Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Antigua Sailing Week Pictures

Antigua Sailing Week 2012

All aboard for a week of fun including 7 races, fine dining, reggae concerts and comradarie all in a Caribbean setting. The team consist of Serge, Cynthia, Daniel, Marty, Ray, Abby, Ben and Terry.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

And Then There Was Four... Destination Antigua!

In the sweltering heat of Saint Martin Cynthia and Serge are joined by Daniel and revisited by Terry. They plan to join up with four others for the annual Antigua Sailing week. However, the matter at hand is making the 110 nautical mile crossing from Saint Martin to Antigua. Will the wind be friend or foe? All indicators say foe.

The late night start proves to be a bit rough and a decision was made to take safe harbor in Saint Bartholomey which is approximately 15 nautical miles from Saint Martin. In daylight we would be better able to navigate through the wave action.

We set out and 15 hours later we dropped anchor in Antigua

Monday, March 19, 2012

Haul out in St. Maarten

The bay at Phillisburg is very shallow too.  The depth sounder was going crazy & we touched bottom a couple of times.  It was low tide.  Hmm.  Seem to remember something about that.  Guess we should have checked the tide tables, ya think?  Boats were rafted together double wide at the travel lift, crowding the entrance.  To make it more complicated the cross wind was howling at 20 knots easy.  Serge put her into the slip no problem, but then they told us they'll have to remove the forestay.  There was no way, too much trouble to disconnect the profurl electrical connections, so we opt to go in stern to & remove the backstays.  Easier said than done.  There was no room to maneuver & lots of wind but Serge manages perfectly as usual.  The backstays were tight, & awkward to work on in the burning noonday sun, & we didn't have the optimal tools to do it.  I made lemonade below & put the aloe in the fridge.  As it turned out when she was in the sling, we saw that we didn't need to do any of it.  The usual competent boatyard help.
Boatyards are the most toxic places on the planet.  Between sanding & grinding, bottom paints & glues, it's a nightmare of chemicals, not to mention all the toe stubbing & head hitting hazards.  We're right up against the fence, 14 feet in the air, with boatloads of cruise ship cargo walking by.  I scrubbed cushions by the ditch which doesn't drain properly, which explains the swarms of mosquitoes at night.  We have to listen to locals painting their ferry hull arguing in the local patois of French, English, & Dutch creole.  They are yelling non-stop.  At one point I walk up & tell them they are worse than a henhouse.  And I tell the guy sitting in the shade on 'my dinghy' doing most of the talking that he should be ashamed of himself.  He tells me he's the boss.  Turns out he's not, but anyway, I felt better & made instant friends of the Rasta workers, the oldest of which  wears fluorescent purple Keds high tops.  I'm wondering how he reconciles that with the "natural" lifestyle espoused by Rastafarians.
We become regulars at the "12 Meter Bar" run by a young Frenchman who really wanted to be on the stage, I think.  He's very entertaining & plays old French songs which he & Serge know by heart.  
In the afternoons we go to the beach nearby that is designed for the cruise ships.  You can buy 3 beers for $2.50 & drink on the streets.  We usually shower on the transom in the dark & use the yards 25 cent toilets which close between 10 pm & 7 am so we have a bucket at night, oh joy.  Ask me about the jalepeno burger night.  Man, we are really living the high life, aren't we?  Don't get me started about laundry. 
One day I decide to splurge & wash my hair in the yard's showers which are a dollar to get in & 50 cents for 3 min. That afternoon I roll around in the surf & have a ball & get full of sand while Serge steams on the beach, some kind of argument, I can't remember the details.  I go up to the showers armed with quarters only to find they are out of service.  Serge tried to get all the sand out of my hair but there was still some on the pillow.

Launch day is incredibly windy & the slip is full of pointy parts threatening our new shiny hull.  Some boat is parked right in the slip, obstructing the way out. And he's got 20' of room behind him and he's waiting to get in. But he would not move back to make it easier for us to get out....I guess this guy did not belong on a boat. We've got help on shore but it takes several tries before we can get the bow thruster to come up with the goods & shoot on out of there...into the shallow water at low tide.  Something seems vaguely familiar here. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nevis to St. Bart's

became a clothing optional sail.  Luckily there was a lot of wind & we got there faster than expected or Serge's buns would have been charcoal.  I had to smear on the aloe leaf liberally.  Sometimes the pieces have a little thorn on them, oh well.
The bay in Gustavia is quite shallow & crowded w/mega yachts, it takes your breath away.  The babes at the croissant corner take your breath away too, I had to perform mouth to mouth on Serge a couple of times.  He's gonna need a chiropractor for his neck.  He hasn't seemed to have grasped the meaning of the word "discreet."  I thought it was a French word? 
Future mega yacht owners

Look carefully, this is a trimaran

New construction of classic design

More money than brains

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Monserrat to Nevis

Clearing in & out at customs on the French Islands is a breeze.  You sit at the computer terminal & do their job for them, & then print it out & hand it in.  The British Islands on the other hand are archaic.  They want to know about your ship's stores, how much alcohol, tobacco, firearms, livestock, (LIVESTOCK??) you have.  Monserrat's big draw now is the wreck of the volcano, which we didn't go tour.   We opted to go looking for wifi instead.  We were told it was too far to walk, but we got there in 20 min. There are 5000 people left, & apparently there is no planning.  Wifi didn't work, surprise, surprise.  We left early, at 7 a.m. when they came to ask us to move to make room for a small cargo ship. 
We made Nevis before 2 p.m. thinking we had plenty of time to explore, HA.  After the customs clear in, we had to go to immigration, "2 blocks down the street, above the police station".  Well, 5 blocks later, we finally found it.  The officer could only stamp our passports, as "the computers are down".  From there we had to go to the Port Authority, a 10 square meter shack where we had to pay $60 for our stay on a mooring ball.  Serge needed to find a cash machine for Eastern Caribbean dollars.  The 1st 3 didn't work, so we paid in US dollars & euros.  After we got our receipt, we had to go back to customs to get our clearance.  Can you see how ludicrous this is?  We've already seen half the town by the time we've cleared in.  By then it was well after 4, & we have to move our boat half a mile to their mooring ball.  So much for getting an early start.
We decided to stay an extra day to climb the dormant volcano.  We ask at the dockside bar that we frequented where the trailhead is.  We were told Hermitage.  Tourist info office was closed on Sat. so no map.  A cab driver takes us to Hermitage & the desk clerk there says I could tell you where the trailhead is but you'll never find it.  Do you have a guide?  You need a guide.  Go to Golden Rock.  We yell at the retreating taxi & he stops & tells us it'll cost us a little more.  At Golden Rock the helpful lady in charge of activities at the resort gives us a map & tells us it's off the map, you'll never find it.  Do you have a guide?  She tells the cabbie to take us to Peak Heaven, but not all the way, stop at the little bar on the corner & if there is anyone there who isn't too drunk by now (it's almost 11) get them to show us the trailhead.   By now the cabbie is getting tired of us & just dropped us off at that little local bar & pointed up the road.  We follow the road up, up is good, & walk by Peak Heaven, where Herbert is in the garden & we ask him.  He says, "Do you have a guide?  You need a guide, the last guy who went alone was lost for 8 days in the rainforest, police & volunteers lookin' for him.  Ya, this is the trail"  So we follow the dirt road that turns into a trail in the forest, HOW HARD IS THAT?!  It's full of ropes, which you need, as it's mostly hand over hand vertical climbing.  It's muddy & slippery & there is only one trail but we put some markers down anyway, as going down never looks like going up.  It was a gas, & we got very muddy.
Starting up the trail

Lots of big steps

Real steep & slippery

A little crack

Still relatively clean
  On the way down Herbert told us to visit the canteen, so we did, as it was 2:30 & we were starved.  Serge finally got the burger he's been craving since Gran Canaria.  Later we stopped at the bar at the dinghy dock (why is there always a bar at the dinghy dock?) & went online until well after dark!  It's a long way upwind back to our boat with a 3 hp motor, especially when it craps out after 50 yards, right in front of the ferry leaving.  Did I mention we didn't have a light?  Serge starts paddling real hard & I'm waving at the ferry.  Serge thought we ran out of gas, but he just filled it up, someone must have taken our dinghy for a ride.  Serge keeps paddling real hard for another 5 mins.  It's a long way upwind & we're not making much progress.  Then a dinghy went by & I tried to hitch a ride.  They didn't see us.  Did I mention we didn't have a light?  We didn't expect to come back so late, after so many drinks.  Fortunately some locals must have seen our plight, & gave us a tow back.  Back to...where is our boat?  Did I mention we didn't have a light?  We didn't recognize any of our neighbours.  Is it that one?  No, over there.  Finally we found it, it didn't have a light.  Next day Serge investigates the motor, to discover the shut off valve was closed.  So no gas.  If only we'd had a light, lol