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Date: 15 Apr 2007 20:07:07
Title: Eager for Antigua!!

Position 17:00.9N 61:46.4W

 

There we were, sleeping the sleep of the just, when we were rudely awakened by someone blowing an air horn very close by. Having woken sufficiently to realise that we weren’t just dreaming we were at a football match I scrambled up on deck in a state of undress to find that our anchor had dragged during the night, and the stern of our boat was now resting on the bow, or at least the anchor chain, of a large American yacht behind us. Not really what you want to find at 6.00am. Fortunately no harm was done and we managed to motor forwards while retrieving our anchor, and took the opportunity to move round to St Annes (from Le Marin, Martinique) for a change of scenery. Trouble was it was so windy we didn’t feel safe there either so went back towards Le Marin, which lies in a large almost enclosed bay, and re-anchored again. And again. And again. Very odd, our 16kg Delta anchor, which has always performed perfectly, would not take at all. We even switched it for our spare, a Brittany (when in France…) but that was no better. Eventually, some hours later, we got the anchor in and felt secure again. We still don’t know why we dragged in the first place, yes it was windy, but no more than the day before and we’d been there for four days before that with no problems. Tracy wonders if someone inadvertently “tripped” our anchor while manoeuvring in front of us, but I’m not so sure. I have a conspiracy theory all of my own, in that a team of crack French Special Forces divers were out and about and up to no good – well I didn’t see any French yachts dragging – remember the Rainbow Warrior? Exactly.

 

Anyway, after another day or so the weather returned to normal and off we went to St Pierre on the northwest coast of Martinique. We only stayed overnight here but look forward to exploring properly on the way back; it was at one time the capital of Martinique until the volcano just behind the city (sack that town planner) erupted and destroyed the city in the 1900’s, killing all bar one (or two, depending on which book you read). Oops. A dozen ships were sunk at anchor so hopefully we’ll dive on these next time.

 

 

An early start the next morning for the sail to Dominica, and back to the real Caribbean – rough and ready, covered in rainforest, and generally looking way more interesting than Martinique – although you might have to look a bit harder for Roquefort. As we were on a mission to get north we only stayed here overnight too, but anchored off Portsmouth right next to “Y Not”, an Aussie boat last seen in Las Palmas. It was great to see Ross & Sue again, especially to enjoy that typical Aussie hospitality: “Give us a shout when you want picking up and come and have some grub”. Now that’s what I call a nice welcome, we considered following them back south (they’re heading for Panama and then home to Australia) and anchoring half an hour behind them every night to see if we couldn’t repeat the process. A hearty meal was enjoyed by all, and a few drinks of course, but we still managed to get up at 6.00am and set off for Guadeloupe. Yet another for-one-night-only stop, at Deshailles on the north west coast, which again warrants a longer stop on the way back, before setting off for Antigua the following morning.

 

Very little wind, sea like a millpond, fishing rods out, engines on, 40 miles to go. Then the wind came up so up went the sails, and it blew old boots for the entire journey! We had over 30kts of wind for the most part, which was behind us so not a problem, but the sea kicked up a bit right on the beam so was very uncomfortable. Certainly not as forecast, and not a lot of fun, but we made it to Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, in record time! We had a few big strikes on the lures on the way up, but only managed to land one fish, a smallish Barracuda (about 18 inches long, most of it teeth) which we threw back as we didn’t fancy it.

 

We’ve been here for a week now, and bumped into some friends almost straight away from “El Vagabond”, Roger & Vicki, (www.elvagabond.com) and another Brit yachtie called Brian, in a bar of all places (who’d have thought…) and we all went horse racing on Easter Monday. Well that was an experience, horse racing Caribbean style – not exactly Ascot but great fun! Where else would you find a stack of speakers blasting out soca music between races? There was a real party atmosphere, loads of vendors selling drinks and barbequed food, jockeys with dreads hanging out the back of their helmets, fantastic.

 

 

 There was no betting on the first race as it was announced over the tannoy that the bookmaker “hadn’t turned up yet” so we organised a sweepstake amongst ourselves for each race to create a bit of excitement. El Vagabond seemed to come out best, but then they were allocating the horses…Brian consistently fared less well – five last places, including one horse called "Balls 'R' Us" which could only walk with a waddle, never mind run, due to his, erm, large undercarriage from which he no doubt earned his name - and they shot his horse in the last race! Race six had the most runners - seven – which was perhaps a little too many for the size of the track, and there was a horrible accident on the far side of the track when the second placed runner fell and took three others with it. We later learned that all the jockeys were OK, although at least one was carted off in an ambulance, but sadly two horses were injured and had to be shot, one there and then and the other later on. A sad end to a really good afternoon out.

 

So, our plans now are to hang around here for another few days to see “Malarkey” who should turn up on Monday. The others are staying around here for the Antigua Classic Regatta (next weekend) but we’re not too interested in all that sailing nonsense so we’ll probably leave next week towards St Maarten/St Martin.

 

And finally (sighs of relief all round) a spokesman for the defence in the great onion debate has issued a statement:

 

You know, I was wondering how long it would be before he mentioned the carrot thing.

Provisioning for the trip became a full time occupation for me in Las Palmas and however hard I tried to rein myself in, we still had tons of food on board, mostly due to last minute panic buying.  Well, can you imagine what it would be like if you couldn't get to the shops for at least 3 weeks?  And last minute panic buying is the reason for the onion/carrot ratio imbalance. 

Let me explain; when you're laying in food for a minimum of three weeks (hopefully this the longest time but it could be more) it's really important to get top notch veggies, and buy them as late as you can before leaving.  So I'll set the scene; it's evening (shopping time in Spain), in fact the eve of the trip, and I still haven't found suitable onions –I’m in a bit of a state.  All of the supermarkets, so fantastic for those Spanish goodies we love so much, have a despicable habit of chilling their produce, and all I can find are big soggy mouldy onions swarming with flies   Yuk!  So, whilst the good people of Las Palmas are bustling around the shops buying their Christmas prezzies, I am traipsing the streets for onions.  Ah, shame, I can hear you say, but take into account I am also carrying two large shopping bags containing quite a few other purchases, including the last minute decision Jamon-on-a-stand.  It's dark, I'm tired and hungry, but cannot return without any onions.  Big stress!

On the last lap of the shops I came across a lovely little proper greengrocer; you know the sort, displaying their wares in quaint wicker baskets with lovely smelling bunches of fresh herbs etc, etc.  So my eyes fall upon the loveliest onions you've ever seen (and this isn't from delirium); crispy brown skin and hard as rocks, and I just know they are going keep forever.  What could I do??  There's some kind of saying in the sailing world about never going to sea without a big bag of onions, so when the lady asked how many kilos, I said as many as I can carry please.  I'm sure I stretched my arms lugging all that stuff back but it was worth it.  Properly stored, (wrapping each one in newspaper and checking them regularly, a very sad occupation you may think but there's not much else to do on the trip) they did last forever and every single one was used, and they were all yummy.  I'm sad to say that I think I got a bit emotional when I realised that was the last one - I'd become quite of fond of them, as I imagine you might children or dogs - they'd certainly been hanging around long enough.  (I did manage to stop short of giving them names though).

And the carrots?  Well, obviously in my state of near hysteria about onions they kind of accidentally got overlooked, and it wasn't until day three of the trip when Neil said, whilst knocking up another delicious repast, "where are the rest of the carrots?"  that I realised I might have been a little preoccupied with onions and my smug look was no more.  I would just like to point out though, despite the lack of carrots, we did eat extremely well on the trip.  And without printing a complete list you'll just have to take my word for it.  And I'm not making excuses.  Honest.  Let's hope that sorry confession clears up the need for any further "investigations"...  I don't like the sound of that.

 

Mmm. We’ll see.


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