When we got asked if we would take guests on a 48-hour non-stop voyage we said, ‘of course – that sounds like fun!’ Simon immediately thought that a sail from Grenada to Antigua would be perfect. But let me back up and tell you a bit about our guests…(If you just want to see the video, scroll down to the bottom)
Jon and Jennifer, from Kanasa, didn’t originally think that the Britican Experience would suit them. They had already chartered loads of boats before and didn’t feel the need to go on yet another Charter. They were ready to buy a boat and start their own cruising life.
However, they had a couple niggles. One of them had never sailed at night and neither of them had they done a long passage.
Before making the big leap Jon and Jennifer wanted to find out what it was like to go above and beyond the bar-hoping, day-sailing, everything-sorted-out-for-you chartering set-up. We offered to take the couple for a long passage, sailing overnight and the possibility of entering a harbor in the dark.
The couple met us at La Phare Bleu in Grenada where we explained how the boat worked, safety stuff and answered any questions. Jon and Jennifer had a few moments to put their bags in the forward berth and we were off. The wind and waves were not best to sail long-term on day one so we took the couple to Tyrell Bay on the island of Carriacou to enjoy a beautiful sunset, answer as many questions about the lifestyles as we could and simply enjoy each others company.
The next day we enjoyed some snorkeling off of the deserted Sandy Island and a beautiful lobster dinner on the mainland. And the following afternoon we left Grenada for a straight shot to Antigua – 270 miles or 36 hours.
The first night was what I call a bit ‘ropey’ – the seas were a bit big for newcomers.
We had the main reefed and the headsail furled in too. It wasn’t the perfect sail. At one point Simon came up into the cockpit after a quick bathroom break and found the couple looking a tad bit green and hanging over the side. I quietly thought, ‘Oh no – I hope this doesn’t put them off!’
By day two of sailing, however, the seas calmed down and we all seemed to relax into the voyage. Great conversation was had, we ate some lovely food and just enjoyed looking out at the sea. As night fell we realized we were going too fast. Our projections had us arriving in Antigua at 3 am in the morning!
Jon and I were on a night watch and it was great to see him look for blinking markers and ley lines leading us into a harbor. He started looking while we were too far out. I kept telling him not to worry and that things become more apparent as you get closer. It was so funny to hear his frustration when he found a marker that was supposed to blink 5x on the map but in reality, he could only see one that blinked 3x.
Sailing at night is such a different experience!
Especially when you’re near land. Things seem much closer than you think. And there are often weird things that happen. For example, on the first night, I was with Jennifer and we had what looked like a cruise ship just ahead of us for ages. The ship stayed the same distance ahead of us for a while but then stopped and seemed to go in circles. We couldn’t figure out what was going on! At first, we saw the stern and then we’d see the side. In the end, I woke up Simon because I just couldn’t figure it out. Our AIS went down so I didn’t know the name of the ship to hail them.
Anyway… what we think is that the cruise ship made it to the outside of a port and was simply circling until daybreak so they could enter the harbor.
In the end, we entered Falmouth Harbor, Antigua around 2:30 am.
This is not something I suggest newcomers do. Simon and I know the harbor well so we know where the reefs are, where the anchorage is and where the mooring balls are located. We took it VERY slow and found a mooring ball. Jon and Jennifer tied us onto the ball and we had a small celebration that we made it to our destination.
I’ll have to let Jon and Jennifer tell you in their own words, but I think the trip provided them with some very positive experiences. When you’re sailing at night or doing a long passage what is normal and what is not?
Unless you go out with someone that knows what’s ‘normal’ you’ll have to find out yourself and that can be very stressful (I speak from experience!)
Jennifer commented that she valued the way that Simon and I are calm and communicate in a quiet fashion. We don’t talk loudly, we never rush and we’re very calm and easy-going when we do things. Sure, there are times when we both need to do things fast but we know when we have to do that… The whole point is to HAVE FUN…and not be scared or afraid or start yelling. There’s no reason to have a domestic. When you both know what you need to do and have a way to communicate things like anchoring, mooring balls and everything else can be handled very calmly.
So…let me show you a two-minute video of our trip from Grenda to Antigua. There is no talking – just some video clips set to music. Hopefully, it will give you a glimpse into the Britican Experience that was created just for Jon & Jennifer 🙂
Britican Experience With Jon & Jennifer
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But What Did Jon & Jennifer Think of the Experience?!
“First, I can say the experience is an excellent experience and you couldn’t meet nicer people. Simon and Kim customized the week specifically for our needs. We have experience with crewing our own trips thru charters but are restricted to daytime sailing. Our longest trip prior to the Britican Experience was a one-way trip from St. Lucia to Grenada that was spread over 7 days.
Our goal was to gain more off shore experience and understand how cruisers lived.
Pulling the trigger on a purchase of a boat is not something you want to do without ample knowledge into the total experience. Living in Kansas does not generally provide you with accessibility to the life style, the Britican Experience was a great match for our needs.
My goals for the passage was to learn and understand:
- watch schedules
- what do you do while on watch,
- can you sleep between watches
- if you get seasick can you function afterwardwill you acclimate to the motion after a few days
- and just observe someone with experience deal with whatever happens
I had hoped for a challenging squall, moderate seas and some brisk winds. I can say we met our goals except the squall, however I did not specifically request a squall. I’m sure if I had Simon and Kim could have arranged that as well as they accommodated everything we requested and went the extra mile to make the experience perfect.
The watch schedule was 3 hours on and 3 hours off, that worked well for me and I had no issues sleeping while not on watch, in fact I slept better than at home. While on watch we monitored location, heading, sails, wind, AIS, and took a hard look for traffic every 10 minutes.
Once we found some traffic it gained all attention until determined it would not be a factor.
I did get sea sick at night while attempting to read a Lat/Lon on an unfamiliar chart plotter to make a log book entry, the 12 hours prior I was fine and 3 hours later I was back to 100%. The next night I spent much time looking at the chart plotter and the iPad for navigation and had zero issues with seasickness, so I feel pretty good with that.
The winds for the trip were a constant 25 to 30 knots on the beam for the first day and night with seas to match. The boat responded with confidence and had no issues with the conditions. We ran the first reef in the main the entire trip and would reef the genoa as appropriate. Britican has powerful electric furling for the genoa, that was pretty sweet in the conditions and made reefing the genoa under load a nonevent.
I felt completely comfortable in the wind and sea state and would have no issue on a longer trip.
We arrived to Foulmouth harbor at night and I enjoyed using range lights and lighted buoys to make our path into harbor. Getting to see the nav aids for real at night and making sure I understood all of what the chart had to offer was a great learning experience for me. Some of it was a bit confusing several miles out but all lined up as we got closer to the entrance.
I can say we had no issues on our trip, that says a lot for the condition of the boat and the experience of the crew. Simon is a master when dealing with the boat and keeps it in tip top shape.
Understanding how cruisers Live
My previous trips have been sailing as much as we possibly can. My crews vary but generally they want to sail when given the choice. This trip we were not responsible for making sure our shipmates had a great adventure, so I wanted to take the opportunity to just stay in one spot and see how the days panned out when hanging with a couple of seasoned cruisers. This data point may be skewed a bit since we are sailing with YouTube stars that have a 9-year-old, both of which expand your social relationships.
At customs when checking into Antigua, Simon ran into a somebody they had met at a previous anchorage. It was not long after being in port that several contacts were made and plans for a gathering for sundowners quickly developed. I observed during sundowners that only 2 of 10 folks knew the Brown’s thru the YouTube channel/website demonstrating lots of friends were made at previous anchorages. Communication to other folks was thru various methods such as FaceBook Messenger, Whatsapp, and VHF, it did not seem difficult to locate old friends they had met previously at other locations.
This is a big positive for me as one would not want to be isolated on a boat.
We like to get out and do stuff. Day 2 we rented a car, toured the island and did a zip line adventure followed by lunch at great beach restaurant. Days 3 and 4 were hiking on some beautiful trails of Antigua, meeting more folks for lunch, dinner and sundowners. A good time was had by all and seems to be a great social network. The most important things I learned was life at anchorage is fun, friends can be made and to order an Old Fashion rum punch when ever given the opportunity.”
Jon & Jennifer Carr, Britican Experience, April 2019
Jon & Jennifer’s Britican Experience Photos
Any Questions Or Comments?
Please email me at Kim@SailingBritican.com