Ships Log – 1st to 31st December 2008

Monday 1st December

Position at Noon 18º 29 North 28º 43 west

Distance travelled 130 Nautical Miles

You may have wondered what the out come of the Spinnaker was following the issues in the early hours of Sunday Morning. As Sunday was a day of rest and partying, we left it alone but by 0630 Monday, Rob & David had taken the spinnaker out of the bag straightened it all up and uncoiled the snuffle line checked for any damage (none found thank goodness!) and ready to be put back up again. A new snap shackle was fitted to the Spinnaker halyard and bob’s your uncle, 0730 and we were ready to run with the Spinnaker as the wind dropped too low for the Genoa. We also had the full main out.

Great excitement today, it was the 1st of December, our first day with the advent calendars Esta so kindly bought us all. Esta and Rob opened theirs first thing in the morning, David, Andrew and I opened ours at dinner time. In our cases it was many many years since we had an advent calendar, in our excitement we couldn’t open them, and when we did struggled to get the chocolate out!

Following Breakfast, Andy and David set about the batteries and without too much investigation found a problem. One of the main connecting leads had come adrift so instead of running on 6 Domestic, we were only using two! So, a reconnection job was done and now we have a full compliment of batteries back in use.

It was a glorious morning and whilst all this was going on Esta started to make “Anam Cara” coloured bracelets for the crew. The first completed one went to our navigator, David and how smart he looks.

During the day a super yacht (39 meters) motored up from our stern, we made contact but they were not part of the part of the ARC; they were heading on their own to Grenada

We haven’t had the fishing gear out recently but still managed to catch a fish. Yes we did! I went into our heads and low and behold, there on the floor waiting for me was a flying fish. It had flown through the window and as you all know, it is a small window

Several members of the crew were suffering a little today; they blame the roasted garlic that was part of the Sunday lunch, I can’t see why as Garlic is supposed to be good for the blood!

Following a light lunch of cheese on toast with onion on top and a side of frankfurter sausage, we settled down to watch a DVD. Today’s choice was “from Russia with Love”. Andrew then produced a spaghetti Bolognese for dinner, excellent but no wine tonight, eking it out so that it lasts.

By the time we had cleared up the night watches had started we settled down for the night still flying the spinnaker due to poor winds

Tuesday 2nd December

Position at Noon 18º 22 N 30º 50 W

Distance travelled: 121 Nautical Miles

Winds varied considerably but managed to carry the Spinnaker through the night so made progress. We eventually took it down at 1500hrs when the wind direction was only hindering us. Genoa, main, and stay sail all up and this configuration took us through the night. We had a major squall at around 2320 hrs when e had extremely heavy rain. Fortunately it only lasted about an hour but was sufficient to catch some of us out with open hatches!

The main job of the day turned out to be the sea shower/deck wash. Suddenly and without warning it stopped pumping and as we had just bought a new pump we were pretty upset, however not to be dismayed we set about finding out why. Firstly we checked the pump and took off the end plate to see if the impeller was broken. No it was fine and working well. We put water down all the hoses connected to it to see if there was a air lock, no. we even forced air down through the skin fitting to see is there was something stopping water entering the stop cock from outside, no. We changed the pipes around to use it as a bilge pump, yes it sucked the bilge water ok but wasn’t pumping it out the stern. Oh dear we thought a leak in the pipe. We had wondered why there was more water than usual in the bilge but would deal with that later. We traced the pipes from engine room to the bottom of the main cabin bunk and from the stern to the main cabin bunk, both ends were OK. So, we had to clear out all the goodies Christine had packed under our double bunk for our 6 months in the Caribbean. There, right at the bottom was the pipe, it had come apart so all the water we put through the pipes and when we kept trying to find why the system wasn’t working, and all the water was going into the bilge! Re connected, re packed and bingo we could have showers again. I have to say that Rob & Andrew did most of the work especially grovelling in the engine room, so had first use of the shower.

Next we pumped out the bilge and now we probably have the cleanest bilge on the Atlantic!

He other issue of the day was we ran out of Credit on our Sat Phone. We couldn’t send in our position or get the weather forecast not to mention any e mails. So out we went on Channel 16 to see if we could find another yacht. There was nothing on the horizon we could speak to so must had to fish. In due course we had a reply from Yacht Libertat. Paul Huntley (Skipper) very kindly e mailed our problem to Christine and Martin and he presto a few hours later were back on Sat Phone, thank you Paul and Libertat for your assistance. During this time we radioed our position through our group leader via SSB radio.

Esta was on Mother Watch and was fantastic. She baked 3 loaves of bread, cooked off the last of the fresh meat for safety reasons, and cooked her own version and a very tasty Chicken Korma. In between these culinary duties she cleaned out the fridge and freezer, re stocked our food cupboards from bulk and managed to get a siesta in the afternoon. Additionlly Esta is managing our fresh fruit and vegatables to minimise waste and keep us going as long as possible. Thank you & well done Esta.

Following a super meal we dispersed as night watches kicked in.

P.S. News received before reporting this log.

David Bates is overjoyed at the news of his new grandchild, and wonders how Magali & Baby (Boy or Girl) are doing. More on this subject in tomorrows log

Wednesday 3rd December

Position at Noon: 18º 01 N 33º 15 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 142

We had a steady night running with the Genoa and main touching 7 knots on numerous occasions and again all on our own, not a light to be seen.

“Cooked” Breakfast day today with Rob on Mother watch he did a splendid spread including black pudding!

Following breakfast out went the Spinnaker and we had a good sail running between 6.5 and 7 knots most of the day.

Time zone change today as well so at midday the clocks all went back, well they should have done but we forgot until later in the day! Still they changed and one of us had an extra hour to do on watch but it was such a good warm sunny day everybody was on deck sunbathing etc., the extra hour didn’t matter.

Gold finger as the afternoon matinee today followed by a lamb dish called “navarin de mouton” this was served with a mash of potato, mixed with sweet potato; different but very nice.

We took the spinnaker down at 1830 hrs following lightening been spotted ahead of us. Up went the Genoa and main and we only dropped about ½ to ¾ of a knot but we couldn’t risk going through the night with the spinnaker flying and a storm ahead.

Following the work on the batteries earlier in the week, the good news is they are performing as they should; we only put the generator on whilst cooking each evening and a top up each morning, as originally planned.

The news then came in that David was a grandfather for the fifth time, naturally we couldn’t let that one go so out came the gin, and we wet the baby’s head. David was walking around with a grin on from ear to ear! At the time of writing this log we still don’t know the sex etc., so we are assuming all is well with Mother and Baby. All 5 of us then went up on deck, 0800, two of us with no shirts 3 with tee shirts; it was a lovely barmy evening with Anam Cara touching 7.5 knots at times and very steady.

Everybody being on a high what with David’s news, the thought of crossing the half way point tomorrow, the winds have arrived we are making good progress and of course we have had a couple of gins!

It was decided by a few that a DVD was the order of the day so our main feature film this evening was “Mutiny on the Bounty” not too appropriate but enjoyable all the same.

Night watches then kicked in and we settled down for the night not wondering what if anything the lightening ahead was going to do to us.

Thursday 4th December

Position at Noon: 17º 48 N 35º 54W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 153

Good progress was made during the night and hopefully our noon mileage will reflect this, bets were also going on as to what time we cross the half way mark.

At 0630hrs we lost our wind and had the debate as to what to do next. The decision was to have a cup of tea and reflect for 10 mins. What a good decision that was as the lightening we had been watching turned into a nasty storm, it could have been a major squall, but to us it seemed more like a storm. It was a good job we replaced the spinnaker last evening!

At 0700 hrs with everything reefed in and with winds up to 40 knots we started the engine and settled down to a steady 4 ½ – 5 knots. The winds and the rain eased by 0845 so off went the engine, out went the Genoa and some main and we carried on around the 5 ½ to 6 knots.

The main topic during the morning was agreeing where the half way mark was, depending on where you measured it different distances wee recorded so we finally decided that the trip would be 2820 to the way point on the Northern end of St. Lucia giving us the half way mark at 1410 nautical miles and that was what we bet on; what time we would pass the half way mark. With the speeds of the boat fluctuating as they were, no one could predict with accuracy but it was envisaged it would be around evening time.

The day came and went quickly as usual, David was Mother watch and surpassed himself again, Rose won’t know her man when he gets back, cooking pasta and rice dishes not to mention the bread earlier in the trip!

Part 2 of Mutiny on the Bounty was played whilst David cooked evening meal but the winds were getting up and the rain was coming down and the whole area looked very bleak so around 0600, down came the Genoa down came the main and up went a reefed staysail. At this point I changed the watch pattern from normal to storm watches. This meant there are always 2 up on deck and out came the wet clothing from the locker. Something we didn’t think we would need this trip

After dinner and finally the last part of the Mutiny on the Bounty was watched, we congregated on deck to take stock of the weather and decide the way forward for the night.. The winds had eased a touch and were coming from the N NE “quirkily” but as our speed was only around 3 ½ knots, we needed to pull out ½ the Genoa. Anam Cara settled down to 5 to 5 ½ knots and pretty steady. Ran like this for a time looking at the weather and where the squalls were on the radar and after a period decided to return to normal single watches with one minor difference. The next on watch slept in the saloon just in case quick second pair of hands was needed.

During the night we were experiencing gusts up to 18 knots but in the main running through the squalls at around 2/24 knots of wind with Anam Cara reaching 7 knots at times. Apart from the odd wayward wave coming into our beam, she was sailing along pretty steady.

We crossed the half way line some where around 2200 hours but did not celebrate, will have one tomorrow. We heard on the VHF another boat was having their half way crossing party yesterday, so at least we are not here alone!

There have been comments about when we send the log in, well we send the log once we have done the log and we do the log when we are ready to do the log, time goes so quickly, it’s unbelievable. I thought I may have been bored but I am not and we are currently 2 hours behind the UK.

David is continuously recalling Rose and family and very pleased to hear of new grandson, Louis, congratulations to Magali and Steve. He looks forward to family gatherings and seeing all at Christmas. At the half way stage the decision to take the “Southern Route” seems to have been appropriate. However the trade winds have been unpredictable and disturbed by low pressure regions above us. No records will be broken this trip and we are predicting a 22 day crossing at this stage.

Friday 5th December

Position at Noon: 17º25 N 37º42 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 106

Total Mileage covered to date: 1479

Total Mileage still to run to date: 1341

As the night progressed we went through a number of squalls but gradually as the dawn approached so the wind dropped. Soon as first light appeared we flew the spinnaker and at last we were motoring again, well 3.7 to 4.3 knots!

Great excitement today, it is Christine’s birthday so the crew, led by Esta on her flute telephoned Christine and we all sang happy birthday to her. This was followed by a special “half way” breakfast of Scrambled eggs, toast and washed down with “Bubbly” a rather nice Cava.

Weather this morning superb, sunny, warm, and little wind, oh well you can’t have everything can you?

Afterdeck showers are the order of the day for some and we have also released the breaks on fresh water use from the boats tanks. Half way across now and both tanks nearly full, better than we had hoped for. I suppose having a mature crew ensures we do not over indulge in these essentials.

Did some more work on the bilge as there was some residue water still there otherwise we just sat and enjoyed the sunshine; after all we weren’t going far at around 2 knots.

Film of the day was James Bond “Thunderball”.

Some washing was done, a good drying day today.

We took the opportunity today to top up our fuel tanks from the jerry cans we are caring. To our great surprise we only put in 75 litres of Diesel, wow, what low consumption. We had a budget of one litre an hour for the generator it is actually using just a little over ½ a litre an hour, very pleasing especially as in that use of 75 litres we did 11 hours with the main engine on back on day two.

Oh, yes to all you kind people who are trying to send e mails, unfortunately there are still one or two of you trying to send big files with attachments. Please please please do not send big files as it causes our system to block and the important files like weather forecast are not getting through. If it doesn’t stop, I will have to just have them deleted back in the UK so nothing gets through.

Lunch today was a fishy day; we opened several tins of fish and enjoyed it with fresh bread. It would have been nice to catch fresh fish but with only the one lure, we don’t want to lose it!

Evening came upon us, still no wind, just a nice balmy warm night with the Spinnaker just about staying full. We all feel very sorry for those poor souls out there without a Spinnaker. The good news is we are not downhearted with the lack of wind. We are getting along fine and all happy with the way the boat is behaving.

Night arrived without any wind so watches went ahead on a sea like a mill pond

Saturday 6th December

Position at Noon: 17º03 N 39º25 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 102

Total Mileage covered to date: 1581

Total Mileage still to run to date: 1239

Spinnaker up all night, little wind but we did have company off the starboard beam (330ºM) and the moon was bright lighting our way. Very warm, the 0400 hrs watch was dressed in shorts and tee shirt, can’t be bad

Very little happened during the night and when morning arrived, we had more of the same! But by midday we had more wind and the spinnaker came into own, surfing along and touched 8.4 knots, “Go Girl” Under the spinnaker at around 7 knots you wouldn’t know you were on the water, Anam Cara is as steady as a rock little to no rolling, just very comfortable.

Andrew was on Mother Watch and we enjoyed a very nice lunch of fresh bread, cheese, tomato salad, and Salami and as it was hot a cool beer each.

The afternoon Bond film today was “Diamonds are forever” when we had fresh pop corn made by Rob.

Apart from the time we were downstairs watching Bond, we were all on deck or in the cockpit sun bathing, it was an extremely hot day with minimal wind to cool us down. We did have a debate about having a swim but decided we didn’t have the time to stop and turn about if we needed to!

Around 1800hrs we decided to take down the spinnaker and get the Genoa and main out as, looking ahead, it was uncertain with dark clouds approaching and perhaps squalls.

The last of the fresh beef for dinner served with potato wedges and courgettes, washed down with Vino Tinto, can’t be bad!

Rob and Esta went to bed; David, Andrew, and I stayed in the cockpit watching the radar for squalls and put the world to rights whilst finishing off the last drops of Brandy.

Night took over and night watches went into action waiting to see what was coming our way but still doing around 6 knots.

Sunday 7th December

Position at Noon: 16º49 N 41º33 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 125

Total Mileage covered to date: 1706

Total Mileage still to run to date: 1114

The night started with a beautiful moon eclipsed by clouds, steady breeze maintaining 6 knots, with the odd squalls and rain but nothing too heavy, to start with. Then everything changed around 0100 hrs. Squall with rain followed squall with rain ’till around 0400hrs when everything changed back. As the night progressed wind died right down and we were forced to fire up the engine. No sooner did we do it, the wind came back! Out went the sails and we were off again though only around 4 Knots.

Sunday morning had arrived, we had completed two full weeks since leaving, but we all agree the time has just flown by. It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since crossing that start line back on the 23rd. The sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be another scorcher. Poor Esta, she is on Mother Watch and it is Sunday Roast again! And just as she started her preparation, the gas bottle ran out, it could have been worse, it could have been half way through her cooking.

Only one job to do today, that was to clean out the cockpit drain following last night’s rain; then just laze about after a normal breakfast of fresh melon and cereal. Yes we are still eating fresh fruits and at this rate may have some over upon arrival at St Lucia.

After preparing lunch, Esta was forced by the heat in the galley to have a sea water shower to cool down.

Cocktails were served between the cockpit and the saloon as James Bond in “Her Majesty’s Secret Service” went on prior to dinner.

1400 hrs we sat down to a gastronomic delight, Esta had used the last of the fresh pork mixed it with various things and baked it in a pie, this was accompanied by Roast Vegetables, Potatoes roasted stuffed tomatoes. Very nice but unfortunately we couldn’t do it justice, just too much you see! If that wasn’t enough, Esta had also baked fresh scones for Sunday tea, delightful.

Following lunch everybody not on watch took to their beds for a well earned siesta.

Wind during the day keeping Anam Cara around 4 ½ – 5 ½ knots but, and this is a big but, the wind was coming in from the SW, so after two weeks of down wind sailing, we were close hauled; what ever has happened to the trade winds?

By 2000 hrs were going nowhere and after careful consideration we decided to fire up the engine. This time we had to keep it fired up as it didn’t persuade the wind to return.

2100 hrs and we have been watching some spectacular lightening taking place directly behind our stern. Where it is going to or whether it will travel over us, we have yet to find out.

Tomorrow we expect to cross the1820 miles target, leaving us under 1,000 miles still to do. A count down from 1000 miles to go will then take place

Night watches settled in and off to bed the others went still wondering what was going to happen with all that lightening.

Monday 8th December

Position at Noon: 16º29 N 43º 16W
Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 101
Total Mileage covered to date: 1807
Total Mileage still to run to date: 1013

Night came and went, windless! We woke up to the rumble of the engine still pushing us along at various speeds from 3 ½ to 4 ½ knots, never mind it was a glorious morning, sunny and warm. As for the lightening we saw last night, that continued and we heard the thunder to go with it but fortunately it went all around us and therefore missed us, luckily!

For part of this morning we had some distant company on our port bow but they turned south as we kept to our course. Having got the engine on; we just point to St Lucia and go. We were wondering if he went off chasing wind. Going south was probably a bad call according to the weather forecast, unless he knows something we don’t!

Around 1000hrs we had some wind so off went the engine and out came the sails but what wind there was, would you believe, came from the North West so again we had be close hauled. I am beginning to think these trade winds are somebody’s imagination or alternatively, global warming has something to do with it!

We would just like to thank all you friends and relatives out there following our progress on our web site and to thank you for the short but concise notes you have sent us, they are very welcome. Unfortunately we have limited e mail resources on board (no broad band!) so our news out has to be by the daily log posted on our web site.

Rob is on Mother Watch and spent much of the morning baking bread and with Esta some Cookies. We couldn’t let the moment go past without recording his amazing offering for posterity so a picture was taken, superb, well done Rob.

Late morning having had sea showers, etc., sitting in the sun we realized yet again we were down to around 2 knots so at 1145hrs on went the engine and we motored sailed re set the sails and kept going around 4 ½ – 5 ½ Knots. This was better as we enjoyed lunch with some of the fresh bread and a fresh tomato salad to go with cheese, oh yes we had a glass of wine and a cheer went up to celebrate getting under 1,000 miles to go.

The winds started to pick up and veered a little north, so off went the engine and we settled down to a good sail at last. We were above 6 knots for the rest of the afternoon, occasionally going over 7, great but not trade winds!!The afternoon film today was, yes you’ve guessed it; James Bond in “You only live twice” There was much talk about running out of time before we
have watched them all so there may be a midnight showing later, we’ll have to wait and see.

I shouldn’t say this but we all agree what a great boat Anam Cara is; yes I know she didn’t behave well heading for Gibraltar or coming south after leaving Gibraltar. But here we had encountered strong winds on her nose, and tides etc running against her, not to mention the pouring rain we endured. Thinking back on that and listening to the other people in and
around that area at the same time, we were expecting too much from her. We should have taken alternative action; we shouldn’t have just battled against the elements. On this trip we have sailed close hauled at 6 – 7 knots in 14 -18 knots of wind, down wind again 6 – 7 knots in winds of as little 12 – 14. We have also sailed broad reach as well as beam reach very successfully but the revelation has been the spinnaker. In as little as 5 Knots of wind, the spinnaker will still fly and push us along at 3 knots up to the other end, with 15 knots of wind we were travelling at between 7 – 8 ½ knots.
Under extreme conditions when we had 40 knots of wind plus one night, we were under staysail, still doing 6 – 7 knots, and very steady she was too our only problem is the winds are not consistent and this is nothing to do with Anam Cara. Even during those bad times near Gibraltar, she always felt as safe as houses and crossing the Atlantic has done nothing to dispel these thoughts as long as we continue to recognise Anam Cara is a very safe, comfortable long distance cruising boat.

Dinner this evening was a pasta bake using up all the vegetables we had left over from Sunday Lunch, very tasty; oranges and bananas to finish followed by a late night Movie, Golden eye.

Night watches started as usual and we all settled into our well practised routine

Tuesday 9th December

Position at Noon: 15º 57 N 45º 41 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 144

Total Mileage covered to date: 1951

Total Mileage still to run to date: 890

At 0130hrs the watch changed, I took over from David. During his 2 ½ hr watch he had little or nothing to do. There weren’t any other boats about us, it was a fairly clear night, and all was well in the world, we had just put the hood up when out of nowhere we were drowned by a squall. Dave happened to be downstairs; I was up in the cockpit and went from bone dry to soaking in a matter of milliseconds.

The rest of the night was un-eventful other than the wind gradually dropped off and there was slight rain around 0600hrs.

David is on Mother Watch today and he has set about making bread. Good for him maybe he will make it at home for you Rose!! Just in case he denies this bread making, I attach a photo to this log as proof!

I am beginning to realize there is more to David that meets the eye. He is an accomplished cook and has fed and watered us well all day but special mention has to be made about David’s “Corn Beef Hash”; done in the oven it went down very well.

Having said that, his memory may be waning, he swore blindly he had put the home made cookies out on a plate on the table for our afternoon cup of tea. They were nowhere to be found. Rob got most of the blame as he was sitting in his cabin BUT had just popped out to collect his cup of tea. Rod was adamant as was David he had put them out! Anyway we found them; they were still in the galley waiting to be put out!

The wind veered round again so up went the spinnaker at 0840hrs and the speed went straight to 7½ knots touching 8 at times, great but looming up behind us was some rather ugly black clouds! At 1000hrs down came the spinnaker, up went the Genoa, out came the main, speed dropped to around 6 ½ knots but with the squall right up our chuff we thought caution was appropriate. Naturally as it turned out we needn’t have worried as the squall passed across our stern, oh dear another wrong decision!

Today at Noon our ships clock went back another hour, currently 3 hrs behind UK time. Skipper on watch so picked an additional hour of duty!

We kept the sail configuration as it was all day as the wind had veered and we were running, achieving between 6 ½ – 7 knots. Looking up to the heavens the cloud formations are now beginning to look like the trade wind clouds, so keep your fingers crossed that we have at last got some.

Oh yes the Bond film today was “Live and Let Die”, enjoyed by all.

Evening is upon us and we have a high, bright moon a de cent sunset quite a swell and company in the distance off our port bow. Weather warm and heading into the night doing a steady 6 ½ – 7 knots, with the mileage dropping nicely now

Wednesday 10th December

Position at Noon: 15º47 N 48º26 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 158 #

Total Mileage covered to date: 2109

Total Mileage still to run to date: 738

# please note: This is our best 24 hour’s performance since leaving Las Palmas. Our record to date is 159 nautical miles; this was achieved whilst travelling south to Las Palmas with just Vince & me on board.

Trade winds held throughout the night still driving forward between 6 ½ and 7 ½ knots, very satisfying pity it didn’t happen earlier in the trip, never mind they are here now, well at the moment!

Sail configuration the same all night, i.e. main with poled out Genoa. By dawn there was a large swell and a 12 -1 5 knot breeze, gusting to 22 knots and Anam Cara touching 7 ½ knots regularly. At dawn, we spotted two boats, one to port at 380º and one on the horizon, dead ahead. By 0700 the one to port slowly came across our bows, we called her up, she was called “Second Wind” and it was a 47ft Beneteau, Her course seemed to us rather strange as we were heading directly for St Lucia and storming along, perhaps being light weight she was finding the sea state rather uncomfortable, who knows. We exchanged pleasantries and then overtook her on our starboard side

Skipper on Mother Watch today and being Wednesday, full English breakfast. A little difficult today with the action of Anam Cara, speed travelling and the sea state but never mind with some valuable assistance from Andrew, full English breakfast duly turned up.

Today for the first time the e mail system performed as it should. We sent out our position as normal and it then automatically switched as it should and brought in the new mail before switching off. Very satisfying after all these days being frustrated by it not performing quits as it should. It probably worked because no one is sending down large attachments or big files, thank you all.

Mid morning, winds have lightened a little and our speed has dropped to around 6 knots, Andrew & David have spotted our first turtle of the voyage and we have another visitor. We are being overhauled by a freighter on our port side also heading west.

Lunch time was a non event today. Following such a big cooked breakfast we all elected to skip lunch and if peckish just have a piece of fruit. I tell you this because it affected our normal routine, for example we didn’t have the usual screen matinee showing the next in the James Bond series! We will just have to accept we will not get round to watching the whole series on this trip.

One job we did today was to consolidate our food and in particularly empty the shower compartment in the owner’s cabin. Having done this we then had the major task of getting the draining pumps to work. Never again will I use either shower compartment for the storage of Potatoes, onions and anything else with loose skins/dirt on. During the passage all the loose skin from the onions and the scrubbings around the potatoes dropped down and with the water sloshing in through the shower porthole, the outlets were well and truly “bunged up” Poor Andrew spent ages on his hands and knees grovelling in the engine compartment cleaning out the outlet pipes and filters, thank you Andrew.

All day we were shadowed by “Second Wind” (the lightweight Beneteau 47), living up to her name as Anam Cara held her on the Starboard beam throughout the day.

Two more 25litre drums were emptied into the fuel tanks, so more weight off the forward decks. As the trade winds have now defiantly kicked in, reducing the forward weight will help to steady her.

Whilst preparing dinner, we were serenaded by Rob on guitar Esta on the flute, singing a number of across the board songs. Occasionally David and Andrew chipped in with singing a few words.

Like Breakfast this morning, preparing dinner was interesting, albeit a simple Tuna and Pasta bake. Anam Cara was flying, touching 9 knots at times but with it we had a considerable amount rolling of motion, and as you would expect the law of sod came to play. She always rolled the opposite way to what we wanted. For example, when trying to put something into the oven, she lent to port, throwing out what you were trying to put in and naturally, conversely when trying to take it out! The alternative was to heave to but this was unthinkable as for the first time were having had a B..y good run going and nothing was going to stop that! Never mind everything got eaten, washing up completed and once again we all settled down to night watches.

If we can keep this pace up through the night we are also hoping to beat today’s mileage and also have a new record, keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday 11th December

Position at Noon: 15º29 N 51º10 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 159 #

Total Mileage covered to date: 2268

Total Mileage still to run to date: 552

# equals the best record set two weeks before we left for Las Palmas

During the night, Anam Cara experienced big swells and sudden wind shifts making steering fun the auto helm work rather hard. The roly poly continued into the morning and moving around the boat was not too comfortable however, we must not forget we are packing in the mileage, running over 7 knots most of the time.

Andrew is on Mother Watch today and trying to set breakfast was interesting, However, GPS suddenly dropped out and to re-set it we have to switch everything down. This only takes a second but in the process the auto helm switches itself off. Unfortunately during this second and with the large swell running and the wind up our chuff, Anam Cara decided to take an alternative course to that which was planned. Getting her back took rather longer than we anticipated but naturally, we got her back only to find that during this time we had lost our autopilot. We kept switching it on and off but to no avail, we couldn’t get it working.

Manual steering for the 550 miles did not appeal but hey when you have to you have to! This happened at 0900hrs, still no breakfast!

Skipper talked about changing the watches to ensure there were two always on hand for 2 hours but only one on the helm for ½ hour at a time. In the mean time, Andrew and Rob started to trace the wiring and looking for the hydraulics that operated the system.

After diving deep into the starboard lazerette, Rob found a broken wire. It looked as if this wire had chafed against something; salt water had got to it and “bam” it broke. The old wire was trimmed and re joined and hey presto our auto helm was up and running again 1000 hrs. Again a well done to Rob & Andrew,. Thank goodness as not one of us relished the prospect of helming her manually in these seas for the next 550 miles or so.

Right, breakfast time at last so today we took it on the hoof! And also the instruction is to eat more bananas as we still have too many and they are ripening fast.

At this point I would just like to say “well done” to my brave Granddaughter who is recovering nicely from an operation to her chest. I hear you are doing very well and will be back to dancing and swimming by Christmas time, great news and well done Tyla. I would also mention Ashleigh, my other granddaughter who has had some excellent results in her recent dancing competition, well done Ashleigh, I hope your Daddy videoed it for me.

Amazing modern communications, just imagine being a sailor of old, away for months or even years at a time and not knowing what was happening back at home! I can’t bear to think about it.

The rest of the morning passed without a hitch, we also had a conversation with our nearest boat, Second Wind. They are also behind schedule due to lack of wind. Like Christine, their wives and girlfriends are also flying out today, for one of their crew there is something more important, he is getting married in St Lucia! Like us, our current estimated time of arrival now seems to be between Sunday evening and Monday Morning, but this could all change if the winds also change!

Following lunch we had another James Bond Matinee, “Man with the Golden Gun” accompanied by a beer and crisps. Anam Cara just carried on just ploughing herself through the water around 6 ½ knots. If this continues we will get another 150+ mile day in, keeping our fingers crossed.

Following the film, Andrew started to prepare dinner; under extreme conditions he managed potato wedges to accompany a couple of Fray Bentos pies and green beans, followed by bananas and custard, very enjoyable. I expect we will be eating Bananas with this and with that for the next day or so; yes they have all ripened together so next time if there is a next time we must note not to buy so many!

Night watches kicked in and those off duty went to bed.

As it got dark we could just see a couple of yachts on the horizon, 1 to port, and 1 to starboard. We also spotted another tanker heading in the opposite direction to us, passing us on the starboard side. There were the odd clouds but fortunately little rain under them.

Tomorrow we will have to make some sail adjustments and head a little south but feel loath to do that whilst we are making such good speed around, we are running down wind at 7 knots plus.

Friday 12 December

Position at Noon: 15º14 N 54º03 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 168 #

Total Mileage covered to date: 2436

Total Mileage still to run to date: 398

# 168 nautical miles, the absolute record Anam Cara has travelled in 24 hours since we have had her. Additionally our log recorded the maximum speed she has ever travelled 10.7 knots, another record! Unfortunately not one of us was sitting on the helm when we hit this speed, so we credited it down to our 6th member of the crew, “George” Carry on George.

Magnificent sunny morning following a quiet night, no company only a big swell and speeds up to 8.4 knots, very satisfying with the odd squall for good measure.

Esta is on Mother Watch today so we “boys” are excitedly waiting to see what culinary delights will be produced from the galley today!

Firstly, during the day we received a short but concise, e mail via our web site from Mummy Keen (Esta’s Mum) encouraging us on, to which Esta was over the moon at receiving not to mention t the rest of the crew, Thank you Mummy Keen.

Most of the morning whilst Anam Cara continued on her way at around 6 ½ knots, Esta was busy in the galley, at that time we only had nice smells wafting up to us, yum yum what delights are I store for us today.

Lunch time came and there it was not only the customary fresh bread that we now seem to have come to expect, but a banana cake! I said yesterday there as a glut of bananas so this is a superb way of using them up.

Afternoon Matinee did not get off the ground following lunch today as a siesta was called for following lunch with banana cake. Later in the afternoon, Skipper put on a “Bond” movie to see if the music would get some viewers up, but alas no. Not even “Bond” could raise people from their pits.

Dinner was a magnificent vegetarian risotto washed down with wine, again, well done Esta. As it was such a nice warm barmy night lit by a full moon, we all went outside to finish the wine and have a group discussion on storm tactics of all things! Hopefully we will not need them!

The swell eased during the evening and the wind veered a little suggesting once again we need to gibe but decided to run as is until the morning: Make the decision then, and also look if the wind is safe enough so that the Spinnaker can be used.

Again, no company about as night watches settled in.

For those of you unsure, “George” is our auto helm!

Saturday 13th December

Position at Noon: 15º00 N 56º39 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 151

Total Mileage covered to date: 2587

Total Mileage still to run to date: 250

Lovely warm night, just about maintaining 6 knots can almost taste the rum punches waiting for us!

The wind became a light breeze as the night went on and also veered to a point around 0600 during the Skippers watch that we had no alternative but to gibe. At his point we started to head North West! Andrew came up and we gibed the main but kept the Genoa on the pole, at least now we were back onto our normal course of around 265º. Being dark still we didn’t move the pole across but waited ’till first light.

Beautiful dawn, sun rose from the sea into a clear sky, going to be a hot one again today!

Rob cooked boiled eggs for breakfast but ran out of gas in the process, we are now on our 4th and last gas bottle, will have to hurry up and get in to port!

0945 hrs out came the Spinnaker again, we need the additional speed and as the weather forecast suggests the winds are steady for the next 24 hrs, it seems the right thing to do. The last thing has to be to take her down again; any gain in speed is lost whilst it is being replaced by the Genoa

Mid morning and we have company off our Starboard bow, what’s more we seem to be overhauling her.

Everybody is out on deck sunbathing or just taking in the warm morning sun. This is what coming out to the Caribbean in winter is all about.

Not to be outdone by Esta, Rod decided to make a sweet for dinner and as we had a plentiful supply of bananas, that was what the base of his sweet would be. He then made up a crumble mix, not one of those ready mix packets on Anam Cara, oh no, only the real thing! And, Mars Bars yes Mars Bars, a banana and mars bar crumble. Now, most of us have had banana and chocolate wrapped in tinfoil off the bar-b-q, we were interested to know how the Mars Bar/Banana combination would fare, but had to wait ’till dinner

Due to sun bathing etc., lunch today was a very relaxed affair but enjoyable never the less. Our stocks and food provisions have served us very well though we are coming to the end of several things now. As an example we are out of Gin, on the last legs in the wine stocks, into the last ½ pound of butter, opened the last round of cheese, but hey, we still have fresh fruit, some fresh vegetables and plenty of beer left. Our provisions quartermaster (Esta) has kept her beady eye on the food stocks as well as an eye on us maintaining control through ruthless discipline!

Afternoon followed lunch and siestas were the order of the day for some then at around 1600 hrs it was B &B time, yes that time of day that all in Anam Cara have grown to love, “Bond & Beer”.

Dinner time and we had Rob’s version of Spaghetti Carbonarra, very nice and then the “piece de resistance” the Mars Bar Crumble. Wow, very nice albeit sweet, for all you crumble aficionados out there including Jane, my daughter, you must make one for your selves; very very nice.

With the spinnaker still flying we went into night watch mode and only 192 miles to go, hippee. The forecast suggests we will be alright flying the spinnaker all night so hope to keep this pace going to arrive in early hours of Monday Morning.

Sunday 14th December

Position at Noon: 14º22 N 58º49 W

Distance travelled in Nautical Miles: 130

Total Mileage covered to date: 2717

Total Mileage still to run to date 124

Uneventful night, wind veered a little but nothing serious, but gusts when some cloud banks went over made the spinnaker flap causing Andrew to get up and join Skipper and David on deck. Having seen things weren’t as bad as he had thought and while we debated what was going to happen next, Andrew brewed a pot of tea. At 0230 there was wind of around 13 to 17 knots with gusts up to 20, nothing serious. Looking behind we saw scattered cloud banks, again nothing to worry us, well that is what we thought. Firstly we had decided to pull the main out giving us some shelter if we needed to pull the shroud over the Spinnaker. Looking back again we saw dark clouds approaching but collectively had seen them like this before and they either did nothing to us or skated behind us. So we held firm, just kept on our toes as we were going 7.6 knots and we wanted as much speed out of her as we could. Wrong call, we suddenly experienced winds rising up to 20/25 knots and gusted at 40 knots. At the same time Esta and Rob came up just as Anam Cara broached, we spilled out the main, Rob and I holding onto the helm and trying to recover her and Andrew on the and bows trying to snuffle the spinnaker. Anyway everything got completed without panic but in the process the spinnaker came apart, unfortunately at the time of writing we are un aware of what the damage is to our old faithful spinnaker, we will have to have a good look when we arrive in St Lucia.

Out went the Genoa to join the main and things then settled down, though Andrew and Skipper stayed up till around 0400 to make sure things were OK. Naturally they were and we went through the night without any other incident, until 0730 hrs; Wind had died totally and we were forced to run the engine if we still wanted to get in sometime Monday.

Eventually the wind came up, off went the engine and we were back sailing again with about 12 knots of wind, making a steady 6 knots plus.

David on Mother watch and our last Sunday roast of the voyage, well roast potatoes and garlic to accompany the last two Fray Bentos pies served with our last fresh red cabbage. Very tasty and cooked under difficult conditions as there is quite a swell making Anam Cara wallow quite a lot. Well done David.

Following lunch, B&B became BBC today. Yes BBC that’s Bond, Beer, and Crisps! I think we are slowly losing things here, we have even taken to talking to Basil and Sibyl, you remember our Basil Plants. They have responded well to our chats, they are still looking fit and well and we hope to present them to the ARC upon completion. In case you were not aware every entrant was challenged to see if they could transport and keep alive a Basil Plant. Keeping everything crossed for the next 24 hours, I think we have done it!

Great excitement on board this afternoon as the end is approaching; we are making plans on what to do after crossing the line as our ETA to cross will be about 0400hrs Monday Morning. During the planning stages, assuming the trade winds had kicked in; we calculated the journey from Las Palmas to St Lucia would take between 20 and 21 days. During this trip we had minimal winds travelling south to Cape Verde Islands and were frugal with the engine, and then we were nearly half way across the Atlantic before the Trade winds kicked in and if we hit our ETA above we will have taken a total of 21 days and 15 hours, not bad eh! This is even more special as the original crew which jumped wanted to leave Las Palmas a week early to ensure he arrived in time for his flight back to the UK booked on the 17th December; 3 days from now! Oh what little faith he had in Anam Cara.

Running alongside off our starboard beam is another yacht, we think it is second wind, but not too sure, we are both racing to the finish line at a steady 7 knots!

Today was also the day we crossed the 60 degree line of Longitude which meant our clocks went back the last of the four hours time difference, we certainly will not suffer from Jet Lag here!

As we make our final approach to the Northern end of St Lucia, Rounding Pigeon Island and across the finishing line before entering Rodney Bay, we are beginning to see other boats again. We are all converging on the same place, yet it seems funny we didn’t see many during our trip. The good news about the finish it is a dry, warm cloudless night with a full moon so we should be able to see OK.

Night Watches went on as usual but with the end in sight nobody thought they would get much sleep!

Final ARC 08 LOG

Monday 15th December

Position at Noon: 14º04 N 60º57 W
Distance travelled in Nautical Miles:
Total Mileage covered to date:
Total Mileage still to run to date

An uneventful night other than a couple of squalls, a cruise ship passing across our stern and one or two other sailing boats running for that all important finish line. Sped about 6 ½ knots from about 12 knots of wind, well done Anam Cara.

Coming around Pigeon Island was interesting as suddenly we discovered that our new chart plotter software has packed in, we tried everything to get the details but to no avail so we had to concede a place to second wind as we gave Pigeon Island extra space for security purposes, very annoying as we had overtaken them on the long last 50 mile drag to the north of St Lucia.

21 days, 18 hours and 36 mins after leaving Las Palmas, we heard that all important horn to say we had officially finished 151.

Down came the sails, on went the engine and as we motored into the Marina, there was Christine waving and shouting at us, great to see her. We glided directly onto the hammerhead at the end of pontoon E. Here we were welcomed by Andrew Bishop (ARC, M.D) with a rum punch and a welcome bag of goodies. We followed this with the bottle of champagne I had kept in reserve for just this occasion.

After securing the boat Christine and I took advantage of the Hotel she was staying in and had the first proper shower since leaving Las Palmas and the first shave as well, very welcome. Eventually we got to bed as dawn was breaking.

Back to the marina by 1000hrs for a welcome breakfast in scuttlebutts and then the big clean up and at the same time sort out immigration and customs formalities.

An examination of the damaged spinnaker suggests a repair job may just be OK.

It’s now PARTY time, firstly in Saint Lucia and then for the next 6 months in and around the Caribbean!!!!!

Thank you all for taking the time to visit our web site to keep up to date with our crossing, it was very much appreciated by EVERY ONE of us here out at sea.

Observations from both shore based and boat’s crew are as follows:-

David Bates Navigator

An extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience: I enjoyed good company and a thoroughly professional and competent approach from Skipper and other crew members.

Notable highs included:

The start with 225 boats jockeying for position and Anam Cara getting away well.
Spectacular sunrises and overpowering Titian/Turner like sunsets.
Tuning and keeping the spinnaker pulling effectively often throughout the night..
The un-polluted environment, with brilliant star-scapes

On reflection to get maximum benefit would have studied the night sky in advance: thought we may have seen more wild life which in my case limited to flying fish, a few dolphin and a single turtle but whatever way you look at it a very memorable voyage.

Rob Shaw Joint Mate

It’s amazing how you get used to things; being in port now with the boat flat and everybody going to sleep, it seems really quite odd. Where is the slow roll of the boat and the gentle flutter of the sails that used to send me to sleep so easily?
The thing that strikes me the most about sailing across the Atlantic is a common goal, all headed for the same place at the same time. To have a crew of such differing ages and backgrounds all striving with everything they’ve got, it’s really an amazing sense of community.
The mood on the boat always came from the top, and with Geoff in that seat, we were always laughing and smiling, discussing various things. Never a dull moment. Andy’s erratic deck dancing often led to heated discussions about how sails should be flown, and Dave’s unwavering commitment to doing it “the right way” made things frustratingly slow of occasion. But a bit of patience and I soon found myself slipping into that way of life. Great guys with great outlooks on life, I only hope I’m the same in my retirement days.
Esta’s provisioning and guidance in the galley were a dream come true and always a capable hand on deck made her a pleasure to be around.
Lastly the boat, and what a boat! I’ve never had such a mixture of speed comfort and safety. A double bed, five cushions to sit on, on watch, Bond on the TV every day.
What a relaxing enjoyable trip, how on earth am I going to go back to work now. Thank you Geoff and Christine for this wonderful experience, I wish you and the boat the best luck in the world.

Esther Keen Provisions Controller and crew

I can’t quite believe we are here in St Lucia! It seems like an age since we left Las Palmas but also a mere blink of an eye.
Anam Cara is a boat I would happily sail anywhere in and I will be sad to leave her.
As for the motley crew, well…Geoff, Dave, Andy and Rob- Thank you guys for being my ship mates and a huge thanks to Christine and Martin- the shore based team for keeping all my loved ones informed of our progress and safety; I can’t think of a better bunch to have had this adventure with- By the time I reach my retirement years I hope I too will be crossing oceans with friends, engaging in afternoons of BBC entertainment (beer, bond, and crisps) and have a determination to have fun in all areas of life.
As for the sailing: Anam Cara was my first Spinnaker flying experience, and one I have been waiting for ages! So that was a huge plus. In addition to this I was impressed by the boats stability and motion on all points of sail and in various wind conditions. This has also been a first for me to experience a mast furling mainsail, something I was sceptical of prior to the trip but have been pleasantly surprised by.
I was glad of all the debates upon sailing theory, wind theory, and method especially because we did not always agree- refreshing to be challenged and re assess what you take as law.
We have stuffed ourselves silly with delicious food, slept well, laughed hard and been committed to finishing the ARC in a safe, seamanlike and stylish sailing fashion.
So next: Off Island Cruising with Geoff and Christine- Sometimes I can’t believe this is my reality!

Andrew Collins Joint Mate

The word “solid” comes to mind when looking back on our journey. Anam Cara was as solid as a rock, never causing worry to anyone. Geoff was a good solid Skipper, capable of listening and then deciding hereby removing any worry from us, the crew. The crew were a capable solid team, our strengths combining to overcome our weaknesses. I leave the boat and those aboard with sadness, I will miss the company, and fun we have all shared.

Geoff Page Skipper

As a sailor of limited experience finding the right crew was paramount to our success and with all the pre ARC planning out of the window in Casablanca, you can imagine my anxiety at having to find a new crew at such little notice. Still, not too daunted though pig sick! Christine set about looking in the UK at friends and family whist I, having re thought the numbers issue, decided that young couple would be the best bet. The result, (as has been spoken about several times earlier was a resounding success.

Of course the ships crew were only as good as the back up and for that we had Christine and Martin back in the UK, without whose help we would probably still bopping around the Atlantic and out of communication. Then last, but not least, there was the ARC itself. Of course we had the organisation of the ARC, a great comfort if there were any serious problems.

To everybody involved with Anam Cara getting across the Atlantic and within a reasonable time a very big thank you.

Being interested in History, in the past I have read many books and the majority talk about the Trade Winds, and how in past times they were the principle routes for mariners in the 15th to 19th century. Well here in the 21st centaury they seemed to have disappeared. I was surprised at just how long we waited before they kicked in.

I was also surprised at the lack of sea life about us. Apart from a few dolphins early in our trip and flying fish, I didn’t see anything. I was hoping to see at least one whale if nothing else, still it was not to be.

The best surprise of everything was just how good Anam Cara was. She did us very proud, she performed well in all the conditions we put her through, she was comfortable and always felt very safe, including the bad times heading into and out of Gibraltar when perhaps we were asking the impossible due to pressure of time constraints.

Martin French U.K. Based; Communications and IT Guru
Having watched Andrew ( Christine’s son) do the ARC two years ago, I was looking forward to having a tiny involvement in ARC 08. I spent some time with Geoff in Almerimar setting up his comms kit before he left for Las Palmas. During the 2 days on board it was obvious that his determination to make this trip would ensure its success and so it has turned out. Yes there have been some trials along the way but there always will be on a journey of this nature. What has also become very obvious is the camaraderie amongst the crew which make the difference between success and failure. It has been a pleasure to play a small part in the journey of Anamacara to the Caribbean. I look forward to the next challenge which Geoff tells me is a Pacific Crossing…….oooops probably shouldn’t have said that! Well done guys & gal a big pat on the back from mission control – Derbyshire!

Christine Scott U.K. Based; Joint owner, communications filterer, cleaner upper and general dog’s body!

I would just like to thank everyone who has sent messages to ‘Anam Cara’ they have enjoyed receiving them, and hope you will continue to follow our progress to Antigua, and then onto the Bvi’s. I am looking forward to seeing them all, maybe late tonight or first thing tomorrow!! So exciting, they have done so well. I think other than David we are all going onto Antigua, so I am looking forward to the fresh bread and cake. So keep sending your messages in!! Love Christine xx

Friday 20th December 2008

We waved good bye to friends, and sailed out of Rodney Bay at 10.45am, it was a lovely day, and we managed to set the sails and head for Martinique, we were close haul all the way, but managed to get 7.4knots out of Anam Cara, not bad for a boat that will not sail ‘close to the wind!’

We sunbathed, most of the way, had lunch, then decided to start tacking into the harbor, we should have just engine, because it seemed to take an eternity, sunset came, and it was fantastic, then we decided engine on and arrived in the dark, after struggling with all the navigational lights, still we made it.

Wish we had the chart plotter working, still back to the old fashioned ways, and it was good fun trying to find which bouy was which.

Esther cooked one of her delightful concoctions, we had an early but noisy night, we are in a very busy harbor, with night clubs and steel bands playing most of the nights.

We are now off to explore Martinique. Photos to follow

Tonight we are setting off for Dominic, hopefully to arrive early morning

Tuesday 22nd December 2008 – Martinique Onwards

Well, that lovely smell turned out to be lovely taste the only trouble being the chicken, it was like car tire rubber. Poor Christine, crackin potatoes though. Anyway cleared up and made ready to depart for Dominica with the plan to get there in the morning with a whole day in front of us with which to explore the island and the 365 waterfalls there. That’s right 365. One for every day of the year.

Well I can tell you, that didn’t amount to much. We arrived to a stunning anchorage with tropical rain forest disappearing high up into the mountains. Feeling a bit sleepy from the night sail, which was some really good sailing here and there, we decided to spend the day sun bathing and swimming. Crystal clear blue water, as warm as a bath. We were made up.

So after a morning relaxing we had a lovely lunch and glass of wine on the terrace(cockpit) which set us all up very nicely for a siesta. Following that we decided Bond was the order of the day and set about watching Daniel Craig in his little shorts in Casino Royale. Excellent. First relaxing day since arriving in St. Lucia and well deserved.

Feeling like we couldn’t spend the entire day on the boat, we headed for the shore to see what the island of Dominica had in store for us. After a short walk we found ourselves in the centre of a small and ramshackle little town with everything closed. Apart from one small bar called the Garage. Blasting reggae music, great food and a waiter with a smile the size of his face, the evening was a great success. Back to the boat for an early start. Harder than it sounds. Scenic route round the bay and we managed to eventually find our way. Straight to sleep after an excellent day.

With that behind us we decided to set sail early in the morning bound for Guadeloupe.

4 O’ clock and we all jumped out of bed fresh and ready for the day. Shame there was no wind. Until we got out past the island then we set the sails to a lovely close reach and powered towards Guadeloupe at 7 knots. Bright sunshine and blue skies, it was smiles all round. Bit choppy for lunch so it was a welcome break to sail into the lee of the island where we were presented with a flat sea and no wind. Lunch on the terrace again.

No sooner had we packed away and washed up than the wind picked up again from the NE, setting us cruising along at lovely speed towards Deshaies a small anchorage on the top of Guadeloupe.

We arrived just in time, the anchor went down and the heavens opened. Having taken a few unwelcome waves over us in the last stretch we all opted for a swim and rinse so threw ourselves in the water. Even clearer this time. We could see through seven metres of water all the way to bottom where the anchor was completely buried in the sand. Bodes well for a good night’s sleep.

Not wanting to brave the weather for a drink ashore (you may laugh) we settled down to another Bond movie. This time License to Kill with Timothy Dalton.

Another early night ready for a another 4 O’ clock start bound for the last stop before Christmas. Antigua here we come.

All woke up not as bright as the night before but bushy tailed nonetheless. Set the sails reefed right in as it seemed to be quite windy. Understatement of the century. 30’ right on the nose all the way. All of us took a hammering, boat sailed well all the way though. Christine didn’t feel too well but persevered bravely.

Arrived in Antigua to more rain and more wind. Lovely to be here though. Sitting in the Mad Mongoose writing this, wondering what the next few days have in store for us.

Saturday 27th December 2008 – Antigua for Xmas

Well we have had a big shop for xmas, and now for some carol singing on xmas eve, there is a short film to demonstrate how we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, also some pictures as the evening progressed. A fantastic spontaneous evening, with rum punches, and mulled wine, we were all very relaxed and chilled. We managed even to acquire some tinsel to decorate the boat. The boys tried very hard to get some lights, and even a six foot snowman, but we came home very pleased with our spoils, and we had gained three xmas hats as well.

Having all slept like babies, out for the count, I think the alcohol helped!! We woke up and opened our prezzies, had a lovely breakfast of panetone, and bucks fizz, although I think we are all a bit jaded from last night. Rob spent some time trying to find the world service so we could listen to the Queen’s speech, he failed, that is a first!!!!! We then went ashore to phone the folks, bit difficult as ten million other people had the same idea, so conversations were difficult, still it was good to chat to everyone.

Back on board, we cooked our roast lamb dinner, after dinner, Esta and Rob went ashore to see friends, I played Geoff at crib, he won after five games by one point. Good game.

Boxing Day. Esta and I were back on duty washing cleaning, ironing, the boys were mending hatches, Geoff was clearing out his tool kit, could not find anything after the trip. Rob mended our hot water system, so we are back with hot water again. We will miss them both, they are so handy, still we are learning from them all the time. (Should be the other way really!!!)

Andrew and Anna arrived at 3pm, we were all ashore at the bar waiting for him, it was lovely to see them both, we all had a drink, then they went off to a room in the hills, it was lovely, lots of steps, and overlooking the bay.

Met Andrew and Anna for breakfast, then we all went to the beach, had a swim, then we left them on the beach, and came back to the boat, the weather is awful today, it keeps raining, then the sun comes out again, then another squall. Everytime we went ashore it rained.

28/12 – 29/12

Very quiet days, weather still bad, had to stay in Falmouth Harbour, although we all had swims round the boat, we have all started our fitness campaign’s. Geoff and I weighed ourselves, and decided we have to cut back, because of Esther’s bread making, and incredible recipe’s out of nothing really, Geoff has managed to put on 3kilo, everyone said he would lose weight on the crossing, but he just gained!!!! Still we are back on course now.


We decided to go to St.Bart’s, what a trip, the winds were behind us, and the sea state not bad, until the squalls came, and then we really did go, it was an 85 mile journey which we did in 12 hours, which gave us an average of 7 knots, bit scary at times. Anna and I stayed out most of the time, because we did not want to be poorly, we started off in our summer gear, and ended up in fleece’s and wet weather gear. Poor Anna was sick, but fortunately I avoided it this time. We anchored in the bay at St.Bart’s and went to sleep. Early morning the police came and said we were in the channel and we had to move, which of course we did, we all then jumped in, to beautiful blue seas, clear skies, and did our morning exercises. We all went ashore, and looked round the town, Geoff and I decided that we had been there before, so we found the bar we had been too, and had some lunch, then made our way back to the boat.


Up at 6.30 anchor’s away, and off to St.Martins, it was only 15 miles, the weather was lovely, and we slowly made our way, we saw some dolphins which was the excitement of the trip.

We arrived filled up with water, then went to anchor. Geoff went to book us in, taking Andrew and Anna to shore, Rob and Esther also went to look to see if there was any work around. The port is very empty, and I think they were hoping to see a lot more yachts than there are here. We celebrated the New Year, by having drinks on board, then onto a restaurant, where we had 32 oz steaks, which were lovely, we then went onto a couple of bars, then onto the beach for New Year fireworks. Lovely end to an evening.

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