sunsets from our back porch looking out over Pigeon were also spectacular!
High winds and waves were predicted for the next week, so Mira made her way into a protected anchorage at Pointe-a-Pitre. Over the past 18 months of full-time sailing, we have learned the limits of our sailing comfort zone. Since we couldn’t explore Guadeloupe by boat, we rented a car for the week. Not as much fun as sailing, but it turned out to be a tremendous week getting to know the beautiful island of Guadeloupe.
Guadeloupe is a butterfly-shaped island separated by the Salee River. Basse-Terre, the larger side of the butterfly, is characterized by rocky mountains and lush rainforests. With completely different topography, hilly Grande-Terre has long beaches, sugarcane fields and white sand beaches.
La Grande Soufrière, is an active stratovolcano on Basse-Terre. It is the highest mountain peak in the Lesser Antilles, and rises 1,467 m high. Glenn has always wanted to hike a volcano, so I read a few articles on the internet and off we went. Not the smartest thing we’ve ever done – but, again, another “outside the box” experience. We learned later from the locals – that no one attempts to climb Soufriere if the top is obscured by rain clouds. The day we went – the entire mountain was obscured by rain clouds! After an hour and a half of struggling through pouring rain and high winds, we were out. Climbing a volcano is still on the list, though!
The day was not completely wasted though. Carbet Falls is a series of waterfalls on the Carbet River in the Parc National de la Guadeloupe. Its three cascades are set amid the tropical rainforests on the lower slopes of the volcano La Soufrière. The day that we were there – only the second falls were open – the other two falls were too dangerous to climb. It was a beautiful site to see!
The day after exploring Basse-Terre, we headed off in our car to explore the smaller half of the butterfly, Grande-Terre. We drove along the southern coast and explored one beautiful beach after another. Last stop was in Ste. Francois at the very southeastern tip of Guadeloupe. Found a nice cafe in the marina (of course!) for lunch and also enjoyed the requisite French wine. A beautiful day.
Barbuda is wild and uncrowded, just the opposite of its close neighbor to the south, Antigua. Sadly, Barbuda is most recently remembered for taking a direct hit by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The prime minister declared the island uninhabitable and the 2000 residents were evacuated. 95% of the buildings were destroyed or badly damaged. There was no water, electricity or communications for many months.
We visited Barbuda this past December – more than a year after the hurricane, and the island is slowly getting back on its feet. Most of the residents have returned. Homes have been rebuilt. Small hotels, restaurants and shops are under construction. The famous frigate bird colony is thriving. The residents of Barbuda own the island communally, and they are a fiercely proud group that are determined to rebuild their island, while maintaining control of the island and its natural resources.
We set off for Barbuda from Deep Bay on the northwest side of Antigua in the morning. Only about a 25 nautical mile sail, winds were perfect at about 14-18 knots and at an angle just forward of our beam. We were sailing an average of 6-7 knots and were anchored in Low Bay just west of Codrington Lagoon by mid-afternoon.
The approach to Barbuda was stunning. The water is striped with the magical pale blues of the Bahamas and the blinding white beaches shimmer with specks of pink coral shells. It is a site not to be missed!
That afternoon we contacted George Jeffery for a tour the next morning of the famous Frigatebird colony. We were so happy to discover that the colony was thriving despite the hurricane interruption.
Frigatebirds are the masters of the sky with black feathers, long forked tails and hooked bills. Wings can span up to 7.5 ft, the largest wind area to body weight ratio of any bird. Frigatebirds are so large that they can only skim along the surface to catch their fish, any deeper and they will sink. For this reason, they have become experts at letting other birds do their fishing and then will harass them until they drop their prey. We were lucky enough to be in Barbuda during mating season – so we got to see males in action, females tending to their babies, and teen birds wreaking havoc around the colony.
After anchoring for a couple of nights at Low Bay near the Lagoon and the town of Codrington, we made our way down the southern coast to the famed Cocoa Point. The gorgeous pink sand beach along the southern end is also known as Princess Diana beach. Barbuda was one of her favorite island destinations to relax in privacy with her boys.
The next morning just after sunrise we dinghied around the southern tip to Gravenor Bay and the Spanish Point Reef for snorkeling. It was so worth the early adventure!
Departure Day, Sunday November 4, promised to be a beautiful, crisp autumn day. Glenn, the captain, and crew, Pam, Jason and Karen, stumbled around in the darkness, donning warm, winter gear and grabbing hot coffee to start their journey. We’d been preparing Mira and ourselves for this journey for months and were feeling ready – though, with the usual anxieties that precede a multi-day passage at sea. Lines were tossed and fenders stored and by 6 am we were off! Since Mira was the only boat of 21 boats participating in the Caribbean 1500 Rally headed for Antigua (the rest headed to Tortola), we chose not to join the official start line at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay later that morning. As soon as we took the turn out of the Bay heading south, the winds freshened to 20 knots slightly forward of our beam, and Mira was off!
The ensuing 1745 nautical mile passage was a true ocean sailing adventure. During the next 12 days at sea Mother Nature seriously had her way with us. The first 24 hours of the trip were spent sailing south along the Virginia and North Carolina coasts and around Cape Hatteras as we encountered a nasty warm front. The front threw 40 knot winds, choppy Gulf Stream waves, and a 5 knot current in our face. The crew doused the head sail, centered a scrap of main and turned on both engines – trying to stabilize the boat as we doggedly pressed southward. Continuous rain and squalls added insult to injury, as we turned east at the designated coordinates for our Gulf Stream crossing. Another 24 hours later the Gulf Stream was behind us and we were exhausted but, as the air and sea temperatures noticeably rose, the crew began to sense a glimmer of the Caribbean waiting for us.
The middle part of the passage had Mira continuing east into the open sea of the North Atlantic. From the US east coast, the Caribbean islands are not only south but quite a bit further east than most people realize. Traditionally, sailboats head eastward almost to Bermuda before turning south to catch the prevailing trade winds. In contrast, we encountered a stalled high pressure system which sucked away all of the wind we needed to sail east! We were forced to motor for 6 days – seriously depleting our diesel stores. But …. we were wearing shorts and swimming in the 4 mile deep ocean and catching Mahi-mahi!! Skies were clear, fish were biting, stars were shooting, captain and crew were happy!
Unfortunately, about this time, Mira received weather updates via our IridiumGO satellite system that alerted us to a tropical depression forming in the Leeward Islands and heading northwest directly into Mira’s path. Game-day decision time! Our best option was to head a bit farther east than planned (all the way past Bermuda to the 61st longitude line) and then sail south to Antigua, hoping to come in behind the eastern edge of the tropical depression.
These last five days of our journey were spent sailing straight south – skirting the tropical depression…almost. Collectively, the captain and crew of Mira sailed faster and saw higher winds, waves, and more squalls than in all of Mira’s experiences. 25 knot sustained winds and 3 meter swells directly on the beam catapulted Mira southward. Waves crashed over the cockpit roof. Constant squalls and confused waves took a toll on the crew. Top wind gusts recorded reached over 40 knots, and Mira’s top speed was 15.9 knots – a first for Mira. She was lurching and bucking like a bronco. Meals were limited to those eaten with a spoon from a bowl. Water usage was rationed because of low diesel stores and a stressed water maker.
Mira, an Antares catamaran, is one of the best blue water sailboats in the world, but all boats have their limits. As the stormy days wore slowly on, Mira began to show symptoms of the strenuous and difficult passage. Limping into Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, with reluctant engines, we dropped anchor under sail at 10:39 am on November 16th. The next 14 days were spent washing, rinsing, scrubbing, repairing, adjusting, and testing all systems on the boat. The crew also took a few days of well deserved R & R before our kids were scheduled to arrive for Thanksgiving. Happily, Mira is now returned to her former glory while her crew keeps a watchful eye for another sneak attack from Mother Nature.
Here are the beginnings of the churned up and confused waves of our Gulf Stream crossing. The next 24 hours became even more difficult. The nasty warm front tossed more wind, waves, and rain in our face as we battled the strong Gulf Stream current.
Small, dark Atlantic dolphins greeted us after we ventured through the Gulf Stream and out into the open Atlantic Ocean.
A beautiful sunset from Pam and Glenn’s cabin. Seas were starting to build.
As Mira took her turn south on Monday, Nov 12, she was starting to skirt the edge of the tropical depression. The seas got increasingly confused and much larger, winds began to increase and squalls began appearing. The last 3 days were the most difficult of the trip.
The crew of Mira practiced safe sailing precautions. All crew wore their own PFD when leaving the salon area at night and during rough seas. Each PFD had its own personal locator beacon that would alert Mira’s chart plotter with a GPS coordinate and Mira’s crew with a loud alarm sound – if the PFD went overboard and was deployed. Each PFD also had a light, a knife, a face spray shield, and a whistle. Each crew member also attached their blue tether immediately upon entering the cockpit and would tether onto jack lines along either side of the boat if leaving the cockpit.
Glenn performed a deck check late every afternoon – checking all the running and standing rigging (lines and metal supports) – even in the worst of the weather.