We left Marigot bay and were on our way to go around the southern tip of Anguilla, when Hanna asks me. What are you gonna do about that sailboat that is heading towards us. Well I’d planned to let him choice witch way to go. So we decided to wait for a while but keep a look out for that boat. When we felt it got a bit to close we decided to give the boat a bit more room. It was in that moment I noticed that the boat looked a bit familiar. It was our German freinds on Serenity out for a wednesday cruise before getting the boat up on land the next morning.
We arrived to road bay on the north west side of Anguilla in the early afternoon, and since the costums office was open upon our arrival (för ovanlighetensskull) we could check in at once. During the evning the crew left the owners onboard and went ashore. The darkness made the beach sand hard to distinguish from baking flour and we had a nice walk in the to one of the beach bars. We manage to get connected, to one of the fastest connections we’ve had so far on this side of the Atlantic ocean. But the great speed was also accompanied with the highest beer price. So we soon decided to head back to the boat too get an early start the next day.
Early starts has in the past been quite early as in 6-7 o’clock but with this big crew it’s more likely that it ends up being around 9-10 instead. Well we sort of had an early start the next day. Captain took the job of mounting one of the wind generators that he bought in St. Martin. Hanna were to do her laundry wich left us in the crew to explore the island alone. So we vent ashore and started to walk across the island. With the destination set to Shoal bay we started walking. We had heard that it supposedly were to be one of the top 10 beaches in the world in Shoal bay and we were keen to find out. After a while we stoped at food truck and asked if there were any buses on the island. To our disappointment there weren’t any buses at all. But he recommended that we should hitch a ride with someone, sooner or later someone will stop. Turned out to be a bit later in this case, after beeing passed by numerous of big cars and minibusses a small suzuki swift stopped and picked us up. Luckily we weren’t more then four persons this time. The driver explained to us that he never had been to Shoal bay but that he had tried and given up. But when we finally arrived it was obvious that he had taken a really bad detour last time he tried because this time we practically parked on the beach and i must say that the colors were fantastic.
But since we recently had visited Baruba we were spoiled with exclusivity and here we definitely weren’t alone. Sun beds and beach umbrellas as far as you could see, and alot more activities around beach. You could clearly see that Anguilla weren’t hit as bad as the previous islands by Irma. Well we went for a short swim. Then it was time to go back again. This time we had more luck to get a ride just a few hundred meters from the beach a pick-up truck stop and picked us up. And the calm and chill traffic we had experienced before was all gone. This ride was all about pedal to the metal and full speed ahead. The one and a half hour we spent to get to the beach was reduced to a bit over ten minutes on the way home.
We didn’t stay for long in Anguilla infact the very next day we set sail for the BVIs. Our big crew nade it possible to always be two people on watch at all time. Something we haven’t really missed but it was nice not to be left alone. Well we had our seventh crew member the noise machine aka wind generator up and running. Well if you fall asleep in the cockpit when that one is running you wouldn’t have noticed if you ran in to a minor island either.
Since we didn’t get the earliest of starts this monday and we arrived during the late afternoon in Les Saintes. Our main goal with our stay in Les Saintes was to dive so we prepared for that by running the watermaker and go to bed early. The next morning we reanchored, far from any other boat but close to a dive site. This meant that we could dive straight from the back of Chibidarra which makes it easier for us, and it also means that we can fire up the dive compressor without anyone complaining. We did do a breif tour of the main island which had loads of scooters and e-bike rental shop but since it is a pretty small island it isn’t too far to walk anywhere. I would describe the island as very touristic but beautiful island with turcoise water and white beaches. The dives wherent to great although very good visability. We did find a great number of dead counch shells and seagrass. After a couple of nights in Les Saints we continued up north to Guadeloupe.
Guadeloupe then another big french island with a almost working cellphone network, and boy did we use it. We got online and browsing Facebook marketplace for kiteboard equipment. We managed to get hold of three kites in diffrent sizes, two boards and after doing some complementary shopping at decathlon we got all we needed to start kiteboarding.
We also meet up and started bonding with our new crew Benuit and Martin, they are two french guys in our age. They have been travelling together before and are currently heading for south america but wanted to take a small detour in Caribbean on the way there. Since they had access to a car we joined them for a trip up the active volcano La Soufriere. Sadly we didn’t have any luck with the weather and had a cloudy situation on the top. But that didn’t change Bens and Martins decision on joinig us for a while. When we didn’t spend our time with our new crew we meet up with the crew from Serenity that we’ve been bumping into (stalking) since Mindelo. We decided to meet up with them again this time in antigua later that week.
Guadeloupe consist of two major islands one on the west side one on the east. Between them there is a big mangrove area which is accessible by dinghy. There were some natural canals and open areas in which the water was surprisingly clear.
After five days of bonding, exploring, shopping and restocking it was time to set sails and leave for the next anchorage. We anchored inside of bird island on the westcoast of Guadeloupe. Close to the wreck Le Fran Jack. Since both Ben and Martin is certified divers we dived on the wreck in to groups first Hanna and Captain, when they were out of the water me and the Frenchmans went in. It was a very well kept wreck with a decent amount of life surronding it. They had opend it up a bit so you could dive into the engineroom an have a look around. Well up and dry we left for next stop classic yacht regatta on antigua..
After a long, hard and chill 40 minutes downwind sail from tobago cays we arrived at Union island. We decided to take a sundowner at the man built island, Happy island, that is situated on the reef in clifton bay. From Happy island we had a great view over the sunset kite show and me and Michael decided to take some kite boarding lessons.
The first night we met a guy called Bricky who wanted to show us around the island. We offered to make him and his family a typical Swedish dinner in return. Said and done we met up with Bricky the next day and he drove us around the island with his UTV. After the tour we got up to his place and met his family. They lived in a small apartment on a mountain side just above a solar panel field, which a Abu Dhabi based company had recently built. Apart from that and the garbage dump they had a lovely view. We made them Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam for dinner and fraswaffels as dessert. Since they didn’t have any table we were scattered across the room eating, which for us felt a bit strange. Bricky two sons also felt a bit uncomfortable that there four white people cooking and eating in their home. But they got over it during the dessert. The adult was happy with the meatballs and the kids with the dessert so we said goodbye and got back to the boat.
On the way to Brickys house we happened to cross path with Will a french guy that been sailing around the Caribbean since 2011. He has been stuck on Union island for the last five years since he started a kite surfing school in 2013. Me and Michael signed up for a lesson. We meet up with Will at the dinghy dock. We then took his dinghy down to Ashton bay, which is a perfect place for kiteboarding, where he held his lessons. The reef and pathway out to frigate island in the east stops all the swell, but non of the wind from getting in to the lagoon and it opens up for almost a mile of flat water, which is too shallow for boats to anchor in. Although Ashton lagoon was declared a marine conservation area in 1986 a big construction project, including a 300 berths marina, a resort and a 50 acre golf course in the mangroves started in 1994. Luckily for the lagoon the construction company went bankrupt in 1995 but by then they had managed to interrupt the water circulation and killed a lot of plants, corals and wildlife. In 2018 they opened up major gaps in the construction and replanted mangroves. In order to resurrect the lagoon. The future will tell if they succeeded. It is now the most popular place for kite boarding in the southern Caribbean and that is why we were there. Since me and Michael had been practicing with a small kite earlier we quickly got a feeling for how a big kite behaves and after after 1 hour booth me and Michael got up and away on the board. All three of us were satisfied with our progress and me and Michael continued taking turns being strapped to the kite and resting after the wipe outs in the dinghy. Me and Michael had the opposite problem. Since kite boarding consists of two parts the kite and the board, we had trouble with different parts, me controlling the kite and Michael the board. We took a total of three lessons and in the end I ended up on the same place where i started which means that I pretty much mastered the basics of kite boarding.
Since we hadn’t moved for a couple of days Elemiah del mar, another boat from the Viking Explorer, managed to catch up with us. Since we earlier on had been asked to mend their davits we spent a day or two welding and reinforce them. After celebrating the reunion and the mended davits we went ahead to the two islands Petite st. Vincent and Petite Martinique. We spent a day exploring and snorkeling and i even managed to find my self alone on a entire island.
The next day we went back to Union island but this time to Chatham bay on the other side of the island. Chatham is supposed to be a calm and nice anchorage but we managed to get there during high winds and rain. Michaels time onboard were coming to an end so we declared out of S.V.G and headed for Europe.
There will be wind they said. Never change the sails they said. Steady conditions they said. Just go straight they said. It will go quick they said. Very wrong they were…
At one point it felt like we were doing some actual matchracing not because of speed but because the amount of sails change in short amount of time. Cause somehow the trade winds forgot that they are supposed to be around the atlantic by this time of the year. Well we for sure had a dramatic first couple of days, starting inside of the harbour. When we were motoring out of the marina we suddenly heard the low oil pressure alarm from the enginge and had to turn it off. Turned out the newley changed oilfilter had untighten it self, or not had been screwed on properly, and oil had started to pour out. So we quickly set sail and took us by only the genua out through the acceleration zone between the islands.
The first couple of nights was quite rough and only a few of us managed to get a good sleep, but then it slowed down real down. Some days we barely made 70M but it was very comfortable. We quickly got in to the Eat Sleep Sail Reapeat life. When the wind dropped below 8m/s we hoisted the symmetrical spinnaker and to be able fast get it down again we teamed up and were one and a half on watch. Chibidarra moved steady enough during the atlantic crossing for us to without problem dive down in the engine bay and fix the oil leak. Hanna got in to a bit of a fishing frency starting the first day and lasted all the way in to the marina all though we had to clear the lures from seaweed countless times during the trip we caught 14 fishes wich dramaticly increased the Omega-3 level in our diet.
A sit down dinner with flat plates got to be a habbit for us, but we later heard stories from other boats that had a hard time using a table at all.
But it was not all flat seas and awesome sailing… I had just went to bed when a big bang occured, and I thought my cabin where going to collapse I got up and Michael shouted that the main boom were all gone. This turned out to be a bit of a false statement and overexaggeration turned out that the bottom fixing point of the rodkick had been ripped of and it was now standing on my hatch and were forcing the sail up and outward. We dismantled the rest of the rodkick and replaced it with the less luxurious kick and dirk system.
One of the most unhappy momements of the trip were when the colorful mizzen ballooner ripped… turns out that 40 year old wire inside it weren’t everlasting, who knowed? Well no more batikcolored sails for a while.
Luckily there is no need for light wind sails in the Caribbean since the trade winds has arrived here now.
The third and last accident happened up on arrival we arrived kind of late in the evning so we dropped anchor out side of the lagoon for the night. In the morning we got called up by the coast guard and they asked us to move so we picked up anchor and motored away when Mike called us up on the radio and told us that he would send someone out to guide us into the lagoon. We happily turned around since we didnt think it was possible until the afternoon for us to get in. Turned out that we were quite right, cause although we got guided in by the marina staff, we got stuck on a sand bank. We had to force our way through causing some scrapes on the keel. But we got in to the marina safe and sound a few minutes later were big welcome committee was waiting for us.
We went out of the bay with the fishing fleet of Camariñas and 1M out we set course south again.
With a mixture of downwind sailing, beating in to the wind with the engine and a good beam sail. We manage to stay free of all the fishing gear and arrived in Vigo the next morning. We spent a few nights at anchor in a spot outside of Vigo but when the wind and waves picked up we moved further in to the bay and boy O’boy was it calm.
We was completely still for a couple of days that we spent on board fixing stuff that we hadn’t had time to before and took a train to go exploring Vigo. While in Vigo we looked at the town and enjoyed ourselves with a couple of beers at some small local bars and decided to go looking for some boatstuff. We needed new runners for the mizzensail and a few other bits and pieces.
We tried to find a chandlery and found a couple on google maps but no one seemed to sell these. We got recommended to go to a store a bit further away about 300m. After walking around and back and to every boat related store we could find we finally arrived at the recommended store over 2 km away. This one was a really good store with heaps of stuff. We bought some runners that of course was the wrong model but we accidentally stumbled on to something that looked like a threaded cover for our emergency steering that has been lost since we bought the boat. We took a chance and hoped it would fit and it work like a charm so no more leaks through that one.
All this took some time and we had to walk fairly quick back trough town to catch the last train home. We caught the train alright but when arriving at our station nobody recognized where we were. So we found out that they had built another railway with a station outside of town instead of the one we thought we were going to. But no worries we walked back in to town and realized that the tide were to low to be able to get the dinghy afloat in the mud. It was really shallow waters for a long way. So we had to wait for another hour for the tide to go up so we grabbed a beer at the local bar and waited. At last we arrived back at the boat at around midnight and crashed into bed.
We sailed from Anholt at 4:30am to be able to reach Germany and the Kiel Kanale in the beginning of the week. To be able to sail for more than 12 hours we splitted up the crew in to two teams.
The wind was starting of slow, it was supposed to increase but we had to motor most of the day. The wind came around 17.00 and we could sail the rest of the night and morning after. We had a maximum wind speed of 21.8 ms and nedless to say very little sleep at that time. But on the bright side the repairs of our leaks seemed to be working.
Due to the continous winds we arrived early in Kiel and choice to stay close to the inlet of the canal.