We had been on the move quite a lot of late. Partly due to the fact Australia Day was approaching, and we didn’t want to be stuck in some French territory where they don’t know shit from shoe polish.
After leaving Guadeloupe, we had a pleasant sail north, and dropped anchor in English Harbour in Antigua. Having spent a lot of time here last year, we knew there would be hundreds of aussies around.
View looking down over Galleon Beach where we parked up for a few days.
I can’t help but put a sunset shot in every post.
Sashimi supplies have almost met demand
I took Ollie to the local squash court and showed him a thing or two. Don’t worry Ollie, one day you can step up and compete with the big boys.
Friday night means Reggae night… and shots.
Australia Day party was about 2 miles around the corner at Pigeon beach. Ollie took Trev offshore and paddled around into Falmouth Harbour, while me and the girls brought the boat around.
Time to get all patriotic and shit
With the flag hoisted, we made preparations for the big day tomorrow
Australia Day arrived, so we set us base on the beach with the BBQ, food, Beer, hammocks, Fris, Beach cricket and of course music.
Best makeshift Esky… bury a container in sand.
Bucko taking command of the Weber
It wasn’t long until we heard triple J firing up down the beach. So we packed up and went up to investigate.
Ollie flying the flag
Beach cricket. Australia Vs the West Indies
One of the lads brought a mooring line down off one of the superyachts for a good old fashioned game of tug-of-war.
It was Australia Vs the rest of the world. And proud to say Australia claimed a hard fought victory
Australia day is my favourite day of the year, and this one topped them all.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Jacko was about to have his way with this Donkey.
There is a rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean that starts in the Canary Islands and finishes in Antigua. This yearly event takes the crews of 1, 2 or 4 around 50-80 days to complete. We met the family on the beach of one of the guys that was due to finish that night. We welcomed them in with rum punches, and discussed about doing in next year.
A look inside the cabins where they take turns sleeping, while the other one rows. On a 2 hour on, 2 hour off roster. I told the boys that if they were interested in doing it again that I’m there man…. Watch this space…
After a couple days cooling off, we headed to the most western point of Antigua and anchored next to Green Island.
Non Such Bay is one of the best kiting spots around. Bucko doing her thing.
A quick stocktake of our open bottles of rum.
The next day we left Antigua and headed for Barbuda. Same country, different Island. We got flogged on the way there. With a few good squalls giving us a good workout, the best being 45 knots. But it was all worth it.
Barbuda has the prettiest beaches compared to anywhere in the Carib, or the world really. Several stretching for 20 kms. And because of all the reefs around it, it scares away most boats, meaning we pretty much had the place to ourselves… other than a few nudist boats.
Trev and I off for a snorkel
Reefs surround the entire Island. The only way to navigate it, is with good light and a keen set of eyes.
The KC club is an abandoned resort at Cocoa point. This is where Princess Di spent a lot of time, including her last holiday. Nowadays its left to rot in the Caribbean sun.
We sailed further north up to Low Bay. It was an awesome sail, cruising up the lee of the island in flat water, 20 knots, over turquoise water which was only a few metres deep
There were a few boats there, one full with about 6 kiters.
Once they all pissed off, we went to the pristine empty beach and pumped up kites.
It doesn’t get any better than this. 20 knots. Flat water, dead offshore and no one around for miles.
I could of spent hours racing up and down that beach…
Front loop tail grab Fail.
Bucko has been practising whenever an opportunity presents itself…
Setting up a little rivalry between her and Ollie
After a couple days kiting and relaxing, we crossed the lagoon and went to the main town of Codrington to deal with Customs and Immigration to clear out. Being a Sunday, we had to find them…. chasing them out of church or off the rugby pitch, whichever it may be. The customs shack above with its sign painted by a 2 year old
It was the same at immigration, straight on the blower… dragging someone out of their home to stamp us out.
With the formalities taken care of, George, a local lobster fisherman, picked us up and took us for a tour of the Frigate bird sanctuary.
This is the 2nd largest Frigate bird colony in the world, 2nd to the Galapagos. With some 5000 birds hanging around, its a pretty cool sight.
It was in the midst of mating/hatching season. Where the males inflate their red throat pouch to attract babes.
This years hatchling.
This guy forget to deflate before take off. They have the largest wingspan to body size ratio of any bird, making them fighter jets of the sky.
“ What’s going on man, I’m starving,” “Nothing much… MUM!!!, what the fucks for dinner”
Some local fisherman found this buoy drifting around the island, so they dragged it into the lagoon where it has sat ever since. Someone decided to find out where it had come from. Turns out it had drifted from the east coast of Canada, meaning it would of had to have drifted across the Atlantic twice before being found here. Wouldn’t be fun running into it in the middle of the ocean
Ollie having a quick snorkel looking for sharks in Low Bay
Didn’t find any sharks, but found some building supplies.
The next day, when there was enough sun to spot the reefs, we left Barbuda, bound for St Barths some 60 miles away. It was out first downhill leg since leaving Trinidad, so our first opportunity to get the spinnaker up.
At 117m2, Its a big bit of cloth. And it definitely bought the boat to life. Cruising along at 10-11 knots.
When the spinnaker is up, you generally have your hands full. Add a few squalls into the mix and there’s a lot going on. Then the fishing lines start going off, then its all hands on deck. Handreel number 1. Tuna
Handreel number 2. Mackeral
Ollie assumes the position in the game fishing seat.
It was over to the girls.
Mikki catching her first ever fish. A nice little Spanish Mackeral.
Bucko doing some adjustments in her comfy pants.
Ol Blue steel here showcasing his catch. It was one of the best couple hours trolling I’ve ever had on a boat. Bagging no fewer than 7 or so fish. Mackeral, Big Eye and Blackfin Tuna and Barracuda.
With the wind up, we trailed flying our spare genoa as a small spinnaker off the bow. Requires a bit of effort but works great.
The harbour of Gustavia, St Barths. Where all the rich come to be seen….
And the poor come to eat “Cheeseburgers in Paradise” Made famous by none other than Jimmy Buffet.
Forever in trouble with the officials. Time to leave
After a brief stay in St Barths, so the girls could get their shopping fix, we head for Saint Martin. Leaving Captain Mikki in command for her last leg.
Cruise Ships come here to mate.
The KLM 747 taking off over Simpson Bay.
The reason we are here, is to get some work done on the mast. The sails, boom and wiring were all removed, as we to head through the bridge and into Simpson Bay Lagoon
Peak hour traffic as the boats wrestle for position awaiting the opening of the bridge
Bucko keeping an eye on things
This is the forestay lug at the top of the mast. It is pretty much what keeps the mast in the air. You can see my pencil marks, marking the areas of concern.
I found this crack on the weld early on in Trinidad. It wasn’t there at the time of survey, and must of happened between then and handover a couple months later. After watching it all the way up the Islands, it never moved or changed. But still having 10 million miles to sail to Australia, I decided to pull the mast, repair the crack, and replace some of the rigging at the same time.
Prepping the sling
After a few days delay, the boys at FKG rigging moved in. Hooked up the crane and had the mast out in a matter of minutes.
The crane takes the mast for a walk
Probably the biggest tourist attraction of Saint Martin, is watching the take off and landing of the jets at Maho beach. If this was Australia, there would be a 5000km exclusion zone around anything that is fun. But here, it is game on… your allowed to get as close as you dare to the runway fence.
This bloke had it all sorted with snork and goggles ready to go
Would be a great view from the cockpit windscreen
Mikki and Bucko on the beach awaiting the next jet
We saw alot of jets come and go, but we made a special effort to be there for the arrival of the thrice weekly, KLM 747 direct from Amsterdam.
The Money shot… just clearing the beach to land on the runway on the other side of the fence
We hung around until it took off again an hour later, this time holding onto the fence as the pilot throttles up to full thrust.
The unsuspecting tourists on the beach get a good sandblasting as their belongings get blown into the ocean. I could have sat there and watched them get hammered all day.
Espresso Martinis for the girls, celebrating the end of what has been a great 5 weeks with Mikki on board. Mikki soon found herself on a plane back to Brisbane, and back to doing what she does best. Dancing…. I mean Nursing.
With Mikki on her way back to Brisbane, my brother Brendan flys in from the States a few hours later. He’s put straight to work installing the new chain.
The old chain was stretched, worn, rusty and pretty well fucked. The thing was forever jumping from the windlass gypsy. So to saves Buckos winging, and her fingers, I bit the bullet and bought 200 feet of shiny new chain
Meanwhile back at FKG, the repair…. The welds were ground back, and a doubler was placed over the top, riveted and welded. It is now the strongest thing in the world. Not as strong as Mitchell Johnson.
The boys worked quickly, getting everything done in a couple days. No sooner had the mast been pulled, it was being put back on the boat.
Cowabunga gets back it’s erection.
Once the boom and sails were all on, electronics reconnected. We cleared out and headed for Anguilla
Anguilla is another British overseas territory, with a tiny population of around 14,000. Not much goes on here, its pretty chilled out. Which is what we were looking for after long days of work in Saint Martin.
We paid for a cruising permit for the day, which allowed us to visit Sandy Island. About a mile offshore from Road bay. It wasn’t a particularly nice day, but got Bucko excited none the less.
The boys taking an opportunity to get out and practice
Negotiating the reefs
Brendan on standby
The customs lady at Road Bay was very nice, and post dated our clearance a couple days so we could spend a full day at Sandy Island. But it was time to move on, and before dawn, we pulled anchor and left for the British Virgin Islands some 80 miles away.
Conditions were good, so the spinnaker got another workout. It didn’t stay up long, or in one piece for that matter. One of the tapes caught inside the spreader end cap and basically tore the kite in half… Sad Face
But it wasn’t all bad, because the fish were on the chew. We battled for 10 minutes to get this bad boy to the boat.
White Marlin, the smaller cousin of the highly sought after game fish, the Blue Marlin. But these things still fight hard and put on a good jumping display. They are pretty good in the pan too. With its firmer flesh, it makes the best Sashimi we have had yet.
Bucko claiming her first Barracuda
First look at the British Virgin Islands. It’s a year since Bucko and I were here on Onghiara, this time, we aint looking after no 80 year old Germans. With Brendan Neinert touching down, Bucko has to look after 4 drunken boys instead. And I can tell you now she’s got her hands full…