An emotional two days

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Sat 12 Mar 2011 23:24
17:00.469N 61:45.858W Nelsons Dockyard, Antigua, Saturday night

After an amazing year together, Kali has left Saxon Blue today to get ready for her next job - skippering a yacht on a voyage to Svalbard in the Arctic. She just can't get enough of those Polar Bears! We were all a bit emotional about it - it's hard to imagine the boat without her. When we look back over the things we've seen together and the places we've been, it seems like watching a TV programme rather than reviewing something that we actually did. I think it will take Andrea and I some months to assimilate it all and work out what it means (if anything). Kali's still around in Antigua for a few days so we'll see her again. There's bound to be something onboard that we can't find but at least I've got my pens back. They all seem to have migrated to Kali's cabin.

Anyway, that's today and I haven't even covered yesterday. In truth, it's hard to write about yesterday as it started badly. We got up early as we were worried that it might take ages to get back to Antigua against the wind and waves. The wind had shifted around overnight and the boat ahead of us had moved so that it looked as though it might be over our anchor. As it was early - about 7am - we didn't want to wake them up so we got out kedge up and moved forward to see where our anchor was. Andrea was operating the anchor windlass and I hadn't given her very clear instructions so she assumed that I wanted her to just wind the anchor in as quickly as possible. Kali was in the tender ready to move the other yacht aside if required.

As we moved forward, it became clear that our chain was under the other boat. Kali and I called, then shouted for Andrea to stop winching in the chain but she couldn't hear us over the clatter of the windlass. I was trying desperately to move Saxon Blue to port while Andrea was winching her inexorably to starboard and sideways into the fragile windvane steering on the stern of our neighbours. They were now awake anyway and frantically fending us off while Kali tried to get the tender between the two boats. Andrea let out a bit of chain and we passed around their stern and retrieved our anchor from the other side. In the process, we got into some pretty shallow water but there wasn't anything I could do about that.

In the event, all that was damaged was my pride and their sleep but it was a horrible moment which left me full of adrenaline and shaking. I knew I should have kept quiet about it until I'd calmed down but stupidly said something to Andrea about watching what was happening around her which understandably went down very badly. It was a breakdown in communication rather than any failure on her part and I should have spent longer explaining everything before we'd started. I should also have just got Kali to move the other boat aside but that's the trouble with trying to be polite. After a long talk and a bit of time, we both calmed down and Andrea forgave me for my harsh words but it left us both jangled for the rest of the day. It's the first hard words we've had for months which made it all the more unpleasant.

After that, we motor-sailed to Antigua with the wind a bit too hard on the nose for us to sail and we didn't fancy spending the day tacking. The sea was swell rather than steep chop so we made good time and arrived outside English Harbour at about 1pm, had a sandwich and headed in. We'd reserved a berth at Nelsons Dockyard on the phone earlier and they were all ready for us to go stern-to near where we were berthed a few weeks back. We spend a good time getting ourselves sorted out with lines and fenders as it's not an easy maneuver to slow down once you've started. We used the laser rangefinder to measure 80 meters off the dock and dropped our anchor, giving ourselves the maximum chance for it to hold, which it did with no problem.

We came in tight alongside a Bavaria 49 with the marina guys taking our shorelines. It all went very well with no stress and we even got a compliment about it from the dockmaster although it's possible that he was only interested in chatting about it to Kali. Kali and I then set off to do the immigration and clearance paperwork which was pretty efficient, in fact. Andrea and I went in the tender over to the other side of the harbour to book ourselves into a restaurant which was recommended to us by Steve and Sue. We had a drink and bought a frighteningly expensive landing net for Andrea. Unless she catches some really big fish soon, we'd have been better off hiring Rich Stein to personally fly out with a fish supper once a week.

All three of us went out for an "end of trip" dinner which was fun, if tinged with sadness. The food was exquisite - a real step up from anything else we've had on the islands so it was a good recommendation. We talked over what we'd achieved together and looked forward to what might come next. I think we all look back on it as a great year and an amazing achievement. It's time to move on, now, but it's hard to let go. After all, we've lived together in a very tiny space for a long time and learned more about each other than one normally does about anyone except a partner. It feels like Kali is family. From there, we had a short tender-ride home and then time to watch some Battlestar before heading off for a peaceful night's sleep.

Andrea woke up at some unearthly hour this morning and, having failed to get back to sleep, started chatting to me at 0630 so we were up with a cup of tea at about 0730. Kali was getting all her stuff packed and, by the time she'd finished, had one large bag, one enormous one and a couple of tiddlers. She had met up with Mike who was on Alerre in Bermuda. He's here working on his own boat which is parked on the opposite side of the harbour in among the Mangroves. Once she'd finished packing, Kali moved her stuff onto Mike's boat from where she'll have to take it to St Martin for the trip over to Europe later in the month. We had an "official" saying goodbye although we're going to meet up over the next few days and she'll probably drop by to meet up with Cind again and Alden.

And then there were two.

Andrea and I had lunch in Hamiltons and then spent the afternoon pottering about onboard. Andrea has defrosted the fridge and done some work on her video footage and I've been reading my book about Churchill and making a list of work that needs doing. Hopefully, I can do some of it with Alden and then get Antigua Rigging to sort the rest out while we're back in the UK. The sun has just set, our neighbours are tucked in to either side so there shouldn't be any more drama tonight and we're off to get our dinner in the Admirals Hotel in the Dockyard. We'll have just enough time to get used to it being the two of us before it's suddenly five. We're both really looking forward to that - it'll be a great contrast.


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