Winds of Change

The winds of change have arrived! Or have they? The Christmas Winds here came on strong for about a week, just after Christmas. The strong trade winds blow above 25 knots, with rain squalls in the 30’s. That limits sailing around. They generate 10+ foot seas and swells that can penetrate otherwise calm anchorages. Combined with swells from  typical winter North Atlantic storms, it can make inter-island sailing “sporty”.

But this year they died down and haven’t peaked again. That’s good for now, but the winter is as young as the year. The pandemic is still raging but hope, in the form of vaccines, is also in the air. There’s not much talk about the vaccines coming soon to the islands except the U.S. Virgins which have begun to distribute it in phases. Our best hope to get the shots is to get back to U.S. territory but we also want to get back to New York for my dad’s 100 birthday. We are also running out of time on our Antigua visa that allows us to stay here. Air flights are limited, travel bureaucracy is endemic, and testing fees begin to add up.

This is all to say that living on a boat is not as “care-free” as one might suppose. Not that I am complaining. The pandemic has spared no one, at best, inconvenience and at worse, death. But it is the hope that in the new year, we would head toward a new “normal”. News from the States is shocking as reality seems to be rooted in the quick sands of personal myopia.

Life aboard in Antigua goes on. Definitely more “live-aboard” than “cruising”. Our neighbors are only a dinghy ride away. Here in Falmouth Harbor, we have get-togethers with other cruisers, swim, repair our boats and watch boats come and go.

The sailboat boat “La Vagabonde” came in the other day. This is the popular video blogging catamaran with the Australian’s Riley, Elena and their young son Lenny aboard. We met them here a few years ago when Elena was pregnant with Lenny. Well, they are here again (after sailing the Bahamas, and Europe), and they are now expecting their second child. We wish them luck as they are planning for a new electric boat. Winds of change indeed!

Jim, Chuck and Jeff on Kalunamoo

Meryl and Jim on the trawler Kokomo (we met them is St. Lucia) are anchored next to us. Jim played profession jazz piano for many years and when we had a  jam session aboard Kalunamoo a few weeks ago, gave a great performance. Yes, I’m jealous!

Lee at the Helm
The Crew on Allegro (I took the picture!)

Lee on his 52’ sailboat, Allegro, invited some cruisers, myself included, on the Nelson’s Pursuit race. We have known Lee and Sharon for years here in the islands. They are long time cruisers but raced extensively when they were in the states. It was great afternoon race with winds in the 16-20 knot range and typical ocean seas. Lee definitely knows how to race and to drive his “crew”. Us cruisers, not accustomed to being “driven” may have had thoughts of mutiny but we came in first place! Yes, again I’m jealous!

Row 4 Cancer two days from Antigua

The first boat to finish the Talisker Whiskey Ocean Challenge, Row for Cancer, came into English Harbor around 4:30 AM today (Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021). Mark and Kai, from the Netherlands, rowed 3000 miles from the Canaries in 32 days, 18 hours, a new world record, non-stop. Two hours on, two hours off 24/7! I didn’t see any fishing poles so I don’t think they did any trolling on their way across. The second boat, On the Shoulders of Giants, from the UK is a 4 man boat and is about 2 days back. The remaining 19 row boats behind them will arrive over the next weeks. Single handed, pairs, three and four men and women rowers comprise the fleet. No, I’m not jealous!

Arrival this morning

I had to install a new water heater just after the New Year as M&R in exotic places never changes. We rented a car one day to do some serious provisioning in the very large Epicurian supermarket in St. John. Jim and Meryl from Kokomo came along and we filled the trunk to capacity. Upon backing up to unload the trunk at the dinghy dock I came too close to a post and broke the tail-light. Why cars don’t have big fenders like boats I’ll never know. The car rental agency looked and found a replacement from a junk auto yard so the repair only cost $200, half of what the water heater cost. M&R ashore in exotic places!

We will fly to NYC in February for a couple of weeks and will put Kalunamoo in Jolly Harbor Marina when we do. The pandemic makes flying a concern but we all must adjust our sails to the conditions that we face. Hopefully the winds of change will land us all in a more “normal” place. We’ll just have to wait and see.          

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