Already a week has passed since I arrived in Antigua. It has been pretty busy to say the least!
A week before I arrived my little Yanmar said he had had enough and called it a day, completely refusing to cooperate and being rather stubborn so my arrival in Antigua meant sailing into the very crowded anchorage in 25 knots and me silently praying that the anchor would hold as there was not a lot I could do if it didn't. To pull a boat of over 7 tonne displacement into 25 knots of breeze to get the anchor back up was not something I had spent long enough in the gym to achieve. So my plan of action was find the biggest space, which was still pretty mini, and the shallowest spot and drop all the chain I could. Thankfully it worked until the next night when the wind picked up and I was dragging but fortunately by then the boat behind had left so I could let out even more chain. All was well though and I am very lucky to have some incredibly good friends who happened to be here at the time and they could get a tender and lots of bodies and a space on the dock. So I've been sat alongside for the last few days getting the iron sail back to where he should be. Working that is! Water has been getting in through the filler cap and quite a lot too so I had a lovely mixture of diesel and salt water. Not only that but the fuel pump had called it a day as well. With the help of two incredible engineers here, Matt and Alan, from two superyachts my fuel has been flushed, we did have to chuck a lot as there were nasty things growing in it and the fuel system cleaned and the pump back to doing what it should be doing! If it wasn't for the generosity of everyone that I have met since arriving I am not quite sure where I would be. The list of jobs doesn't finish with the engine but nothing quite as major.
The crossing took me 24 days in total, not a record breaker. The first 10 days I had a superb 20-25 knots then it starting yoyo-ing. I was becalmed for a total of 5 days, nothing is quite as frustrating as sitting there rolling around moving at half a knot, but then the squalls would come through at 30knots and we would be off again. Having gone so slowly for hours it's always so tempting to leave as much sail up as possible. I did exactly that for the biggest squall of the trip and managed to surf at 9.8knots. Not bad for my little Rustler. As much fun as I was having my sensible brain kicked in and it was time to reef.
The last two nights of the passage I had no battery power, it was overcast so not much coming from the solar panel and the trades don't get an awful lot from the wind generator and my little engine was fast asleep, comatose actually. So it meant I was an invisible little rocket flying through the blackness so I stayed on deck all night from when the sunset and it was quite possibly the two most beautiful nights of the voyage. There is something about solo sailing that magnifies the beauty of things that you often see all the time as a sailor such as a sunset or sunrise, the Milky Way, moonrise and set but when you are by yourself hundreds of miles from the next person the impressive show is all yours. Sat there a little in awe of what I was seeing it just gets more stunning as the days pass by and the performance is only witness by you. The last two days were spent counting stars, brushing up on constellations and wondering how to get safely into Antigua. Mainly the latter to be quite honest!
With friends here that I haven't seen in so long I have to find time to have a Carib or two so on with the jobs list I must go. It will most likely be a few weeks before I head back, but I can't say storm Doris has tempted me to leave just yet.