15 January 2007, Monday
I did a few bits on the boat to get it ready for its first marina in 2 months – ropes on every corner and one for along each side. I resorted to tidying up the genoa to furler with the strop and a padlock, I will need to do something better, but am not in the mood. I had swapped all the books I had read on the crossing for 4 from Felicity and I read all day, book start to finish, it was quite a good one. I put the dinghy on the foredeck, I was not going to put the engine on and did not fancy my chances rowing against the current so I was stranded for the day. I tried to attract a water taxi from 6.45am onwards, but was not successful. A Sunsail yacht came in and parked two buoys down and I was going to ask them for a lift if they came past, but they were nearer the beach than me and never came close enough. I needed to go to immigration, but could do that at the next marina. I still had to pay for the anchorage and this really stressed me out. I had seen the marine rangers boat, but they never stopped at mine for money and this would be 3 nights. By the time I realised I would have to make the effort I was too late to get to immigration or the reserve office to pay.
16 January 2007, Tuesday
Managed to hail my new neighbour and get him on the radio. He only came in yesterday and the rangers had got his money. He was going to check in but had a passenger with luggage, but he could come back and get me afterwards. He had a little dinghy and he sailed to shore. I only wanted him to send me a water taxi, but he said channel 16 should get me one. I tried and eventually I got the marine office, I abandoned the idea of immigration and just said that I needed to pay. He would send out a ranger to get the money, I said I only had a $100 note and so the ranger would come with change. The ranger arrived took the money and said he would be back with the receipt and change, I gave a thought of hitching to immigration, but abandoned it. When he came back I asked him to stand by while I got off the buoy in case my engine did not rev up as I did not want to end up on the very, very close rocks. The engine was fine, it never plays up when anyone else is there, but I did have to put it full ahead and punch the throttle a few times.
8am and I was off with plenty of time to do the 20 miles to Rodney Bay. The wind was 7 knots, so I put all the sails out. By 10 am the wind was 20+ dead ahead on my course and there was a big swell against me. I seriously needed to reef, but hoped for a break in the wind, I did manage to reef the main back down to the spreaders. I got close to one little fishing boat and had to tack back into the coast. The wind was so strong I could not tack through it, I had to do a 360 away from the wind. Tacking is soul destroying when you do a few miles and make no progress at all, you might even have lost a bit of ground. I tacked and headed out again, but the closest angle still made me further out for every metre I went forward, with the big swell against me I was not even getting a good speed close hauled. I was miles out and had decided to abandon the sails after the next tack or I would never get to Rodney Bay before dark. I came really close to another little fishing boat that I did not see in the big swell. I did whatever it took to get the sails in and put the motor on. Hourly logs recorded 1 or two miles and it was very depressing. It was noon and I had 8+ miles and it was touch and go if I would get there before dark, which seemed ridiculous.
A very slow few hours motoring hard, and then just after 5 I was able to radio the marina for a space. A5, pontoons went A, B, C. I made the wrong choice at B and ended up on C, so parked in C22 as the guys there said it would be ok. I went and told the dockmasters, who did not really care as they wanted to go home. I turned the boat round in the berth so that I could go out forwards as I was not sure about the engine and I knew I could persuade it ahead, I was not so sure about reverse.
I had a shower and changed and went out to explore the marina. I had found a wi fi site, but could not connect on the boat. I found Pete and Felicity and his parents in a restaurant and Pete said they had the same conditions the day before and it took them two attempts to tack. Obviously the day I am in the marina there will be no wind and the day I leave we are due another big swell. There were people working with laptops at the tables and I checked whether it was the pay site. It was the same site that I had tried, so I went and got the laptop and sat outside the restaurant. I kept moving down a bench nearer the boat, but the signal faded, so I moved back to where it was good. It is quite a strange site, but in the darkness there were people with laptops on most of the picnic tables and benches. It made the very unenjoyable trip worthwhile.
17 January 2007, Wednesday
Up to the office to pay. The girl on reception did not have a good attitude; there is a problem over the electricity and I very nearly did not stay a second night. I signed in at Immigration and at the next desk cleared out at Customs, which is good for 24 hours, so I can leave early tomorrow.
I am on the pontoon that was charter and tourist boats and people who had come in for little bits of work to be done on their boats, so it seemed only right to do a few bits. First I topped up with diesel, it just overflowed at 20 litres.
Then I checked the Duogen, I had noticed that the elastic that held the drop nose pin in place was a bit ragged. I decided to replace it before it fell off and I might lose the pin when I changed the head - and there began hours or torture. I took the top off the shaft and the shaft tube disappeared into the centre. This had happened before, I just have to take the wind head off and drop the tower into the water and the tube will come back out – or not. I could not get the shaft out, I put a screw in the end and pulled, but it was well and truly stuck. Everybody passing offered advice, some helped, but I just had to stick at it. Eventually, hours later I had followed the original installation instructions from the end backwards; the only thing I did not undo was the alternator and that is seriously heavy and not good to play with over the water. I had taken the head off, then I took the tower and the arm off, then undid the shaft from the alternator. The tube was stuck in a square tube two metres long, an extension rod for the socket set was sufficiently long, thin and heavy to drop into the square tube and thump the tube out the top, so easy when you get there. Then I had to re-assemble it, not easy over the water, but it is done now and seems no worse for its experience, I am not sure that I can say the same for me.
A man wanted to send someone to check my engine, but I had put him off, I could only deal with one thing at a time, but now I accepted. All it took was some WD40 (supplied by me) on the engine attachment to the throttle that had probably got gummed up with salt when the impeller housing was leaking. Hopefully now it will respond a bit better and get me to Antigua.
I am leaving the genoa fitting for now, I really have had enough of repairs.
Leaving for Martinique in the morning.