Miles run 2230, miles to go – 0
Land ahoy fine on the starboard bow at 0700. Quite a sight. The whales came at 7.30 which was phenomenal. According to our book they were sperm whales this time. Wow.
Antigua got closer and seemed a very clear, really brightly coloured and sharp which we think is the effect of 17 days at sea where the only colours we saw were blue and grey.
Bucks fizz and croissants for breakfast while we opened our stockings that Kit and Moyra had brought for us. Carol now has her own wool, needles and pattern to knit a Labrador and a Jack Russel and Mike is Rollo, the knitted chocolate Labradors new master.
The real landmark for us was a headland called Shirley Heights where Mike and Carol had enjoyed the regular Sunday night party after Mikes first transatlantic five years ago. By enjoyed we mean the steel band, live reggae and amazing sunset rather than the copious amounts of rum punch and the after effects thereof. We intend to repeat the experience with Kit and Moyra while we are here this time, except for the after effects of the rum punch.
Past Shirley Heights and Nelsons Dockyard and Carol helmed into Falmouth Harbour. We dropped the anchor at exactly 12 noon and realised that we had stopped rolling. No rest though, we needed to check in. Mike put his smart shorts on, we pumped up the dingy and Kit took Mike ashore. He walked to the Customs, Immigration and Harbour Authority building in Nelsons Dockyard. The Dockyard was host to a huge party, steel bands, BBQ,s, lots of people. There was one person on duty. “It’s Christmas Day man, no tension, enjoy, come back tomorrow”. Mike knew he had reached the Caribbean.
Michael met up with his mum, sister and her boyfriend who had kindly done some shopping for us. Bag upon bag was put in the dingy and brought back to Carol. We had about three hours to cook a festive meal and get Michael back to shore for his flight back to UK. Rosemary and Ghita had found all sorts of goodies in addition to the fruit and veg Carol had asked for so we had a fabulous time munching through smoked salmon and cream cheese, prawns, chicken and veg. Green veg. Fresh green veg. Not tinned, fresh. China plates and cups were quite a novelty too. Michael had arranged for them to bring several bottles of Mikes favourite red wine, Barollo, which was incredibly generous and thoughtful.
Rosemary and Ghita had also made stockings for each of us containing lovely goodies including some fabulous girlie treats for Moyra and Carol who look forward to having a Spa Day on board some time very soon.
All too soon it was time for Michael to leave and Kit took him ashore but seemed to be taking a long time about it when he called us up to report that he was returning by the traditional method, ie rowing. The outboard had stopped. Again. Mike then spent quite some time taking it to bits with only his headtorch for light. Got it working and eventually we could ferry our guests back to their hotel.
In the meantime Michael had called from the airport. He had not been allowed to leave the island because technically he wasn’t here. The downside of our easy going immigration officer earlier in the day. He had another day with us and flew out on Boxing Day. This means that he has one hour at home in Oxford to get his climbing gear out of the loft and back to Gatwick for his flight to Morocco and his next adventure.
We have all done a lot of sleeping but stirred ourselves long enough to take the rubbish ashore and meet up with Michael and family in Nelsons Dockyard (yes really, it was Nelsons Dockyard and is now a world heritage site so the buildings are well looked after) to clear immigration properly. The Customs and Excise man gave Mike a hard time for not checking in yesterday! He refused to believe that Mike had tried to check in and was warming up for a good old telling off when the Immigration Officer, who had seen Mike the day before, appeared and set about the Customs man for not being there even though he was trying to tell Mike that he had been. The Customs chap was duly chastened and Mike was able to begin the lengthy paper trail required to check in.
We were all more than ready for a rum punch by this time so joined Michaels family outside and had our next taste of the Caribbean. Hunger pangs ensued and we stayed for lunch. Grilled lobster. Fab.
Today is the 27th, Mikes birthday, which started with a 6am check in to the radio net to let them know that we had anchored. Then back to sleep. And more sleep. We will celebrate Mike reaching his pension age by going to the laundry (we have quite a lot!), a few more rum punches and dinner out.