Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, March 3, 2012

Hello Everybody!

As we sit at anchor in Falmouth Harbour looking back at our delivery from Miami, we can’t believe our good luck.  Right now, and for the forseable future the winds in the Bahamas and here in the Caribbean are predicted to be east at 20-25 knots.  During the boat show and the days leading up to it, the wind was east.  Antigua lies 20 degrees or a little over 1000 miles east (and 9 degrees south) of Miami.  We could not have begun our trip with a prediction of east winds because it would have meant beating most of the trip.  We were very lucky because our departure, a mere 36 hours after the close of the boat show, coincided with the only weather window in a month’s time that would allow us to make the trip as we did.  Other weather scenarios would have had us waiting in Miami or possibly getting to the Bahamas and waiting.  If the wind had gone E the last 2 days of our trip we would have had a miserable final leg into Antigua or we would have had to put in to St. Martin to wait for the winds to shift.  Somehow we got very very lucky.

We are also very amazed and proud of what avalanche has just done for us.  She housed us and our guests comfortably for 6 weeks, allowing us to explore the Abacos; carried us through squally weather to Miami, where she was spotlessly clean and shining for prospective buyers; and then accepted crew and provisions aboard  just a day before sailing brilliantly for 7 days and 17 hours. This trip 50% of our crew was over 62 and half of us were women! We caught 3 fish on this portion of the trip, 13 since we left Jamestown.  We arrived in Antigua with just under half our fuel.  The crew had an absolutely exhilarating sail, finishing the trip with 25 knots of breeze in small seas under the lee of Barbuda and then Antigua.  (Aside from the nagging worry that the wind would shift and make our course difficult), it was a totally fantastic trip.  As Jake has said:  ”Our first trip back in 1998, with 60 knot winds and 20′ seas, was probably our worst experience; this final trip from Miami to Antigua was probably our best!”

All the best from Jake & Marnie and thanks to all the many wonderful  people who have helped make avalanche’s deliveries possible through the years.

Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Miles gone:  all of them

Miles to go:  none

Miles in 24 hours:  the rest of them

We’re here.

Hello Everybody!

Jake and the boys got us into Falmouth Harbour, anchor down at 0428 this morning.  I went to bed around 2200, Kim went off watch and to bed about 2400, and Nancy went off watch and to bed at 0200.  That left Jake and Ruleo on watch with Leo coming up.  Those three brought us through squalls (all in the distance) through 9′ waves (slightly smaller because we were in the lee of Barbuda), in 25 knots of wind and dark of night, and safely anchored up without even waking us gals.  Thank you, thank you.

Even more noteworthy, we were up at 0700 cleaning the boat.  Every surface:  interior, exterior, foul weather gear, PFD’s, fishing gear, lines, cushions, hull was washed, rinsed and hung to dry by 1130; and Jake had checked us in with immigration.  Incredible teamwork.  By 1400 the boys had packed their gear and gone home to their own beds.  (Ruleo never went to bed, Leo had about 3 hours of sleep and Jake about 4.)  Kim, Nancy and I hiked over the hills from Pigeon Beach to English Harbour.  The 4 of us have just had a terrific Mahi dinner, prepared by Jake (who didn’t eat any for fear of relapsing with the ciguatura toxin), and we are about to fall into bed.  We will enjoy not heeling 25 degrees, not needing lee cloths and sleeping with our hatches open.  It’s good to be home.

All the best from the crew of avalanche, happy to be in Antigua.

February 29, 2012 Day 8 of Leg 4
17.50 N latitude
62.17 W longitude
63 miles from Antigua
1359 miles from Miami
24 miles from Barbuda
30 miles from St. Barts
44 miles from St. Martin
176 miles in 24 hours

Hello Everybody!

It’s the last night, the end of the last day. We are surrounded by
Caribbean islands, but can’t see any of them at the moment. We could see
the hills of St. Barts and St. Martin to the west this afternoon. Now that
it’s dark, we don’t see any lights……yet.

Today the wind direction stayed favorable, NE 20-25, so we could stay on
course for Antigua. We’ve continued to have huge waves. Kim got hit by two
this morning immediately after she had had a fresh water shower on the back
deck, and from what she just said: “I swear I’m jinxed.”, I think she was
doused again just now.

The fishing contest has a winner: a second small Mahi was caught today
by……..THE BOYS! So the score is boys 2, Jake and his harem 1, fish 3.
We lost 1 fish and they stole 2 lures, so we gave the fish points for that.
Usually the bet is for a coke, but this year the guys got more serious. The
bet is for beers at Sweet T’s, a favorite lunch/ice cream spot.

A couple of totally random notes: Ruleo, who makes an effort to stay
physically fit, has done his 150 push ups every day, but admits it’s a lot
more difficult when the boat is heeling. One night Kim and I had movie
night (sans popcorn). We watched Roxanne with Steve Martin. Ruleo and Leo
are really excited about finally getting home. Leo’s been gone since last
May and Ruleo joined us 6 weeks ago in the Bahamas.

It looks as if the computer’s prediction for a predawn arrival will be
correct unless we slow down. So if you are in Falmouth Harbour and look out
your window tomorrow there is a good chance that you will see avalanche at
anchor.

All the best from the crew of avalanche, looking for a safe arrival, eager
to live on the horizontal, and looking forward to seeing friends in Antigua!

February 28, 2012 Day 7 of Leg 4
20.40 N latitude
63.29 W longitude
250 miles from Antigua
1177 from Miami
150 N of St. Marten
193 miles in 24 hours

Hello Everybody!

We’re very proud of our 24 hour mileage: 193 miles and all of it under
sail. More importantly it was sailed overnight in winds that oscillated 45
degrees, moving ever increasingly on the bow, and with the added attraction
of squalls. The entire crew did a fabulous job of holding 168 degrees
Course Over the Ground, our course for Antigua; and in order to do that they
constantly had to shift from close hauled to close reaching, adjusting
course and sails as the squalls and wind shifts came through. It was a lot
of work overnight and in the rain, heeling and banging into the waves.

This afternoon was a different story. We had more squalls, but as they came
through with SE wind shifts we could only hold a close-hauled course of 190,
which wouldn’t even get us to St. Marten, let alone Antigua. In the middle
of the afternoon Jake made the decision to motor sail through the squalls
and the SE windshifts, getting us back on course for Antigua. That worked
wonders! And now, after dinner, the radar is clear and the stars are coming
out. The wind is back to NE and we are back to sailing on course for
Antigua. We’re no longer close hauled, no longer heeling 15-25 degrees, and
no longer banging into the 9′ (and bigger) waves. Personally, I hope this
current weather pattern holds for another 36 hours.

Ever since we left Miami our computer has been consistently predicting
arrival in Antigua either late tomorrow night or very early Thursday
morning. When we were making SOGs of above 8.5 that seemed easily
accomplished. However, we know that we have benefited from favorable
currents for the past several days, and we’re equally certain that those
currents will change soon and work against us. As a result, we think (and
hope) that we will sail into Falmouth Harbour sometime before lunch on
Thursday.

Unfortunately both personal hygiene and fishing have suffered from the
recent unpleasant weather. Today the only showers were rain showers while
wearing foul weather gear, and the fishing lures have not been deployed
today. Everyone hopes that the weather will provide an opportunity to fish
tomorrow. After all, if the score remains tied we’ll just have to stay out
here until someone catches a fish! Certainly we can’t end the trip with a
tied score.

All the best from avalanche, hoping to see either a Caribbean island or the
loom of light over an island in the next 24 hours.