Pre-WARC, Messing about in the Caribbean
Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 2 Jan 2010 13:55
It was the day after Christmas day, Dick and I finished off indexing the charts which Sreco and Olga had kindly brought for us, to Las Palmas from Gosport.
Those charts which are not relevant for the next twelve months have been put back under the bed in the port hull bow cabin, which is now ship shape and ready for Austin to occupy when it is convenient for him to move from the aft cabin. There is no rush as Bob and his girlfriend Pili wont be moving on board until early January.
Igor had to go to work this morning which meant that both he and Caroline were in their dingy, having already left their boat, ready to go ashore by 7.30am.
That evening we went aboard Caroline's boat for drinks and supper of prawn stroganoff, cooked by Igor. It was most delicious.
Their boat, unlike ours is very festive, adorned with Christmas decorations. All we have on our boat is a white board bearing the legend "Happy Christmas" and decorated with a drawing of holly in one corner, a Christmas tree in another and a Christmas cracker at the bottom.
Sunday we were joined by Caroline and Igor at 9.30am. A friend had taken Laika for the day. We motored out of the harbour, hoisted the sails and sailed to Noesuch bay, behind Green Island. As we approached, it looked deserted but once we had turned the corner we could see the other boats already at anchor there. We dropped our anchor near the beach and snorkelled in the pale blue water. Austin took the rib to a nearby, but out of sight reef, where he, Caroline and Igor snorkelled, returning to the boat just in time for lunch.
It is amazing to think all that separated us from the Atlantic ocean and Africa is a reef.
Mid afternoon we left the anchorage and made passage back to Freedom bay where we set the anchor just before 17.30. It was too late to go to Shirley Heights to watch the sunset and it would have been difficult for Caroline and Igor to join us, as they had to unblock the toilet on their boat and they needed to tackle the job while there was still some daylight.
The evening before we left Antigua, we took a taxi to Shirley Heights and watched the sunset. The vista, overlooking English Harbour in one direction and Montserrat in another, is stunning. The place was deserted but for another half dozen tourists. The restaurant, where they have a barbecue on Sunday nights and Thursday nights was closed and we couldn't even buy a drink.
We had said our farewells to Caroline and Igor on the night before we left Freedom bay, having talked late into the night after supper. However, next morning as we raised our anchor, they were there in their rib, kissing us goodbye and waving fond farewells.
Goodbye Caroline, Igor and Laika, goodbye Nelsons Dockyard and English Harbour, goodbye Antigua, until we meet again.
We did two hour watches throughout the day and three hour watches through the night. The wind was erratic and although we sailed from soon after 8am until 5pm, it was necessary to continuously correct our bearing to stay on course.
The steady 15 to 25 knots of wind in the Caribbean seems to be a myth rather than reality.
Austin put out 2 fishing lines but being unsuccessful on this occasion, we had to have curried chicken for supper, instead of fresh fish.
When I came on watch again at 6am next morning, there was a huge black cloud about 12 miles ahead, stretching in all directions but behind us. My instinct was to turn round and retrace our steps but continued on the charted course.
After an hour and a half I had to get help to reef the sail and we managed to steer the boat between the worst of the rain clouds, through the squall which was with us for another hour and a half.
By 10am the sun was shining, there was still insufficient wind to sail without some help from the engines, the wet weather gear and life jackets hung in the cockpit drying and we planned to have a pizza for lunch to help make up for our troubles.
Interestingly, although we saw lots of dolphins on our passage to Antigua, the only marine life spotted on the return trip, were flying fish. It also took us about 3 hours longer to do the return trip.
The light had gone as we entered the channel to the marina and not being able to raise any personnel on the VHF, we tied up to the hammerhead on pontoon G. As soon as the boat was secure, we rushed ashore to the WARC (World ARC) cocktail party.
Next morning Dick checked us into the country and although the customs procedures were swift, getting checked into the marina took him almost an hour. The efficiency we had experienced during the time that the ARC had been here had now disappeared.
Austin, due to affairs of the heart, is returning home and leaves on 3rd January. We will miss him very much. Not only because he is a knowledgeable sailor and willing to take on more than his share of the work but because he is a really nice person. He is someone that anyone might be proud to call their son.
We are talking to an Irish chap who was highly recommended by the people on a boat in which he crossed the Atlantic. Although currently in Ireland he has a flight back to St. Lucia arriving 5th January. We are also talking to a Spanish chap who crossed with a non-ARC boat, to Antigua, who will be cruising the Caribbean for the next year. He wants to get into the Pacific and at least as far as Australia.
We went to the New Year's eve party at the Yacht club, held on the beach. The music was very loud all night long and at midnight the fireworks welcomed in the new decade. Young women, glamorously attired, tottered around on 6inch heels which disappeared into the sand. Unlike several other of our fellow party goers, we were fortunate enough to get a taxi back to the marina.
January 1st was blessedly quiet. We had a drinks party on our boat for 17 of us. We had hoped that our friends from Ciao might be able to come but they had left the marina in their sailing boat, with their son and his family, before we returned to Antigua.
We wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
The next blog will be sent en-route to San Blaas.
Attached is a picture of the 25 year old boat which is currently home to Caroline, Igor and Laika
also a picture of Caroline, Igor and Austin at Nonsuch bay