Thursday, February 28, 2013

Single Handing

OK - not really single handing 'cause I'm not going anywhere.  I'm anchored just outside Jolly Harbour trying to refinish the teak on the caprails.  There is a Budget Marine handy so I can replace stuff as I break it.

I've been listening to my new playlist…

Lonesome Me - Neil Young
I've Got Tears in My Ears From Lying on My Back, Crying Over You - Homer and Jethro
Down to Seeds and Stems Blues - Commander Cody
Four Strong Winds - Neil Young
It's Crying Time Again - Ray Charles
Counting Flowers on the Wall - Statler Brothers
My Girl (Gone Gone Gone) - Chilliwack
My Baby Left Me - Elvis Presly
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams
She Left Me for Jesus - Hayes Carll
Bad Liver and a Broken Heart - Hayes Carll
Are You Lonesome Tonight - Elvis Presley
Yesterday - John Lennon, Paul McCartney
The Way We Were - Barbra Streisand


Good way to sell a used fridge

Guy rowed across the Atlantic in this. 

Saw this in the Post Office.  Hmmmmm?
Pam's back late Tuesday and then we start looking for weather to head down to Guadaloupe.  Look at the forcast for next Thursday... winds directly on the nose from Guadaloupe.  Grrrrr.  

Maybe we're going to Montserrat?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Nelson's Dockyard

We've been back here a week, enjoying Jolly Harbour and doing lots of boat chores.  We hope to get the teak refinished before we head home from Grenada in the spring so that is the focus of our days.  Pam scrapes and sands while Glen does crosswords and fetches drinks when they are needed.

We decided to rent a car so we could drive Pam out to the airport in the morning.  She is heading home for 10 days of "Gran-time," with Jackson, Lucy and Chevy.  We got the car the day before and set out to explore with Richard and Jan from Morpheus of London, an IP 370 we've bumped into in various places.

We took a test run to the airport to make sure we could find the way.  Turns out we couldn't and got lost.  So after a big DUH! moment we found the airport, put that behind us and headed out to Falmouth Harbour, home of some magnificent yachts.  We thought we would be restricted onto the dock but we must look yachty enough as we were able to walk alongside some of these behemoth yachts.  Unbelievable.
Slightly bigger than Blue Pearl
Sailing Yacht Nahlin
A small day sailer
Pam thinks she could sew the cover for the helicopter
Blue Pearl needs a gangway like this one
Falmouth Harbour Lunch
After lunch we carried on to English Harbour, home of Nelson's Dockyard.  In the late 1700s Nelson was responsible for enforcing the "Navigation Act" which put him in charge of the surrounding area and the harbour.  The dockyard was kept busy refitting English ships sailing and trading in the Caribbean.  He was under the command of Sir Richard Hughes - who had just blinded himself in one eye chasing a cockroach with a fork.  Hate it when that happens!!!

Admiral Horatio Nelson
Amazing look-alike
Nelson went on to distinguish himself (and die) at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The dockyard is amazing.  Many of the old buildings have been restored and gentrified.  The old Admiral's mansion is now a beautiful boutique hotel.

Nelson's Mansion
Another behemoth
Ye Olde Powder Stores - or something
Just needs a new stand, some powder and a fuse and it's as good as new
Not a fertility site - but the columns to hold up an enormous sail loft
View from Shirley Heights to English Harbour and Falmouth beyond
Rest stop
So Pam has gone home... Glen is in Antigua working hard... sanding, painting, cleaning, scrubbing.  BTW, no new photos for the next 10 days.  Pam took the camera.  We'll have to use file footage.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chainplates in Antigua

We enjoyed our trip up in the north of Antigua and over cocktails we talked to Bobby Ward about some maintenance issues.

Vista at Rabbit Island, on the north coast of Antigua
Captain Courageous looking into a blow-hole that is over 100 feet deep
Crap - that is a long way down!
Our mast is held up by 9 wire cables (shrouds and stays) that attach to the boat at the chainplates.  Chainplates are big stainless steel bars that are bedded to the fiberglass of the boat as it is being build.  There have been some catastrophic failures of chainplates on sailboats due to corrosion and metal fatigue.  A good way to avoid catastrophy - something we try to avoid - is to make sure all the parts are properly maintained.
Tensioning the Rig 101
Adding more tension to the rig

Rig tension is important - a loose rig will allow too much movement and a too tight rig can cause things to snap.  Also, when water gets into the spaces between the fiberglass and wood, and seeps down into the chainplates, corrosion can occur so it is important to make sure there is a good bond to keep water from getting in.

So... knowing all that... and buddy-boating for a few days with IP wizard Bobby Ward, Glen shamefully exploited the Wards' friendship and dove into the maintenance tasks.

One at a time (Bobby says you can do several at once and the mast won't fall but Glen is a skeptic) we took off each of the cables and opened up the space around the chainplates.  You need a variety of tools - we thought our dentist at home, Aldo, would have been extremely helpful because he has done various root canals and chainplate maintenance is much like a root canal.
Patient teacher

Yes, grasshopper - but you don't need a hammer

A finished chainplate - we will be the pride of the fleet
You could use Novocaine, but Glen used beer.  Then you remove all of the old bedding material - which requires exacto-knifes, dental picks, hemostats, pliers, a dremel tool and a paring knife.  When all the old material has been removed and the chainplate is exposed and open, you clean it all up with sandpaper (don't think Aldo used sandpaper,) wash it out with acetone and then inject a miraculous, space-age material that will bond to wood AND to stainless steel.

And Bingo... you're done.  Except every hour or so Glen, on his solos, would run into a problem and have to radio the Wizard for his help.

But we are done just in time because Gra'inne is going to be sailing off into the sunset in a couple of days.  Probably getting tired of doing chainplates.  We hope will run into them again down the islands because we will likely have something else to fix... and because we have really enjoyed their company!
Two-for-one pizza night at Al Porto.  Yumm!

Wadadli Beer - good

A haul-out in your own back yard.  This boat is registered in Toronto.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Exploring Antigua

Jolly Harbour is an interesting place.  There is a marina if you are so inclined.  There are mooring buoys inside the harbour for $20 US.  Or, you can anchor just outside the harbour in a well-protected bay.  The marina is well equipped although we didn't find the staff overly friendly.  Maybe they were having a bad day?  We enjoyed the showers, and there is an extremely well stocked grocery store with prices much like at home… except the wine.  Our Tuesday night plonck that we pay about $10 for at home is $4.  So our wine stores are suddenly in good shape.  There is also a Budget Marine, which Glen is dying to visit.  He can make that part of his daily routine during the time Pam is at home getting a "Gran-fix."
Very smug about the $4 Chilean wine
We went to an Italian restaurant which has a Tuesday night 2-for-1 pizza night.  We had heard from several folks that it is a can't miss kind of place and Bobby, from IP350 Gra'inne, had made reservations.  The pizza is to-die-for… thin crust, baked in a big oven… alas not wood-fired… and they have about 20 choices, all of them fantastic.  Pizza was $40 EC so about $16 US each but with 2-for-1 it is a real bargain.  The place was PACKED!  They have two sittings; 6:30 and 8:30 and there is not a spare seat in the house.
Brilliant pizza
Back out to anchor in the harbour mouth and a nice night's sleep.  

Bobby and Leslie are going to give us a tour of their favourite spots around the island so next day we followed them, motoring to Deep Bay.  It is a protected bay with a spectacular, long beach.  Ashore on a high bluff there are the remains of Fort Barrington to explore and you can snorkel on the wreck of the Andes, a 3-master carrying pitch from Trinidad which caught fire and sunk in 1904.  One of the masts still sticks out of the water, marking the location of the wreck.
Murphy on the beach
Blue Pearl... along with Gra'inne
Looking out from Fort Barrington
Down into the fort

On Thursday we moved to a luxury development off Long Island called Jumby Bay, in Davis Bay.  We don't think riff-raff like us are welcome ashore but the swimming is great and so is the internet.  Lots of time to keep up on our boat chores and relax in the Caribbean sun!  Had a wonderful steak dinner on Gra'inne on Friday night.  First steak since Puerto Rico so it was especially good!
Shabby beach huts on Davis Bay

Keeping up with friends and family
Our route from Deep Bay to Davis Bay

We will spend some time at Great Bird (Big Bird?) Island on a mooring and perhaps Rabbit Island before thinking about heading back over the top towards Jolly Harbour on the west... and more adventures!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hello Antigua!

We've enjoyed our time in St. Kitts.  But it is time to move on.
Quiet day at the Ballahoo Restaurant
Enjoying the view from the Ballahoo balcony over looking the circus
We left the comfort of the marina at Port Zante in St. Kitts for the south of the island at Cockleshell Bay so we could jump off in the morning to Antigua.  We expected to spend a quiet night in the harbour and head out early in the morning for favourable winds and seas.
Yet another tall-ship cruise ship
There is a great beach-bar at Cockleshell Bay called Reggae Bar.
Reggae Bar
So sad...  Mmmmmm, bbq pork!
We set anchor, had lunch and took a rest.  We thought we would go in a check out the bar in the late afternoon.  BUT!!!  What did we see??? Someone was trying the fly boarding we had seen only on YouTube.  So we watched for hours as newbys tried it out and veterans shot up to the sky and then dove in for dolphin jumps.  VERY COOL.  It seems that they hook a hose to the back of a sea-doo to provide high-pressure water to the platform.  Here is a video of folks fly-boarding.
And here is a Flyboarder at Reggae Beach, St. Kitts
When the bar closed at 10, they shut off their internet so there was nothing for us to do but go to bed to get ready for our 06:30 start to Antigua.  We were expecting (1) low winds; (2) swell from the north; and (3) some north in the wind, allowing us to motor-sail.

So we got up to a great start… low winds.  We headed out and as (1) the winds increased we noticed with displeasure that (2) the waves were on the nose and (3) the wind direction was due east or south of east.  Great forecast!

But, we dug in and spent 9 hours bouncing around and… arrived in Antigua!!! YAY!!!  Had two strikes on the Christmas present lure but no fish.
Arriving at Jolly Harbour, Antigua
Got in, cleared C&I.  A breeze here in Antigua.  Very courteous and professional staff.  It helped that we had pre-cleared electronically with eSeaClear - the web based clearance system.  Very slick.
Pam's courtesy flags - down with St. Kitts, up with Antigua
We were met on our arrival by a longtime e-friend whom we had never met… Bobby Ward.  Bobby is the Island Packet Wizard.  There is nothing IP that Bobby doesn't know and Glen has been exploiting that e-friendship for 4 years… so it was rewarding to finally meet him.  We enjoyed beverages on Blue Pearl - cooled by the refrigeration system that he helped Glen install.

We are going to follow them around Antigua for the next few days so they can show us their favourite anchorages.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saint Kitts

We have become permanent residents at a dock in Basseterre, St. Kitts.

We left St. Barts with the intention of sailing the 40 miles down to Basseterre to spend a couple of days.  Then 10 miles to Nevis for a couple of days and then to Montserrat (where you gonna go when the volcano blow?) for another 2 days.  According to the plan - that would leave us 25 miles to head up to Antigua - which we could no doubt do on a calm day with some south in the easterlies.  That was the plan!!!
Leaving St. Barts
We had a terrific sail down to the tip of St. Kitts - averaged almost 7 knots.  It was a little bumpier than we would have liked and so when we rounded the northwest point and had to head up into the wind, we decided that motorsailing was a better option than hard-on-the-wind.  It took the better part of 2 hours to cover the 10 miles to the harbour at Basseterre.  Now, we had heard that the harbour was great, easy to anchor, protected, and all kinds of other good things.  So it was disconcerting to get there and find it deserted, with the exception of one lonely boat.  We carried on to the Port Zante Marina to have a look.  It is not a world class marina but there were a number of boats tied up so we decided to join them.  
Sailing past Statia (Saint Eustatius)
Approaching St. Kitts
Sailing past Brimstone Hill with the fortress perched on top
The marina staff, once they finally responded on the radio, helped us tie up and we headed over to the cruise ship dock at Port Zante to clear in - a short walk.  We gave our cruising plans to the very friendly Customs and Immigration people and soon we were back on the boat.

The marina is great!  It's a little run down but so are we.  It is close to town and the cruise ship dock so we can join all the cruisers in their flower shirts and drink cheap beer.  Best of all, the daily cost to dock here is less than a mooring ball in the Virgin Islands AND it is rolly and uncomfortable looking out in the anchorage.  Not many boats stay out there very long.

The Circus - modelled after Piccadilly Circus in London
We joined some cruise ship folks for an island tour.  It was a little awkward.  Most of the group struggled with mobility so they didn't want to get out of the van.  They missed a walking tour of the spectacular Brimstone Hill - the site of the restored Brimstone Hill Fortress.  It is breathtaking.  And the history is quite compelling.  The British were the first to join the native Indians here back in the 1600s.  Then the French joined the British and although the French and Brits have not cooperated much historically, they did cooperate in massacering over 2000 natives in 1626 at what is now called Bloody Point.
At Brimstone Hill - Statia in the background

Gun battery at Brimstone Hill
Looking up at the gun placements
Infirmary, Bakery, Jail, Dormitory, Powder Magazine and more
The tour included a visit to the rain forest, the plantation homes of the sugar barons, the volcanoes and the popular resorts and beaches.  Very informative and fun.
400 year old Saman tree on the Romney Estate
Batik drying at the Romney Estate
Emily and John - a young, active couple from the cruise ship - enjoying the best bbq chicken ever at Black Rocks!
And our new plan???  Well, as usual, the weather isn't cooperating and if we do go down to Montserrat we will have to head northeast into a northeaster - not good.

South end... Nevis in the background.  We will anchor here on Sunday to stage for Antigua
Local fisherman provided dinner... about $12
So we are staying put… enjoying our company… with plans to go southeast with a mild northeaster on Monday.  We will miss Nevis… that's OK.  We will miss Montserrat but we will sail right by it when we head south so we will get a good look or maybe even stop in.  Who knows?
Going from A to B