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Date: 31 Mar 2011 02:12:00
Title: A tricky anchorage

17:04.179N 61:39.918W Tenpound Bay, Antigua, Wednesday night.

We're anchored fore and aft in the tightest anchorage we've been in for ages. It's very snug now that we're in and we can see the ocean swells smashing themselves onto the rocks and reefs outside. On one of the reefs, there's the hull of a wrecked yacht high and dry which is a chilling sight.

We were all pretty lazy this morning. I think we all ate too much in the restaurant last night which meant we went to bed later than usual. To make matters worse, there were mosquitoes around for the first time since we left English Harbour. That meant we had our hatches shut and the temperature was higher in the boat as a result. We were all a bit groggy first thing so it took us a while to get going.

Alden needed to get some internet access as he's trying to arrange crew for his next job - an Atlantic crossing back to Europe. We couldn't "borrow" anything from onboard so he and I went over to Harmony Hall to see if we could get some joy there. They were really helpful and let us use their wifi although we did buy a latte each in return. In fact, I think that was the only sale they made all morning as we didn't see another customer the whole time we were there. Like all the resorts and hotels, everything seems empty at the moment. They had three chefs, two waitresses, a gallery curator and a couple of gardeners. The few dollars from our coffee won't go far in paying for that little lot.

When I checked my emails, I had one from Greg who was with us from Scotland to Iceland - which seems like years ago now. He and his fiance Kate have just had a baby boy called Finley so we were all very excited to hear that news. He's the second baby born to people who've been part of the trip so we've done very well in that regard. Odd that they've got such similar names: Richard's Finton and now Greg's Finley.

Anyway, Alden and I got our online jobs done and I phoned up and got Andrea, Cind and I booked into Jungle Bay on Dominica from Saturday onwards so that's exciting. I may spend a few days in Screw Spa eating fruit and listening to reggae. We got back onboard Saxon Blue and then had our lunch before deciding that we really ought to do something. Our anchorage was good for access to the resorts but not much else so we decided to head back over to Green Island and see if we could get ourselves tucked into one of the remote bays on the south side.

We got the anchor up and headed off with Alden and Andrea on the bow looking for coral and giving me directions. We passed the bay where we'd anchored previously and noticed that there were some vacant buoys so that would do if we needed to come back. As we carried on out through the channel, we could see that there was a free buoy in the first bay but, as that's the one which has a tourist boat arrive for lunch every day, it wasn't our first choice.

Carrying on out towards the open sea, we passed the wrecked yacht and another large wreck on the shore before turning to port and into some swell. Alden kept to his coral spotting which was just as well as I already knew that the chart (electronic and the paper one it's derived from) are wrong in where they place the channel so I was relying on his eyes and the forward-looking sonar for confirmation. We turned to port again and passed very close to the island before running through a narrow pass between two reefs with the swell pushing us in but dying off all the time. Suddenly, we were through and in calm, green water. No time to relax, though, as the depth was falling dramatically. I had to turn Saxon Blue on the spot so that Alden and Andrea could get her onto the single mooring buoy and the depth gauge was reading 0.3 meters when we'd finished.

I badly wanted a cup of tea but there wasn't room for us to swing on the buoy without getting into even shallower water and there were some worried flatfish under our keel already. Alden and I went for a snorkel to see where the deeper water lay and found that, no surprise, it was to seaward of the buoy so that put paid to my ideas about tying ourselves to the shore with a stern line. Time for a more radical move.

We got the laser range-finder out, worked out where we wanted to end up and then dropped the buoy. Turning on the spot, we headed slowly back out of the bay with Andrea on the stern calling out the distance to the rocks until we'd gone 70 meters further out than we started. There, Alden dropped the anchor and I got into astern and backed slowly towards the buoy again while he and then Andrea paid out the anchor chain. As out stern came back within 10 meters of the buoy, Alden leapt into the water clutching our floating polyprop line, swam it over to the mooring and made us fast. Cind made the other end off onto our stern cleat. A bit of tweaking on the anchor chain and we were held bow into the slight swell and seaward of the buoy. That's exactly where we still are with Saxon Blue nodding slightly in the waves but generally behaving like a very solid object while, all around us, the sea is crashing onto the reefs and generally making a fuss.

It didn't take Alden long to get his togs on and himself into the water. He went off on a photo expedition for a couple of hours while Andrea and I got some Janeway footage. I felt that I needed to make up for the last effort as, when Andrea looked at it on the computer, the horizon wasn't level, rendering it useless. It's very hard to get such a strong horizon absolutely right and there isn't any opportunity for just turning the image slightly with video like you can with a still picture. The viewfinder of the camera doesn't have any grid lines (which is a bit stupid seeing as my digital SLR has them and they'd be even more useful in the video camera). We decided to try again and fashion a plumb-line to see if that would help although it only works if the camera isn't pointing up or down. Honestly, being a video cameraman is far more stressful than being a skipper - well, I don't know if that's entirely true but I do feel that I have at least some idea what I'm doing with the boat and precious little when it comes to video.

This time, I dropped Andrea onto the shore in the tender where she changed from her swimsuit into her Janeway costume and I set up the camera on the forward deck of Saxon Blue. We got a good shot in the end, helped by the fact that the camera was moving the whole time so the horizon wasn't so critical. I picked Andrea up and dropped her onto another bit of shoreline but that wasn't so good for filming so we put all the gear away and I went for a snorkel around the nearby reefs instead. I got back just before sundown and slightly before Alden. Cind then got cracking on turning more of the King Fish into delicious dinner, this time with a coconut sauce and potatoes. Having ate ourselves to a standstill, we're now enjoying the cool of the evening.

Alden is in his cabin watching Battlestar - he's become something of an addict and will soon have caught up to where we are. Cind went onto the foredeck and discovered that we're floating in a sea of intermittent shooting stars. They're bright little things, move for half a meter or so as they glow and then wink out again. I tried stirring the water but that doesn't make any difference so they don't behave like the phosphorescent plankton we've seen before. Whatever they are, they're too small to see with a torch so I have no idea whether they're fish or arthropods. The girls are still out on deck, lying on blankets and watching for shooting stars above us while they chat.

We're planning on spending all day tomorrow in this bay. It's so idyllic, there just isn't anywhere else we'd rather be.

Harvey

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