ANTIGUA, NELSON'S DOCKYARD, OLD FRIENDS AND A BIRTHDAY
POSITION: N 17:00.844 W 61:46.515
11 Feb 2013 GUADELOUPE TO FALMOUTH HARBOUR, ANTIGUA
Sailed for Antigua at 1530 for an overnighter. Harry next boat, the Oz, was also going same place but was stopping along the coast first. Bob the big Yank who said he thought I was a Yank, and who was hitting on the two girls on the next boat, I told about the Riviere Salee being shut. He didn't know either. Guadeloupe is actually two islands separated by a narrow mangrove channel called the Salee. By running up this shallow channel we would save about five hours of motoring east to get round Guadeloupe's coastline. But it was shut. Shame. But there again, I wouldn't have to run the risk of grounding now in the narrow shallows, so in fact I was pleased. Just a longer day thats all. It was another hard sail, with the wind well north of East sufficiently to allow us to actually sail half way out of the estuary into Guadeloupe before starting the engine to get us back up to the eastern promontory - Pointe des Chateaux. By pure chance we actually sailed neck and neck with the two German guys, Martin and Max (Donald Sutherland lookalike) for some of the way, but they held a tighter course and ran along the coast, whilst I just let PW run a little freer and not so hard on the wind. The girls were in the galley preparing our meal - potato omelette - which we had before it got dark, and rough! Once round the corner and heading north west (the crew had turned in to prepare for their night watch) we were on a beam reach, double reefed, and beam on to the sea so fairly rough. I woke them at midnight, well K was up already as usual, and left them to it.
It was not an easy passage as such as it was dark, no moon, and quite strong conditions. We were double reefed, lifejackets on and tethered. I even thought about putting the boards in the companionway and closing the hatch, but didn't. I took over at 3am and Pinball did the rest.
Falmouth Bay was crowded, as expected, but there was room. We anchored ok, but I was a bit iffy about it as we were rather near a boat on a mooring in our 5 oclock. But in the end I stayed put as the anchor was holding ok. Customs were the usual pleasure, except I had to register on Eseaclear.com first, but this chirpy blonde American girl jumped up to help me through it. Not cheap! $42 US, for 3 days at anchor for goodness sake - the price of treading on the toes of the rich and famous.
I dinghied back and we went ashore after an very nice lunch prepared by the girls, baguettes of cheese salad and tomatoes. Ashore we went to a cafe with wifi and wifi'd (new verb: to wifi)
Thursday, 14 February 2013
Sailed the few miles round to Green Island on the eastern side side of Antigua and after a carefully monitored approach up a tortuous passage between coral reefs, moored up to a buoy in the idyllic NONSUCH BAY - a reef bound lagoon of azure sea and white beaches. We picked up a solid looking mooring buoy right where the kite surfers do their stuff along the reef - wonderful. Rebecca was off kite surfing in a trice, and doing really well. K went ashore without her surfboard and chilled having surfed yesterday with her friends in Antigua, who were crewing on a superyacht.
On the way back I noticed that the roller reefing foil (the foresail wraps around it when reefed) had separated at a joint 2/3 of the way up the forestay, and the stretch had ripped the green genoa too. Lucky we'd sailed today, and lucky I'd unrolled the genoa fully, and lucky I looked up when I did. This is not the sort of problem you want to discover between islands. I thought about going into English harbour instead of Falmouth - to be nearer the marina in case we needed to take the forestay off - but when we tried to anchor there the guy in the next boat started shouting at us that we'd better put out fenders tonight as the boats swing all over the place, sometimes connecting! Or in other words, 'Foxtrot Oscar'. Thought: I do NOT need an insurance claim. Dubious before even going in there, we came out again like a cork, back to the very much more spacious Falmouth harbour, now in darkness. To our chartplotter's absolute credit the anchor went down just 3m from its original position. K cooked up another good meal whilst I scratched my head as to why the outboard Suzuki wouldn't start either.
Friday, 15 February 2013
FIXING THINGS, and CHANCE MEETINGS
Rang 'Greg' ('YeahMan, no problem!') the outboard motor man and arranged for a visit at midday after changing the plug and a good thumping did nothing, then had a go at unrolling the genoa but it was too windy. Rowed in with K and R against stiff wind and waves which was hard work up until K took over and it became fun again, and then even more fun when a kindly old American cruiser brought us in behind his 15hp seen-better-days Yamaha. Left them ashore and went to the usual cafe by the Yacht Club...and who do I bump into but AJ! Arrived to do the 60's Something Important Race he said, starting Monday. We had a good catch up.. And I was soon to meet up with another old Navy mate in the exact same spot. Tony (Knocker) White and his good lady Kay walked round the corner the very next day, visiting many islands on a cruise ship.
Back on the boat after a nice easy downwind row, Greg arrived and fixed the Suzuki in 30 minutes flat - muck in the carburettor. $60EC. Gave him $70. Happy. He would have looked entirely in place on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. I began to feel better about life...
Later that evening the wind died a bit and down came the genoa to be bagged and stored until a sailmaker could be found in BVI. Jobs like that tend to take a while and I didn't want to delay any more than necessary, and PW had a perfectly good No2 Genoa I could use. Looking up I could see that the foil - which is a series of sections of aluminium - had come apart at one section and would need to be refixed somehow. To get the foil off would be a real pain, as the forestay would have to be disconnected etc etc... I wondered if a rigger could perhaps fix it in situ? So next day we all piled into Perky - now with an engine - and with the fold-up bike in the bow set off for shore. I had the locations of two rigging services, and went to the smaller first. Not there. Rang him. No he couldn't help. Well it was Saturday, which is the day after Friday night. OK. Off then down the very pleasant road that rings Falmouth Harbour to the other side, about a mile or so away, to Catamaran Marina where Antigua Rigging Services live.
Tuesday, she said flatly.
The marina looked really nice, not that many boats, but some beautiful ones, and a very peaceful part of the harbour. There weren't any catamarans I noticed, but half a dozen cruisers bow to. If I were staying long term I'd want to be here I thought. I was hungry, and had a look at their restaurant. It looked expensive. I asked a very pleasant smiley lady employee if there was anywhere else I could get some breakfast.
'Up de road, you're looking at it' she beamed. 'Sweet-T' is what you want!
Brightly painted in purple and orange, Sweet-T was the business. I don’t often fancy one, but there are times in life when a bacon cheese burger is just wonderful, and this was one of them. Chips too. Must be the biking.
Reinvigorated by the burger, I was up that mast, fixed the foil, down again and the sail on before you could say Riggers? Who needs ‘em?
I guess it was my own fault, after all I did buy her her favourite booze for a present. But waiting in vain in the dinghy for her to return at the twice delayed pick-up time late that night , it felt like a mess. In the Navy it is known as being under 'Sailing Orders' - the night before sailing when discipline is tightened up bigtime. Latecomers are dealt with harshly, excessive drinking punished. I understood why now. Tomorrow we were supposed to be sailing for St Marten - a 108nm passage taking anything up to 22 hours, and to be overnight, so we all needed to be rested before start. It was not to be.
So sailing was cancelled and rescheduled for the following day, a good decision. But there was to be a price.