Hello all from the Happy Island of Antigua. We’re into our third day of racing and haven’t broke anything or anyone yet. OK, we tore a small hole in our BIG kite launching it. OK, it was a medium size hole but we think we can get it fixed before our race tomorrow, and it was a true accident, really. Nobody, and we mean no one is blaming any foredeck personnel for it.
Right now we are anchored outside, and I mean WAY outside Jolly Harbour as we draw 10 feet and it’s a shallow bay. We were achored next to Pyewacket until a squall came though and moved us a few hundred yards across the bay. Thanks to Robert, our lone watchman on board, the boat was saved, with the anchor just resetting, with Robert adding more scope. It seems the rainy season is starting up here.
Jolly Harbour is a true cruisers destination, as well as a resort area on the island with lovely beaches. The harbour was totally packed with boats, and the big anchorage full of sailboats of every size, make, shape and construction.
The racing has been excellent, but a buoy raceboat OceanPlanet isn’t. She’s set up for long legs with the wind beside or aft of the beam, which buoy racing doesn’t tend to be anything alike at all! But boy do we have fun going off the wind. Even the competition smiles when we rocket on past. Because of our dubious rating, and the fact that we don’t point with the Big Dogs, we are still sitting in 17th place overall in the regatta. But with these buoy races, it seems all we do is go to weather all day. Probably because our downwind bursts go buy so quickly and with so much rasta-man happiness.
The list of boats racing is a long one of nearly 200+ yachts. A whos who of yachting from the Atlantic, the Med and even some west coast yachts like OceanPlanet. For instance there are THREE boats from the organization of www.formula1sailing.com (or something like that) from England, as well as the boat below, “girlsforsail.com” sailed by, what else! All Girls! Guys with small restaurants and businesses are here racing their floating billboards and tax write-offs. Spain, France, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, England, USA,… they all seem to be here.
Most of the boats in the regatta are cruiser/racers like Bene’s, Swans, etc. Some of the Moorings and SunSail charter boats are racing as well. Now THAT aughta be some food for thought for next spring!Today we picked up our anchor from outside Jolly Harbour and raced back around the Island to Falmouth Harbour where we started on Monday. Falmouth seems to be the drier side/end of the island where Jolly Harbour has a wetter climate. Last night I think it got down into the lower 70’s with the system that came thougjh, which felt cool. The water continues to be about 80 F degrees. Since we didn’t get our “Big Mamba” kite repaired, we didn’t use it today, but it didn’t seem to hurt us much as the downwind opportunity was very short and our BORLAND Code Zero did just fine. This is a roller furling headsail on it’s own luffline that reaches well and deep. We just drop the head of the sail off of the mast a foot or two and this sail acts just like a kite, wrapping/pulling to weather. It’s awesome to watch it lift like that and pull the boat over the water.
Above is yet another one of my favorite photos of the mastflex of the top of the big unit. When we do run into gusts, two things happen; the boat accellerates and the mast bends off, loading up and spilling wind off the main. When the gust goes away, this mast/spring unloads back into the mainsail and adds more power to the boat. It’s such a win-win situation spelled C-O-N-T-R-O-L, it makes me grim ear to ear just thinking about it. In fact on a ride out to the boat with one of the local West India water taxi’s I was talking with them about the planets visible in the sky, (they seemed to know much more about them than my American friends, probably because of the consistently clear skies and the 6:30 PM sunsets) and then about OceanPlanet as we approached. I described the rig and they instantly understood; “Just like a Laser, Mon?”. Almost presicely I answered. These guys knew how to pilot an over stressed water taxi with no running lights, AND they knew sailboats.
Here we are sailing back from the racing with just the main up at 10 or 11 knots. The speed on this boat is so deceiiving. (Did I spell this right; “I before E except after C, except for about a million exceptions”). If we ever drop down to 8 knots or less it feels doggie and slow. But up around 13 and 14 knots things start to seem like all is right with our world and with OceanPlanet. She just loves to fly. Here life really doesn’t begin until 15 or so.
Tomorrow is a layday, so we’ll get to some winches that were binding and in need of being looked at, as well as having our big kite sewn up from our bad launch yesterday, and be ready for action again Thursday. Plus we will be able to have Bruce write some of his thoughs to post here (El Capitan has been a busy hombre). As a grinder, the rest will be welcome as well. I’m just happy OceanPlanet isn’t a masthead rig with 150 genoas. The fract. working jib is enough!!
Mark Wiltz for Bruce Schwab, the Crew and OceanPlanet.