Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | March 13, 2012

Passage to Barbuda

N 17° 39.3′   W 61° 51.58′

Low Bay, near Codrington, Barbuda

Arrival in Barbuda, flying the quarantine flag

I am enjoying reading the sailing adventures of Lin and Larry Pardey who spent decades cruising the world in very small sailing vessels. Lin captured the essence of the cruising experience in their third book, Seraffyn’s Mediterannean Adventures, when she wrote “Laced through all [the] adventures was the connecting thread of successful voyages fraught with moments of fear, hours of discomfort, and days of unbelievable beauty.” Barbuda promises to fulfill the days of unbelievable beauty. We have been here for just over 24 hours and I am in awe.

Our farewell to Marigot was unexpectedly quick. It was probably easier that way since I was becoming attached to that charming place. The weather forecast looked promising on Saturday to head for St. Barts, then continuing on to Barbuda on Sunday. On Friday afternoon we ran out of water. Not wanting to break our vow never to put local water in our tanks and not feeling like hauling jugs aboard, we decided to move outside the Lagoon and anchor in Marigot Bay where we could run the watermaker.

We scurried around to complete our departure preparations, checked out at the capitainerie and got in line for the 5:30 pm French bridge. The harbor was crowded and rolly and Bob suggested moving on to Friars Bay, a 20 minute ride away, where we might find better protection from the swell. We decided to forgo an au revoir to France celebration in one of our favorite cafes for a more comfortable night at anchor.

We ran the watermaker all night to fill the starboard tank. In the morning, we ran the water into jugs and manually transferred it to the port tank until we could get that tank to prime. The faux pas doesn’t look good on my crew resume since I have taken over as Chief Water Maker. The captain was not happy and my position is in danger. I should have checked the tank every day knowing it was nearing the bottom, but I think he was sneaking in extra long showers.

Saturday we had a pleasant 3 hour trip to St. Barts. The swell was still pretty high, at 10 – 11 feet but the winds had calmed to less than 10 knots, and the spacing of the swells allowed for a comfortable ride. That is amazing to me, since going out in similar sea heights at home in Tampa Bay or the Gulf of Mexico would be horrendous conditions. It is the period, or spacing of the swells that makes a huge difference. Each area we travel is so different, and we continue to learn as we study the wind and sea forecast data.

We passed surfers on the northeast shore of St. Martin enjoying the huge rollers crashing ashore. The memory card in my camera self destructed during this passage and the only good part was that I lost very few pictures since I had just downloaded the day before. Imagine surfers trying to catch big waves on a desolate coast, passing sailboats giving the illusion of being submerged as we both sink into the bottom of the swells, and my little Bandit with her four legs spread wide for balance as she insisted on standing for much of the passage.

Gustavia Harbor was feeling some of the effects of the swell. We had to be extremely careful launching the dinghy so that it didn’t swing uncontrollably on the way down, crashing into the boat. When possible, we pass on launching under these conditions. However, we needed to visit customs so got it down safely and went to the capitainerie to check both in and out of St. Barts. We had thought about dinner at a French cafe in St. Barts to make up for the one we skipped in Marigot, but decided that a night on the town wasn’t the best idea. Better to secure the dinghy back up top in the daylight and get some extra sleep.

We left St. Barts at 4 am, an easy nighttime departure on a moonlit night. We were anchored next to the channel and followed the lights out to deep water. It was a fairly pleasant 60 mile passage. The swell was still high, but adequately spaced so we could keep up a speed of about 6 knots. The wind driven waves were low with just a glimmer of whitecaps starting to form as we approached Barbuda. We got in early enough, as planned, to have good light to visually validate that the reefs were where the chart plotter said they were. According to one of the locals, the advent of GPS has seriously cut into the salvage business opportunities afforded by the reef strewn coast, which can be tricky to navigate. Over the years many vessels have met their demise approaching the island.

We are excited to be in this very different and breathtaking place and plan to take a couple of weeks to experience Barbuda.

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Responses

  1. Glad to hear of your safe passage to Barbuda! What a change from Marigot… I hope you have a spare memory card, so you can take lots of pictures! I need visual references, if I’m going to live vicariously through your adventures! lol

    I’m already missing paradise and counting down the days til my return! June 23rd can not come quick enough… Who knows, maybe Doug & I can try another rendezvous this Spring. But, work is getting busy, so it could be tough for me to cut out.

    Enjoy your new paradise and please keep the blog posts coming!

  2. In awe… I was there just a few weeks ago. I’m ready to go back!

    • To any of the many awesome places in the Caribbean, that is! During our visit to Mar Azul in St. Martin and St. Barts, Steve and I were continually amazed that we had actually made the trip and were there to share part of your fine adventure. Barbuda looks spectacular. I don’t think we would have ever gotten Steve to leave the beach once he set foot on it!

      • Would have to agree with you! Steve would absolutely love the endless miles of stunning beaches here.


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