Land Ahoy... 17:09.58N 61:13.05W

The Return of Irene III - 2018
Louis Goor
Mon 18 Dec 2017 20:49
Monday 18 December 2017 - Day 16, our final day on the Atlantic ocean

It's not quite the M50, however the shipping lanes we're now traversing on
our approach Antigua are busier than we've been used to.

Remember we've seen just one other boat in the past two weeks and now during
the past 24 hours, two large cargo vessels have steamed close by us. The
'Ultimate Panther' looked like she was laden with ore and was heading for
Brazil. The 'Desert Osprey' was bound for Lagos, Nigeria. Their names and
vital statistics came up on our Automatic Identification System (AIS)
navigation screen and similarly they can see all of our details too. AIS is
like anti-Tinder for ships - the whole idea is that vessels avoid each and
never tango regardless of how busy the lanes are!

It's late afternoon now and we're about 35 miles from the end of our voyage.
The friendly lilting voice of a female officer of the Antiguan Coast Guard
is coming over on the VHF. We've already adjusted our ship's clock to local
time and expect to make our final approach and be dropping anchor in
Freeman's Bay, under cover of darkness between 8pm-9pm this evening. As
we'll be busier than usual in the coming hours, today's blog is being posted
earlier than normal.

Arriving in a foreign country in your own boat is more complicated than
landing by charter plane. Firstly, because we'll make landfall after 4pm
when the customs office closes, we cannot set foot ashore until all the
formalities have been fulfilled. For that reason, we'll be laying at anchor
tonight with our "Q" for quarantine flag flying.

When the customs officials show up for work at 8am tomorrow, our fragrant
and freshly shaven skipper will be there to greet them with Irene III's
paperwork and crew passports. Once they deem that everything is in order,
then we'll be able to enter Nelson's Dockyard and tie up - stern to.

That's the good news - now for the bad! For days, Louis has been
formulating a list of critical tasks that have to be completed before any of
us are granted shore leave. We've been glamping at sea for the past
fortnight - so everything we've used on board, from cutlery to duvets,
fridges, food presses and bathrooms as well as all brightwork, sails and
halyards will have to be variously washed, cleaned, sorted, scrubbed,
polished and rinsed with fresh water where possible.

Once in port and on public view, Irene III likes to look her best - so we'll
all be working hard to ensure that she's returned to - you've guessed it -
Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion.

In the meantime, there's a small celebration to be held on board. John
Hunter-Holmes has invited all crew member to his very exclusive 50th
birthday party at sunset this evening. This is very kind of him, given that
John hadn't met half of us until two weeks ago and now we're his very best

Uncertain about Deliveroo's waterborne services in the Caribbean, Sabine
prepared for success and packed into her holdall, a Betty Crocker
boil-in-the-bag chocolate cake. She's also ensured that the requisite
number of fresh eggs required to produce this birthday treat have been
stowed well out of poaching range.

Finally, the skipper has issued a memo to crew - "Please ensure that you are
smartly dressed (cravats obligatory) and that all chocolate smudges are
wiped off your smiling faces before the customs team come aboard in the AM.
Over and Out! SLG"