The Antigua Social Scene

We had a good sail up from Trinidad to Antigua although we did take our time – 2 weeks! The cruisers we were meeting in Antigua, the Salty Dawg Rally boats, were delayed for two weeks due to the adverse weather conditions they faced on the sail down from the U.S. East Coast. By November 1, when many cruisers start heading to the Caribbean from up north, the weather systems become more active. Everyone knows about the summer – hurricanes – but the fall and early winter storms by far have delayed sailing and sailing plans by far. Think of the Perfect Storm! This year’s rally was the largest ever and so many plans had to change including who would sail to Antigua, or the Bahamas or even Bermuda. In addition, two weeks of social events scheduled for the rally’s arrival all had to be rescheduled. As of today, at the end of November, there are still a few boats yet to arrive.

Our friend Bob on PANDORA, who is the president of the Salty Dawgs, and along with other organizing members (Lynn on ROXY!) did a good job and managed to salvage most of the activities which we are now partaking in. It is now an active social scene here in Antigua as the “season” started by the mid November.

We have not been with our family for the last number of Thanksgivings but of course video calling does keep us advised as to how their “turkey” day is progressing. As always, we will fly back for the Christmas Holidays as we always try to be there at that time. In the meantime, we did have a great Thanksgiving dinner with cruiser friends at the Antigua Yacht Club. We have been “socializing” with dozens of cruisers, both those we have known and “newbies” since we all arrived here and expect this will continue until we fly to New York in mid-December.

Of course, it is never all social as the boat, despite all the work done in Trinidad, still manages to give us things to do. We had to stop in St Lucia on the way up as our generator decided to give us 150 volts in lieu of our requested 120. This was not appreciated by the battery charger, the refrigeration nor any electronics on board. Fortunately, Egbert at Marintek in St Lucia was able to replace the voltage regulator over the weekend so that worked out fine. It was an unexpected expense, but unexpected repairs are always expected. Stopping here also gave us a chance to catch up with some friends in St. Lucia and even had a visit from our NY friend Elaine who happened to be on a cruise ship docked in Castries. Our daughter and family were also in St. Lucia at the same time but they were all the way on the other end of the island and it was impractical to meet up at that time.

We then sailed to Martinique to deliver some teak wood to our friends who have been in Martinique for quite some time (health issues). The teak wood was much cheaper in Trinidad. That also gave us an opportunity to stock up on some French wines for our wine cellar. Upon leaving Martinique we had an issue with a faulty circuit breaker for our auto pilot.

The auto pilot is our unpaid third crew member who never sleeps and guides us about 99% of the time when we are sailing. Some call this third crew member Otto, the Dark Lord of Direction, the Guiding Hand of the Helm, the Lady of Perpetual Steering, or whatever. We just pray he/she/it works 100% of the time. On the way to Diamond Rock from St. Anne the pilot went blank and Kalunamoo steered a course of its own. In this instance it was not Otto’s fault but a simple faulty circuit breaker. A simple fix – just switch out to another circuit breaker. Of course, the breaker was on a small auxiliary panel with limited access, and when other things removed to get to it, the tiny little screws drove Maureen and I  crazy trying to swap out the breaker. And yes, they dropped out and were easily lost. Then besides losing one screw the other refused to seat. A jury rig wire tie sufficed until we arrive in Antigua and Otto performed professionally. In Antigua I found that same size circuit breakers have different size screw connections. Amazing how ingeniously diabolical some engineers are.

We anchored in English Harbor, for a few days until the Salty Dawgs and others arrived. English Harbor is a beautiful, cute anchorage but notoriously swirly. Nestled close to the high hills, the currents swirl the anchored boats hither and there when the wind dies. Last year we found ourselves butt to butt at 2AM with our friend’s boat, Roxy. In other words, when it gets crowded, we move over to Falmouth.

In Falmouth, the scene of last year’s lost anchor adventure, we felt secure. That is until we were ashore enjoying an evening “happy Hour” during a strong squall. We dinghy back to and noticed it slipped back about 5 boat lengths and was close to another boat. Sure enough, we dragged but seemed we hooked up as backing the engine didn’t move the boat. No use resetting the anchor at night unless we need to (did that, done that). The next morning, I raised the anchor and saw a chunk of the coral bottom of Falmouth Harbor a whale could have chocked on. After some time it was finally dislodged and we were able to reset our anchored position.

The work continues as I repair a one-foot square of cockpit enclosure overhead. It is being re-cored and glassed over (think a leaky roof) as the plywood core was rotting. The Furuno navigation station chart plotter is being pulled and FedEx’d to Virginia for a new screen. We will bring it back when we fly back to the boat after Christmas. During this time we will be without a chart plotter or depth indicator. We only need to sail to Jolly Harbor, which we have dome many times, and is not a critical navigation problem.

But we are enjoying the social scene here. Dinner with the Minister of Tourism at the World Heritage Sight of English Harbor, Thanksgiving with all the trimmings at the Yacht Club, Happy Hour and Open House gatherings at the sail loft with a live Jazz Band, and the Big Arrival Dinner at the Admirals Inn.

Boat repairs in Exotic Places never displaces The Social Season.

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