Friday, January 22, 2010

From Barbuda to Hell and Back!

On one of our last days in Antigua we hiked up to the point overlooking Jolly Beach and Mosquito Cove. The hill has been subdivided into about 20 lots. At probably more than a million dollars a lot, well you get the picture. Buy the whole thing and keep it all to yourself!
This is the view overlooking Jolly Beach. The channel behind it leads to Customs & Immigration, The Jolly Harbour Marina, shops, restaurants and homes.

This is the view of Mosquito Cove where Merengue is anchored....

... and the view towards 5 Islands.

And we can't resist one last parting shot of Montserrat spewing ash. We are going to miss watching the activity and seeing how the island keeps changing. It's amazing!

Our sail to Barbuda was great and once again we were anchored off of this beautiful island.
We could only stay a day as we were headed to St. Martin to meet our friend Tim who was flying in to visit us. We spent Thursday swimming and relaxing and headed out Friday morning at o4:00 for the 80 mile trip. Perhaps it was the leaving on a Friday that brought us bad luck. There's a sailor superstition that says you should never start a passage on a Friday. But we started on Wednesday when we left Antigua, right?
The forecast was for light winds, 6-9 knots. That's a lot less then we need but the wind direction was good for flying the spinnaker so we were looking forward to coasting along at about 5 knots and surfing down 6 foot seas. We started out motoring as we waited for the sun to rise and the wind to pick up. At about 05:30 Merengue's engine started to die. It sounded like it wasn't getting fuel, perhaps due to a clogged filter. We remember that sound very well from when we had bad fuel on the Great Lakes. We throttled back to idle speed but a few minutes later the engine died completely. We raised the spinnaker and I steared Merengue in the very light, 3 knot winds while Jim started to work on the engine. It's not fun hanging upside down changing filters and breathing diesel fumes in a boat that is rocking in 6 foot seas. He had to come up for fresh air several times! New fuel filters in and still the engine won't start. Further diagnostics revealed the fuel pump wasn't working. Once again we are truly a sailboat, heading a long distance without the back-up of an engine. The wind remained lighter than forecast at about 3-4 knots, not day to be out in a sailboat. We couldn't keep the spinnaker full and limped along at less than 2 knots. The seas also were bigger than predicted at about 8 feet although we did have a long wave interval so we weren't getting bashed. But it was still uncomfortable. At 15:00 the wind suddenly picked up to 16-20 knots for about 2 hours. Luckily we were watching a line of rain showers pass near us so we had dropped the spinnaker and were prepared with mainsail and a reefed genoa. Now we're flying along but the seas were also growing and rolling us a bit. The wind lasted several hours before dying again, picking up again, dying, well you get the picture. Landfall at St. Bart's was no longer an option in the dark without an engine. We now had no option but to continue on to Marigot Bay, St. Martin which is a big, open bay that is easily entered in the dark and under sail. At least that's what we told ourselves! Our 12-14 hour sail had now turned into an overnight. And just to make sure we were completely miserable, it started raining as we sailed down the channel between St. Martin and Anguilla! I'm not sure who we ticked off or if it was the leaving on a Friday but this goes down as one of the worse passages we've ever had. We arrived in Marigot Bay at 04:00 on Saturday, 24 hours after we left beautiful Barbuda.
We slept for a few hours, cleared customs and then got ready to move Merengue into the shelter of Simpson Bay Lagoon. We tied the dinghy with our mighty 5 horsepower engine to the side of Merengue and pushed her up the channel and into the lagoon. We could move her along at over 3 knots until we hit some outgoing current right before the bridge. That slowed us to about 1 knot. We held our breath until we made it through and the tide slacked. The bridge tender was very nice and never yelled at us to get moving. I'm sure we were not the first wounded boat to ever go through. I'm not sure if the motorists felt the same. It's a good thing we were holding up traffic at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon and not rush hour during the week. We are now anchored in our usual spot, west of the hill called "The Witches Tit". Tim arrived on Wednesday and we are having a great time showing him the island. Life is good again!


  1. Wow! That was one crappy sail! At least you're in the right place to get the problem fixed. And maybe buy an extra engine! We're trying to work a deal with X to take us grocery shopping (for his business and our personal...).

  2. Becky N Joe on Half MoonJanuary 28, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    You have a kindred spirit with us. This new engine died on us coming into Le Saintes but then re-started on the second try. We made it to anchor, drug a little overnight and tried to re-anchor this morning only to have the engine die again! Now we were drifting on to other boats in a crowded harbor but managed to get the anchor down with them all glaring at us. I stood watch with fenders while Joe changed the Racor filter. It is still not happy and neither are we! We will run it and monitor and pray. Love Ya!

  3. Hey, show some pictures of Tim on the beach and I might build up enough courage to come down for a visit too :-)