Jolly Harbour was starting to feel like a movie set of a ghost town, with very few people, in masks, going to the essential supermarket or pharmacy, and waiting in long queues.
Eve and Christopher call their home The Hummingbird Yacht Club, there are a couple of dozen hummingbird residents, and the house is painted bright green and pink. A lot of sailors find a warm welcome here, and so have we.
We were tied up at her dock, and we became a family unit, helping each other with meals and provisions, repairs and maintenance, sewing, painting and playing cards together.
Our son Gilbert and his wife Pip caught Corona virus, but luckily they managed to throw it off. They could walk or cycle to nearby Richmond Park for exercise, and they demolished their garden and put in a lawn. They bought a Wendy house for the children, and a paddling pool and slide. Gilbert worked from home, as most people have tried to do, managing to make a Zoom presentation on line to more than 500 people.
Olivia and Shenton’s baby Hector Shenton Roland arrived safely in Hong Kong on 4 May. They spent time getting to know each other. How we wished we could have been there.
17 May Eve and Christopher got on a repatriation flight to England. Curfew eased off, we could not go out between 9 pm and 6 a.m, which meant people could have an evening meal together, while social distancing. But most of our neighbours had left!
The Hurricane Season officially started on 1 June, with boat insurance restrictions, so flotillas of boats left for the USA, unable to stop anywhere. Once Grenada opened its borders, at end May, 1,000 boats applied to enter, they still had 2 weeks quarantine aboard. Other groups of yachts set off for Europe, and for the UK, hoping to be allowed to enter once they arrived, as Antigua had very few cases of Corona virus, and they would have been quarantined aboard for the duration of their passage.
The shipment of Restless was delayed until 19 May, she left on BBC Pearl, and arrived in Palma on 4June, where she was met by Gilbert’s friend David, superyacht skipper. David berthed her safely in RCNP marina for 3 nights, and then with a friend motorsailed her across to Sant Carles Marina, south of Barcelona, for storage until we can get back to her, maybe not before Easter 2021.
We had now been in lockdown for 70 days, and restrictions are slowly lifting. It made me think of my Grandfather, Gordon Dewar, who had been in Sham Shui Po Prisoner of War Camp under the Japanese, In Hong Kong, for 1331 days. His diary is full of dreams of Sailing, and recipes for food they could not get.
For us the biggest thing was not knowing when we will be able to leave, as daily flights to USA started up, but no definite dates to the UK yet. And we would have to quarantine for 2 weeks in most places, even in New Zealand. We have been so lucky, to live in Eve’s house and have the use of her golf buggy.
A few thousand boats that have been in lockdown in the Caribbean set off for USA, UK, Europe, and 1,000 to Grenada, out of the hurricane area. Some boats are waiting to set off through the Panama and the long trip of several thousand miles to New Zealand and the Pacific.
We settled down to a routine of maintenance on the house, to keep busy, and our friend Gerry, who has kept his Ballad Buddy at Eve’s dock for some years, helped Roland with jobs, and took us sailing and racing often. Another friend, Clare, invited us and Gerry around for dinner at least once a week, and both Gerry and Clare gave us lifts into town for hardware and food supplies, and sightseeing. One side effect was we had FaceTime and Zoom calls with friends and family very often, keeping up with world and family news. No TV is no TV!
But Roland can’t sit still, so he and Gerry did boat jobs, cleaning, painting, varnishing, repairing, and then Gerry helped us to load Restless onto a ship bound for Palma.
Once Restless was gone, they started on Eve’s house: Made a bannister for the stairs, and sanded and varnished the stairs, emptied and cleaned out storage areas under the deck and at the boatyard; knocked the oysters off the dock, and painted and screwed down loose parts of the dock, then pressure washed the deck and ceilings; and driveway; repaired BBQ, lights, toilets. Then they installed an outside shower/bower, put up trellis, demolished and rebuilt and painted outside steps and handrails. Then we heard rumours of hurricanes forming, and it was time to cut back the overgrown plants and fix up the shutters and batten down the hatches! Luckily there were 2 of them to get it done.
Clare had to sell her boat Katina, which was a bit unloved, so she brought it round to Eve’s Dock and we 4 set to work preparing her for her new owner, and delivered her to famous Nelson’s Dockyard, which is usually top of sailors’ bucket list, but now quiet and closed because of Lockdown.
Then we had a visit from a young kiwi family From Waihi Beach on Wild Thing. We had met them in Martinique, 2 March, 20 weeks ago! they planned to sail back to NZ via the Panama, and we often wondered how they were managing lockdown with 3 teenage boys aboard. We spent some happy days together, before they hunkered down in English Harbor, with rumours of a hurricane, which turned into one of the largest tropical waves, and sailed to Green Island and Barbuda, they plan to transit Panama early next year.
As we drove around the island, Consie saw and could not resist the piles of mangoes being sold at small tables, so found Eve’s recipe for Mango Chutney, and at last count cooked up 230 mangos, and gave away all but 2 jars, which we took to Gilbert in London, and Olivia in Hong Kong.
Some flights at last started up with American Airlines to Florida, but with possible quarantine and heavy virus numbers, we waited until British Airways recommenced flights 2x weekly to London. We were booked on 6 August to London, and on to Hong Kong on 7 August, 20 weeks after our arrival in Antigua.
We sadly said goodbye to friends in Antigua, and set off 6 August for London. ‘No mask, no Fly’ was the order of the day. We were met by Gilbert, Pip, and 2 very excited Emmeline and Frederick, who took us home to Kingston on Thames, to show us their new garden, Wendy house, paddling pool and slide. Frederick and Gilbert cooked us up a BBQ lunch, and we laughed to see that when 2 year old Frederick dropped his fork on the floor, he quickly picked it up between his toes, and replaced it on the table. A real Lennox-King trait. They drove us back to Gatwick airport, where BA efficiently confirmed our unusual Hong Kong visa, and we arrived in HK on 8 August, ready to take a Covid test and to go into quarantine for 2 weeks, wearing ‘prison’ monitor bracelets to ensure we don’t leave the flat. Olivia and Shenton brought baby Hector to meet us in the outside car park, no touching, and we settled into our new home for 2 weeks, happily supplied with everything we could need, by Olivia and Shenton.
As you all know Roland, you will know that keeping him caged in a small flat for 2 weeks is well, difficult. Books, TV news, running up and down stairs, Yoga, internet, FaceTime......any suggestions? When we eventually get home to New Zealand, it seems we will have to quarantine in a hotel, with even fewer things to keep busy with. Try not to envy me!