We’d checked the wind forecast before we left Martinique. Pretty steady. Arrows pointing in the right direction. Had we checked the rain forecast though? Oh yeah – rain! Doh. And rain here means squall.
Our first was in the Dominica Channel. The cloud drops to the water. The sea changes from indigo to graphite. The last thing is the rain hitting on the sea – the surface goes glossy, misty even. Then, bang. The first one, we were still in our shorts and t-shirts. Nice outdoor shower.
For the next, I found our oilies. We just managed to slip them on. We’d put away our headsail too which was a good call – the wind instantly accelerated from 17 to 35 knots. We’d caught the very sting of the squall’s tail.
‘How did Horatio handle it?’ my mum asked. I wrote to her from the tip of Dominica. I do like my mum’s nickname for our captain.
I grinned. ‘He killed it. He pointed us right out of it.’ Even though the wind was screaming and the rain was so heavy, it felt like the sea had started to boil.
‘You got good weather ahead?’
Before I’d messaged her, Dominica had greeted us with another fierce squall.
‘Uh, yep. It looks pretty.,. good.’
‘Excellent! Good night.’ She signed off with breezy kisses.
I stared into the blackening horizon. Squall after squall – through Dominica, the next channel, The Saintes and then Guadeloupe. We’d left at 1pm. It was 8am the next morning at the northern tip of Guadeloupe. I cooked French toast – not because we were still in France, but because we’d forgotten to buy baguettes. We only had some old toasting bread with no toaster. Eggs and syrup to the rescue!
The French islands are covered in lobster pots. Where it’s shallow – it’s pots. We had the engine on to negotiate both squall and the lee calm of Guadeloupe. The wind and rain was just easing… when I saw the last pot. It’s tiny yellow buoy pointed like a wasp.
We have never, not once, fouled our propellor before. Not on Quest, or any other boat. Jack said it’s cause we left on a Friday. I say the ghost was still pissed for leaving St Pierre. Clunk, clunk as the yellow buoy hit. Cracking snap while the rope broke. Heavy vibration as it wrapped around Quest’s propellor. Uh-oh.
What to do? We sailed all the way to Falmouth Harbour as if we were an old schooner. No engine. We held tight to the wind and flew. And it was funny – after we snagged that line, there wasn’t a single squall to battle. Crossing the channel to Antigua, we had glorious, lively conditions in a steady 20 knots.
2pm – we closed in on Falmouth Harbour. ‘Get ready to drop anchor as we furl the sails in,’ Horatio said. He was still killing it. When we turned the engine on though, there was no sign of the prop foul. It must have dropped off the folding propellor during the sail.
We anchored in our familiar Falmouth Bay. Music was wafting from the beach and the anchorage was mellow. Very mellow indeed. Deep breath. We were in Antigua.