Monday 2 March 2020

St Barth

I slip into the cool turquoise water. As my vision settles I see a large Barracuda, about two metres below the surface, almost stationary, then with a lazy wave of its tail it glides away out of sight.  Below me a small turtle swims breaststroke with its flippers, slowly drifting down towards the white sandy seabed.  We are anchored in the port of Gustavia, the stylish capital of the French island of St Barth, one of our favourite Caribbean islands.

Friday 21 February 2020

Jolly Harbour

On the hillside, not far from the waters edge, a dilapidated building of unpainted concrete blocks clings onto the rocks, covered with a rusty brown corrugated iron roof. From the single small window hangs a broken black shutter, a plastic rubbish bin lies on its side outside the wooden door. Around the smallholding runs a sagging wire fence, a man in ripped shorts and a dirty white t-shirt sits on the ground, engrossed in his handiwork, while a goat chews at the scrub growing on the stony surface.  Just a few metres away, the rock turns to creamy white sand, palm trees lean towards the soft surf that caresses the beach. The buildings are of bleached oak, chiffon curtains billow in the light morning breeze, white sunbeds, arranged with military precision under white parasols, await the guests who are breakfasting under ceiling fans in the nearby dining room. The contrast is stark. We are anchored in Carlisle Bay, home to the eponymous resort, one of Antigua’s most luxurious hotels where rooms cost seven hundred dollars for a single night, excluding breakfast.

Sunday 9 February 2020


In the distance, Atlantic rollers rise up from the deep and thunder against the barrier reef, where their energy is snuffed out against the delicate coral. Inside the reef the turquoise water laps gently against the hull with hardly a ripple on the surface. Turtles graze on the sea grass, holding their breath for several hours before coming to the surface for a gulp of air.  It feels as if we are on the edge of the world, with nothing but the reef between us and the open ocean. In fact we are in Nonsuch Bay, on the East coast of Antigua, a huge shallow coastal lagoon, two miles wide and perfect for kite surfing.

Sunday 2 February 2020

Les Saintes

We sail through the pass between Grand Ilet and Le Cloche and lower the mainsail in the still water between the islands where two superyachts are anchored. All around are green hills dotted with red rooftops and at the top of the bay is the adorable town of Bourg des Saintes.  As we motor up towards the village a small motor launch approaches us and the driver, smartly dressed in white, helps us to tie up to one of the mooring buoys.  He explains in French where the customs office is, where we should pay our mooring fees and wishes us Bonne Journee. We are in Les Iles des Saintes, a group of eight small islands off the south coast of Guadeloupe and it is one of our favourite destinations in the Caribbean.

Monday 27 January 2020

Winter in Martinique

The crossing from St Lucia to Martinique is only 25 miles but the trade winds are blowing hard creating boisterous conditions for the next few days. It is blowing 25-30 knots and a large sea state has built up in the Martinique channel with wave heights of three to four metres. We have had these conditions most of the way across the Atlantic so you may wonder why this is even worthy of mention. Although the wind is still from the North East, this time our course is North, and consequently we have 30-35 knots of apparent wind on the nose and the difference is dramatic. Our destination is St Anne but in this sea state we decide to bear off a little and blast across to the West coast of Martinique to a beautiful protected bay call Grand Anse D’Arlet.

Saturday 14 December 2019

ARC 2019 Finish

We finally crossed the finish line in Rodney Bay, St Lucia at 10:10 local time on Thursday 12th December.  I am pleased to say that the genoa is in it's bag, the forestay has been repaired, the boat is spotless and we are all on our way home for Christmas. Thank you for all the comments, emails and feedback.  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Last day at sea

We wake to an amazing dawn. Oults very kindly stands my night watch, andby 5am, after eight glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep I am in the cockpit, refreshed and ready for our last day at sea. Rosie comes on watch at 6am but Oults can't drag himself to his bunk, away from the marvel thatis taking place on the huge stage in front of us. Massive cumulus clouds soaring thousands of feet into the sky behind us, are suffused by the glow of dawn, creating a tangerine sky that becomes more intense and then, by degrees, is washed out by the glare of the risen sun. We gaze in rapture at the beauty and enormity of this spectacle, conscious that by this time tomorrow, land will obscure this endless horizon and we may never see this sight again.

All bets are off

Black cats crossing one's path are supposed to be a sign of good luck. Not so with ETA, who has caused nothing but trouble ever since she scrambled onto our decks, tempting us with rum punches, steel drums and flights home.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Guest blog written by Oults

Magellan's journal: Nov/Dec 2019

Setting sail in the good ship Hera from Las Palmas, armed with only a sextant and a pair of binoculars (with nifty compass embedded within), many of my correspondents, and most especially my crew mates, cast doubt on the likelihood of our ever reaching landfall in the right ocean, let alone on the right Caribbean island, if I was to take any part in the navigation. And to be fair, my first few readings were a little erratic, reaching a somewhat dangerous low when I placed us in the middle of the Sahara desert on 28th November, some 5 days' out to sea.

Guest blog written by Andrew

Crossing the Atlantic by Catamaran, by Andrew

In 2012 I was one of Paul's crew who crossed the Atlantic on Juno, a mono hull. I was very happy to be invited to make the same crossing in a catamaran("cat") so that I could experience a cat and make a judgement as to what I preferred. As prep for this I re-read Steven's 2012 guest blog on life on a mono hull – I would recommend digging it out and having a read.

Monday 9 December 2019

The cat's out

Oults is mother again; a diligent cook and a truly great housekeeper, vacuuming and mopping floors, scrubbing decks, and generally making Hera look pristine. ETA, a new crew member who I shall introduce shortly, is at the supper table, monopolising the conversation as usual, when Oults conjures up from the galley, Mahi Mahi, cooked with Harissa (if you don't know what this is go to any Waitrose in the home counties, and follow the frenzy of Ottolenghists, hoovering the jars off the shelves).

Guest blog written by Rosie

Classified Advert - AirSeaAndSea November 2019

Hera, a small deluxe short or medium let exquisitely furnished boutique Hotel, conveniently located near the ocean. All rooms have sea views. This ultra modern hotel comprises three double rooms with snug en suite facilities, a very comfortable kitchen, diner with lounge and office fit together well in the centre of the property.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Disaster Averted

Venture Capitalists like me, who invest in young technology companies, tend to fall into two categories. There are those who "optimise the upside" and those who focus more on "downside protection". While I have high hopes for all my investments, I am definitely in the latter camp, and I always like to have a plan to deal with the worst possible outcomes, or better still to take pre-emptive action to minimise the likelihood of a disaster.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Bandit Country

When Andrew wakes me for my watch I am in a deep sleep. I remember reading that in warfare, commanders plan their night raids for 3am when the body is at its lowest ebb, and I can see why.

Friday 6 December 2019


Leaning back languidly against the guard rail, hair ruffled by the wind, making no contribution to sailing the boat, never touching a winch handle or a sheet, but appearing in every photograph, is Molly. Not Mervyns new nickname, not a stowaway, but our floor mop, much admired by Oults, exercised by some more than others, Molly always retires to the cockpit when her work is done, drying her j-cloth locks in the sunshine. When I draw attention to this now permanent feature of the cockpit, Andrew announces that he doesn't like Molly any more, and would prefer a sponge. Maybe it was just a wave that caught the boat but I'm sure that I saw her flinch at this rejection.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Half Way

Black squalls, blown by the trade winds, chase up from behind us like marauding thugs; they wander the skies, becoming more crazed and unstable, intoxicated by the limitless supply of warm tropical water. Eventually, they overdose, unable to hold the moisture as water vapour any longer; it falls as rain, the cooler air descending rapidly and as it hits the ocean it fans out in all directions.

Wednesday 4 December 2019


Overnight the wind has risen, gusting at up to 30 knots, creating a big
following sea that chases in behind us. The water is pure cobalt blue,
shot through with streaks of brilliant white where the crests of the waves break in the bright sunshine. We have definitely found the trade winds and we blast downwind on a broad reach, covering over 200 miles in the past 24 hours.

Monday 2 December 2019

Fast as a hare

Every day, during the ARC, there is a roll call held on long-range radio. Not everyone has these sets as they are expensive to install and of limited use in coastal sailing. But when sailing offshore, where the distances are far greater, the SSB radio comes into its own and allows us to keep in touch with other yachts who could be many hundreds of miles away, far out of the range of a VHF radio. 

A Trio of Tuna

We have been sailing all day, making a modest 6 knots, but in the right direction and with the prospect of more wind to come. Oults is back on Mother watch, however these days he is rarely parted from his sextant, his map of the stars, his note book; sometimes he can be persuaded to take the helm for a few moments, before the autopilot is re-engaged and he can return to his life as a midshipman on a square rigger. However he makes time to run up a lunch of pasta with sweet corn and tuna for which we are grateful.

Saturday 30 November 2019


Hand steering a yacht on the Atlantic at night, using the stars to hold the course, is quite magical. I see shooting stars every few minutes blazing across the cosmos in their final dying moments. I surmise that these harmless projectiles are a common occurrence, just one that we rarely witness with our heads down in our 21st century preoccupations. We have no wifi, no whatsapp, no news feeds, no urgent interruptions, just precious emails that we savour and it reminds me of a bygone era of hand-written letters and simple pleasures, the mind given time and space to think and rest; a form of meditation.