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Date: 27 Mar 2011 00:27:00
Title: Exploring Barbuda

Low Bay, Barbuda, Saturday night

We spent today exploring the island and meeting some of the locals. It's a very strange place and reminded us of Greenland in that none of the shops have signs saying what they sell. If you live there, you'd already know.

While I was still lying in bed being very lazy this morning, Andrea was trying to salvage our disaster-loaf by toasting it in the grill (our toaster broke some time ago). Half way through the process, the generator turned itself off. It took me a while to get ready to investigate, by which time it had stopped flashing the error code sequence so I started it again, Andrea toasted a bit more bread and then it stopped again but this time I was ready and extracted the error code. It was 58 again - the same as when we had a problem in Baffin - which I had already guessed. I double checked and there was no water coming into the main seawater chest so it looked like it was the impellor again.

We had intended to all go ashore to explore Codrington anyway so we modified the plan slightly to put the girls on the beach so Alden and I could get the saloon dismantled and get into the generator to fix it. We tried to raise the water-taxi on the VHF but with no luck so we went ashore in the tender to see if we could find a phone number. Alden spoke to a guy called George who offered to take our crew across the lagoon so we agreed to that. On the way back to Saxon Blue, we saw another guy who was shouting to us so we went over and it turned out that he was the taxi guy called King Goldilocks who we were trying to contact. His VHF was broken so we took his phone number and said we'd see him later.

Alden then ran the girls ashore and we got stuck into the generator. It went very smoothly although Alden kept yelping when he touched the hot engine. We soon had it fixed, tested and the saloon reconstructed so he went for a quick swim and then dropped me ashore with the empty petrol can and our rubbish. He was intending to take the tender back to Saxon Blue and then swim back ashore. Goldilocks (who has black hair so goodness knows where the name comes from) was waiting there and asked if Alden could take him out to talk to a passing yacht. We agreed so they went alongside two different yachts and Goldilocks got a job from each. By the time they were back ashore, a large catamaran full of visitors had driven onto the beach and about 100 people got out and decamped into small boats on the lagoon.

Alden dropped Goldilocks who proceeded to spend a while shouting to random other locals, all of whom ignored him. By the time Alden returned, it was plenty late enough to get out stuff into Goldilock's boat on the lagoon. He tried to get it started while Alden held her off the beach. Eventually, we got underway at maximum throttle all the way over to Codrington itself. He put us ashore and then zoomed off before we could pay him. We got the girls on the VHF and met them just outside the small dock area. They'd spent their time walking around in the heat so looked a bit frazzled.

We set off to find some petrol at Otis's store, as recommended by Goldilocks. The town is pretty basic. Some of the houses are well kept but a lot of them are empty and falling down. They're all single storey apart from the Police Station. It was incredibly hot and felt just like what it was - a tiny little place built on a sandbank in the middle of the sea. We found Otis who was very smart and helpful, got our fuel and then tried to find somewhere for lunch. There were stalls around on the street but nobody had any food on the go yet. The grill we found wasn't open yet so we ended up having a hot walk to another cafe which also wasn't open. From there, we found another grill which was open and cooking but they didn't have any fish so we kept on walking.

In the end, eveyone got too hot so the girls went off towards the minimarket to get some supplies while Alden and I went back to one of the grills to see if we could find some lunch. They had ribs and chicken on the menu but, when we asked a bit further, we discovered that they also had rice and peas, salad, Johnny cakes and other nice stuff so we bought some rib lunches and set off back to find the (starving) girls. On the way, we passed one of the roadside stalls and Alden smelt the chicken they were barbecuing. He couldn't resist so he stopped to get some chicken to go with his ribs. I carried on down to the dock and found the girls where we shared out the food. It was the usual tasty stuff so we felt a lot better when we finished.

George, who'd transported our first shore party, was there waiting so we piled into his Boston Whaler and headed back across the lagoon. He was a picture of calm compared to Goldilocks - a real charmer in fact. He'd given the girls a tour of the lagoon on their way across and described how the hurricanes would tear a hole in the outer sandbank, letting the ocean into the lagoon but that, over the following years, the sea would rebuild the sand again. They've also got a huge red buoy near their dock which just floated in one day. It's been traced back to Canada but the rightful owners don't want it back so it's now an attraction.

When we got back to the sandbank, Alden was too full of chicken and ribs to swim back for our tender so we all walked up to the Lighthouse Bay Hotel which sits in the middle of the beach. It's a very strange place. We were allowed into the bar for a drink but nowhere else as there were guests there. The only way in is via boat or helicopter and I think most of the guests come direct from the airport on Antigua by chopper and don't see any other part of Barbuda. It's the sort of place that footballers go for holidays. We paid more for our drinks than we'd just paid for our lunch in Codrington and then headed back home.

As soon as we got onboard, Goldilocks appeared on the beach, waving his arms and shouting to us. He must have thought we were doing a runner without paying him for our trip earlier. Alden went over and gave him some money - half what we'd given to George for the return trip. We were expecting a bit of an argument as Goldilocks had been quoting some very high figures to the other yachts but he seemed satisfied with what Alden gave him so I'm glad we got out of what could have been a bad situation without offending anyone. He could hardly have made too much fuss as he'd spent longer in our tender than we had in his taxi.

Onboard, we did some washing, Andrea cooked a lovely Spanish Omelette for dinner, we swam and talked - all the usual stuff. Alden is now watching the first episodes of Battlestar so he's bound to get hooked. We had Andrea's Crystal champagne as we watched another amazing red sunset over the seemingly endless ocean. The girls all announced that the Crystal was lovely, better than their usual champagne etc etc. I hope they don't get a taste for it or we'll have to sell Saxon Blue to keep up with the new habit.

It's rolling a bit more tonight but I think we'll all sleep soundly again. Tomorrow, we're heading back to Antigua and, with a bit of luck with the wind direction, we'll be able to explore some new bits of it. I'm hoping that the fishing crew come up trumps as Alden seems to need a lot of protein and we've only a small quantity of bacon left.

Harvey

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