Tuesday, April 27, 2010


As we left Falmouth harbor to follow the racers around the island we passed the Athena, at 275 feet loa the largest privately owned sailing vessel in the world. We just found out that is owned by John Clark who also owns Hanuman so I guess the plan was to use it as a mother ship during the races. Pity then that Hanuman never went racing!

The wind was not very strong but soon we were running wing on wing down the Goat channel inside Cades reef with Gisela on the helm.

We had not realized that the racers were doubling back on themselves and we quickly found ourselves sailing through the field and from time to time getting a close up look at some of the racers.

These two for instance were having their own private match racing duel with only seconds separating them after a long race. The noises from the two boats were alarming with much creaking and groaning from the carbon fibre spars as they tacked and gybed on their way to the finish line.

The cruiser classes were well represented although the overall entries are well down compared to the glory years of 200+ boats and the mayhem of mass starts.

This one even had crisp brown paper sails, the sign that someone was serious.

We spent the night at Hermitage bay a beautiful spot just round the corner from Jolly Harbour and were in a good spot to watch the starts the following day.

We are planning to visit Montserrat next and may leave on Thursday but as always I like to look at the clouds on the morning I make passage so we will see.

I just spent a hard hour or two giving the bottom a scrape, for a boat that was supposedly antifouled last November with Micron CSC it was badly fouled and the barnacle growth is extensive.

Friday, April 23, 2010

St Johns

We took the bus into St Johns and were lucky to find only one mini cruise ship in residence. After running the errands that had bought us in we wandered around the streets looking at the vibrant life that is so typical of the Caribbean.

The older wooden houses fascinated Gisela and it was hard to believe that some were still in use despite the subsidence and delapidation.

We looked forward to visiting the big stone built church on the top of the hill in St Johns but we found that it was closed due to subsidence and delapidation.

Perhaps wood and tin is better for the Caribbean than stone.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Well classic yacht week is over and there was some great racing enjoyed by the owners of boats as disparate as OLD BOB a ferrocement gaff rigged ketch, to Genesis a recently built island boat to a magnificent 100 foot+ schooner that flew every rag that it had on some legs.

But in the premier class Velsheda was the clear winner this year adding to her impressive record but it would have been great to have seen her race against Hanuman which was withdrawn by her owner before racing started.

I could see nothing wrong with Hanuman and heard some comments from a crew member who was bitterly disappointed as he knew the boat was OK.

Valshedas owner, the Dutch business man Ronald de Waal, from European retail fashion chain WE (formerly HIJ/HEY/ZIJ clarified the position.

It is still a mystery to me why Dr Clark spent more then two years building Hanuman, having Gerard Dijkstra and his office deeply involved to create the fastest J, using the know how they assembled refitting all the other existing Js, entering the regatta in Antigua, practise and then not race.

Dr Clark did not cut any corners building the boat with carbon rigging, a lightweight interior as well as building a full wardrobe of racing sails. Dr Clark surely was aware of the way the boats were being raced with a mix of professionals and non-professionals. This is being done so that we can sail these big complex boats well, and also for safety reason.

With the Velsheda programme we have been sailing with the same crew for 8 years, some have been with us for 10 years. As a sponsor for Team NZ we had some of the guys of the team sailing with us as a return favour, which has been the situation for many years now.

Dr. Clark himself also engaged some heavyweight sailors and professionals such as Tom Whidden, Robby Haines etc and even tried to get Russell Coutts to join him for the regatta in Antigua. Dr Clark went out practising the same day as us and apparently he was at the helm for about half an hour. After his arrival back at the dock he decided to send the letter to John Williams of Ranger and myself withdrawing from the race. I was stunned. (Read previous news story.)

Then, Dr Clark and I had a personal conversation in which I explained to him that there had been no change as to the crew formation for this race on Velsheda. On the contrary I had ten amateurs of which most were non sailors and four kids on board. He knew I would be at the helm.

However, Dr Clark decided not to race as he did not want to race against these "professionals". It was very unfortunate he chose not to do so as there were four days of fantastic racing between Ranger and us and we were fortunate (or good enough) to beat the bigger Ranger four days on handicap and two days over the line.

Spend all that money and quit without trying. What a shame, I feel really sorry for the crew.

I wonder if the fun per dollar could have been any greater than tht OLD BOB'S crew enjoyed. The masts looked like they were steel poles and the sails had some serious miles behind them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The sun is shining at last .
and we watched the fleet set off while we were having a real lazy Sunday morning before wandering over to Elizabeth harbour for lunch

and then the spectacle of the boats returning with tales of success or shredded sails and startline mistakes.

The parties were getting going as we left Elizabeth harbour for Falmouth.

This one had had some sort of coming together and the resultant hole covered with a neat plywood patch and a suitable comment. A shame as she was otherwise immaculate.

But the best party of all might have been here where the local island boats were docked together. The " There I was " stories were being told and the beer was chilling down nicely.

I think the big schooner on the right of the pic is from Carriacou and was finished in 2002 and is a sign that the traditional island boat building skills are still around.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jumby Bay Jolly Harbour Falmouth Harbour and the Classics go racing

After a splendid meal on the Veranda at Jumby Bay [ Thank you Gisela ] we motored out next morning and despite a forecast for unfavourable winds we found that we were able to sail all the way down to Jolly Harbour.

Gisela was intrigued by the the splendid but slightly decayed casino now empty and unused. The Jolly harbour resort was never finished and the grandiose plans fell short. Many of the dockside houses were never sold and of course the income from the management fees never reached the necessary levels. Still it is hanging on just.

Next day after breakfast in the sun we sailed on to Falmouth and again were lucky to get a wind that let us sail all the way there on a reach instead of having to beat up Goats channel inbetween the shore and Cades reef as usual. But the heavens opened again as we entered the very crowded waters of Falmouth Harbour.

Next morning we walked over to Fort Berkley to watch the start of the race for the big boys. I was disappointed to learn that Hanuman had had to retire from the race the day before and did not make the start line today. Still the sight of Valsheda Ranger and some other classics setting off some flying a spi was great even though viz was not great in the drizzle.

After the rain and mist of the morning it finally brightened up a little in the afternoon.

So we were able to dry out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gisela arrives at Parham Harbour

I had to be up in Parham Sound to pick up Gisela who is crewing for me for a few weeks. Well it is raining as I round the top of Antigua, in fact it is raining so hard I can not see where I am going and

as I am sourrounded by reefs I am at anchor for the third time.

Anyway I made it to the airport in time to meet the flight. I gather Gisela was lucky to get out here as many European flights have been grounded because of the volcano in Iceland.

Parham is not a very pretty area but it was a peaceful night and we headed out to the famed Jumby Bay resort.

However it started to rain again and this time it did not stop so it was a day spent at anchor.

The rain had stopped at last.

Next day Gisela volunteered to bail out the dinghy which was half full of water again but we were soon underway to Jumby bay

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gusty winds today

I am back in the peace and serenity of Five Islands harbour. At least it would be peaceful and serene if the wind was not so variable. It is blowing between 5 and 30 knots and and higher in the gusts.

I got some odd jobs done but was going to have a look at the barnacle situation on my bottom but did not fancy being in the water with the boat moving around as the wind swirls in the anchorage.


Well it settled down a bit so I went over the side and the bottom is not good, not really bad but definitely dirty. So I have been scrubbing off the worst of it but an early haul out and some good antifouling paint is on the cards.

There is another boat just motored in and they are pulling down a badly torn mainsail. I guess it is still blowing hard out there.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Half Mast Soufriere and boy racers on the water

Coffee in the cockpit in the morning is how I start my day. I am a coffee junky and it better be good coffee or there will be trouble.

Anyway as I looked around Falmouth harbour many of the bigger boats had their ensigns at half staff. I had not heard any mention of this on the morning "show" from English Har,bour Radio as it is mostly weather but they usually add a bit of news as well. But it was the son of one of the megayacht skippers who had died with almost no warning. Another life gone too soon like all those snuffed out in Haiti.

Soufriere on Montserrat is smouldering away and I got a couple of good shots today as the air is clearer for the first time. I do not know if it is the ash from the eruption or kust the usual high presure crud that has been giving us poor visibility but whatever it was it has gone for today at least. I looked for some recent data on the eruption and this is the best I could find.

26 March to 2 April 2010
Activity at the Soufrière Hills Volcano has been low this week.
There have been seventeen rock fall signals, and one hybrid earthquake recorded this week.

Sporadic rockfalls and pyroclastic flows are still occurring on the western and southern flanks of the lava dome.

The average sulphur dioxide flux this week was 194 tons per day, with a daily minimum of 105 and a maximum of 304 tons per day.

The Hazard Level is 3. There is no access to the terrestrial Zone C and daytime transit access to shipping through the maritime extension of the zone.

The boy racers of the islands do it on the water.with carbon fibre masts and crisp paper sails.

As well as the fast and the furious come the old and the elegant.
as this lovely schooner showed as it beat up to English harbour.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Crummy wifi and tall masts

Curses on the wifi company HOTHOTHOTSPOT

It is the most expensive wifi yet and the most unreliable. I have just spent an hour reading a couple of emails and replying to one as the mists came down on the connection and it would lose touch every minute or so.

The signal strength is excellent with the booster but it is so frustrating to watch the little blue icon that signifies internet access come and go at random.

Hanuman the replica J class came back and added her tall mast to those that need red lights on top as they are a danger to low flying aircraft. At least I hope that is what the red light means.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I am writing this in the cockpit as the sunsets over Cherry hill and a Bob Marley tribute band is belting out some pretty good reggae.

I had a good day which is more than can be said for the Megayacht Achilles who finished up hard aground last night and suffered the indignity of being pulled off by the little tug Sea Pony.

It may be that he damageg one of his screws as he had assistance even after he was pulled of the sandbank. If you look closely you can see that the nearby yachts had their big fenders out and there was some anxious moments as he swung clear.

Thursday, April 1, 2010



Have you seen the scene in Harry Potter where the "night bus" drives through the streets on London at impossible speeds.

Well I know where the writer might have got her inspiration from. I thought I was immune to crazy bus driving after the chicken bus ride in Guatemala but the bus I was on today from St Johns to Falmouth made me really really nervous. I was just about to get off and wait for the next one when he reached the outskirts and suddenly started obeying the rules, stopping at red lights, driving on the road only, he had made quite extensive use of the pavements before and giving other users some room instead of forcing them on the pavements.

But perhaps my adrenaline supply was already a bit depleted because of the riot I had just come through at the bus station. At first it started in one corner and I thought it was a fight but it quickly spread through out the whole station with people attacking shouting screaming and throwing things in the air. It was the last that made me think 'ah cricket, it's a match somebody has just won' but it turned out to be politics!

A High Court judge in Antigua has ruled that the election of three government parliamentarians in the March 12, 2009 poll, including Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, was invalid.

The judge’s decision means that the ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) administration will now have only six of the 17 seats in Parliament. The opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) only commands seven seats and therefore cannot form the government

The bus stopped several times Caribbean style blocking the traffic in both directions to chat to some pretty girl AND or to discuss the political scene.

You know you are in the Caribbean when the bus drivers do this!


What is a classic.

All sailing boats should have a full keel, be of heavy
to moderate displacement, built of wood or steel
and be of traditional rig and appearance. Old
craft using modern materials such as epoxy or
glass sheathing, or new craft built along the lines
of an old design are acceptable. Vessels built of
ferro-cement may be accepted if they have a gaff
or traditional schooner rig. Fibreglass boats must
have a full long keel with a keel-hung rudder, and
be a descendant of a wooden boat design. Boats
not fitting into the above categories may apply
in writing with documents and photographs or
drawings to support their request for entry. All
entries are subject to approval by the Committee,
whose decision is final.

Well I can't define it but I know one when I see it, is said many time and here it is true again.

Galatea is 70 feet long 111 years old, Swedish and ever so elegant and just come up from Trinidad in 2 days - flying at 12 + knots all the way.

Flying but pretty wet too with that little freeboard and it must be scary to go forward to change the headsail as there are no lifelines.

They even have a cat onboard!

Oh yeah water is back on so got me laundry done too; wash dry and fold for less than the price of the coin op laundromat.

How good is that!