The Passage Plan

Neil and Lawrence were to be with Mina2 for two weeks during which time our mission was to sail 350 miles north from Grenada to Antigua. It is something you could do in 2 ½ days if one sailed non-stop day and night so it allowed for a number of stopovers at the multitude of islands that form the Caribbean chain of the Windward and Leeward Islands. The itinerary was:

Prickly Bay, Grenada to Tyrrell Bay, Carriacou 37nm (nautical miles)
Carriacou to Admiralty Bay, Bequia (St Vincent and the Grenadines) 38nm
Lay-day in Bequia
Bequia to Rodney Bay, St Lucia 70nm
Lay-day in Rodney Bay
St Lucia to Saint Pierre, Martinique 44nm
Martinique to Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica 55nm
Lay-day in Dominica
Dominica to Les Saintes (islands at south of Guadeloupe) 22nm
Les Saintes to Deshaies (at the north end of Guadeloupe) 32nm
Deshaies to Falmouth Harbour, Antigua 43nm
Lay-day in Antigua
Crew return home

Our first gentle passage to Carriacou was a good beat against the wind which Lawrence and I enjoyed as a shakedown, whilst Neil slept the whole way suffering from whatever it was he had contracted. Likewise the second passage to Bequia where we anchored off Princess Margaret beach and enjoyed a lazy lay-day walking around the delightful village and visiting some of its bars. It was the first day that Neil had trusted his stomach to venture further than three metres from toilet facilities, although he was still restricting his diet to no more than mineral water.

The following day was our longest passage of 70 miles to Rodney Bay in St Lucia. I very much prefer getting into anchorages before nightfall (6.30 pm here), and so we don’t have to turn the engine on every time we slow down, I plan passages assuming a relatively low speed. This meant we had planned to leave at 0400.

At 0400 I hit the starter button for the engine and – nothing. We nosed around in the engine room for a while, speculating what the problem could be and were just discussing whether to defer our departure for a day to stay here and find an electrician (the problem was almost certain to be electric – and I knew there was an electrician in Bequia because we had needed him when we visited last year) when Lawrence, hero of the day, noticed that the terminal on one of the thick cables running from the battery had broken. He jammed the bare end against the terminal on the starter motor and, hey presto, the engine roared into life.

We eventually left at 0445. It was a rather frustrating passage, mainly hard on the wind, and when we were in the lee of the island of St Vincent, the wind died and we had to motor for a while, arriving in Rodney Bay at the northeast corner of St Lucia just as the last of the light was disappearing at 6.45pm.

We’d scheduled a lay-day for the following day, which we needed anyway to sort out the starter motor cable. There’s a particularly well-equipped chandlery in Rodney Bay run by Ian who had been so helpful last year when we arrived with a multiplicity of rigging problems. We managed to get the right terminal fittings and Ian very kindly agreed to lend us the massive (and very valuable) crimping machine we would need to crimp the terminal on to the cable. Within a couple of hours, Lawrence had crimped on and connected the terminal, and I had mended a fault on the water maker.

These two comparatively minor issues are the only breakages I’ve had in a month. Given the catalogue of breakages that have plagued us over the last couple of years, I really can’t believe it. I’m beginning to panic that there will be so few things that need fixing that I will be obliged to spend the days relaxing, reading, snorkelling and perhaps even doing a bit of painting. But I’m sure that fate will have something up her sleeve.


Tim Barker is a sailor and occasional adventurer. Since 2004, Mina2, his Oyster 485 yacht, and he (with the Downstairs Skipper and a wonderful bunch of friends) have sailed from the Arctic to the Antarctic and many places in between. Come join their adventures and read Tim's award winning blogs and journals from the comfort of your own computer screen.

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