3 Apr 2011

[Cruise News] Jolly Harbour, Antigua

Sailing is a funny old business - there are so many things that affect it and that need to be factored into any journey.  Weather conditions can make the difference between reaching a given destination on a desired date or not and can therefore be very frustrating.  For the information of our non-sailing blog readers, yachts can not sail directly into the wind, usually only at an angle of 30 degrees off it, and so any sailing passage has to be planned around the forecast wind direction and speed, not to mention tides and direction and size of the swell.  Hence most sailors look for weather forecasts as often as possible and then make the big mistake of believing them!

That's exactly what happened to us on 1st April.  We wanted to sail back to Antigua from Nevis, a 45 mile south-easterly sail that should take about 7 hours.  We checked the forecast that morning on the website of the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami, our usual source of information, and were pleased to see it was for NE to E winds, perfect for our planned passage.  So we set sail at 7am but soon concluded that the NHC had issued that particular forecast as an April Fool for all unsuspecting sailors.  So we found ourselves beating our way into a SE wind with a SE swell to boot .... all making for a long and uncomfortable sail.  But we made it to Jolly Harbour some 11 hours later with me vowing never to sail again!

Two days on we're already planning our next trip - to Barbuda, the neighbouring island some 30 miles north of Antigua.  That's just how sailing "gets" you - you hate it one day yet are raring to go the next.  As I say, it's a funny old business.