April 1995 - Nevis to Antigua

1 April 1995 Pinneys Beach to Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Up early and motored through the Narrows. We ended up bucking a strong current so it took us 2 hours to travel 8 miles to clear the channel. We found that the wind was east instead of ENE which we had yesterday. We would have ended up in Montserrat if we had sailed so we motor-sailed all the way to Antigua!

It was extremely unpleasant bashing to windward for 10 hours with 20 knot winds on the nose. The motion and spray was so bad that it was very hard to find a place to read, so I just sat around, watching the horizon and wishing we were there. The boys are great; they just get on with it.

We were on port tack all the way and found that we’ve got a leak or leaks in the deck/deck fittings. The front cabin cushions were wet through. We had about 4” of water in the starboard locker behind the saloon seat – fortunately we only keep tins or drink in there. We also had a number of drips coming from the head linings. I suspect the stanchions are loose and need resealing but I’ll have to take the head linings down to find out – sometimes I hate boats!

We arrived in Antigua, tired, salt encrusted and sunburnt with a damp boat and no fresh water. We had a quick rub with a damp flannel and went out to see if “Dabulamanzi” was around – they’re not! We only had $100 EC so we had a few beers and bought some rotis to take back to the boat. It’s hell not having any fresh water. I would have paid $10 US for a nice hot shower before I collapsed, exhausted, into bed. Sometimes I hate living on a boat!

2 April 1995 Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
We put out the cushions to dry in the sun and tidied up after the mayhem of yesterday! We motored around to the Catamaran Club for fuel and water. We went to clear customs and bought some food. After lunch we relaxed and lounged about.

“Dabulamanzi” arrived in the evening and we had Gareth, Fiona and Jill (Fiona’s mum) over for a beer or two. Fiona is going back to the UK in a couple of weeks, so that she can have her baby , which is due on 5 June (coincidently my birthday.) Gareth is staying on “Dabulamanzi” to complete charters which are booked in June and July. He’ll then fly to the UK to see Fiona and the baby – it’s a shame that he’ll miss the birth but “C’est la Vie”.

They’ve put “Dabulamanzi” up for sale and hope to sell it as a charter business for about $200K US. Then, who knows? Gareth is looking for something to do – ideas range from catering for yachts using a freeze dry method, to buying a small ship and doing luxury charters! Whatever they do I think it will involve boats and the Caribbean.

Antigua is in a bit of political turmoil – they have just slapped a 25% tax on all imported goods – this has had the effect of increasing the cost of at least 75% of the goods in the shops. The whole of Antigua went on strike for 2 days a week ago. Gareth is talking about taking “Dabulamanzi” over to St Martin to buy provisions for 3 weeks chartering. Since Fiona is indisposed at the moment, Glenys or I may go with him back to St Martin!

3 April 1995 Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Glenys did school work in the morning while I ran around getting cash and checking out a few things locally. We lounged about in the afternoon and had a quiet night by ourselves. I chatted to Peter and Karen from “Tanee” who we first met in Trinidad.

4 April 1995 Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
I went into St John’s with Craig to see the dentist. Dr Raj remembered us and thanked me for the nice letter I sent him. He put another temporary filling in Craig’s top back molar. We will go back in a couple of weeks and maybe have a permanent one put in. He wouldn’t take any money off me which was very, very nice - imagine a dentist doing that in England!

Glenys did school work with Brett. When we got back to the boat, I put a new connector on my printer power supply and printed some stuff off. I’ve been sorting out an outline for a kind of autobiography – it’s interesting how much time it takes to write and structure my thoughts. I’m looking for a humorous style (like James Herriot) but it’s not easy!

Glenys did a few jobs in the afternoon and then we went to “Dabulamanzi” for a TV dinner and watched The Lion King - luxury!

5 April 1995 Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Feeling a bit dull today. I helped Glenys with the school work in the morning. In the afternoon, I wandered about buying a few bits and then had a tootle on the clarinet. Gareth, Fi and Jill came for dinner on “Glencora”.

6 April 1995 Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Glenys did school work. I started to do a job needing a drill. My rechargeable drill was flat so I decided to get the 240V generator going. I started to pull it to bits and decided that it was in an awful state. I ended up dismantling the case, wire brushing it and getting it ready to paint.

Gareth came over and invited me to go for a race on an Oyster 55 called “Flying Scotsman” which was fun - I never cease to be amazed how these crews can throw a big yacht around the buoys. The start line was mayhem with lots of huge yachts milling about, mostly just missing each other by a couple of feet as they fought for position before the gun.

I met Peter and Shirley from “Flying Scotsman” and Darah and Brian from “Blue Monsoon”. Darah is a dentist and has set up a floating dental practice on their catamaran – she seems to be doing very well. It’s the start of a new UK tax year – we’ve been out for two full tax years now.

7 April 1995 Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Glenys went to “Blue Monsoon” to get a filling done which had chipped. She said it was very good if somewhat surreal sitting in a dentist’s chair in the cockpit of a boat - only cost £5 as well! She then went into town with Jill.

I stayed on the boat and painted the generator. We went snorkelling in the afternoon and teased a small lobster. Glenys brought back some Grade 1 piano music for me and a children’s beginner book for the boys. That should keep us occupied for a while.

8 April 1995 Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Glenys did school work in the morning. I looked at the outboard which seems to be overheating. The “telltail” stream of water is intermittent so I suspect we have a faulty impellor. Unfortunately, it’s Saturday so I’ve got no chance of getting it done until Monday. I reassembled the generator, but will have to wait until tomorrow to try it.

I walked around to English Harbour and talked to Peter, Katie, Emma and James on “Bullwinkle” who want to do an Open Water Course. I agreed to do it for $320 each, so they start on Wednesday. I went over to “Blue Monsoon” and Brian agreed to lend me two sets of gear for $50 US for 5 days, so I’m all set!

9 April 1995 Falmouth Harbour to English Harbour
We motored around to English Harbour and anchored in the outer part called Freeman Bay. We were escorted into the anchorage by 3 dolphins! I had a chat to Mal and Meryl from “Dolly Madison” who we met in Grenada when we first arrived in the Caribbean.

Peter from “Bullwinkle” told me that yesterday he had 70% agreed to do an Open Water Course with the local “Dockland Divers” but has now cancelled it. I’m a bit worried about “Dockland Divers” attitude when they find out that I’ve taken their business. I might go and see the boss about a job and mention that I’m doing a course for some friends. I’ll also mention that I’ll be leaving Antigua at the end of the month. Hopefully, I can pre-empt any trouble.

We walked up to Shirley Heights along a path that runs on the ridge from English Harbour. It was quite an interesting walk but very hot even at half past four. We had a few beers and listened to the steel band. There is a spectacular view from up there and we were lucky enough to see the plumes from a pod of whales (probably humpback whales). We took a taxi back down to the boat.

10 April 1995 English Harbour
I got up early and organised myself for the Open Water Course.

I went into see Tony Wickham of “Dockland Divers”. I started off by asking him for a job and then mentioned that I’d be busy for the next week because I’ve been roped into doing a course. His instant reaction was I can’t do that because it’s illegal. I said I was doing it as a favour for some friends, he said that the authorities took a dim view of people working without a permit. I said I wasn’t being paid. He said that they had spent thousands of dollars setting up a business and didn’t like people coming here and stealing business. I said that they were friends that we’d met in St Lucia and I was doing it as a favour and after all it was only a one-off event. He eventually, begrudgingly accepted it and still seemed fairly keen to give me some work! Time will tell!

I ran around doing a few chores and then went into town to get a new impellor for the outboard. We then went to “Moby Dick” for a beer with Jimmy, Marion, Stuart and Alison (their Daughter). Stuart and Allison were living in Belize for a couple of years, so we had an interesting chat about diving and tourist sights.