Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Some photos from Anguilla to St. Kitt's.

And I've just heard from some faithful readers that the weather is so bad in Nova Scotia that they can't read the blog anymore. Too depressing. Sorry. Your storm yesterday and today is translating into one of the biggest swells in years in our neighbourhood - expecting 12-15 or more. Does that help? No, thought not.

And no cracks about the size of the fish!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We've been travelling: from Anguilla back to St. Martin, then to St. Barth's, St. Kitts, and back to Antigua.

With all that hopping about, we've hit Customs and Immigration and Port Authorities eight times. Randy is about worn out from filling out forms. The French are great. One form, merci. Five Euros, merci. How long can we stay? Until you die. St. Kitts, not too bad, but you have to visit three different people, but they're all nice and glad to see you. Not too expensive.

Antigua? My dear, wear comfy shoes, bring a new pen (black or blue only) and don't forget your wallet. Take an Ativan. We checked in at Jolly Harbour (NEVER DO THIS, NEVER. BLOODY MINDED OFFICIALS ARE ALL POSTED TO JOLLY HARBOUR!). See past blogs for long tirades about forms and costs and details, but this time around, we had to up anchor and bring the boat alongside the Customs office, but they didn't actually want to see the boat or come aboard, they just wanted the boat to be there. And they're all eating, all the time they're processing you. Randy asked for more than 60 days, since we'll be hauling in Jolly Harbour in May, but that was against the rules.

He very pleasantly told the lady that we wouldn't be going through the process of visiting the main Customs and Immigration office to go through the expensive and time-consuming ordeal of getting an extension, but would be leaving the country briefly to visit Guadeloupe or Monserrat for a day or two. She said that wasn't allowed if you were just trying to avoid paying fees! Ho! Yo ho!

Now for all the fun stuff that's happened.

You know the old joke about how to get a bunch of Canadians out of the pool? (Please get out of the pool.) We found out how to get semi-naked Frenchmen out of their bunks at 5 am. You lean over and shout into their cockpit, "Sunsail boat! You're dragging!" Then the fun begins. Nice underpants fellas.

Dragging seemed to be the theme for a few days. An overnight stop in Grand Case in St. Martin went much the same way. A tour boat (Randy figures it was a PEI lobster boat design) arrived late in the afternoon under tow with a mess of drunken tourists on board. Boat towing them was a sports fishing boat with a mess of drunk fishermen on board. High jinxs, I tell you. The tour boat owner dropped the hook (plop) and he and all his customers jumped on the fishing boat and went ashore.

Four am, and there's major squalls going through, gusting 30-40 knots, and Our Captain is up and down like a whore's drawers checking the situation. About 4 am, I hear, "Oh, Sue! Sorry, but I need you up here." The tour boat is a couple of boat lengths off our port side, it's just starting to pelt with rain and blow hard again, and I need to pee. He does a quick calculation, and yes, I have time to pee and get the foulies. Just. The tour boat was about five feet away by the time we got the anchor up. We reanchor in the dark, twice, just for good measure, and go back to bed.

We stocked up in St. Martin (again!). At the grocery store we ran into Eric and Evelyn from Aloha Malolo. They were stocking up for a charter and had rented a car and offered us a ride back to the dinghy dock. We went nuts. I can't remember how much we spent, but we got six bottles of rum for 21 Can dollars. Six bottles of a lovely Californian Pinot Grigiot for $20, soft drinks @ 50 cents a can, pork tenderloin for about two bucks each. A beautiful big papaya for a couple of bucks. And you have to eat and drink all this junk in the sunshine! Torture, man, torture! Nuts are sort of expensive. I've had to cut back on the cashews. Very binding anyway.

Great, great sail from St. Barth's to St. Kitt's - 43 miles in 6 hours, seven knots most of the way - and a nice stop in St. Kitt's. Charlie Brown at the marina was there to greet us again, and as I'm trying to lasso the piling, he hollered, "come on cowgirl, you can do it." Gotta love the guy. He reminded us that this was our third visit. Showers were great, three shampoos in three days, and even though the water is now metered, I did all the laundry on deck in the bucket. Still way cheaper than getting someone else to do it, though it makes the boat look sort of pathetic while it's festooned with sheets and underpants (boomerang karma for the Frenchman underpants comment).

We checked out of St. Kitt's and after hauling anchor at about 7 am, the captain notes that we're coming up to the major drop-off, and suggests that I move my butt and get the fishing lines out. We had the rod and a handline rigged, one with the tuna-tuna-tuna lure and the other with the mahi lure, and about five minutes later, both lines get hit. Randy jumps for the rod and the fish is already gone, I grab the handline and start hauling and we get a very nice blackfin tuna, about 3 or 4 pounds. My grandmother would be proud - having dinner all sorted out just after breakfast. It was really, really tasty. Dinner and lunch the next day.
Later, I caught a 3 foot barracuda, which was less terrific. Ugly buggers. Current policy dictates no fishing under 100 ft depth. That's when we seem to collect barracuda. Lots of great turtle and dolphin sightings though.

All forecasts are calling for a record-high swell coming from the north by Wednesday - 15-18 feet - so we're tucked into Falmouth Harbour (deep, on the south side), having ti punch and doing a critique of the megayachts. Couldn't get any better if you screamed at it.

Photos to follow soon.

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