Antigua - to 3 Feb

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Sun 4 Feb 2007 12:25

31 January 2007, Wednesday


Left the anchorage at 17:00, put both the sails up.  There were lots of pot markers and while I was seeing to the sails a pot marker went under the boat.  I heard it bump, bump along and a net float and a coke bottle came out the back.  I had a good sail, too good, at this rate I was going to arrive before daybreak.  I gradually took more and more sail in and at 5am I turned the engine on.  I was about 10 miles out, I could have gone nearer, but there was a noise coming from under my feet that I thought might be a pot marker with a rope round the prop.  The engine was fine, but could not make much headway against the strong current and headwind.  I put the genoa back out once it was light to speed things up. 


I arrived at English bay at 9am.  I paid great attention to the entry instructions due to the unmarked reef.  Then I saw two black lumps sticking out of the water, surely not the reef, no they were dolphins.  I am always grateful to see dolphins, but not right at the entrance to the bay.  There were a few boats I know here and I anchored.  By the time the anchor had set I was too near another boat and so had to have another go, the anchor came up and went down the side of the bow roller, which means me going over the front on the outside of the guard rails; I really must get that fixed.  The next time the anchor did not hold and when I brought it up it had caught an enormous ground rope.  The anchor came up upside down and the weight of the rope turned it and jammed it in the bow roller sideways.  More antics outside the guard rails, I could not budge it and decided to get some crew.  Nadezhda was here and so I went by and picked up Pete s dad.  With all these boats it is good to have someone on the wheel while I was fighting with the anchor, in case I went overboard.  Pete said he had never seen anyone kick an anchor before, I don t remember that, but it was probably more frustration than technique.  Another go and this time it seemed ok. 


I got the dinghy down and rowed ashore to do the formalities.  A 6 part pre-carbonated form, press really hard.  It was like an exam, I did not get all the answers right.  So many forms, you put what you usually put, which was not what they actually asked for.  British, no England.  Monohull, no sloop.  Then the stamping ceremony, the British probably invented the stamp, 2” square and lots of signing and dotting.  Copies 5 and 6 had not come through and so I had to write over them.  If I had got it wrong on copies 1 to 4 then I had to put it wrong again and then put the right answer.  When I understandably got my name wrong I had to initial it.  I did not tell him that I had missed out GRP on the first 4, but put it on these pages.  Then it went to someone else, presumably I just scraped a pass and I was handed parts 5 and 6 and told to go to the last door, Immigration, who only seemed to want money.


I rowed back to the boat and had a little nap.  I was just going to have something to eat, but Nadezhda and Dream or 2 were going to the bar at 5.  I got changed and was chauffeured to the bar.  One G&T was all I could manage, a very pleasant few hours and then back to the boat.  I was hungry, but needed sleep more.  I slept very well, I think the alcohol had something to do with it.


1 February 2007, Thursday


I put out some extra chain, as far back as I can go without sitting on Hildegard.  I do not have a courtesy flag, but I am not alone.  I changed to a new gas bottle.  I tidied the cockpit locker and am now in the running to win Miss Cockpit Locker 2007.  I put the outboard on the dinghy.  I was going to replace the bracket pole as it was rusty, but settled for wrapping it in silver duct tape.   


I took the hydrovane rudder off and cleaned it and have stowed it on the platform behind the seat.  This should make it easier to motor and for short hops I can use the autopilot.  I cleaned the shaft and with mask and snorkel from the dinghy I checked the prop and the rudder; all was clear apart from the barnacles. 


There was the usual excitement of a runaway dinghy.


The harbours here use 68 as a general communication channel and it is really busy.


The dinghy outboard worked, a bit overkeen if you ask me, and I went ashore.

Went to the Tot Club, introduced by Stevie who is not here, as a guest of Mike.  He omitted to tell me that at 18:00 you have to slug down a tot of pure rum.   We were also informed by the commanding officer of the naval base here in Antigua that the base is closing next year, the last British naval base in the Caribbean.  As it was the bar owners birthday, I also had 2 Pimms and a piece of yummy chocolate cake.  Lots of nice, interesting people to talk to.  Rowed back to the boat, as I was only at the close beach.


2 February 2007, Friday


I had worried in the night that my wind generator was not working as my batteries were down to 10v when I checked at 4.20 this morning, like you do.  I only had the fridge on and so turned it off.  It was windy and the gauge was back up to 12v by the 7.15.  Therefore it must be the fridge, which I was going to mend today anyway.   I used half a tube of sealant to get the insulated chunk back onto the lid and gave it a new seal round the edge.  It looks like it will hold; last time I had 3 attempts to find something that would stick.  The sealant was like Heineken, get where others can t – it took lots of kitchen roll and acetone to get me clean.


There was a weather forecast on the radio.  A bit windy with big swell until early next week in all this area of the Caribbean.  I shall sit here until it passes.  I am a lot closer than I would like to be to the boat behind me, but they have not complained and the holding is so poor I daren t move.  Boats are going round and round trying to find somewhere to anchor, there have just been so many boats the mud is all churned up.


There was an All Stations for an urgent message for a boat that was not answering and nobody knew where it was.  I knew, it was behind me, and the guys were both playing in the rigging, so I told them.  My good deed for the day.


Was that Mirabella 5, biggest sailing yacht in the world, at the entrance to the harbour, I know it is berthed in Falmouth Harbour, which is just round the corner.


Alacazam were on the radio, so I called them back to say hi.  This boat was the previous design to Shindig, which is Andrew Simpson s boat and he told me to look out for them.


I heard from Stevie that he is held up with US immigration and probably will not be down until after I leave for the UK.  This is a real blow and I am now having to rethink my itinerary, with due thought for the hurricane season.


It is too windy to consider my sail repairs, so I have started to replumb my holding tank as I was persuaded that I did not need it when I had to install the watermaker and I stupidly gave it away,  This will be a cheap conversion, but I hope it will work and get me through any regulations.  I have quite a collection of piping, but obviously not what I need and so I will go into the chandlers tomorrow. 


3 February 2007, Saturday


Went to meet Dick and Mary, engine stopped halfway, so rowed over to the chandlers to get a killcord.  I had replaced the cable tie and piece of elastic with a piece of rope, but it is not as good.  Gave up waiting to be served at the chandlers as I would be late for coffee.  Dick and Mary were late, I then found out they were in the queue that I gave up on.  I went into the internet place to see about the wifi.  It eventually dawned on me that the people who run it are my very near back neighbours.  The signal is not good out here, the competition is much stronger, but I did not know there were two.  If I am online at any time and suddenly disappear mid chat, that is the reason why.


I have been very scared of my outboard engine, was it too powerful for the little dinghy.  Chris said he would test it for me.  I stopped at his boat on the way back and I got on and was trying to decide what alcohol to opt for and sat down.  Pete was there and we started to chat and suddenly we noticed that my dinghy was doing todays runaway feature.  

Pete dived in, with no thought to his own safety, swam against the strong current, braved the crashing rocks and the reef and saved the dinghy and three small children that were stranded on the rocks.  Well, he launched his dinghy and went and fetched mine, but he wanted 1/3 of the value for salvage rights and I said he could settle for a beer, I just thought I could add a bit of fame as a bonus.

It was not that I tied a bad knot in my haste for alcohol, I forgot to tie it on at all, usually the boat you arrive at takes the rope and ties it on somewhere, but Chris was getting me a drink.