Our 2002 Hylas 46

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hurricane Irma

I am sure that many of you have seen the pictures of the devastation that Irma inflicted on many Caribbean Islands. As you know, we choose Antigua as a great location to store Ambition for the summer while we returned home.
The eye of Hurricane Irma fortunately enough for us, passed 50 miles north of Antigua. The result of this path was that Antigua was spared the brunt of Irma's 185 mph winds. The sister island of Barbuda - home to about 1700 people took a direct hit from Irma. Today there is not one soul living on Barbuda, all have been evacuated. This is the first time in 300 years that Barbuda has not had inhabitants.

Here is a current article outlining the situation on Barbuda - 

Maryse and I will be returning to Antigua late October and we will take with a large hockey bag that we will endeavour to fill with items that will be of use to the children and families affected by this disaster. If you would like to join with us in contributing to helping Barbuda, we will gladly cover all excess baggage costs to move your generous donations of linens, new clothes or footwear, personal hygiene products or children's toys. I will pick up your donations if that is the easiest solution for you.

If you prefer to support Barbuda in a different way, our marina has provided us with a link to make your contributions effective and efficient.

Thanks in advance for your assistance in making this corner of paradise livable again.
Maryse and Merrill

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Final Days On Board For This Season

The time has come to put Ambition away for the hurricane season. We feel that we have made a great choice in leaving Ambition in Jolly Harbour Marina, Antigua, as we are well above sea level in the storage yard and the yard sits behind a very tall hill protecting us from the east winds. There is an onsite Budget Marine for parts and supplies. The storage yard is all in concrete so the boat will be well supported in the jack stands.  There are tie down points so we can strap Ambition by all four corners, to underground anchors, so that high winds will not cause the boat to fall over.

We arrived in Jolly Harbour Marina on May 3rd - tied up the the dock with the help of a great dockmaster team to handle all our lines. Ambition is tied stern to the dock - plugged into 120V AC power to run the air conditioners. It is so nice to be able to have a cool spot after working outside in 85F+ temperatures.

There are two things that we have as a goal while preparing the boat. The first and most important is to remove from the deck everything that potentially would come loose or fly around in the event of a tropical storm or a hurricane. The second goal is to clean, bag, wash, disinfect everything to prevent mould growing in the hot and humid summer air. After lots or research - vinegar and water - the best for cleaning and once everything is cleaned a wipe down with a mixture of water and clove oil.

Our check list is almost 100 items long just for the mechanical and on deck items and Maryse has an equally long list for all the inside of the boat items. The sails have been removed and sent off to the sailmakers for any needed repairs and for storage during the summer. This gives us a lot more room on board to store stuff inside.

We have had issues with the 8kw diesel generator all winter so the local Fischer Panda technician came on board to find the cause of the overheating and starting issues. Rebuilt the little alternator that seized, overhauled the starter motor, removed and acid washed the heat exchanger, repaired the new water pump we installed in January (&%#%@) and finally bled all the air from the cooling system. Now we can run ALL our 120V stuff on board and the generator hummmmms along very happily!

This is what is left of the belt on the alternator for the generator! 

Lots of black dust! 

The electric furling mainsail system has been pulled out as it stopped working this winter. We implemented a workaround, using my electric drill and a special fitting to open and close the mainsail. This repair is not a surprise as the unit is supposed to be overhauled at least every 3-5 years - ours has not seen any servicing in 14 years!

While in storage the main engine will also undergo a substantial maintenance which is way past due - not based on hours of usage but simply years.

Instruments tucked away
We removed over 1500 feet of lines from the deck so that the summer sun doesn't burn them and left  tracer lines in place so the reinstallation in the fall is simple. The dinghy and engine are not stored on the boat due to added windage and wear and tear. The dinghy is stored in a covered shed and the outboard gets placed in a shipping container. They will be much better in storage, than hanging on the back of the boat.
Dinghy and outboard gone - wind generator blades removed and tied down

Mainsail gone

Sails and furling lines gone

No lines on the deck

Cockpit cushions and enclosure gone
Ambition all stripped down!

Down below, Maryse has washed and packed in airtight bags, just about everything we have on board. Batteries removed from all our electronic items, water tanks emptied and left open to dry, cupboards washed and treated for mould. All the canvas cushions and cockpit enclosure has been washed and retreated for water resistance.

Closets and lockers all packed up in bags

Some stuff to come home with us and some just packed up
Vacuum bagged cushions and linens

Getting her bottom washed ....

Ambition is back out of the water. Considering the last time she was out was in January - looking good!
Really the end of the season now 

Looks like an aquarium - need to re-coat with PropSpeed! 

We have engaged the services of a Yacht Guardian - neat title eh? He will visit Ambition every month, air the boat out, check batteries, empty any water in the bilge and generally keep an eye on everything for us. Also in the event of a named storm he will remove the summer cover and then reinstall it after the storm has passed. The yard demands this, so that covers do not become loose and flog around in a storm beating and causing damage to other boats.

Under the covers

All buttoned down ....

Looks good and will help protect her while we are away

A pat on the bum and a wish that her summer is UNEVENTFUL

After Ambition came out of the water, we moved into an AIRBNB villa in Jolly Harbour ....sweet!

back deck and dock


The days have flown by and we are both anxious to get home to family and friends however we are also sad to leave our winter home after a fantastic 8 months on board.

We sure hope that our blog has allowed you to share a little bit of what we have enjoyed this winter. Perhaps it will also inspire a few of you to follow in our wake and play in warm waters all winter.

Merrill and Maryse
S/V Ambition

Until next November!

Monday, May 1, 2017

One Week Later

One Week Later

What a difference a week makes!!! As fast as the Classic Regatta reaches its finale, the Antigua Race Week starts to crank up. This year is the 50th anniversary of this prestigious event. Since the late 70’s I have been reading in sailing magazines about Antigua Race Week and now we are here – right in the middle of it all! AWESOME.

It is interesting to see the comparison between last week and this week. Classic Regatta is very subtle, laid back and conservative. Race Week is all about race teams, competition and hired guns as crew for the races. Varnish and billowing sails has been replaced with carbon fiber and high performance yachts. I think that there is a difference between the two groups – one is a spirit of participation and the other is a spirit of WIN at all cost! The docks are now piled high with equipment that is removed from the boat for races – interior tables, anchors, life rafts and heavy weather sails. Repair teams are on board fixing broken equipment from the trip to Antigua. Like bees around a hive!

The evening festivities are also very different – laid back music performances have been replaced with DJs and live high volume reggae bands playing well into the night. Beer and rum are served in huge quantities to coincide with the party atmosphere. Yacht teams stand out in their matching shirts and hats! This is amazing!

We feel very privileged to be able to be part of all this!

Around Antigua

Around Antigua

Very dear friends arrived on board to spend 10 days with us enjoying sailing in Antigua. We spent a few days gently making our way all around the island of Antigua.

From Falmouth we had a short sail to Mamora Bay – noting that you do not want to depend on the electronic charts to get you in, you MUST be able to see the bottom colours to determine where water depth and the reefs that are just waiting to eat fiberglass to pieces. There are two items of significance here – the home on the point as you head into this bay is owned by some guy who supposedly played a little guitar in his time …. Eric Clapton. He didn’t play for us however, perhaps next time eh? The other item is a rather impressive, all-inclusive resort called the Saint James Club. There was absolutely no other sailboat in the bay with us – it was cool to have the Hobie cats and paddle boarders pass buy to say hello! One neat thing is if you tie up to their dock, they offer you full access to the resorts amenities including the restaurants.

Next stop was to sail to Nonsuch Bay. This is a bay protected from ocean swells and waves by a coral reef and few islands. We wiggled our way in between the reefs and anchored in Ayres Creek beside Nonsuch Bay Resort. Ayres Creek is a very narrow bay where we anchored again completely alone, which is so delightful after weeks in busy and crowed anchorages. The plan was to take advantage of their restaurant for a 5 star dinner. Well the resto gods were not in our court this evening – they had a full house and no room for us. Maryse and Chantal pulled together a fantastic dinner of mahi mahi that was certainly 5 stars for James and me!

A grey and wet day followed so it was a perfect opportunity to say comfortable on board Ambition and just watch the day go by. The fact that we emptied a couple of nicely chilled wines, enjoyed afternoon nappies and another great dinner on board, made the day zip right by! As I said before – “life is good on Ambition”

The next morning we pulled up the anchor and headed out of the bay past Prickly Pear island and through Boon Channel. This is by far the most challenging channel we have navigated this winter.  The electronic charts are of absolutely no use whatsoever. It is 100% eyeball navigation based on the colour of the water – the darker the blue the deeper the water – brown is CORAL REEF – this is to be AVOIDED all the time. While navigating the darkest blue water I could find, I looked down at the chart-plotter and we were right on top of the reef… of those times when technology fails us and eyes don’t lie! We have no pictures – too damn busy finding blue water!

Our next anchorage was in Deep Bay, which is just south of St. Johns, the capital and deep-water port of Antigua. 

Our guide book indicated that there was another chance to use a resorts restaurant facilities in this bay. Well when we checked Tripadvisor and compared the reviews to the guidebook, we opted to believe Tripadvisor. The guidebook indicated two great restaurants – Tripadvisor indicated that one of the two restaurants was abandoned and the only one open was less than 1 star – in fact the entire resort was the worst. They had no excellent ratings. In fact the only rating they had was HORRIBLE. In my experience I ignore the horrible and the excellent and see what the middle of the road tells of a restaurant. In this case…… we ate on board again! Chantal and Maryse certainly did MUCH better and James and I gave them a 5 star rating!

Jolly Harbour was our next stop. This is where we will be storing Ambition for the summer. From what I see, I am not disappointed at all in my choice. We took a mooring in the inner harbour to be closer to the marina. This marina complex is so much like Fort Lauderdale. There are about 150 villas built on fingers of land with dock in the front. They were probably built 30 years ago and today they are in various stages of renovation or need of renovation! Empty lots are selling for US$250,000 and the older villa units are easily available for under US$250,000. The whole site is very eclectic indeed!

Car rental organized by James and off we went on a land tour for a day. We stopped to visit St. Johns. Luckily for us there was no cruise ship in port and so we had a much better view of the old city. The architecture is such a collision of styles – t really is quite special. Lunch was at the Roti King – 5 starts on Tripadvisor and the MOST amazing chicken roti! Afternoon stop and Betty’s Hope – one of the largest sugar cane plantations from the 1800’s. Walking through the little museum send chills down your spine as you see the ships registers of the slaves that they delivered from Africa and the prices paid for each of them. It is hard to even fathom the notion of such an important / ugly part of black history in all the islands of the Caribbean.

Betty's Hope

Next stop was back to Falmouth Harbour to participate in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta activities.  There were opening festivities parties, fireworks, music and rum … life is good!

Below is a selection of pictures that we took of the start line of a few of the races of these beautiful sailboats. To put it in perspective, some of the yachts are more than 180 feet long with crews of 40+ folks on board and some are 30 feet long with crews of 1 or 2. They are all beautiful and the passion for sailing classics is very obvious in the pride displayed from the owners and crew. Spectacular is an understatement.

English Harbour

The boat on the left is 90 feet long ... on the right .... who knows???

Just the aft deck ....

Wild Horses

How did they get the helicopter up there????

David and Goliath

Hold on tight boys!!!