I’m writing one communal update letter. I’m in quarantine in Antigua in my little shabby shack with lots of time on my hands!. Its not unlike my home in Utah, in a few ways, its a proper little “BWI” shack. British West Indies. So it is a wee shack propped on some bricks. The wooden floor is all warped and wonky despite the fact that its only 3 years old. But the people here are poor and I’ve rented this shack for the season at $300/month. Its feels like a great deal and so nice to have a place to leave the food I’ve bought and the bulk of my stuff here when I leave on these freelance jobs. Its my base.
The govt provided water, from the desal plant, flows through the taps about 30 minutes per day, split up into 10 minute intervals! I just try the taps periodically and when it flows I fill up some containers for dishes later. There is also a 200 gallon rain water catchment barrel but its mostly for the plants my landlady has growing here, which I am now tending most of the time. There is electricity. I bought a data bundle on my phone in order to have a bit of internet connectivity. I don’t have a tv or a view but I am on a dead end lane; very quiet at night but lit up with streetlights. The tree frogs croak after dusk and I LOVE that! So yeah, its bright at night which is a bit offensive after my life at my house in Utah but still less offensive than many aspects of living on a boat with 4 crew!
I planted 3 cannabis plants that a friend gave me and one died but the other two are going strong. I helped this friend to trm one day and we made cannabutter with all the leaves and stalks and some of the crumbly buds. I had some today on a spoon, having no possible idea of the potency…I’ve been pretty high all afternoon! I’m glad this captain who I was supposed to interview with didn’t turn up!
On December 10 I took off on a 72 ft catamaran to St Maarten to chef for 2 charters, back to back. The first family of 6 were the Goldsteins and included one celiac and one nut allergy….it was rather challenging and one night, serviing dessert, I had to quickly wisk away the plate I’d set in front of nut guy and run into the galley and whip something up for him, can’t remember what. I was on my feet from 6 a.m. to 10 pm every day but pretty happy!
My favorite time of day was early morning before anyone else was up and I’d drink my coffee and make a mandala fruit platter. It was the closest I could get to yoga!
The galley was awesome and after a while I got to really enjoy the crew; they’re new friends now. I made bank guys! Tips for both those charters! I immediately wrote to Casey Cox about the dirt work on Sunnybrook but I still don’t want to get started with permit until I’m at least nearly there…
Anyway back to the boat; sleeping quarters were a dismal and the A/C kept the interior temps around 65 degrees and I froze my ass off the entire time. In the Caribbean I wore fuzzy slippers and a fleece all day!
A young South African fellow, the mate, bunked above me and I couldn’t have managed to insert myself into my sleeping space if I didn’t do yoga. There the A/C would blast me, my head wrapped in a fleece until I hung a towel from the top bunk to try to accumulate some body heat in my cubby space.
The boat didn’t really sail for shit and it felt totally like a power boat. I’m just not a fan of multihulls anyway.
One month. It was fun and boosted my cheffing confidence and gave me a fresh rush of enthusiasm.
I’ve had 4 rona tests in the last 4 weeks.
I still got slapped with quarantine though, when I flew back from St Maarten. Its just because the dragon lady at the airport decided straight away that she was ordering me quarantine and sent me to the back of the line 3 times!
Now I have to call Nurse Williams at 8 am and 8 pm for 14 days and report my temperature. Eyes rolling.
I’ve been very well behaved so far. I’ve had lots of visitors but I’ve only left the premises two discreet times. I planned to make a big escape today and go snorkelling which I am dying to do, but it turned out to be cold, rainy day so i just lounged and read. For the first few days I didn’t even have a thermometer! I called in invented numbers…but I was trying to get a thermometer; I haven’t heard of anyone being actually checked up on but you never know, I should at least have one available for show anyway, just in case, no?
I have two now, one works.
An absolutely crazy thing happened to me on the night before the charters. We were having dinner at a restaurant in St Maarten, the crew, that is, when I got hiccups. Capn Rick piped up he knew a sure fire way to cure them instantly. I got up and stood against a wall as he instructed and he had me breath in and exhale fully nd pushed my chest in. Well my chest popped and caved and I got all dizzy and knocked the ice bucket with the wine over but managed to get to my seat where I proceeded to pass out cold. They were calling an ambulance when I came to. It was weird waking up from a dream and being sat at a table with a bunch of people…
I don’t know what happened to me exactly but I’m finally pretty much recovered by now but the pain for the last few weeks has been rather intense! I was a bit worried until it started showing some signs of improvement which took about 10 days.
I have a much safer technique for stopping hiccups and we tried that first but the girl who was holding my ears closed didn’t have them closed enough, I reckon.
The job I’m interviewing (eventually) for is on another catamaran but its catering for 45 people…for the series “Below Decks”. No one sleeping on board. Its a 6 week charter. So far thats all I know.
So, I hope you enjoy the little narrative that goes along with the pictures which here is the link to:
With Captain Richard Archer & Carol Archer
Delivery crew: Charlie, Forrest, Heather, Rick
T’was a clear, chilly morning on which I parked Bonanza Chili Bean at Sunnybrook Brewery (!) for an indefinite spell and hopped in Gracie’s car with my suitcase, guitar and day pack. I learned, some time ago, that travelling with a guitar in a gig bag affords one considerably more sympathy than travelling with a hard case…it stows easily in the overhead compartments on airplanes and snugly in a sailboat locker. I prefer not to be separated from my beloved guitar be it into the airplane hold or the lazarette! With my small daypack and my guitar I board planes and sailboats without a second glance.
I am now sitting on my friend Emer’s deck from which I can gaze at the sunset over Falmouth Harbour while being consumed by mosquitos and sweating profusely. A green gecko cocks his head in my direction and I encourage him telepathically to come near and do his best hunting of the malicious mozzies. The tree frogs and crickets have already begun their chanting which will continue through the night. This enchants me thoroughly.
Empty but still aromatic beer bottles make the best cockroach traps; one will find a dead cockroach in the morning without fail in those dead soldiers of the night before.
I moved here from my friend Julie’s house yesterday. We spent two fun filled weeks together there after I disembarked from the fine sailing vessel Virago. I’m getting ahead of mysef, pardon me…that’s for the next post.
Anyway, Gracie dropped me off in St George at the airport after a good bye brunch of mediocre mexican fare, as our first and second choices of brunch spots were too crowded and we couldn’t afford the wait. Ironically, I ended up, instead, waiting at the airport for a delayed flight…if only we had known!
I finally landed in Providence RI at 2 a.m. where Richard was waiting to drive me back to Newport Shipyard.
Newport was cold and rainy but not freezing as it had been the year before. I spent a week of shopping and cooking prepared meals to freeze and pull out underway in case of rough weather. Though the conditions were never tremendous they were far from calm and I was extremely glad to have minimized the time spent in the galley while adapting my sea legs again. The watch schedule was created so that the Captain and I shared a watch slot with a third person (normally 2 people on watch) so we could split it and each get a little more sleep depending on the circumstances.
A system was forecast to catch up to us within a few days so we made for Bermuda where we waited it out for 48 hours. Timezero, the most brilliant weather software for navigation, was used for the passage planning. This software is able to display surface temperature imaging of the ocean generated from a satellite, as well as the usual wind direction and strength and superimposes it on your gps chart plotter. This way we were able to find the Gulf Stream crossing which would least impede our progress with adverse currents. Ah! Technology! We didn’t even have gps for my first few ocean crossings! I’m glad I learned to plot on a paper chart, though; it may come in handy if/when technology fails us…
The yacht is a beautiful machine (Swan 100) outfitted for racing/cruising. Richard and Carol are extremely competent sailors who have run her since her inception 12 years ago in Finland and also sailed her throughout the Pacific. I am a very lucky girl to have sailed aboard Virago with her fine crew! Speaking of crew, we totaled 7 for this voyage. Everyone competent, well humoured and amiable, made this delivery a real pleasure! Often, it has been my experience that being at sea for days creates tension in people and causes discomfort and conflict.
It wasn’t completely smooth sailing, though. A hydraulic seal did blow and we had to shut down all the halyard winches, shop vac up gallons of walnut oil (which is the eco-friendly hydraulic fluid on board!!!) and top up the system with petroleum based fluid in Bermuda, walnut oil being unavailable there. The only other event was a freezer break down but fortunately there was enough space in the floor freezer so we didn’t have any waste. I did have to cook a few meat and fish items on the spot to salvage them but simply worked them into the meal plan. Minor mishaps in the big scheme of things.
Now I’m sitting at Skullduggery (I’ll take a picture) because afternoons are way too hot in the cottage I’m staying in. This place has beer, wifi and always a good breeze so its a good location. The only hindrance is running into so many people I know and interrupting for a chat! But this is part of my next post so stay tuned!
More photos link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/W8HWPt9nsaR6pHTY7
Freshening trade winds are blowing off blustery Willoughby Bay on the South Eastern corner of Antigua, into my little house this afternoon and keeping me nice and cool. This lovely, airy house is way up on the hillside so I’m not getting salted. Just pickled! But that’s another story.
Antigua is green and lush at the moment; despite this time of year being known as the “dry season”, it has rained daily since my arrival a week ago. It seems to do this annually just for the boat show…! This morning a gang of us (a symphony of us?), including young pup Tequila, were dropped off by Mondo at Rendez-Vous Beach (which is still my favorite beach in the whole world) and ambled along the rugged, bushy and thorny coast to Carlisle Bay. At the posh beach there I pulled 8 beers from my pack. Beer, snacks and a dip in the clear, cool sea brought the hike to a sweet end and we jumped in the back of a pickup truck for the ride through the rainforest and back to English Harbour.
Rendez-Vous Beach is completely unspoiled and usually you and whoever you happen to be in company of, will find yourselves to be the only humans there. A few years ago new roads were cut in here and there and the access road was improved. Now, however, that access road resembles a steep drainage and the other bits of roads are largely overgrown again. That work had been done when a zealous member of the prolific family who own the area decided to build a boutique resort. Several years ago I can recall seeing the advert for it on a video screen showing Antiguan attractions while moving at a snails pace in the queue towards the immigration booth at the airport. Family members could not agree and the plan fell through, thankfully!
This time I sailed here. From Newport, Rhode Island.
The sailboat I joined is a marvel to me! Its a Swan 90. The hull and rigging are carbon fiber but not only that, the standing rigging and sails are carbon fiber too! Much like Clevelander, the Swan 82 I spent a couple of seasons on, a full main is a rare sight. From Newport to Bermuda we used the motor for less than a handful of hours at the departure and the arrival. With big following seas and 25-30 knots from aft of the beam we screamed along under full or reefed jib. I scored 14.7 while at the helm and the auto pilot scored 17 at one point, surfing a wave. We hand steered most of the way, for comfort, as the auto pilot can hold a good course but isn’t able to anticipate waves and keep the boat from rolling more than necessary.
We took 4 freezing days to Bermuda and 5 cold to warm days to Antigua. An arctic front was making its way South behind us and that is what made our weather considerably cooler than I had expected or ever experienced before. Our Bermuda pause allowed it to pass. We carried a reefed main and jib for a few days but the wind petered out and our last few days were motoring daze. We caught a mahi mahi just the right size to feed the 6 of us a delectable dinner. Moritz seems to attract dolphins and sharing half of his watch I had the pleasure of much delightful dolphin company.
Moritz and Caryn, a lovely and highly competent couple, are the permanent crew on board. Delivery crew were myself, Courtney, Chris and Rob. In Newport no dock hands came down to cast off our lines so Rob ended up last man on the dock. It was freezing and in a dash to get on board, all lines off and bow now well clear of the dock, he leapt onto the electrical cable holder to grab the life lines and hoist himself up but AH! the flimsy holder broke off and SPLASH! he’s in the drink by the stern of the boat! Kudos to Moritz who had to think on his feet to avoid smooshing Rob between the aft end of the boat and the dock while avoiding collision with other hard bits and boats…In a flash Chris swooped down, scooped sopping Rob up and they were safely on board as we cruised away from the dock. Hypothermia was avoided, Rob was given a cup of steaming Irish tea to soothe a wounded ego, foulies were in the washer/dryer and we were on our way.
I’ve had a wonderful week of holiday in Antigua and Monday its back to work preparing for a Christmas and New Years cruise with guests in and around Grenada. We’ll be setting off on December 14th for Grenada.
More pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/H4qjavBVm78CnRRC8