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As I wrote in my last post, we’ll be sailing from Antigua towards Guadeloupe today. Our friends on Earthling will be traveling there as well although they’ll be departing from Falmouth Harbour, 4 miles east of where we have staged in Carlisle Bay.

The trip between the islands is approximately 42 nautical miles on a course of 178˚ true, essentially due south. On a passage of this distance, or any real passage for that matter, we take a number of steps to ensure that the trip will be smooth and enjoyable.

To begin, we plot our route on our laptop computer. I have begun using the Polar View software that I wrote about a month ago. I really like how the software can “stitch together” the charts so that when zoomed out, I can see the big picture (as in the screen capture below) but when zoomed in, I can see the full detail of the smaller scale charts.

After the basic plan is sorted out on the computer, we plot the same route in the Garmin 546 chartplotter that we keep at the helm. We now know where we are going. Next we need to decide when.

When is ALWAYS dictated by the weather. Period. If Mother Nature says that we can go, we go. If She says stay put, we stay put. We consult two websites to get the forecasted wind and wave conditions, www.passageweather.com and www.windguru.cz. Fortunately, as you can see in the images below, both of those sites concur, saying that we should have winds north of east and moderate seas. Given that we’re heading south, this would put us on a comfortable broad reach, the ideal point of sail for a catamaran.

Now that we know where we’re heading and when we can go, we need to make sure it’s all legal for us to do so. This means that we need to pay a visit to the Customs and Immigration people. It’s always a little bit of a mystery as to what will happen when we do this, including what it will cost us. Fortunately the Port Authority, Customs and Immigration people were all very pleasant to us. It did cost us $70.00 EC ($28.00 US) to clear out, which we were a bit unprepared for, but oh well, what can you do?

The final bit of preparations involve making sure that the boat is shipshape for the trip. This includes confirming that we have adequate fuel for the voyage and also that there are no repairs that need to be taken care of prior to setting sail. As we recently acquired some fuel that item was looked after. We did have a minor sail repair to take care of though. During our trip from St. Martin to St. Barths, we had one of our mainsail battens jump ship. Now it’s hard to imagine that an 8 foot piece of fiberglass could go flying out of a sail high above our heads without our taking notice, but that’s exactly what happened. It has taken us all this time to get a replacement. Yesterday afternoon one of our pre-passage tasks was putting the new one in the sail and to make sure that we won’t lose this one, we lock-stitched the sucker in place! In addition to that little chore, we also scrubbed the entire boat’s bottom so that she’ll be a little quicker through the water. Lastly we removed our dinghy engine and stowed it on the rail, something we always do before a big sail. Occasionally, especially if we think that we might have a rough passage, or will be sailing overnight, we’ll prepare some food in advance. As tomorrow’s trip should be neither too long nor too rough, we’ll likely be OK to deal with food prep while underway.

Last on the list is making sure that we get a good night’s sleep. For trips that will not involve night sailing, we almost always leave around sunrise which today is around 6:30 AM. As always, we set our alarm clock so that we were awake with plenty of time to enjoy some coffee before getting underway. It’s going to be another great day on the water. See you in Guadeloupe!

14 Comments

  1. I use windfinder.com as windguru.cz does not have as much coverage on Lac St Louis in Montreal where I sail. Windfinder gives me more information but I will give more of a look to windguru.

    Spent the last couple of weeks catching up on your blog reading it back from the beginning. Now part of my morning ritual. I also work out with TRX, have been for about three years now, and I do kettlebell. My sailboat is a 21 foot Freedom 21 that is rigged to be sailed solo. I had a great sailing season last summer and am so looking forward to this coming summer but presently everything is snow and ice 🙂

    I think we all live a little through you as most of us have dreams of sailing the Caribbean. A couple of guys from my sailing club (CFSA Montreal) are down there now sailing a monohull that one of the guys spent 12 years building in the boatyard of our sailing club. He sailed down to Florida last year and then they took off in early Dec from there. I think they are around Turks and Caicos now.

    Anyway, look forward to further adventures and photos….

    Patricia
    With the no name sailboat

  2. Lovely explanation thanks. I do exactly the same but with less formality as I am usually going a shorter distance and not changing countries.

    It is interesting that Passage Plan shows F2 winds when Wind Guru is saying 12 to 13 kt which is F4. Is this their usual pattern?

    Have a good sail!

    Mike

  3. No kidding that Customs and Immigration is a mystery. I was merrily popping back and forth from the boat to Canada for almost the last 3 years. Each time the US customs we stamping me back for another 6 months. In Dec. and then Jan. they suddenly decided I had been in the USA waaay too long. In Jan. they gave me an extension til March 6. So we just got hauled out in SW Florida and will get CK wrapped until I am cleared to return, which is a mystery too, since I can’t get any concise answer. We truly want to get on the snowbird schedule, they seem to want to believe I’m trying to work in the US. Heck I don’t wnt to work……ANYWHERE. The USA is going to see a serious economical decline in the sales of yarn and knitting notions. We’re not called Close Knit for nothing. Too bad for them.

  4. If you had a powerboat you would be there in two hours!!!!!!

  5. Safe passage you two! The weather does indeed look like it will favour a nice day of sailing on a catamaran. If the weather does indeed hold out for you it may indeed be a single tack / point of sail the whole way. Trim those sails well and have a nice crossing.

    Thanks for all the meaningful info and excellent photo library of Antigua.

    Alan

  6. Have a great sail!!! Wish I was there… it’s pouring rain here and cold – I got to sit outside (in a tent, mind you) for 4 hours this morning (7 – 11 am) and shoot a bunch of outdoor scenes. So yeah, I’d rather be doing what you’re doing!! (Although Steve Austin [the Stone Cold one] was in some of them and he’s pretty easy on the eyes so it wasn’t all bad!).

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