So what happens on those days where something “writable” isn’t happening. Well, let’s see. Yesterday we traveled from Barbuda to Deep Bay, Antigua. 15 knot winds close hauled sending us to Nevis (west of where we wanted to be) but with patience and a small prayer, the winds veered to the east then even northeast as we approached Antigua and we were able to spin back to south then southeast and sailed into Deep Bay, close reach all the way averaging 6.5 knots. A beautiful 4.5 hour sail soaking up some sun and some z’s (for part of the crew). Of course the weather turned overcast on arrival with rain (not forecast) at night and more rain today – a lot more. Actually we were happy about that since we have had little rain in the last 2 months and it gave the boat a good wash down (desalting). So ordinary life kicked in with a scrub of the boat (topsides and snorkel/diving the bottom – not minor, a couple hours here by G & P encouraging the bad guys to detach from the boat), two trips ashore with Charlie, bread making (refining the art of baking bread in a pressure cooker – much lower energy consumption – is excellent bread), yogurt making (didya know it is easy with powdered milk and a thermos?), a little work on taxes (ugh) and the web site (still learning) – you know, the routine stuff, just on a boat. Ending the day with G’s fabulous curried cauliflower and chick peas. Yum! For a change, a lousy sunset scrubbed out by the clouds. And the generator which has been on its best behavior now refuses to run for more than 25 minutes making water making difficult. So now we will have to finally sort out what the intermittent, now seemingly not so intermittent problem is. Boat = Sherlock challenge. Never ending. But loving it. Oh, and spotted a turtle a couple times – and I have a mascot here, twin to the one in Barbuda – a little fish, maybe 3 inches long that has attached itself to me when snorkeling. Freaks you out a little bit because he loves to nibble at your ear then swim around to have a look at you straight in the eye about 6 inches in front of your face then back to your vision’s periphery. Just hangs there. I have gotten used to him and him to me, I am sure. Kinda feels like a buddy. Swirls around my toes when I get out of the water – like he is saying “where are you going? Can I come too?”. Or maybe I have had too much sun now that the fish are clearly communicating?
So now, time to sleep, perchance to dream. Okay, too dramatic. But it is somewhat soothing to get ready for bed with the showers sprinkling by outside, highly reminiscent of our beloved Vancouver, with a small difference – a temp of 26 (79F) inviting us to a peaceful slumber. We shall see what the dawn brings.
A few days back the winch that we use to bring up the dinghy gave up the ghost, in other words, it would not turn. With today being very calm day on the water we decided it was the perfect day to take care of this task. So Paul researched online, we both watched a video and proceeded to take apart the winch. Not an easy task as everything on it seemed to be frozen into place unlike the video where everything came apart so nicely (wonder when it was maintained last, if ever). With combined efforts we managed to take it all apart using the standard cruising tools of cussing, hammering, abusing screwdrivers, wd40, and shear force of will with the occasional coaxing. Cleaning the individual parts was my job and Paul cleaned the gears that remained attached to the boat. Following that Paul oiled the parts that required oil, and I did the greasing of the gears. It was actually fun to help and I learned a thing or two. Mostly we discovered the task was much less daunting when done as a team. We now have a nice working winch. Next we tackle the anchor windlass.
March 22nd we sailed over to Barbuda from Antigua (3 hours and 45 minutes) on a nice beam reach. We arrived near noon to an expansive landscape of 11 miles of beach. The sand appears pink in certain locations due to broken down pink shells.
There is quite the large surge here so landing the SUP on the beach is a bit of a challenge. Charlie nearly got run over by it on our first landing. We’ve improved since by learning to ride the wave in and then quickly hopping off and grabbing the SUP out of the water before the wave takes it back out.
Charlie loves this beach, but it’s got too much of a surge for him to swim. The undertow would sweep him in to deep water, so he settles for running along the sand. Yesterday he decided to wander into some bushes. This followed with a squeal and he couldn’t move. Paul discovered he’d found a patch of what the locals call ‘prickles’. His fur is like Velcro for these things. Paul couldn’t even pick him up as his belly and legs were completely covered. He sat down on the spot and began to pick them out of Charlie’s fur. I noticed this from shore and opted to swim in to help out. It took both of us about 45 minutes to get the prickles out. Believe me, it’s not fun as you get pricked by every one. Now when we go ashore, we yell ‘prickles’ to Charlie and he happily stays on the sand. No exploring the bushes of Barbuda.
Yesterday, we met a couple from the boat ‘Over Budget’. They sailed in the Salty Dawg Rally with us in November. It was decided that we’d have a happy hour on board Blue Sky in the early evening. They also invited people they knew from Echo. JW & Jenny (Over Budget) and Mary & Jeff (Echo) along with us all enjoyed a delightful evening of salty tales. We feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of this sailing community.
March 16th I woke with the instinct that I should recheck our documents. We’ve been here nearly a month and I’d looked at our passports which gave us until May in Antigua/Barbuda. Good thing I looked again, as our cruising permit expires on March 17th. So we needed to get to either English Harbor or Jolly Harbor to get the permit extended. We opted to go around to Jolly Harbor where there is a large Emporium grocery store to get some of the staples we’re running low on. The extension was simple at a cost of $25EC. We also arranged to have our propane tank refilled (you need to drop it off and pick it up the next day). So we spent a few days in Jolly Harbor enjoying the luxury of being able to get groceries with a dinghy ride and walk.
Once we retrieved our propane tank we took a short 1 hour sail around the island to Deep Bay. We’d visited this bay with Laurie and Joe and enjoyed the place. Great beach, nice hike to Fort Barrington, calm enough water for paddle boarding, and snorkeling the sunken ship the Andes if we so desired. Charlie was especially happy to swim, as this beach does not have large surf.
After our friends left, we re-situated ourselves near Green Island in Nonesuch Bay, Antigua. Watching the Kite-surfers, Paul had this wanton look on his face. Aha, a birthday gift idea. So I encouraged him to sign up for lessons as a gift from me for his upcoming birthday. He started with two lessons on March 5th in the hopes that he would be able to ride by his day on the 9th. On March 6th he was successful in riding in one direction. So additional lessons would be arranged, but not before provisioning.
Back to Falmouth for provisions, we settled again near Pigeon Beach. Charlie was happy to return to this beach with all the people to watch. Our return sail to Falmouth Harbour was fast with huge swells. Enjoyable as always. The next day we headed back to Bailey’s for fresh produce (best place to find local produce on Antigua). With fresh basil in hand, I made Laurie’s spaghetti sauce (yummy). Email me if you want the super simple recipe.
We decided to stay in Falmouth on March 9th so we could eat at a restaurant for P’s birthday. Along with the kite surfing lessons, there were a few small gifts (a dolphin opener from Cane Garden Bay, a new sun hat, and 3 seasons of Fringe for entertainment). We went to Life on the Corner restaurant for dinner. The vegetarian spring rolls are a must have. P ordered a classic pot pie and mash potatoes. I went with the Caesar salad (not recommended). Drinks were extremely reasonable during happy hour at $2 each. We enjoyed watching a political party parade with a lot of hoopla and hurrah. Very fun.
After presents and before dinner we managed to spot dolphins in the harbor (no pics – too slow) and then on a long snorkel over to the reef we found another ray, and this time I had camera in hand. (P).
All in all a super birthday!!! Thanks,Gwyn (P)
We returned to Nonesuch Bay/Green Island on the 10th. Another pleasant sailing day. Winds were low so kite surfing lessons would restart on March 13th. Meanwhile we swam, SUP’d, kayaked, snorkeled and trimmed Charlie.
March 15th P got up going both ways kite-surfing. I couldn’t get new pics as he was too far away from the boat. I was so excited for him, but realized when he returned that this would be the end of kite-surfing for a while. He managed to pull a muscle or tendon under his rib. One of the risks you take. I’ll let him elaborate, but suffice it to say, he’ll be waiting until he heals good and proper before he gets up again. (Drat! – P)