26 Apr 2011

[Captains Blog] English Harbour, Antigua

It's Antigua race week this week, and yesterday as we were sailing around the island, we found ourselves in the middle of a race. Not being overly competitive, and not having entered for anything, we continued on our merry way, trying not to disrupt the hardened racers, giving them a wide berth so that they could pile on all canvas and surf their way downwind with their spinnakers up and the entire crew adding their weight to the stern of the boat so that they could increase their speed.

As they turned around the race marker to beat back into the wind (which is what we had already been doing) the difference between racing and cruising became very apparent. The racing boats soon ate into the gap between us, and even though Pandora can point close to the wind, they were gaining on us quite quickly. We wanted to be in nestled down in harbour before the hordes of racing boats arrived, so we made all haste and managed to get there with a few minutes to spare. Then sure enough, they all trailed back into their dock spaces to debrief and then settle down to enjoying the beer tent and the night's social activities. 

There is a real buzz about the place, helped greatly by the fact that having been becalmed for a week, the wind is back with a vengeance. We were out in 20+ knots again heeling over close hauled with reefed sails making on average 7 knots of speed, and it was very refreshing! We don't like the calm weather when we can't sail, and for us motoring is not an option. There are many sailing boats (mostly bareboat charter catamarans I have to say) that never seem to put sails up - they simply motor everywhere. What is the point? To us, the sheer bliss of silent running under wind power is everything, and the motor is there for the convenience of manoeuvring in tight harbours or in case of emergencies. We like to sail, no, we LOVE to sail!