The crew from Trinidad to Antigua

A few impressions of our crew that sailed from Trinidad to Antigua.

Similar to our start last season in Europe where major boatwork had to be completed (replacing the mast), we had to deal with the same risk this time. Although the teak deck and awlgrip work was finished in time, the newly discovered problems at the bottom created new challenges. Luckily enough, we were in the right place with Trinidad and its capable companies and were very glad to have only lost one day in the process.

We were relieved to reach the Grenadines over night and leave the potentially pirate infested waters close to Venezuela behind us, visited quite a view islands: Mopion, Union, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Mustique and Bequia before then reaching Antigua after a 2 day sail.
Snorkeling Horseshoe Reef and swimming with turtles at Tobago Cays was just as memorable as seeing all the superyachts in Falmouth Harbor and beautifully maintained classic yachts in English Harbor.

We sailed about 400nm and did it all with our genoa alone (it would take us another 400nm on the next leg to finally use the main sail as well). Coming from a pretty hot location (Trinidad) it was surprising how mild the quite warm temperatures in Antigua felt.

Cathy Johnson
Corinna Kersten
Lauren Kersten
Lili Barba
Linda Barba
Peter Barba
Philip Kersten

Arrival in Bermuda

Is it the turquoise water, the sense of achievement after app. 900 miles of sailing, the America’s Cup catamarans, the rolling hills with the pastel colored houses and their typical white roofs, the history towns like St George’s or the Royal Naval Dockyard radiate, or just the fact that we reached the home of the Dark ‘n Stormies,…?

Either way,
after our exciting Tuna catch the day before, we finally got close enough to our favorite offshore destination, Bermuda, to see the Gibb’s Hill lighthouse in the distance. We connected with Bermuda Harbor Radio,  got approval to enter St George’s harbor through the famous cut at 3am and, as always, were impressed that Customs and Immigration’s would open for just us in the middle of the night.
We found a good spot in the anchorage, dropped off the genoa for repairs the next morning, went sightseeing and shopping in St George’s, visited the White Horse Tavern for a drink and got some diesel before the sail to our mooring in Grotto Bay.

Grotto Bay is the location of the Grotto Bay Resort (where Candice and Dan renewed their wedding vowels last year and the team met Nathan who runs a Catamaran charter company and also a small mooring business) and we were welcomed with open arms. Although we just rented Nathan’s private mooring, were treated as if we were part of the resort, had a nice dinner in one of their restaurants, enjoyed the facilities, their internet and of course the bar at the pool.

While the captain focused on his business work, the crew enjoyed caves, visited Hamilton, took the ferry to the Royal Naval Dockyard, watched the America’s Cup catamarans practice (can you spot Ben Ainsle or Dean Barker on the photos?) and more.

Of course, we had to pay a visit to the Swizzle Inn (which is in walking distance from the resort) to sample the Rum Swizzles (their signature drink), have dinner, leave our names on the ceiling and watch the Captain publicly confirming that he was Spartacus (as part of the nightly entertainment games that were organized by an energetic musician who sent a Viking Helmet through the audience).

A perfect leg came to a perfect end.
We’ll be back to Bermuda soon to continue our journey…

Final approach to Bermuda and a fish story

The wind died in the middle of the night and we comfortably motor sailed to stay on schedule . Everyone slept well especially the midships crew with the minimal heel. No one was jammed into their leecloths. Another beautiful day and we were welcomed into the pre Bermudean waters by a couple of graceful Bermuda longtails. The next welcome was not quite so welcoming- multiple Portugese Man of War jellies with their clear floating Mohawk like “sails” and lots of poison amo below. We saw about 20 and quite close to our boat. Phillip had the courageous idea of trying to bring one on board for closer inspection. So bucket fishing he went. The rest of the timid crew scrambled to find the Marine Medicine textbook and bone up on the lifethreatening symptoms and the best possible treatment. For most jellies, vinegar is the best way to neutralize the toxin release. But the PMOW is an exception and so warm water at 45degrees C is your best bet. After the warm water, if the person is in s
hock, Epipen can help. Then you transfer to a hospital for an anti-venom infusion. We wondered whether Bermuda EDs had that in stock. Thankfully, Phillip’s bucket attempts were unsuccessful. We suspect that Ulf, who was at the wheel, had the wisdom to steer the boat close enough to the jelly to make Phillip believe he was helping, but never allowed a catch.

However, the story of Phillip’s fishing did have a happy ending. We were all sitting around early PM, contemplating a stale sandwich lunch, when alas one of our 2 fishing lines started to splash up. Our first thought was Sargassa seaweed, but an intense Doug thought otherwise. He methodically pulled in a magnificent 10 lb yellow fin tuna. On the floor of the cockpit, Doug and Phillip turned that prize catch into juicy steaks of tuna fillets. Ellen and Roger then cooked up a special feast of ginger tuna, lightly seared with pepper and ginger, served on a bed of cous- cous and accompanied by a pear salad. Phillip reminded us that Neptune needed to be acknowledged, so the bottled of cherry was opened and a toast was celebrated.

The lights of Bermuda are showing at the horizon now; the end of another epic day.

Enjoying a pretty large infinity pool

The day started with Captain Philip raising the broken genoa to let it dry. After everyone got out of their bunks we worked together to bring down the dried genoa: While Ellen kept Tioga on a steady course, Roger slowly dropped the sail inch by inch. Philip, Doug and Ulf flaked and rolled the sail into a perfect block.

This hard work was quickly rewarded with a blue ocean swim. All sails were dropped, a fender on a line was thrown into the water. Ellen overcame her fears of deep water, sharks and Portuguese men of war and swam without her best swimming friend “Jim Buoy”. The 50 year old boys turned 15 and did cannon balls, flips, somersaults and a triple sow cow into the 1000s of feet of crystal clear water. Fortunately nobody got hurt. The drone was launched to take more pictures of the happy crew.

Everyone got hungry. Ulf created the “use it before it goes bad omelette” which half emptied the fridge and filled everyones stomach.
The wind disappeared and we started the motor and raised the fly. We played some farkel. Nobody seemed to quite know the farkel rules that were established by the international federation of farkel players rule councils. No problem, we made them up.

Then we had you know blah blah more great food and enjoyed another blah blah wonderful sun set…. 140 miles Etmal. Our eta is Wednesday morning.


All hands on deck

As the sun begins its ascent under puffy clouds and calmer blue water, Ellen joins the captain’s watch with coffee in hand. All is good, peaceful and calm until we hear “pop” and realize the lashing on the genoa exploded.

The captain quickly assessed the damage and decisively determines the sail must be replaced and quickly assembles the sleeping crew from down below. Like a good pirate, Roger quickly removes not one, but two eye patches as he scrambles to the top deck preparation for the emergency sail amputation and replacement at sea. As the crew rushes to the bow, Ellen holds the course steady and prevents a monster, rogue wave from crashing and clearing the deck.

As Captain Philip moves to the foredeck with pliers between his teeth to disengage the suffering genoa, Roger, Doug and Ulf prepare for battle as they wrestle the wounded genoa as if it were a great white shark

As the crew works feverishly to replace the sail, bare breastedly Roger begins hoisting the sail. Voices are barely audible under the thunderous sound as the lazy sheet lashed angrily in the wind. Doug fearlessly risks losing an eye as the lazy sheet tries to extract a pound of his flesh when he steps in front of its wrath to untangle it.

Once the treacherous task is done, high fives all around and happy smiles filled with a feeling of accomplishment — or perhaps just happy not to have been swept off the deck. And then, from the helm, phenonomen is witnessed. Almost immediately, bucket showers abound and the faint smell of clean permeates Tioga. Clean shirts for everyone ! As it is said often here on Tioga, life is good!

[categories Bermuda, ANT2BDA , 2017]

Freight train or washing machine?

Not much new to report.
We are still moving at a good clip in the very nice and stable trade winds from the east. The temperature and sunshine are in perfect balance and the swell has increased a bit. Tioga is in freight train mode, sailing at its best.
There is a little bit of a price to pay, though; the lashing of our genoa broke this morning (due to too much heavy water constantly pounding the sail), the roller furler lost a couple of bolts holding the unit together (which we should have prevented during our pre-departure inspection) and of course there is the washing machine element where the boat is constantly heeled at an angle, larger waves soak the crew every couple of minutes, using the head equals riding a wild bronco and kitchen-yoga is the only way to prepare a meal (all good fun, trains our core muscles and keeps us clean…).

We fixed the technical issues above, enjoyed the beautiful light with music, cheese and crackers and finished the day with Roger’s great chilli.

In the afternoon, the wind had calmed down enough to finally hoist the main sail ( we have sailed over 800 nm, ie all the way from Trinidad, without our main sail…).

Our etmal for the day was 163nn.
All is well, life is still good.

Tradewind Sailing

A large wall of water gave our captain an urgently needed bath early in the morning and unfortunately washed our visiting birdy over board.
The sun rose at around six and we continued to enjoy the perfect tradewind sailing. The partly cloudy sky gave us some relief from all the sunshine. Our etmal at noon was a very good 175nm!

Hydro- generator and solar panel cover our electricity needs, general maintenance work was low and we enjoyed each others company as well as Doug’s delicious dinner.
We are almost done converting Ellen to a beer drinker (who could say no to a Carib in the hot sun) and are worried that she might lose all her Pinot Grigio friends at home…

The sun set at 6:30pm and we continued steering after North Star and Big Dipper on our way north. Sailing does not get much better than this.