I really should have started the new season with a blog
entry and perhaps a photo on arriving back in Antigua on the British Airways
flight on 15 November. However, there were more important things on my
mind, not the least of which was to make sure that Oboe was still in one piece
and not totally “roasted” by Antigua’s summer sun and
frequent high winds.
I can report that she faired pretty well, with the exception
of her batteries seem to have done 8 rounds with Mike Tyson and are very beaten
up! Three weeks on the challenge remains to find suitable
replacements. Within 3 days Oboe splashed back into the water with a
clean bottom and seemed to enjoy her proper position bobbing on the water
rather than sitting uncomfortably, like a beached whale on the concrete of
Jolly Harbour’s storage yard.
The next couple of weeks saw me sweating in the unaccustomed
heat to go through the boat with a fine tooth comb testing and where necessary
fixing systems. This included servicing the Volvo turbo diesel, re-commissioning
the water maker and disinfecting the water tanks, servicing the generator and
finding a temporary solution to the battery problem. Oboe also had to be
delivered to a yard along the coast in Falmouth Harbour to refit the boom vang
and to get a thorough rigging check before the start of the season.
At this point I have to mention Ken and Catherine Stuart,
whose hospitality and use of a car made everything so very doable. Thank
you guys for being such good and generous friends. I look forward to
seeing you in Grenada next year and sailing with you by way of a thank you.
So, with great excitement, my first mate Ryan Lloyd
arrived to assist with the final repairs before we said our goodbye’s to
friends in Antigua and two days ago sailed south for Bequia, part of the St
Vincent group of islands to start the charter season.
Sailing along the Antigua coast brought back fond memories
of places visited that have become almost a second home these last couple of
years. Galley Bay Resort, where Ying and I spent a luxurious few days,
Falmouth Harbour, our home for Antigua Sailing Week and our remarkable
third-in-class podium place and many, many more recognisable sights slid into
the mists of time as we worked offshore in the direction of Guadeloupe and
Dominica. We sailed through the night, cat napping when we could and not
stopping until we had 170 miles under our belts. Dropping anchor after
lunch yesterday in the harbour of St Pierre, Martinique, we crashed out for a
well-earned sleep on deck with a cool breeze. Sleep came easily following
a beer and rum punch chaser! Rowing ashore for supper in a quiet local
fish restaurant, practising our rusty French proved amusing to the locals and
visiting Parisians both! We were entertained by a Martinique folk singer
with an excellent voice but dodgy guitar technique before staggering back to
find Oboe still where we left her a few hundred metres off the town quay.
The rest is a blur.
Today, after the requisite croissant and cafe au lait ashore
we threw up the sails and reached comfortably for St Lucia and an anchorage
nestled between her famous pitons. Arriving after dark with the expected
moon nowhere to be seen, however, we could not safely make an entry so
diverting nervously to Soufriere we were relieved to be met by a couple of boat
boys, who for a small bribe led us to a safe mooring for the night.
Realising that we had eaten little all day, we warmed up the
baguette bought in St Pierre and cracked open the Camembert and salami and
washed it all down with a glass of wine. Now, with eyelids dropping I am
fighting to stay awake, so will conclude by saying it’s good to be back!