Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas in Barbados

Barbados was so much fun and the people so incredibly friendly. We instantly loved the place and enjoyed swimming off the boat every morning, going to the fabulous yacht club and exploring Bridgetown.

Gorgeous Beach - Carlisle Bay

Our Favourite view from the yacht club

The Yacht Club - more like a country club...

Swimming Horses Carlisle Bay

Horses in the Water Carlisle Bay
Bajans take Dominoes very seriously - especially with rum

Lovely old buildings in Bridgetown

The Caranage lite up for Xmas

The anchorage
We had some serious partying to do too - catching up with all the boats from our crossing was a lot of fun - Golden Breeze arrived with a broken engine so everyone was on standby but they managed to safely anchor in the bay and then quickly recap to Askari for a big night of singing xmas carols....

Christmas day and Carolyn's birthday was a slow start but then the Ugly Christmas Rashies were on and we went snorkeling on two wrecks in the bay. For lunch we had a great BBQ and then Katharina and Friedl joined us for champagne in the afternoon. Then everyone was invited to Golden Breeze for a party - Blue Roger, Fenua and Milvina all came - what a perfect day!

Xmas lunch

Champagne and Bean Bags - perfect

Boys relax on Xmas day

Off snorkelling

Bat Fish

Cheeky Fish

More champagne!!


Golden Breeze
We did a tour of the Mount Gay Rum Factory - a must do on the island and tasted 5 rums before lunch!

Kensington Oval

Exploring Bridgetown

Fish Market
Sarah - Carolyn's friend came to visit
We cleared out of Barbados and set sail for St Lucia on Thursday 29th Dec with Golden Breeze
Barbados was the perfect landfall destination - because all the yachts had sailed across the Atlantic to get there, we had an instant bond with everyone we met in the anchorage, many people had things to repair so there was great support too. Thank you Barbados for welcoming us to the Caribbean.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Arrival in Barbados

Askari Report 1200 UTC 22th December 2016

Position At Anchor in Carlisle Bay, Barbados (hurrah)

Our last day at sea started with pure grey skies and squalls all around us, however the wind eased and during the day the sea calmed quite a lot and became gentle rolling. Around lunch time we went through a really intense period of rain showers and then slowly the cloud went away and we had the most glorious afternoon. It was like the Atlantic wanted to show off it’s good side before we arrived in Barbados and to top off the afternoon we had a pod of dolphins – our first on this passage. If I wasn’t so excited about seeing Barbados I could have quite easily agreed to sail on it was so lovely.

The wind came around to the South East for a while so we took then chance to gingerly furl the little bit of main sail away – phew that went away okay but we wouldn’t want to bring it out again until we have repaired the foil. We then ran for the last 50 miles under the genoa only which allowed to track the line to our waypoint directly.

All day we had been trying to spot Blue Roger who were now only about 25 miles ahead, we managed to get them on the VHF radio. They got to see land before it got dark, but we were just a bit too far away but the lights soon appeared when we were about 20 miles off and we started seeing planes – it was really surreal to see this glowing strip after so many days of nothing.

We approached our waypoint on the south east corner of Barbados at 0100 UTC on 22 December, then out of nowhere an AIS target appeared for the yacht Shalen. They called us on the VHF – another Oyster, a 54 on their way to start the Oyster World Rally. Andrew and Lenny discussed the passage and we have actually been running similar daily distances, although they had one massive day at 197 miles. What a cool place to meet – both of us left the UK around the similar time and have similar yachts and completed our Atlantic Crossing at exactly the same time. Shalen then followed us into Bridgetown, where we both arrived in a massive squall and anchored by the light and sounds of a crazy disco – all I could hear as I was trying to set the anchor was ‘Come on let’s go….. party….’ By this time I was soooo tired I really wasn’t sure if it was a dream or this was really happening!

So, we sailed at least 2,724 miles, in 16 days 13 hours making our average speed over 6.8 knots – yes Askari has done us proud and looked after us very well, she has totally exceeded our expectations on this trip.  

We went for a great local lunch in Bridgetown in the rain 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Safe arrival in Bridgetown Barbados

Askari arrived safely at Barbados tonight after 16 days 12 hours and 45 minutes at sea. Super happy and a bit tired. More to follow...

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Askari Report 1200 UTC 21th December 2016

Position 13 18 N 57 54 W
Course 270 degrees
Speed 7.2 knots
Wind East 20 knots
Distance in last 24 hours 175 miles

It's just incredible how fast the last week has gone; it only feels like yesterday that we were mid Atlantic and now we should arrive in Barbados tomorrow morning - which will be 16 days and a few hours- we would certainly have taken that the day we left La Gomera. We got quite emotional talking to the OCC radio net this morning, as the boats in the Caribbean sent nice messages to us for our landfall and we don't even know those people - however they all know how it feels to be approaching land after a long passage. The Ocean Cruising Club has played a really special part in this trip; introducing us to great people, radio contact and information - just brilliant.

Today we are still sailing pretty fast in 20 knots from the East, under mainly grey skies with a few squalls around. Yesterday we had a mixed bag of sun and rain. We had some fun too when we realised we were making on the yacht Swiss Yacht Anita, we had a chat with them on the VHF and then stalked each other down then had a 'sail past' about an hour before dark. We took some great photos of them and exchanged email addresses - they are off to St Vincent but maybe we will catch up with them in the Caribbean somewhere.

So today is all about getting prepared for landfall; we have written a checklist and are working through it. As we are likely to arrive before it gets light we need to be especially organised and are trying to get in a position to sail comfortably to our waypoint without the spinnaker pole, so we can drop it and stow the maze of lines we have securing it, before dark tonight. We also need to do engine checks, clear our anchor locker of fuel cans, double check all waypoints, get big spot lights ready and hoist flags. A bit of extra sleep today would also be good as I think we will both be up most of the night.

Less than 100 miles to Barbados…… maybe we will get to see a glimpse of it before dark.

I hope my next update will be from a nice calm anchorage - wish us luck, this is the hardest bit!

Yacht Anita out in the ocean.....

Anita Rolling along

Where did she go?

Watch out Anita there's something behind you

See ya guys!
Update - we just received these pictures of Askari from Anita..... she looks pretty small out there!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Askari Report 1200 UTC 20th December 2016

Position 13 25 N 54 50 W
Course 280 degrees
Speed 7.0 knots
Wind East 22 knots
Distance in last 24 hours 179 miles

All is well out here and the closing distance to Barbados is very exciting - the challenge was put out last night on the radio net to start fishing again today, so we might all have fish for Christmas and make a competition of it. I haven't seen Andrew get the rod out yet though…..

As a treat (400 miles to go celebration) I had tried to make ice for our sundowners yesterday but sadly it didn't work - I think due to the movement. I am thinking one of my jobs for the day is to stock the fridge with arrival drinks….. hmmm champagne and beer perhaps!

The wind has generally eased, although did pick up for a few hours in the night, we had lots of squalls too, which is normal as the wind eases. This all means the swell is really taking its time to subside, so currently the movement on board is the worst it's been. When the wind and seas are matched Askari sits well but no yacht likes big sea and light wind.

Wildlife update - we have not seen any dolphins or whales, we have only had two flying fish on the deck and one hit the dinghy, however yesterday we had what looked like brown things with red tails swimming alongside the boat. We guessed they were cuttlefish or squid; they looked just like fishing lures, about a foot long. We did hear that Golden Breeze, who are 200 miles directly east of us, were followed by orcas for a couple of hours - so we are now on serious look out as that would be just incredible.

Currently we have a sailing yacht called Anita about 8 miles ahead of us, but due to the swell we only occasionally see them on AIS - the range typically is about 30 miles. We were also hoping to be in AIS range of Blue Roger this morning, as last night we were less than 40 miles apart but no sign just yet. I keep trying to tell Andrew we are not in a race - he doesn't agree and his favourite saying is 'what would Ross do?' referring to the skipper of Scarlet Oyster who makes record breaking Atlantic Crossings in his Oyster….. seriously, I am so glad we have the radio! (A it is a race- three fifty foot boats left La Gomera at the same time bound for barbados. obvious isnt it...)

Today we are listening to a music mix Ellen made for us for our Pacific Crossing 11 years ago - it's still one of favs and makes me feel very happy.

Only about 269 miles to Barbados……

Hiding inside from squalls

Just a little bit of sail

Mean squalls

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Askari Report 1200 UTC 19th December 2016

Position 13 50 N 51 53 W
Course 280 degrees
Speed 7.5 knots
Wind East North East 20-25 knots
Distance in last 24 hours 172 miles

The mood aboard is a lot lighter today; yes I managed to get a good night sleep, but also the wind and most importantly the sea has calmed a bit. I have to admit to getting a bit rattled yesterday the waves were just so steep and were breaking all around us, it wasn't so much scary (Askari was dealing with it fine) but just really unsettling for me as the forecast was for the peak waves the next day and we were still regularly seeing over 30 knots of wind which would create bigger seas.

There was one wave yesterday that was just huge and really steep. I had just gone into the cockpit and said to Andrew I thought things were calming a little, so I had opened the washboard to let some air through, when it appeared. Before I could do a thing it just grew and grew directly behind the stern of the boat, it was definitely more than 4 metres. Then I saw white foam tipping over the top of it and my heart leapt and I thought it was going to come down on top of us. However, it broke right on our stern sending Askari surfing along at an exciting 19 knots. The sails just backed a little, but she sat straight with Mick Fanning (autopilot) at the steering and then quickly brushed it off and carried on sailing, while I caught my breath. This was not fun! (A- yes it was) However, we reflected that it really was one of those 1 in 1000 waves and we were just unlucky.

Today the wind has eased a little and the sea is still big, however the interval of the waves has increased - that's the gap between them. A longer interval means it is much more like rolling hills than jagged mountains….. We still made good progress, despite slowing down quite a lot over night to make things easier. This morning we have given the cockpit a good clean as it was a bit salty and had a bacon and egg sandwich for breakie. The weather forecast is for 20-25knots for the next two days which is perfect, if it holds true.

We are now really hoping we will arrive on Thursday - it looks like Blue Roger, Milvina, Fenua and us will all arrive on the same day. In exciting developments, we have definitely been the fastest in the last few days. Yesterday we all exchange information on approaching the island and clearing in; we also got an email from Silver Lining who are in Barbados (thanks Neil and Gill). We will decide tomorrow if we will go north or south of the island, south is nearer, however there is a shallow patch we have to avoid if the sea is still pretty big. So we will get the latest weather forecast and decide.

We are getting very excited - about 447 miles to Barbados……

ps We loved getting the emails from both Mum n Dad's in the last 24 hours - very funny that both were concerned about the loss of Kath x x

pps there is more to the Kath story than Carolyn has reported. It involves Carolyn "releasing" her to the ocean only for her to be sadly drowned at sea. Carolyn's claiming she acted in kindness- my view is that it was some sort of female competition thing where only one would survive.

Squall line


Green water

Water splashed near Andrew - not happy!

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