We spent a few days at English Harbor oogling the super yachts and enjoying the history and sights. At this point the Christmas winds had not kicked in full force yet but were predicted. We were keeping a close eye on the weather and decided pull the plug and run back to Jolly Harbor when the seas were predicted to build to 2.1m one day. We pulled anchor early in the morning hoping to beat the build. Unfortunately, no dice, the seas had already built in big swells with a long time in between. It wasn’t a rough ride, actually it was kinda fun. Every 12 – 15 seconds a big wave would pick our boat up and shove it forward. Its hypnotically methodical once you get into the rhythm. It sure made a quick run to the point where we could duck behind the reef and the seas flattened.
Once back in Jolly, we motored back to the exact same spot and set the anchor. It was like coming back home! We wasted no time and were headed to shore in the dinghy to get money (Scotia Bank), supplies (beer) and pay for a pool pass. This set the tone for the next few days and we pretty much spent the next 4 days at the pool. As we lounged by the pool and enjoyed smuggled beer (no outside food or drink) the Christmas winds built and built. The day of Jonah’s birthday the winds were predicted to really build and we were afraid that Avanti would get trapped in Falmouth and not make it for his birthday. I shouldn’t have worried, as Avanti came motoring around the corner just as the winds began to really kick. Jonah was pumped and we had a fantastic birthday dinner with Avanti.
However, even though the next day dawned calm and bright, it was short lived. By noon the winds were howling at about 40 knots and POF was bouncing back and forth on her bridle like a paddle ball. It was blowing so hard that I decided to stay on the boat when everyone else headed to the pool. The next day it blew even harder and even though everything seemed “ok”, my spidey senses were tingling and I roped Rhonda into helping me rig a second bridle. For those who don’t know, a bridle consists of 2 ropes running from the anchor chain to each hull. It changes the point where our boat pulls on the anchor chain and is absolutely essentially to keeping our anchor stuck in high winds. If the bridle breaks, the boat will pull much higher on the chain, changing the angle the chain pulls on the anchor and possibly unsetting the anchor. The bridle also provides “shock absorption” as the ropes must stretch before that force is transferred to the chain. I reasoned that if having one bridle was good, having a backup would be better. So with a spare snap shackle, some mooring lines and a couple of bowlines, we had a spare bridle. As fate would have it, having a backup bridle IS a good thing. 20 minutes after rigging the second bridle our first bridle snapped (with a huge bang) and the backup bridle came into play. Well shit, that was lucky!
A couple of days after the bridle fiasco came another issue. We had run out of fresh water. The winds had stirred up the bay and all the silt kept plugging our pre-filters. Left with no other choice, we would have to raise anchor and move out onto the bank to get clean enough seawater for water making. Problem was, Rhonda had gone ashore and it was just me, Quincy and Daphnie on the boat. Moving the boat in a 30 knot wind with my 9 year old running the anchor, what’s the worst that can happen? I’m happy to report that Quincy did a fantastic job getting the anchor up and back down, but more importantly following the directions to the tee! 35 minutes from anchor up, we had the anchor back down on the bank and were making water and doing laundry. It was a hell of a bouncy ride as we no longer had the protection of the bay and the waves had a long ways to build in front of us. We bounced around for 4 or so hours before doing the anchor dance again and re-anchoring back in our original spot. Mission accomplished, Rhonda came back a boat with full water tanks and all the laundry done!
Then came Christmas. On Christmas eve we had been invited to a cruiser potluck on one of the beautiful beaches within sigh of POF. Rhonda threw together some suitable food for eating on the beach and we headed over. We arrived to find about 30 cruisers enjoying the beautiful beach and sharing food. Although we were the only cruising family with kids, there was a few “non-cruisers” attending from the Villa’s in Jolly with kids. The kids played on the beach and in the water while we conversed with the other cruisers. The potluck was super informal and food was laid out on a blanket, with new food being rotated in at regular intervals. It was a fantastic evening, with great food and conversation. Unfortunately it had to end as we needed to get back to the boat to beat Santa Clause. Since it was our first Christmas in the Caribbean we didn’t know what time he would come!
The next morning the kids woke us to let us know that Santa had indeed come and there were presents under our tree. Of course they were bouncing off the walls to open the presents. I’m happy to report that once all the presents were opened every kid declared they had gotten EVERYTHING they asked for. I have no idea how Santa was able to find a wooden Marinette doll in Antigua (for Jonah), but he did. It was such a successful Christmas that Jonah spent an hour crying before bed as he didn’t want it to end. He kept saying it was “The best day of my life”!
After Christmas we decided to head back around to Falmouth harbor to watch Avanti race in the New Years Eve regatta. Although the winds had abated somewhat, it was still a fairly slamy ride once we popped around point and began taking it head on. Thankfully Falmouth is closer than English and we only need to go head on for about 3 miles. Of course Avanti had caught us on the run over (he even motors faster) and offered to lead us into the bay as it can be quite challenging to navigate the reefs. We followed him in and he pointed out a spot that we should explore for anchoring. It took us a couple of tries to get the hook set and enough swing room to not bump another boat.
The next day was New Years eve and race day. I had originally planned to participate on Avanti, but changed my mind on the day. I have been known to do stupid things on occasion and Rhonda was worried in the heat of the race I just might have a brain fart and do something stupid. Since we are “self insured” for health, even minor injuries could become major expenses. Not to mention that Rhonda is not capable of sailing POF by herself so any injury could have changed our cruising plans. So… In the end we just could justify the elevated risk, even though it was minor (Bob is a fantastic Captain and Sailor). So we bid Avanti good luck and promised to share a drink with them once the race was over.
Later that day Avanti came back in the bay and although they weren’t victorious, they had had a fantastic time. They reported that they held 4th place position until they rounded the final leg and began the upwind beat. This is where the professional crews on true race boats were able shine and a cruising catamaran (with only 2 crew) couldn’t compete. The race boats were built to point at high as possible where Avanti had to tack back and forth. In the end, they came in mid pack. Damn respectable if you ask me considering the boats that were racing (there was even a foiling Cat racing).
Later that night we had a very subdued new years celebration where we all agreed we would NOT make it to midnight. We pretended we were celebrating in the Azores had our “Happy New Year” cheer at about 9:00pm. LOL.
We then spent a couple more days in Falmouth and I’m a little embarrassed to say our dinghy didn’t even hit the water. Sometimes this happens to us. Landlubbers will think its crazy, but somehow we become hermits and spend days on our boat without ever leaving. Yup, a family of 5 locked in 200sq/ft of living space for days.
Anyway after our hermit days, we decided to head back over to Jolly and get busy on boat work. I won’t go into huge details about the boat work as I have a whole post coming about it. For now I will leave you with some pictures from those weeks.
Rhonda did a great job decorating the boat for Jonah’s birthday.
We gave Jonah a little bow and arrow he spotted at the home store and really wanted. Shortly after this photo was taken he used it to shoot me in the wedding tackle while I was laying on the settee. That earned him a few hours in his room.
Jonah opening a present from Avanti. Lauren drew him a great picture and gave him some black coral she found on the beach. The whole Avanti crew gave him a bubble gun which provided hours of entertainment.
Its very hard to have Christmas spirit down here. A tree, lights and decorations really helped.
Christmas eve.. Only on a boat would your Christmas tree be sitting beside a gallon of polyester resin!
Presents are opened.. Bacon and french toast for breakfast!
Still catching fish. This is a Grey (also called Mangrove) snapper.
Some after school play.
My “Stink Eye”!
2 pretty ladies!
On our way back to Jolly. We were jib sailing and moving pretty slow so the kids wanted to trail their hands in the water. Rhonda actually climbed overboard and hung onto the swim ladder and we drug her through the water (I was hoping she would loose her bathing suit bottoms )