Video – Trinidad to Antigua

After a challenging start in Chaguaramas (we had to pull the boat back out and get if fixed over night) we got into the swing of things, sailed over night to the Grenadines and enjoyed a couple of days of island hoping before continuing to Antigua.

The roughly 400nm route looked like this:

We did not capture as much footage as usual. Hopefully the video below still gives somewhat of a flavor of the places we visited:

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

And they sailed into the sunset

First of all,
yes, they finished all the work in time and we launched in the afternoon. And yes, we made it past Venezuela without a pirate encounter!

While Dynamite marine took the depth sounder out of the hull, cleaned the hole and rebedded the sounder with a new custom-built foundation, Cow’s crew worked until 03:00 in the morning to grind out the old material under the stuffing box, fill it with expoxy. From then on the new structure had to hard quickly and then barrier coat and antifouling were added.
In the meantime, we had another breakfast at one of the road vendors that sold “Doubles”. A typical Trini breakfast (very flavorful and messy to eat). From there we went to the bamboo cathedral, a beautiful coastal walk through a troplical forrest with lots of bamboo, followed by another swim at our local beach. We tested our new snorkeling masks and also managed to finally get the correct courstesy flag for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
When all was ready, the crane put us in the water, checked for leacks (there weren’t any), started the engine and prepped the boat for departure.
Unfortunately, the gas station was out of diesel and we left with what we had.

This time we did sail into the sunset…

It’s how you catch it

We said good-bye to our favorite Roti-Chef after all the remaining items before our launch were completed (incl the 90 minutes of filling out piles of redundant forms at Immigrations to check out of the country). Cathy, Corinna and Lauren came back with a car full of perishable food items while we packed away the tools we used.
The travel lift picked us up, put Tioga in the water and we sailed away into the sunset…

that is not exactly how it happened. After the crane put Tioga in the water, Peter (Philip was on a conference call) went below to check all the through-hulls (which had been serviced here before) to make sure we were not taking on any water. That was a good move as it turned out that we were taking on a little water in the bow (the depth sounder had to be rebedded) and a lot more in the aft cabin. We initially thought that is was the stuffing box leaking, but it turned out to be a bigger issue as the water came from underneath the shaft. Long story short, we were forced to turn around, get Tioga back on the hard, inspect the suspicious area in more detail and come up with a plan.
As always, Mark’s and Cow’s teams were quick to get going, pulled the depth sounder and the shaft, removed the outside layers of fiberglass etc.
It turns out that also there a previous repair job was done with the wrong materials and had by now taken on water.
We were lucky that we came across this while still in the travel lift as it looked like an accident waiting to happen.

Anyways, we decided to get the returned rental car back from Adrian (who was luckily stuck in traffic not too far away) and hit the beach. Macqueripe Bay was only 15 minutes away and turned out to be the perfect distraction. A nice beach surrounded by cliffs and truly amazing vegetation made us forget the trouble we were in (a few cocktails also helped). In fact, it felt that we were lucky to have found this little gem. We had turned a bad situation into a good one…

By now, the boat has been prepped and is drying out, floodlights are in place and Cow’s crew will get going with another night shift soon.
If things go well, we will get back in the water tomorrow afternoon.

As Cathy’s mother used to say: “It is not what life throws at you. It is how you catch it.”

They got it all done

A lot of action items got taken care of today.

The Awlgrip cured enough to buff out the last imperfections, put the name back on and install the Aries windvane.
The fiberglass job outside and inside the boat were completed. Barrier coat and bottom paint were applied.
The shrink wrap cover was removed
All remaining items were taken out of storage, lifted on the boat and installed.
After long discussions, we were finally able to convince the local hydraulics store to put 500 PSI on the serviced vang. And yes, the boom is now able to carry the main without a topping lift again.
The hydraulic tank was refilled and cockpit lazarettes loaded.
Kitchen and bathroom were cleaned, water tanks filled.
Late at night, when the wind had calmed down, we even put the genoa on.
On top of all this, Cathy managed to drive to the airport and pick up Linda and Lilly. We are now complete and celebrated that with another dinner and drinks at our local hang out at the water.

So far so good.
Unfortunately, Powerboats determined that the outside epoxy was not hardened enough to allow the crane to pick us up. We therefore moved that appointment to tomorrow morning.
While we still have quite a few action items left, they are all manageable and should Tioga float and the engine start we will be able to leave in the afternoon tomorrow.

We can’t wait to finally get going again.

Race against the clock

Now that the Awlgrip is sprayed on and curing, Kemba’s team changed gears and ground away all the filler around the cracks on the bow and around the strut. With the launch set to 3pm on Tuesday, the clock is ticking and the team set up floodlights to work late into the evening to get at least all the outside fiberglass and filler work completed. And they just did after 4 layers of epoxy and then filler on top.
We were quite lucky that they found these cracks as the about 1 cm thick filler (way to thick of a layer of filler) was not only of poor quality (autobody filler that does not do well with salt water) but also not connected to the epoxy underneath. With the vibration caused by running the engine, this could have ended very badly…

The inside (in the aft cabin) is prepared, ie all the old material has been cut away, and the final fiberglass work will start tomorrow morning. The plan is to put 6 layers of epoxy mats in. Makes you nervous with the light shining through the currently thin floor.

Of course, the wind picked up when they removed all the screens and covers in the aft cabin so that a lot of the dust that these screens were supposed to prevent from making it into the boat – made it into the boat.
We’ll have to throw all the sleeping bag, towels, pillows of the aft cabin in the washing machine tomorrow, but should be good to go then.

In the meantime, we enjoyed a nice Roti lunch at our favorite lunch hang-out before Cathy, Lauren and Corinna took care of the non-perishable groceries, while Peter and Philip stowed away all the sails, covers etc.
We even managed to put the main back on, while still under the shrink-wrap cover. After some struggle, Peter and some helpers managed to put the steering wheel back on.
Lots of other smaller items got taken care of and we believe we can complete all the remaining items by tomorrow in time for the 3pm launch.
Again, dinner (food and drinks at the waterfront) did not disappoint.

Maracas delivers on its promise

We got up early today as we had to leave the boat before the Awlgrip spraying began (right after the sun had burned the dew away and the wind picked up). As we had planned to make Sunday our sightseeing day, all was good.
After a brief tour through the capital, Port of Spain, we went straight to Maracas Beach (it is the largest and most popular beach in Trinidad and mostly frequented by locals) and had a fantastic day; enjoying the view from Maracas outlook, sampling numerous pickled and spicy fruits, liming under palm trees, body surfing in decent waves with just the right water temperature…
Lunch of course included “Bake and Shark” sandwiches paired with a cool Carib beer.
The beach was packed with lots of people and apart from moving around the palm tree
as the shadow moved we enjoyed watching the very interesting characters at the beach, had a few cocktails and of course our first sunburn.
In the meantime, Cow and team sprayed the entire area around Tioga with water to reduce the risk of dust making it to the boat. They then made final preparations and began spraying new layers of dark blue Awlgrip paint.
When we came back to the boat in the afternoon, the boot locked awesome. We prepared the shopping list for tomorrow, fixed a few smaller items and enjoyed a meal at the waterfront.

Life is good