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Barbados to the Grenadines

Barbados to the Grenadines

We set off for our 100nm sail from Bridgetown, Barbados in the afternoon to give us a little daylight before sailing through the night and arriving with plenty of daylight the following day. This was Anna’s first night-sail experience so we were keen to have a fairly relaxed downwind sail. She took it all in her stride without even a hint of seasickness, Woop woop!

We set out with a fully reefed main and gull-winged genoa as we expected a brisk 20 or so knots, all went perfectly to plan and we were in view of the islands as dawn came around. We did end up a little farther north than first planned, due to wanting to maintain our sail plan, which meant the wind pushed us to where it wanted! Although this actually made the transition from deep water to shallower water around the islands easier, and then the sea was flatter on the west side of the various islands.

We stopped at the island of Canouan to check in, get some local currency (now Eastern Caribbean Dollars) and stop at a little beachfront cafe for some lunch. They even had a cute treetop table that we had to try, but aborted halfway through eating when a torrential downpour came through and everyone made a beeline for the cafe interior.

We knew sy_danae and sy.artemis were already a little way south of us on Union Island so naturally we set off again for a few miles more to reach Chatham bay. It was a busy anchorage but luckily there was room for us to squeeze in close to Danae.

We were very glad that the sea bed was sand (the best holding for an anchor) as the bay was incredibly gusty, one minute there would be no wind and Hannah Penn would bounce forward on the anchor chain and then there would be 30+knots. Interestingly when a gust comes and the boat was not already pulling back on the anchor, the bow will get pushed downwind, meaning you’ll turn sideways onto the wind, and then as the chain tightens, the boat gets slow motion whiplash as the bow is pulled back around.

This happened every half an hour or so all day and night, so we definitely set our trusty anchor alarm!

After being happy with how the anchor was holding, we headed to shore with everyone to have a great catch-up on how everyone’s Atlantic crossing went, and how many things got broken! We think Danae did the best in terms of not breaking anything but it catches up with them at a later date, stay tuned for our time in St Lucia for the story!

So during our chatting, we got onto talking about dinghies flipping over, which Artemis had experienced a couple of times now.. with their engine on…

The next morning a couple came by and knocked on our hull, about something, and you’ve guessed it, we forgot to take the engine off the dinghy before we went to bed, a gust had flipped it in the night and we looked out to find a sad looking little propellor sticking out of the water.

Time for the dinghy engine resuscitation procedure!…

I cleaned the seawater out with lots of fresh water and then got to work taking it apart and meticulously cleaning and re-greasing everything to prevent corrosion. For a while, the gear had been fairly stiff and we thought this service would be exactly what it needed. So all back together and working perfectly we set off to pick up Michel from Artemis for a snorkeling session, we got to their boat and changed from forward to neutral, loaded him and gear in, and went to change to forward only to find it was jammed in neutral :|not ideal!

Getting memories of our outboard engine oil change back in the Isles of Scilly.

We all went in his dinghy and afterwards I took the engine apart for the second time that day!… now we have a dinghy engine permanently stuck in forward, so slightly more useful than neutral but still not ideal. Beggers can’t be choosers I suppose!

After a mildly stressful day we were looking forward to a Full moon party on the other side of the island so we sailed (with motor too because we were running late and didn’t want to arrive after dark) to clifton harbor. The mooring field was packed and as the sun had just about set we got ourselves on a bouy instead of worrying about anchoring.

View from southeast side of Union island, heading towards Clifton Harbour

It turned out the party was canceled for some unknown reason so we all went to the Happy Island Reef bar instead and had the place to ourselves, it was a lovely time to talk to other boats we hadn’t seen since before the Atlantic ocean

More island exploring to come as we head to Tobago Cays and lots of others.



Barbados was the first Caribbean stop for us.


Celebrating with a cocktail

We were very happy to see land and flat seas to anchor in on the west side of the island after our 20 day Atlantic crossing.

The first stop on the list was Port St Charles in the north, where we anchored upon arrival, and had the first full night of sleep in 20 days!

We started the check-in process that day and also headed to the closest restaurant to spend some relaxing time on land celebrating our achievement.

Nothing like tasty fish and chips, and a fancy pizza after 20 days at sea, the last few of which we mainly ate easy food like instant noodles.


The next thing on our minds was how to celebrate Christmas, which was coming up in a few days time.

In style of course! We booked an AirBnB that we could dinghy to from the boat for 2 nights and started preparing for a sunny Christmas celebration.

We had decorations, a beach view, air conditioning, Christmas movies, but most importantly a full roast dinner, with all the trimmings, homemade of course!


After Christmas, there was exploring that had to happen ahead of the arrival of our next guest, Anna, who would arrive on new years eve.

You can anchor down most of the west coast of Barbados, but you’ll find most people stopping for the night either in the north at Port St Charles, or down south in Bridgetown.

Needless to say, our exploration took us into the water with snorkels, masks and fins, and we found the water temperature to be lovely, and the snorkeling to be great!

We were seeing coral for the first time, lots of tropical fish, and the visibility is great! (Though writing this 1 month after being there, there is much better snorkeling to come!)

Best of all, some turtles, busy eating right next to our anchored boat!!!!

Our explorations were not only water-based, and we headed to land one evening to go and watch the new Avatar film in the cinema which we loved 🙂

New Years

We discovered that with our RYA membership, we could get a 1 week reciprocal membership at the Barbados yacht club. They also happened to be throwing a new years eve party which we decided to attend.

Anna arrived on new years eve, and after a little trouble getting a taxi to the right place, we were celebrating in style with a DJ on the beach and enough rum punch to drown a small goat.

Best of all, fireworks at midnight (though one of these did slightly melt part of our dinghy)

Off we go

We explored the coast more with Anna, and on the 4th of January after around 2 weeks in Barbados, we put our sails up again and headed on to St Vincent & the Grenadines.

The Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde to Barbados

The Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde to Barbados

It’s already been over 2 weeks since we made it to the Caribbean. Our Atlantic crossing took us roughly 20 days from Mindelo, Cape Verde to Barbados. We set off at a similar time to another 8 or so boats that we were in contact with and we experienced a variety of different weather and sailing conditions along the way.

The direct route would have been around 2030 nautical miles, and our route was 2147 nautical miles averaging only 4.5 knots. So an extra 117 miles, which isn’t bad, and would only take roughly 1 day to sail.

The first days

We set off on the 2nd of December at the same time as sailing vessel Extress, having spent some weeks in Mindelo marina waiting for a good weather window and doing boat jobs.

For the first day or so while leaving the shelter of the island we had relatively calm seas, light-ish winds and we could see the odd spot of rain. The light winds lead to the occasional spot of motoring, but this was a wonderful light and easy start to the crossing.

We started on a broad reach to get away from the island before setting up our twin headsails on day 2 with the plan of following the wind all the way to Barbados.

Come day 3, sailing was easy, we were not needing to touch the sails and the sunsets were beautiful.

One thing we did notice early on was that twin head sails and following the wind was leading to us staying quite north, which we suspected was going to end up being a bad idea as the forecast said there would be more wind in the South, and many of the other boats that left at the same time as us headed further south right away. But we really wanted to sail with the twin headsails.

We knew the other boats were further south as we were all messaging each other via our various satellite messengers, and we then plotted their points daily as we went.

As you can see, right at the start as the wind curved around the island we (the black line) got pushed very far north, vs Extress who left moments before us (the green line) stayed much further south on their broad reach.

Day 2 onwards

The whole of the first week was very in line with the first few days. Lighter winds, occasional motoring in no-wind spots, and lots of time to relax and have some fun on and in the flat seas.

We ended up in the water most days during these flatter times and did lots of more interesting cooking, as well as other boaty jobs and shenanigans aboard.

The dips in the sea included dragging behind the boat on a rope or holding onto the steps while we were sailing. Very cool as with a snorkeling mask on you could see fishes swimming in the shadow of the boat near the rudder.

Day 13 onwards

Nearing the third week the swell had started building a little, and the wind was becoming a more consistent higher average (approx 15kts), and sometimes gusty (up to around 30 knots). But still no squalls at this point.

We were still trying to push our twin headsail setup to take us further south, and unfortunately, we think this is what caused us to tear our Ghoster sail. It backwinded, and caught its edge on one of the mast steps on the opposite side, before filling with wind again and tearing a seam.

We didn’t want to try to take both headsails down from the furler in the high seas so decided to leave them furled and switch to a different sail setup (mainsail and a gib) for the rest of the crossing. We ended up with the main always having 1 or 2 reefs in it.

The sail change and continued building of swell and wind lead to some slightly less comfortable sailing compared to the first weeks.

Needless to say, meals started getting simpler, we spent less time in the water, and generally, we were starting to look forward to reaching the other side.

At least now being on a broad reach again, we could more easily change our course to either chase the wind, or head directly to our destination.

The squalls begin

We didn’t get a single squall until we were 3 days out from Barbados, and fortunately, our first squall came during daytime, we saw it coming from miles away and were thus very prepared. This also happened to be the biggest squall of our crossing.

We reduced our sails to a double-reefed main and no jib and steered away from the center of the squall as much as possible. We saw a prolonged period of 40 knots of wind and some rain for around 20 minutes before we could get back on course and put a little more sail out. It was an interesting experience and we stayed very alert for the duration but Hannah Penn handled it perfectly.

This first squall also allowed us to experiment with spotting squalls on a radar. We got all the dials set up so that we could see the squall on screen, and track its progress and thought this might be useful at night, but we didn’t end up using the radar much as we decided to just mostly sail with a fully reefed main overnight and the autopilot in wind vane mode and a high wind alarm set up. We figured that we should be able to weather most of the squalls in this way, and had the high wind alarm setup in case we got a bigger one and needed to re-evaluate.

Also at night, the squalls were easy to see without even looking out of the windows. We track our speed-over-ground and also course over the ground in an app called SailGrib WR which displays lovely charts. While on night watch it was always easy to see a squall coming as there would be a wind shift and increase in our speed long before the squall actually reached you.

Below you can see speed over ground increasing over the course of 7 minutes, but long before this, there was a big wind shift 20-30 minutes before, which is where the wind is sucked toward a distant squall, meaning we change our heading a little to stay at a constant wind angle for our sail set up.


It was very nice to see lights from land on our final night sail and also head in behind the shelter of Barbados to find flat seas. But not before some quite steep seas on the approach to Barbados as the ocean got shallower.

We wanted to arrive during daylight and found that we didn’t need to adjust the course or speed much to achieve this. We were approaching the island at 7am, around the corner and approaching the anchorage at 2pm, and checking into customs at 5pm, although we did have to go back at 9am the following day to finish our check-in as one of the key customs officers had gone home!

We spent some time walking on land, it was great, and had a delicious meal on shore, the rest of Barbados exploration is for future blog posts. Stay tuned!…