More Stuff

Rick, Helen, Sue, John
Tue 3 May 2011 23:50
Hello from 17:44.92N 64:41.91W (Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands).  Just a bit of a catch-up (if anyone's actually reading this stuff!!)
Sunday:  Well finally the genoa and staysail (our two forward sails) are stitched, patched and fed back on to the roller-reefing whets-its.  H and S spent a lot of yesterday stitching long patches into the leaches of the sails - hell of a job.  (I contributed into the general effort by sticking a sail needle about an inch of it - blunt side first - into that soft bit of flesh where your thumb joins the rest of you.  So all work had to stop while they pulled it out.  H said I should pour alcohol over the wound.  Sod that, I thought, and administered a fair bit 'internally'.)  So this morning it was up the mast for a final check-over.  (I'm getting quite used to this.  There's a nice view from up there - I could see our resident turtle mooching about - and the competitors in this Iron Man thing swimming by.)
Glitch of the day seems to be the freezer.  Despite 16 hours of work being done on it in Curacao, the damn thing's gone south again and as S and H have been cooking our first 4 or 5 dinners with the intention of freezing them, this is a little bit of a problem.  Probably pack it with ice before we go.  The dinners are now in the freezer of the bar* and we'll hoick them out before we go.
(*not called Cruzan by the way - that's a rum - its called The Golden Rail.  They make pretty good Pina Coladas.)
Marinas are a sort of ordered suburbia for boats.  Kimikalki (where Lady Diane/Dandelion languished before we came along) was typical. Each main leg is the equivalent of a street and each wobbly finger-pontoon, your very own driveway.  And because your neighbour(s) are pretty much cheek-by-jowl you can study at close quarters the minutiae of their daily round.  Next to Dandelion there was a Dutch couple who lived on their boat for I think 6 months of the year.  Every morning, first thing, they took a swim.  Now swimming from your boat in a marina is putting a certain amount of trust in your neighbours' er toilet habits (Viz; the Delsey crawl).  On the other hand, at night time, the single 'loo' at Kimikalki was a scene from Indiana Jones.  Lights off and the species count on the floor, walls and ceiling would have David Attenborough speaking very, very quietly.  Lights on and you were doing your business in a world of buzzing, fluttering, whining, flapping and general insect carry on. So one could be excused, perhaps, for using the ship's heads, noting, however, that the marina was practically tideless.  After the swim they sat down to their morning work.  She knitting some sort of sweater.  He working through a Jumbo Suduko.  This took them up to lunch.  After that there was a visit from friends which lasted until after dinner.   The same friends.  Every day.  Day after day.  Week after week.   God, hand me the revolver.
D arrived from Antigua just after lunch and we toured the ship together (S and H having gone off provisioning).  D is one of the most up-beat men I know so he was able to lift me out of my personal morass and start thinking about her good points.
Monday:  We fueled and watered up and then, being 'ready in all respects' (well, more or less), there was a quick hug and we're off - S and H waving madly from the Wobbly Dock.  The passage from St Criox to Tortola in the British Virgins is about 40 miles.  But its the old story  - there's a 1 to 2 knot current setting to the west so in the lumpy ENE 4-5 we had to get Dandelion going where she didn't want to go - close hauled.  We motor sailed the last bit and tied up in Village Cay Marina just before dark.  Of the passage I have nothing much to report.  Yes, that's right NOTHING FELL OFF/BROKE/STOPPED WORKING which I suppose is a step in the right direction.
Tuesday:  We started fitting the Hydrovane today.  First though we had to 'check in'.  This is an exceedingly tedious process involving first finding the offices of immigration and customs (often opposite sides of town) and then being nice to people who are just itching to spot some transgression in the paperwork which could lead to fines. imprisonment, deportation, beheading, etc.  Got through that whilst D started on one or two jobs.   The Hydrovane is a wind-driven self steering system.  Its very complicated, hugely expensive and weighs about the same as a piano.  Fitting it afloat means that you are dangling irreplaceable bits over the stern of the boat with a reasonable chance of committing any of them to the deep - and there's no redundancy.  If you drop a pin you'll have to bodge-up a replacement. The vane of the Hydrovane swings around above the Aft Sun Awning.  Perhaps I could comment here.  Dandelion does not just have a sun awning or bimini.  She has a sort of gazebo.  It's a monstrous structure of scaffolding-like steel tubes supporting an marquee-sized roof which immediately sets you thinking about a 'Surry with a fringe on the top'.  It even has (had) roll-up sides to protect against rain or sun.  Its a horrible ugly thing and its coming off in the UK.  (I would deep-six it on the way but the poles for the twin wind generators are part of the structure.)  Anyway, late in the afternoon we came to realise  that the vane would foul part of the gazebo which led to a wonderful few minutes with the hacksaw.  Absolutely lovely. 
More soon, I'm afraid.
Skipper and Crew