16 December 2007 - still Antigua

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Sun 16 Dec 2007 13:16


Last night, after I sent the message, I heard the rest of the rescue calls.  The two rescue boats arrived and the yacht then decided to sail away from the reefs and stay out all night and enter the harbour in daylight.  Perhaps someone issued the MAYDAY before thinking through the options, at best it was a Pan Pan, still very strange.


The only other entertainment for the evening was one of the superyachts coming in for the races this week.  They knew another boat already in the dock who came out and met them and helped them pilot in through the reef in the dark, which is nice if you can get that kind of help.


I did buy the biggest fire extinguisher in the chandlers to put in the cockpit locker, all the others are indoors and that kept worrying me.  I hope I never need to use it, but it is there.  Then I read this months Compass and it detailed the motor boat that burnt down in Chakacatare while I was in Trinidad, there was nothing left of it once the 1100 gallons of fuel went up.  Fully loaded I have about 50 gallons and a much smaller engine, but it is always scary to think about a boat fire.


I found the packet for the stern light bulb that I need to replace and the price was 15.50 Euros, so perhaps I will buy the one here after all; it is still a very expensive bulb.


It is rolly and windy, but in gusts from so many different directions and with the strange currents in the harbour the wind generator is not producing enough electricity. 


Today I did the washing and listened to the weather, will be rough the rest of this week and maybe into the weekend.  Later I lost one of my T shirts in the wind, I noticed it in the water, too late to save it, it sank.


I spent about 7 hours non stop on the autopilot.  I took off the control pad, but there does not seem to be any water damage and it is attached by tiny wires so I had to be very careful.  I spent an hour fitting the new belt which the autopilot was very appreciative of, but it made no difference.  I had to cut the seal round the binnacle face to get to the wiring, but could not see anything loose.  I took the autopilot off and the wooden backing plate inside the binnacle dropped off.  I had to remove the ceiling in the back cabin to retrieve it, you can imagine how impressed I was so far. 


I then wrecked the front cabin to get the spare autopilot, which was not easily accessible.  This was sent back to me repaired after 3 months in March 2006, but  I had no way to check it worked without removing the new one, so I hope it works.  I installed and wired in the spare and it did the same thing as the new one, was it really repaired?  I had done all I could, so I called the engineers office, but he is busy this week.  I took the spare off and put the original one back on and wired that back in.  I put the binnacle back together and the wheel back on, because otherwise I am helpless if I need to move the boat.  I can live without the autopilot, but it is tough to helm long distances. 


I looked up and one of my oars was floating tip up away from the boat.  These oars have a bolt with a screw top to keep them in, it just shows how much constant movement there is here to have worked it off.  I had to go after the oar in the dinghy, but with one oar I just went round in circles.  I took the oar off and paddled from the front to catch up with the other oar.  I was lucky that I saw it when it was still near enough to recover.


There were a few boats that came and tried to anchor, they all had to move elsewhere.  One guy tried really hard, even put out a stern anchor, if he had not motored back very fast the boat next to him would have T boned him.  He noticed that all the boats were facing different directions and he could not understand it.  It is because the currents here are circling in all different directions, I am told that you can see this if you climb to the top of Shirley Heights, but I am happy to believe it.


I did have a quick glimpse of a small turtle, there was one here in February, perhaps it is the same one.


I put everything away and knew that I had to run the watermaker as this was the end of day 3 and the membrane will not wait. 


I am absolutely exhausted, I cannot keep up this pace and it is never ending.  Someone was asked recently what they were going to do today and the reply was along the lines of ‘repair whatever breaks’ and that is so true. 



The trip from Guadeloupe had found three small casualties, apart from the autopilot.  The strap on the drawers had ripped the bottom fitting off, this was easy to fix.  The dehumidifier just needed strapping down.  The service door in the bathroom has a feeble catch and the door comes open and bangs.  To fix the door get a small screwdriver, the catch is not adjustable, but the screwdriver is just right to jam little bits of matchstick in the workings.  It may not be the permanent solution, but it will stop the banging about for now.


I tidied the cockpit locker and while I had uncovered the battery box I checked those, a little early for the mid month check.  I used the gravity meter and was not impressed that the float was in the white section, not up there totally in the green; these are new batteries.


I fixed the watermaker filter on its bracket and attached it to the inside of the cupboard door under the bathroom sink, extending the piping to allow for the door opening and closing.  I had to take the toilet roll holder off, but in every battle there are refugees.


Went across to land, this is Nelsons Dockyard and lots of naval history, but I just needed to get off the boat.  Another long hard row back, and the little button popped out of my oar, the thing that keeps the two parts together.  While waiting for innovation to strike me, I shall have to settle for duck tape for now. 


Today was Day 1 of the Superyacht races.  They came out past me and the start line was a few hundred yards away, the other side of the reef.  It was a handicap race with the smallest setting out first; small superyachts are still big boats. 



Took the bus with Richard and Harriet (Perseverance) to St Johns, the capital of Antigua.  It is a mixture of unimpressive, slightly tatty shops and then the new section of duty free shops for the cruise ship visitors; there were 2 huge cruisers in port.


When I returned I moved anchorage to Ordinance Bay, just behind Jim’s Armanella which is in the mangroves while he is doing his new boat up in Trinidad. 


In the evening I went out to track down the Tot crowd, found them at Antigua Yacht Club.  Said hello to Anne, but the real blast from the past was Trevor, ex Sunsail Lanzarote Sept 2006 BC (Before Caribbean).  Trevor had just crossed on a crewed boat and got in last night.


Went back to English Harbour for the rest of the evening in the Galley Bar with Dave and Michelle (Alhambra).



Lazy day.  Did a few bits,  but either it is too hot or too windy and I am tired; there is nothing against taking a day off now and then.


I think the mosquitos are more land based as I did not have much of a problem after the day I checked in, even here anchored in the mangroves.



I have no great plans for today.  If it rains enough I might catch some water.  It is more protected here and I only get the bigger gusts of wind, which is no good for my batteries.  I am still waiting for a reasonable day to leave.  The wind and waves are still high.  Even the superyachts put reefs in when they went out.