Happy 2018

Happy New Year and all the best wishes for 2018.

We rung in the new year anchored in Carlisle Bay on the south side of Antigua. There is a resort on the beach here that has had bands playing both during the day today, January 1st and yesterday as well as last evening. We sat out on the bow of the boat, under an almost full moon taking it in.

Fireworks above us

At midnight fireworks were set off from the beach. Our boat was just far enough away to be safe. Every one set so high in the sky just above us. Then we noticed some more fireworks in the next bay over off our stern as well. We were surrounded. It was magical and well worth staying up for.

So for today’s blog post, I thought we’d add some photos from 2017 that never managed to get posted to the blog.

The year started with a big problem when one of the four struts holding the roof over our cockpit broke at the weld.  But a quick stop at Nanny Cay, some great welding by Nanny Cay, and a lot of Paul labour made us good as new.  Not the ideal way to spend the last couple days with Gwyn who had arrived for Christmas, but we found ways to make it good.

Next was the visit of our son Keith and his wife Taryl. They enjoyed a week with Paul in BVI in January 2017.

Between January and March, Paul single handed the boat from BVI to Antigua.  Love the passage sunsets


Spectacular sunset

Next I came for a break from work in March and was joined on the boat by my second cousin from England, David Wilce (our grandfathers were brothers). He spent 10 days on the boat, while I left after 6 days.  First stop was some relaxing at Green Island and a visit to Harmony Hall.

Then came Paul’s birthday with a fun toy.

After much fun and relaxation at Green Island, Gwyn had to head back to Vancouver so Paul and David met some friends in Falmouth and discovered some great hikes.

And lastly Paul had some great crew, Matt and Chris, from St Croix, who helped him sail the boat from BVI to Hampton, Virginia in May. They had a quick and easy sail to the US. Here’s some of the dolphins they enjoyed along the way. They also caught some fish.

Hopefully we’ll do better at keeping the blog up to date from this point forward. Meanwhile Happy 2018 everyone.

Busy Days in Antigua

Many events were planned by the organizers of the Salty Dawg Rally for the fleet of boats in Antigua. Once we cleared ourselves and Charlie in at Jolly Harbour, we picked up some fresh food at the large market and headed over to Falmouth Harbour where the fleet was gathering.

We arrived in time for the Welcome Event hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club, November 19th. They treated the Dawgs to hors d’oeurves and 2 free drinks. There we shared our tales of passage with fellow cruisers which is always fun. We also run into people we know from previous passages. It was a good time had by all.

The following day we met up with a group of friend for an early morning hike. A good stretch of the legs was definitely in order after sitting around on a boat for days on end.

On November 20th, the welcome dinner for the Dawgs was held at Boom, a great restaurant with a pool over looking English Harbour. There were no vegan options on the menu for this event so I chose the Mahi Mahi (I do eat fish now and then). The food was the best I’ve ever eaten in the Caribbean.

I enjoyed the view at Boom so much that I went back there with friends the following day for an afternoon poolside. Paul stayed on board and did some of the post passage boat chores.

The pool overlooking English Harbor at Boom

Our next to last Salty Dawg event was the Tail of the Dawg event at Pusser’s in Nelsons Dock Yard on November 22. Here we greeted the Dawgs who didn’t arrive in time for the previous events. People shared their stories and received awards for the most mishaps at sea, last boat to arrive, and most unlucky boat (one was struck by lightening). It was fun. We followed this event with pizza at a nearby restaurant. Here friends from Too-Da-Loo shared the best story of all about how they had to clear a clogged head while at sea. We laughed until we ached.

As we arrived back to the boat that evening I stepped out of the dinghy and slipped. I landed in the water. No harm done, but I realized that our new dinghy is much more slippery than the old one. It also sits a little higher on the water so the step off and onto the boat is different now. Something new to adjust to and one more thing to laugh at to top off a fun evening.

November 23rd, Thanksgiving day (US) we went for another hike with friends in the morning. Then joined in on the Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club. For $15 each they put on a full fledged turkey dinner with all the trimmings and dessert. Paul ate my share of turkey and I enjoyed the salads and dessert. Another successful event.

Somewhere in between the events we had a day of jamming aboard Blue Sky. I did some baking of granola, cookies and scones while the music played.

Amara, Rum Runner and Kalunamoo having musical fun on Blue Sky

We’ve since spent some time in Carlisle Bay, Green Island, Deep Bay and Jolly Harbour. Paul has spent countless hours repairing out water maker along with countless other things that have decided to break. I am hoping as Mercury comes out of retrograde later this week that things will stop breaking and we’ll be back to normal.

We are now back at Green Island (our favourite place in Antigua) where we’ll stay until Christmas or maybe New Years. We are falling into routine, doing yoga or a workout each morning and a swim each afternoon. Charlie gets ashore twice a day. We both work on small boat projects and read, write or get into our hobbies. Life is good.

Charlie focused on reaching the beach while Dad side strokes for company

Creepy Crawlies

I surprised myself when I discovered I don’t scream when a cockroach crawls over my foot. Yes, this happened on one of my night shifts about half way through the trip. I was in the head (aka bathroom) when it happened. Anyway, I finished what I was doing proceeded to track down the thing and smashed it with a hammer. It wasn’t moving as fast as it normally would have so I assumed it had eaten some of my poison. I don’t really like to admit that I became quite so evil in the killing of this cockroach, but I did. Who knows what that karma will look like.

I was naive to think there was only one. A few days after arrival to the island another cockroach tickled my leg while I was reading late one night. I was sitting under the red lights on the boat with only the light of my computer glowing. Cockroaches like the dark. Well, I woke up Paul. I had cornered the thing near our door. We had no raid on board so we sprayed it with Clorox kitchen cleaner. It got away from us so I didn’t sit in the dark for a few nights after that. This one did die, we found it under the carpet near our entry way a few days later.

We of course went to the store the next day for Raid. I’d also insisted that we order some cockroach bait before we departed Hampton, so I put this out in the cupboards and around the boat where the pets couldn’t get into it.

Number 3, yes there was a third one. This one tickled my leg. Once I realized it wasn’t the cat, I grabbed the Raid and a flashlight and sprayed the thing. I went for the trusty hammer and when I came back with it I couldn’t find the cockroach. Arghhh. As I was wandering around looking for it, there it was practically at my feet. I split it in half with the hammer. This hammer is no ordinary hammer (see pic), it’s one that is meant to smash through the windows in the hull of the boat if it ever ends up upside down and we need to get escape.

On yet another relaxing evening I went to grab a can of tonic water from the cupboard and there to greet me was cockroach number 4. I quickly closed the cupboard door, grabbed the raid and opened the door and sprayed. This one got away. I had to go back into the cupboard the next day in the daylight and wash everything inside since it was all coated with Raid, yes I sprayed with a vengeance. It’s the price you pay for trying to free the boat from these critters.

Number 5 showed up for Paul. It’s about time he dealt with one. This one was nearly dead and found in the cupboard where the dog food is kept. The same place the first one came out from. Paul threw it overboard and announced it to me when I awoke.

Number 6, which may have been number 4, showed up dead under the printer. Paul found this one, showed it to me. I insisted he squish it real good before throwing it overboard, just in case it could do the backstroke.

We are now over 1 week without any sightings. I’ve kept the poison topped up just in case. I’ve cleaned out several bilges and have had no evidence of more. Well I wrote that line yesterday. Last night I woke in the night and decided to make myself some tea. Low and behold, there was a big cockroach on the kitchen counter. Out came the raid and the flashlight. I sprayed it but it moved quickly, clearly not taken in by the poison. Down to the floor and Where??? I turned on all the lights, and Sierra kitty made a dash toward her water dish. There it was. Move the cat, spray, spray, spray some more, gotcha. Then I picked up the trusty hammer and smashed the thing. Oh, my karma. Wash out the water bowl and relocate it while the raid dries and dissipates into the pets food mat. Meanwhile wash up the kitchen counter and cupboard doors from the raid. I leave the dead thing on the pets mat for Paul to deal with in the morning. Time for my tea and back to bed.

To add to the bugs on board saga, I had to throw out a bag of seeds meant for sprouting. Luckily it was only one bag, but some sort of little black flying bug had hatched inside the bag. There were probably around 30-50 of these things inside the bag. The good news was they were contained. I emptied the bugs and seeds overboard. I figure the fish would get a nice little treat of protein in those bugs. The seeds sunk so may be a nibble for a crab or shrimp.

Yes, it’s not all fun and games at sea. Sometimes you have to deal with creepy things. But good heavens I think I’ve had enough for awhile. I’ll keep you posted should there be any more bug stories to share.

Great Bird Island

Great Bird Island is located 3 kilometers off the north eastern shores of Antigua. Two years ago we almost made it to this island with our friends Laurie and Joe. Back then we were still so new to sailing in these waters and the guidebook talked so much about watching for coral heads that we changed our minds at the last minute and put it out of our minds.

This year we had some beautiful clear skies and much more confidence in our ability to read the water and we decided to go check it out.

There are about 5 mooring balls near the island as you approach. They are marked NEEMA. We didn’t know what NEEMA (North East Marine Management Area)was at the time and all the other boats were anchored so we figured they were private moorings and found a patch of sand to anchor in. You need good light to see the sand as there are reefs and coral heads to watch out for. We later found out the moorings are there for cruisers to visit the island and to protect the bottom. I believe they are free as we did not see anyone coming around to collect fees for them.

Getting ashore can be a bit of a challenge as you have to navigate around the reefs and the water shallows quite a distance from shore. Once we landed the dinghy we discovered nice short walking paths and signs asking us to stay on the paths to protect the wildlife (birds, rare lizards and snakes). We spotted the birds and lizards, but thankfully no snakes.

Rare Lizard
Rare Lizard

Apparently a few years back there was an infestation of rats on the island so there are signs asking that you leave no garbage behind and take only memories. The rats have since died off and the birds are nesting on the island once again. One path takes you up a bit of a hill where there is a one hundred foot drop through a huge blow hole to the water. I kept a good hold of Charlie on his leash and stayed well away from the edge. The views from here are worth the short uphill hike.

Great Bird Island palm tree
Great Bird Island palm tree

There are several other small islands around Great Bird Island which Paul explored via water on his kayak.

Let's explore Charlie
Let’s explore Charlie

We also took the time to snorkel on the west side of the island. The coral is some of the healthiest we’ve seen and the fish are abundant.

What I liked most about this island was the peacefulness of it. It’s far enough from the airport and the main island of Antigua that you feel you have entered another world. The only noise you hear are the various birds calling out to each other. There are small tour boats that visit during the day, but the evenings are just you and a handful of other cruisers enjoying the sights and the sounds.

Fun with Salty Dawgs in Antigua

On Feb 25th we sailed from Green Island to Falmouth Harbour. Here we helped Rum Runner get their dinghy from their boat after they returned from brief trip back home to the US. That evening we got together for some Farkel with Judie and Phil and their good friend Annabelle from New Zealand (currently travelling as crew on Cracker Jack).

While in Falmouth, we walked over to English Harbour to extend our cruising permit (only valid for 30 days). We then followed Rum Runner around to Carlisle Bay. Here there is a nice beach with a very chic resort (imagine a menu where salad costs $38 US as the least expensive item on their menu). Needless to say we didn’t spend any time on shore except to walk the dog.

From there we headed back to Jolly Harbour and then on to Deep Bay. Each night we hung out with Rum Runner and their guests, and were eventually joined by Kalunamoo and Destiny to our near nightly games of Farkel. Paul, Bill (Kalunamoo) and Phil (Rum Runner) also had a jam session on Blue Sky one afternoon in Deep Bay. I can’t believe I didn’t snap a few pics. All in all it was a busy time. By the 2nd of March we all went our separate ways.

We originally had a third guest planning to visit us in early March, but a business trip to Paris cut into those plans. As a fashion designer, when Paris calls, you go. We hope you get to rebook that ticket soon CH.

The only picture I took during all the fun was of Jolly Harbour in the rain.

Rain in Jolly Harbour
Rain in Jolly Harbour