1-7 January 2007 Barbados
This will now be a weekly report, it is only for my reference, but feel free to peruse. I will check my mailasail daily for anybody who writes to me. Hotmail will only be checked occasionally ashore.
1 January 2007, Monday
Midnight - I did poke my head out the forehatch to watch the Barbados Hilton fireworks, but I have to say the Portuguese and Spanish make a bit more of a show.
It has to be done, so why not start the New Year with an Electrical day.
I had two rolls of cable, one red, one black. These were much heavier duty than I needed and I am not sure if it is going to work and so I did not cut them. I now have the little 12v pump installed in the transom with a very long lead to the socket and a bit of tubing that will reach out the back window. I do not know if there is any water in there, I couldn t get any, but I did not take all the ropes out of the transom. I will do this and check it properly later, I just needed the pump reaching and working first.
Then I fixed the new nav light onto the pulpit, that was not too difficult. The instructions did not tell me which terminal wanted the red or black wire and it is totally different from the other light. I took a guess and it seems to work ok..
I realised I had promised the GPS some attention and started on that. Every time I tried to fix one wire another one came out, they are so thin. I do not have any more triple push in connectors, and as they were coming out anyway, I have now used the smallest block connectors I could find. I will make an effort to find a reasonable hardware and electrical store when the shops open, presumably tomorrow.
If there is anything else electrical that needs attending to I cannot think of it. I have to admit that I do seem to struggle with electrical stuff, probably because I do not have a clue what I am doing.
It came to me yesterday that what I can have now is TV, through the computer. I have not used it since Gibraltar, which was the last place that I could get English programmes and that was over a year ago, you forget these things exist. I just need to see if I can get reception here, not likely to be good.
I can get wifi internet, it says it is connected, but when I try to connect it always tries to dial. I only have 2 bars, low status, perhaps this is why. Would it help if I could anchor nearer the Barbados Hilton, they have wifi? Over there is the yacht and cruising club with buoys, so I think that one is out.
Eric and family popped over in the afternoon and I was able to offload the excess milk that I had bought with a January use by date and quite a lot of the food from my ‘food for visitors’ locker. I really need the space.
2 January 2007, Tuesday
Still sorting the cupboards, I have bags of rubbish to throw away and some more food to give away, so I must have made some space. I am trying to be quite ruthless, but it is hard.
I went into town in the dinghy, when I got to the British contingent near the careenage someone kindly gave me a tow in. I found the water tap and filled up the 4 bottles I had brought with me. Changed some Euros and found out the exchange rate is 2.6 to the Euro and 2.8 to the £, which makes the shops seem a little less expensive. I had tried the Barbados chocolate and it was like cooking chocolate, so this time I bought Cadburys, it is a lot cheaper at Tesco.
I did buy a tv aerial, but I don t know that it is any better than the one I have already got.
I set off to row back to the boat, the tide was with me, allegedly, the wind was 20 knots against me. I got to the British boats not too badly because it is protected, but it then took me an hour to get from there back to my boat. The wind and the waves were bad enough, I really did not appreciate the jet skis doing full lock circles right next to me.
Mike & Penny, Yvonne, arrived this afternoon.
It does not pay to get too attached to things on a boat, they either get rusty or fall overboard. I realised I was in a bad position and was trying very hard not to lose the bunch of keys to the padlocks and I managed to lose the padlock. Not so much lose, more splosh. I shall not be diving down to recover it, I also lost an 8 litre water bottle that blew off the deck before I could grab it, which was a pity, no way I will catch up with it rowing..
BBQ on Erics boat tonight. I had to row over in the dark, but it was not very far. We had chicken and everybody else had salad and potatoes and a crème caramel for dessert. Then I helped Eugene with her English studies, these two questions were really difficult. It was in English and I struggled with the first one, the second one was easier, but still rather tough. The French children on these boats have to do two hours a day and then a summary paper every two weeks that is posted off when they reach land. My kids only had to learn to say please, thank you and count from 1 to 10 in each language when we were travelling.
3 January 2007, Wednesday
Determined to fix the outboard today, I have brought it 3000 miles and it needs to do more than sit on the rail. I was quite prepared to strip it down again, but could not see what use that would do as I would not be doing anything different to last time. I fiddled and tinkered and wondered if it was the cotter pin, got nowhere. I put it on the dinghy and set off to town, I would take it to somebody for repair. I had not got very far when the guy from the catamarran next to me came out in his dinghy, was he going to tow me to town. His name was Peter and he had meant to come over in the last few days to have a look at the motor, because he had seen me rowing – nobody rows here. We took it to his boat and we went through the process, has to be the fuel. I had got new petrol from the garage in La Palma, but he could drink it, what do they put in their cars.
He gave me the last of his petrol and it started. I had overfilled the oil, only possible because I had it lying on its side, so I had to drain some of that out. I went back to my boat to get my petrol can, but couldn t get the motor started, so he started it for me. I got the petrol can and set off again, but couldn t get it started, so he got in his dinghy came over to me again and got it started. I think it would be easier if I moved in with him.
I set off for town. I do not have a kill cord for the motor and was using a cable tie, I may buy it a proper cord now it works. On the way I found the throttle handle which folds back was nearly off. I weaved my way to the end of the careenage and tied up. I just happened to have a pair of pliers in my rucksack which was enough to tighten the handle up.
There is a guy in town that pesters me for money, I was filling my water bottles up and he decided to help, but I did not want help. There was a man on the street above shaking his finger at me. Evidently the government pay people to follow the beggars to make sure you don t give them any money. I told the guy he had to sort himself out, harrassing women was not the way to go. He has found a new way – stealing from women. When I went to pick up the petrol can it had gone. I suppose I was annoyed, but I was also rather amused. I was lucky he did not take my rucksack which had the money in, I must be more careful in future, but I doubt if he will bother me again. I bought a new petrol can, they are still imperial measures here, gallons and feet. I also bought 4 bananas fpr $2, I only wanted 3, could I not have had 3 for $1.50?
I like the taste, but not the texture of the bananas and so they have to be in a milkshake and that means using the blender, which is too powerful for the inverter. I have got round this by using the potato masher first in a bowl and then transferring this to the blender. By using the pulse button on and off very quickly the inverter only squeaks its discomfort, rather than blowing its fuse and I get a banana milkshake. This makes a lot of washing up and now I have 4 bananas to get through.
I asked where the nearest petrol station was and it is a long way away, I think it is quicker to take the dinghy to the beach next to the Hilton and go from there than walk from town. I met a Dutch couple at the dinghy park in town, they have a dinghy bigger than mine with an outboard, but had come in with someone else because they found the waves too much for their dinghy. The problem is that we do not have solid bottoms, just planking. They had been out in the dark last night and could not see the waves and the boat had lifted up and smacked the man really badly on the forehead and the lady was rolled 3 times in the sea. I did eventually get the motor working, as I drifted slowly down the canal; gave the tourists something extra to watch. And there is this guy who waves to me, I think he is with the fishing charter boats and is just being friendly; luckily he is on the other side of the waterfront. I was very pleased to have the motor working, the wind and the waves coming back were again far too strong for me to row against. Peter said it has been much windier than usual – there has been a small craft warning issued every day since I got here. Wind and swell, it just loves me. I had even put on clean clothes because the others were salt encrusted from the waves, what a waste of time that was.
I was able to top up the water tank with about 60 litres of water in one go, which is good. I only have to run the engine for a short time to keep the watermaker clean, I have plenty of diesel, but it just brings the service nearer and I do not want to do that in this swell.
Visited the Dutch boat next to me in the evening and the people from two other dutch boats came over. The lastest arrival had been to the same places in Cape Verde as me. They had the same swell in Sal and wind from the ravine in Sao Nicolau, but Monique said that she hated the place. It took them 19 days to cross. Their shrouds snapped and Peter had to go up an insufficiently supported mast to attach ropes to the spreaders. They were new shrouds but 7mm and they should have been 8mm, their rigger has apologised and is sending them new ones. Not only did they manage to get a post office box, but the post office say they will deliver, which should be interesting. Rebel should be arriving soon.
When I got back in the dark I lost my plastic coated long wire that is good to padlock the dinghy with which was rather a shame.
4 January 2007, Thursday
Did the washing, it would be good to get some more water, but I have to get some petrol first. I thought I could find the wire, which was 10+ metres down on the seabed. 7am and I was fishing from the dinghy with a very small folding anchor, which is only for anchoring the dinghy. I kept this up for 2 hours, with no luck. I knew it was daft and pointless, rather like real fishing, but more effort. I wanted to use the next size anchor because this one kept lifting up rather than dragging along the bottom, but I could not find it. I have 3 different main anchors plus these two smaller ones, the one I was trying to locate is easy to throw out quickly, but where is it. I looked in the anchor locker, I looked in the cockpit locker, I looked in the tool locker, it is here somewhere, but it is annoying that I cannot find it. While looking for the bigger anchor the line on the little anchor managed to wrap itself round the propeller. In the end I had to recover both ends and cut the line, luckily I was able to pull it off. I think I have given up on the wire. I do not like the water in this wind, it is too choppy and everything is just too exhausting to do and I will have to stop until it calms down, I shall just have to stay in the cockpit where it is sheltered.
Dale and Conrad, gaff rigg, had arrived during the night, found out later that they had taken 28 days, I think they had problems, but I haven t had a chance to find out yet. That makes 3 New Zealand boats in the anchorage, about the same as Dutch and Scandinavian only 1 French and the rest are British.
Self-sufficiency is time consuming and very tiring, but it does make you appreciate water and every little thing. After lunch I thought I really had to get over this dislike of water, I had an engine now and surely it was a bit less windy. If I just pottered over to the beach near the yacht club to get some petrol, that did not look far. I did ok until I hit the beach, literally, the surf threw me out of the boat and tumbled the dinghy. Two boys from the Norwegian boat helped me drag it up the beach and said landing was the easier part, even though I got wiped out, trying to launch would be really difficult. We dragged the dinghy across the sand to a tree and I padlocked it to a root. I set off for the petrol station, very wet, but surprisingly in a reasonable mood. It was not far to the petrol station and I handed over a wet note, luckily the currency does seem to be a bit waterproof.
I struggled to pull the dinghy, outboard and 8 litres of petrol back down to the sea. Then I stayed on the edge and pulled the dinghy floating in the surf, soon I had a dinghy full of water. I hoped the water had not got into the petrol in the engine or in the can. Eventually I managed to get to a quieter part of the beach, surfwise, but that is where the swimmers were. A man helped me, but he thought I was trying to get the dinghy out, not in. We emptied the boat and I got in and he pushed me wo that I caught the outgoing wave. I could not risk putting the engine on until I was well out because of the swimmers and I did not know if it would start having been dunked so much. The engine started really easily and I got back to the boat. I showered in the cockpit and had to change because of all the sand in my clothes. So I shall just sit here until it is calm, had I not already decided that. I had planned on dropping off the petrol and going to fetch some more water, I think not. The rest of the money is drying.
The coastguard came over and had a chat - I have to get a flag, I said they did not have any, but he told me to go to Fisherman’s Corner. Eric and Dale never do flags, although I usually do, there could be a rush tomorrow, what if they sell out. I nearly made one, I have the necessary blue and yellow pieces on the table, but I will wait until tomorrow.
5 January 2006, Friday
8 am and I was out there fishing for my wire again. I found the bigger anchor, it was in the cockpit locker wrapped up in carpet , I had checked there. 1 ½ hours later I gave up and set off with the empty bottles to get some water. The starter cord on the outboard hit my arm and immediately it swelled up nearly an inch by the time I got to Yvonne. I heard about their trip across from Cape Verdes. They said nobody left for the week after me because it was too windy, then everybody set off and they had the light conditions. It took them 18 days. Their fridge packed up and they lost a back stay. There is nowhere in Barbados to get rigging repairs, but they are getting their fridge parts sent to the yacht club. The SSB transformer on the backstay snapped in half and they were using Herb for weather on the SSB. Herb said he was receiving them much better the next day, Mike had rigged up a fishing rod and it was better than the proper gear.
They had just gone into Port St Charles and waited for the authorities to come to them, I so wished I had done that. They then picked up a mooring there for a few days before coming here.
Penny said they were thinking of leaving because the swell is so bad. They are water people and she cannot enjoy the swimming and says just being on the boat is exhausting. It made me feel so much better, I was thinking it was me. I have very little power in my arms and hands and they are really painful, it is one very good reason why I have to be in the warm climate normally I do not have a problem once I leave UK, probably all that rowing did not help. I would leave this weekend, but I want to wait and see if Anne comes to visit me as she should be here on holiday next week and I was going to wait for Jim, it depends on how long he takes to get here direct from the Canaries. I still have to decide where to go next.
Eric stopped by on his way back to the boat, they are leaving today, but could not find a post box for their postcards so I will post them.
I met Conrad in the first internet café, but could not get into my hotmail. I met Peter and Monique in the second internet café. Monique had got wiped out in the dinghy today, it all makes me feel better and better. I do not mind the swell on the boat, it is easy compared to the crossing, but it is very tiring.
Tried to buy a Barbados flag, where the Coastguard told me to go, I didn t think they had any, no, sold out. They know there will be a high demand at this time of year, they should stock up. I decided to buy a new wire for the dinghy, I got 12 feet of plastic covered wire, but only if they could put eyes in the ends so that it will lock up. They cut the wire, then could not find the clamps to fit. Phoned their staff member who was on the way to the bank to get him to check in the other branch, he said he could not hear in the traffic and cut the phone off. Then they phoned the other branch to see if they had any in stock, meanwhile one of the guys set off specially for the other branch just to get them for me. The other branch did not have any, so phone the one who had gone out in the rain to come back. They eventually found some smaller ones and by stripping the plastic off the cable the wire just fitted. I think he clamped it the wrong way, but as long as it holds, even if it just looks like it holds it is a deterrent. I bought a half gallon can, which is quite cute, to keep some petrol in the dinghy. Now I have a new security strap and a petrol can, I just hoped the dinghy was still there.
I was going to try and find out about a tour of the island, but abandoned that for today. I had to buy some chocolate. I also found a stainless and plastic mug with a top, I do not care if it is not thermal, it means that I do not have to share my tea or coffee with the ocean any more.
I could get a souvenir flag for between $8 and $25, but I will see if I can get away without.
I bought a thin overshirt to replace the one I was wearing because that was so split up the sides it is about to fall off.
Everywhere I go now I just wipe the worst of the water off the notes on my shirt and hand them over with an apology, but its your surf. Twice I have taken my passport, but twice I have had to dry it out and I have not needed it. Because of the waves I take the rucksack to put everything in, it all gets wet, but it stays together. I stay very visible in the shops in case they think I am going on a big shoplifting spree. No shop has asked me to leave or check the bag, this is not Spain.
My turtle does turn up quite regularly which is a replacement for dolphins. I know it is my turtle and if you turn it over it has T/T If Knot Y Knot on the shell; normally this stands for Tender To, but here it is Turtle To.
I have not taken any photos yet, apart from one of my bruise, I will have to get the emergency grab bag out to take things to shore. I can remove the signalling mirror and such and put in the camera and the money.
6 January 2007, Saturday
I shall not be going anywhere today, except maybe over to Dale and Conrad to say hi. It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes to get the simplest thing done, but I have realised that it is because you get diverted onto other things that have to be done. I cleaned the cockpit and was washing it down when I lost my bucket, my big, Spanish, rubber bucket. This was really not acceptable and I had to launch the dinghy to go and get it, I could overtake it rowing, getting back took much longer. I needed to put a longer piece of rope on the bucket. I went inside to get a piece of rope and some time later came out with a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits, my first biscuits since the Canaries. Went back in to get the rope. The rope was too long and it takes a very special reason to cut a rope, so I had to swap this rope for the two on the ranging planks. I then had the rope I was after, but it was shorter than the one that was on the bucket to start with. I have added it to the original rope. Then I took the sternboard out to make it easier to get on and off from the dinghy and used the remaining rope to tie that to the guardrails. I am now at risk of shoes and stuff in the cockpit floating straight out to sea if I am not careful. So about 2 hours after starting I could now take the bucket, get some water and finish washing the cockpit. Somehow I was also so dirty I had to change my top by 9.30.
Decided to make a Barbados flag. Blue and yellow felt and some black electrical tape for the motif and I have put it up with velcro, we will have to see if it stands up to the wind.
Time for some housework before lunch, the slime grows on the boat above the antifoul really quickly. I got in the dinghy and cleaned the hull round the exhaust and had an attempt to get some more barnacles off. My turtle swam by, again I could not get a photo.
I did watch Star Trek Voyager, reception was not good, but that did not matter.
7 January 2007, Sunday
I continued with the plan to make the watermaker fully functioning. Up until now I have been filling bottles in the cockpit and then taking them to the anchor locker to top up the tank, I do not test the water, the novelty of that wore off very quickly. I am going to send the water direct to the tank and cut out the bottling plant. The tube that runs from the watermaker to the tank had been left with standing water in it for months and was calcified at the watermaker end and brown yuk at the tank end. First I had to clean the tube. Took off both ends and was pouring bleach down each way and blowing it through, this worked and I had a clean tube. I re-attached the watermaker end and ran the watermaker, with the water going into a bottle at the tank end to clean the bleach out of the tube. This join was where it was leaking previously and I am not sure that I have quite stopped it, but it is not bad and I can deal with that another day. The tube and the water now seemed clean and so I re-attached the tube to the tank and the water now goes direct. Now I am reduced to only one tank there is a risk of contaminating the water, but I do not drink this water and I think it was a reasonable next step. I have not attempted to re-plumb from the stopcock, the pipe over the back of the boat works well for now.
I topped up the petrol in the outboard and sorted the padlocks with the keys and the strops, so that is all organized. By 9.30 I had done all I intended to do today, showered and changed. I am definitely a morning person, I do not seem to do much in the afternoons, things then carry over to the next day. Time for a double banana milkshake as they will not last any longer and a second lot of washing up.
I rowed over to Dale and Conrad and gave them a bag of food and said that I was going on the 2 o clock bus trip, they were going to come too. Dale had not been ashore apart from checking in, Conrad is the shopper. He had not gone into the port because he had arrived with steering problems, only I was daft enough to do as it said you had to. They had whales on the way over. The turtle swam by, I did not get a photo. I had some lunch and set off early because I wanted to fill my water containers before getting on the bus. I did this and went to the bus station, the trip is not today, it is on Sunday at 2pm, but for some reason that was not explained to me, not this Sunday at 2pm. No shops were open so I bought some fruit from a stall and went back to the dinghy. They boys arrived just about 2, which would have been too late if there was a trip today.
There were people off one of the boats that were waiting to be picked up because the other people on the boat had the dinghy. I was going to offer them the dinghy, but the man had swum out to the boat, because he had checked out and wanted to be off to arrive in Grenada tomorrow in daylight. The others were still waiting when I went back to the dinghy and then the people with the dinghy turned up. The dinghy had been there all the time, tied up on the other side of the dock and nobody had noticed it. I left with Dale and Conrad before the man presumably swam back into town.
We went for a walk round the town and explained to Dale that usually it was wall to wall stalls and people, today it was deserted. We went into KFC because I had not had an ice cream since I cannot remember when, but some time way back in the Canaries. We all had tubs, but I had the last spoon, so they had to have forks. It was not that great, but it will tide me over for a few months.
They do not have a motor and so I towed them back to the boat and we had a cup of tea and a chat until nearly dark. I decanted my water from the bottles into the tank and on the last bottle the tank overflowed, for the first time in over 7 weeks I have a full water tank. The turtle swam by, I did not get a photo.
It seems incredible that I have not been attached to land for over 7 weeks.