Just the names are the stuff of sailing dreams. How many sailors sit hunched in a rainy, cold cockpit and dream themselves to “the Islands”. After almost a year of sailing, we have finally reached this bewitched sailing area where the sun always shines, the wind always blows in the correct direction and rum punch is on tap – we thought!
We were anchored off a beach in south Guadeloupe and had a good plan. Leave about midday, cruise to the last bay on the island, wait until about midnight and then leave to reach Antigua at sunrise.
Leave about midday worked and for the first hour the wind took us north as hoped. Then it turned round, turned again and stopped. We sailed in circles for over an hour until a breeze came up and we could head north again. But we sailed. We didn’t use the motor – unlike all those around us.
The breeze became a wind and then a strong wind. We reached the end of the island under second reef and jib and were on our second tack upwind when the lazy jack broke. The deck was a mess of lines and the stack-pack was flogging horribly. We put in to the next bay and almost as soon as we had anchored the “mast monkey” was climbing her mast and repairing things. We decided to sleep at anchor and enjoy the sail to Antigua in daylight.
Up in the dark and off at first light. Immediately outside the bay we found wind but it was varying in direction and strength. More sail, less sail, different sails. And “Chiara” the windvane was not happy and wouldn’t hold the course so we were helping her. Then we came out from behind the island and took the Atlantic swell on the beam.
We were jumping the waves and heading hard on the wind with twenty to thirty degrees of heel. Occasionally Artemis would go through a wave instead of over it just to be sure everything stayed nicely wet. And what does Heidi do? Goes in to the galley, jams herself in and makes bread.
At least the crossing was fast and in the afternoon we saw Antigua ahead and the sun was still shining when we sailed in to English Harbour and anchored in the promised land.