We came back from Ecuador six weeks ago or so; it feels much longer. Over there, in Casa Blanca – Same, we had settled into a languid routine that involved uninterrupted hours of reading, runs and walks on the beach, an occasional swim in the ocean, hikes through the jungle, copious meals with a variety of seafoods and wine, and long conversations over drinks after sunset (the story in pictures might follow). Two days after we landed in DC, the girls left for France with their mother (they just came back) and Natalia and I laggardly readjusted to our jobs. Other than a romantic trip to New York we’ve used the weekends for short cruises down the Chesapeake Bay and for preparing Antares for her off-shore passage to Bahamas later in the fall, the second leg of a trip that should eventually take her to Galapagos and perhaps beyond.
The main purpose of this page is to document that trip and, in the process, provide information for others planning similar voyages; information that, often, I haven’t found in the many blogs, articles, and other sources for sailors that I follow.
In this first post I should start by introducing Antares. She is a Bristol 40, hull #118, designed by Ted Hood. For those who do not know the builder (Bristol Yatchs) you can tell from the picture that she is a “classic,” relatively heavy boat (17,580 lbs), with discrete and elegant curves that give her deep over-hangs and a low-free board. These are important features for an ocean boat as they provide stability and allow for a more comfortable and rhythmic movement over the waves. She has a full-keel, a full-skeg rudder, and a propeller in between –which reduces the chances of wrapping a line, crab pots, or simply marine weed (like the sargaso invading these days the caribbean sea).
Also contributing to her seaworthiness is a narrow beam (10’9”) which makes accommodations inside rather frugal — at least in comparison with modern designs. She has only one private cabin, forward, with a V-berth. In the main cabin you find two settees and the quarter berth. The port settee can be extended to sleep two and the starboard settee accepts a pipe cot berth on top. So, in principle, Antares can sleep 7 people; a principle that will be tested over Christmas when we plan to cruise the Bahamas with Natalia, the girls, my parents and at some point my son. The main cabin also has a folding dining table, the galley and fridge, and the navigation table. All the construction, inside, is made of teak. Outside, the oversized wheel, gunwales, hatches, and dorade boxes are also made of teak. Maintenance is, of course, a problem….
Antares is a sloop — it has a single mast and a single head-sail. I have installed, however, an inner-stay with running back-stays. Her wardrobe thus includes a furling genoa, a stay-sail that when needed plays the role of a storm jib, a fully battened main sail, a storm try-sail with independent tracks on the mast, and the speenaker.
In terms of electronics and safety-equipment, Antares has a fix VHF radio, an old radar, a sat phone (iGO from Iridium), a class B AIS transponder (AMEC Camino 108) to “see” (and be “seen” by) other boats at night, a small tracking device (Spot), and a 400 Hz EPIRB. All navigation is done with an IPad (INavX), paper charts, and a hand-held GPS (no chart-plotters). There is an autopilot but it can only handle mild conditions, the real self-steering system is a Monitor wind-vane. I carry a life-raft for 4 people (Revere Offshore Commander) and a Jordan Series Drogue that I hope I will never use. From a review of the literature on off-boat controls (drogues and parachutes) it seems to me that the Jordan series is the most effective device to stabilize the boat with the stern facing the waves and without having to steer. The crew can then go down to the safety of the cabin, shut the companion way, and wait for things to calm down. Retrieval of the rogue though seems to be an exhausting task.
I bought Antares in September 2013; a great decision. She was at the time in a marina in Brandford Connecticut. My son Juan David and my friend Richard Hinz sailed her down to the Chesapeake in early April 2014. I’ll write about that trip and current preparations (and short cruises) for the the next leg (Whitehall Bay to Marsh harbor) in future posts.