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Date: 18 Mar 2011 00:59:00
Title: We've got a boat full again

Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua, Thursday evening

Cind and Christine are here with us now so we've been trying to make sure they have a good time without wearing them out completely on Day One.

Yesterday morning, Andrea and Alden went off in a taxi to the big supermarket in St Johns. It was just as well that they both went as they came back with mounds of shopping so we should be eating very well for the next few weeks. While they were gone I sat around doing nothing - not really! I had a bunch of little jobs to do so I did the washing, washed the sticky stuff out of the cockpit table (again) checked that we were booked into the marina for our visit in April (again) and some other little stuff.

In the afternoon, Andrea cooked some chillies to put in the freezer while I read my book and went to the immigration with Kali. This time, it all went OK and they crossed Kali's name off our crew list with a ruler and biro - very high-tech. So now, there's only Andrea and I on the list. Alden, Cind and Christine are just hanging out with us so that will make things easier when they leave.

Andrea and I went to the airport with a guy from the boat next-door who was going back to the UK on the same plane as the girls were arriving on. The terminal building looks impressive but it has just a dark, forbidding bar hidden in the back where we had a drink while we waited. There were no screens of information so we just listened out for announcements and heard the arrival of the BA flight from Gatwick just as we saw the tail fin pass the window. It was a fair while before anyone emerged from the unmarked arrivals doors and we spent the time discussing whether to share the same taxi back to the Dockyard with a couple of Italians from a boat moored at the Cat Club marina.

Then we saw the girls with their bags and everyone got very excited. The Italian guy arrived as well with a mountain of luggage but we managed to get it all squeezed into the cab and set off. It was dark by that time so we couldn't see any of the island as we drove but we made up for it with chatting. As we arrived onboard Saxon Blue, Kali dropped by to say "Hi" to Cind and Christine before she went out to meet Alden in Falmouth and we got into the tender for the short hop over to Catherine's Restaurant for our dinner. They had an excellent live Jazz band on so we had good entertainment while we ate our lovely food and talked away.

By the time we got back onboard, it was after 11pm - so past 3am for our guests. Goodness knows how they were still awake. We sat in the cockpit for a while, having a cup of tea and enjoying the cooler temperature before we all went off to bed. I think Cind and Christine had a bit of culture shock so they were absolutely knackered. It's a big change from the UK in winter to the Caribbean.

We were woken this morning by a lot of shouting and thrashing of bow-thrusters as the motorboat with the poor taste in music left to be replaced by a charter catamaran driven with more bravado than skill. All the action was over by the time we poked our heads out so I was glad it wasn't coming in alongside us. We had a leisurely breakfast of fresh fruit salad, then set off for walk into Falmouth. After a Latte, we walked down the dock to see Windrose and the Maltese Falcon both close up. The Falcon was impressive as ever but Windrose is absolutely beautiful with her woodwork gleaming and stainless polished to the max.

From there, we did a bit of shopping and then headed back to Grace Before Meals for lunch. The waitress was her usual implacable self to start with but she warmed up a bit when I ordered our meals. I then asked for some fruit smoothies in various combinations for us all. She looked at me and said "No. I go and get some fruit, then I sort you out". OK. As ever, our Rotis arrived in seconds and were as large and delicious as ever. Then the waitress appeared with four smoothies, and announced that they were all Banana, Pineapple and Melon. "The best on the Island", she assured us. The thing is, they advertise about twenty different types of fruit on their board with stuff about making your own combination. It doesn't matter what you order, though. She always makes Banana, Pineapple and Melon. She's right, though, it is delicious but the battle of wills is hilarious. After that, she chatted to us as we sorted the bill out so we must be getting into her good books.

We walked from there back to Saxon Blue and found Alden busily at work cleaning places on deck that haven't been cleaned since we left Southampton. She'll look like new again at this rate - in fact, she looks pretty well as good as new in any case. We got all our snorkelling gear out and loaded it into the tender along with Cind, Christine, Andrea and I. That's quite a dinghy full. We slowly motored over to the beach near the entrance to English Harbour, the girls got out and I went a bit further out to drop the anchor. The water was a bit cloudy but it was lovely to be swimming and there were plenty of fish among the rocks in the shallows. There's a wrecked boat there, as well, so that had plenty of good fish around.

Christine had a bit of a swim and then had a go with the mask and snorkel. Like Andrea was some months back, she found it hard to get started but soon seemed to make good progress and ended up floating along, looking down at the strange world below. I don't think it'll be long before she's really enjoying it. Cind got stuck in straight away so there's no problem with her enjoying herself in the water. On the way home, we saw a turtle put his head up but we couldn't get very close. As I dropped the girls off on Saxon Blue, a French guy asked if I was going back out which I wasn't but I gave him and his dad a lift over to their charter catamaran anyway so that's my good deed for the day.

We just had time to watch a large motoryacht come in nearby and make a bit of a meal of it, mostly caused by the charter guests crowding around in the area where the crew were trying to tie her up. I don't know how the crew kept their cool. Then it was time to get changed and go off for a taxi up the hill so we could walk on to Shirley Heights for the Thursday night barbecue. The view was as wonderful as ever, right over the harbours, the open sea and the surrounding islands. We watched the sun set as the teenage girls in the steel band knocked out some cool rhythms whilst looking completely bored. There were only about a dozen punters there so goodness knows how they keep it going. They just don't make any attempt to advertise the event so nobody down in the marinas knows it's on.

At 8pm, our taxi was waiting outside to take us back home. On the way, we had to dodge two different cars, both driving on the wrong side of the road - probably tourists used to driving on the right. We're back onboard now, enjoying the cool of the evening and having a lovely cup of tea. Tomorrow, we're going to get underway again so I'm looking forward to that.

Harvey

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