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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

November 22nd: Jolly Harbor to Carlisle Bay

 We woke up at 7:00am, made coffee, and got everything ready to go. To my surprise, Mario showed up precisely at 8:00am to do a chart briefing. He started by asking us what we wanted, and we told him our constraints about having to do a PCR test on Friday but still wanting to go to Barbuda. Mario proposed we did a loop around Antigua counter-clockwise, heading south to English Habour to pick up final provisions, and then doing a 5am sail to Barbuda under favorable conditions. Our past trips to the Caribbean have featured consistent wind, so I didn't even think to ask for a wind check, which might have made me change my plans.

After that, we got a technical briefing, covering the ship systems. The ship had a water-maker, and even better, one that didn't require constant monitoring. The boat was in very good shape, though the main door wouldn't close. That would have been a problem if we were doing an ocean crossing, but for Caribbean cruising, they just tied the door open. I finished off the paperwork and reminded Ashley that I'd ordered a paddleboard the night before. Niniane and Bowen both borrowed fins from the charter company. The maintenance chief took me to their workshop, where I was shown a selection of very beaten up paddleboards, one of which looked actively dangerous. While walking there he said to me, "Are you Chinese? I've seen Chinese in Antigua, but you'd be our first Chinese boat Captain!" I told him that I was Singaporean, and that satisfied him. After more scavenging, we picked out a paddleboard that was in the least bad shape, and I took a picture and showed it to Ashley in the office when finalizing the checkout. She looked at it in horror and declared that the paddleboard rental was free!

To my surprise, by 11:00am everything was ready to go, including the laundry that I had dropped off at 8:30am. Unlike many charter companies who would drive off the slip for you before handing you the wheel, Dream Yacht Charters chose to give me the wheel, and some minor instructions and then just untied all the lines and bade us on the way. 

Motoring out of Jolly Harbor, as soon as we were clear we put up the sails, we were so eager. Arturo and I gave Niniane some instruction about raising the main halyard and unfurling the jib and soon we were off. It didn't take more than half an hour, however, before we reached Johnson point, and in light winds the boat started coming about by itself and in our jet-lagged state we couldn't quite come about fast enough to regain forward momentum, so we furled and lowered the sails, turned on the engine, and anchor'd for our first snorkel.

Johnson point was unremarkable and not really worth a stop except that everyone was hungry and we wanted lunch. But any snorkel in the Caribbean is a good one, and gave us a chance to shake out our gear. The warm water made me realize how much I missed sailing here, though by the time we were all done it was 3:00pm and our chances of making another stop before heading over to Carlisle Bay was gone.

We motor'd all the way to Carlisle Bay into a headwind, foregoing sails as advised by Mario, and once there went deep into the bay to anchor, as was my wont, for that offered the best shelter. This would turn out to be a mistake later, as we discovered that the resort there had an ultra-loud concert every night, going well past the 11pm curfew. That explained why many boats were parked much further out in the bay --- wise captains will take note if they value their sleep!

We quickly started our next snorkel, given that sunset was at 5:30pm. This was Boen's first sailing trip after he'd learned how to swim, so we had to work out what was wrong with his snorkel: turned out that the mouthpiece had been broken by chewing too hard on it! Fortunately, I'd brought other snorkels that he could use, and swapping out one for another with a good mouthpiece did the trick.

Niniane got lost for a bit in the water, surfacing near another Catamaran that looked just like ours. Fortunately, she made it back to our boat before sundown, and we all got to enjoy the glorious Antigua sunset, after which we had a pizza dinner.

The boat had a watermaker, but we discovered at this point that it was very slow, producing about 3% of the boat's tank capacity every hour. We'd left port with only 80% of the tanks full, and this was a very expensive way of getting water, by translating diesel into freshwater. It did mean we wouldn't have to spend time tying up to fuel docks in order to get fresh water, which we would have had to do at least a couple of times on this trip, assuming that there were even service stations available. We all went to bed early, hoping the sun exposure would have freed us from jet-lag.

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