Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Here's a blog for classic boat lovers - shots of the parade of sail after the last race in Classics Week - with commentary by Capt. Sherman. Above is Ticonderoga. Built in 1936, she's considered L. Francis Herreshoff's masterpiece. She won 1st in class, best overall corrected time, and a couple of other trophies as well. (Click on photos to see a larger version.)

Aschanti - 105', very beautiful Gruber staysail schooner, built 1954.

Juno - 65' Gannon and Benjamin, built in Martha's Vineyard 2003.

Whitehawk - Bruce King 103' ketch, modelled after Ticonderoga. Built in Maine, owned by Peter de Savary.

One of the Carriacou Sloops, and Galatea, built in Sweden in 1899, 72', she's based in Antigua and is being carefully restored and maintained by Judd and Pete, our neighbours in the anchorage in Falmouth Harbour. Galatea had best overall corrected time in 2007.

Ele0nora- 120', built in 2000, a replica of a Nat Herreshoff schooner.

Altair, another old one with good bones. A 1931 Fife, 108' schooner .

Whitehawk on the right, Eleonora on the left.

Carriacou schooner Jambalaya, and a Carriacou sloop.

Raindancer, built in 1979 by Murray Stevens, 2nd Peninsula, Nova Scotia, 67 ' staysail schooner.

Meggie! Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30, 1964. Formerly owned by our pals Kim and David on Amanzi.

Thalia on the left - built in 1889, and the oldest in the fleet - cutter rig, 45'. On the right, Jaldevi, an Alden schooner, 47'.

Maggie B - another Nova Scotian-built boat - Covey Island Boatworks. Built in 2006, they just completed a 2 year circumnavigation, finishing in Antigua. We ran into John Steele who was visiting for Classics Week.

And this shot of just one of the dinghy docks will give you an idea of the traffic jams on the water during Classics Week. Great fun.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday morning, Race 3 of the Antigua Classics. We ate our breakfast watching the boats leave the harbour heading for the start line. Exciting way to start the day.

We've had a grand couple of weeks, very busy (for us) entertaining and being entertained by company from our old hood. They arrived, after a long and gross Halifax winter, completely prepared to relax and warm up and explore Antigua. Mostly the beach. After two rounds of golf on rock-hard dry courses, Michael decided the beach was a better use of his time. Their villa was a bit of a posh break for us in the bargain - nothing like a few afternoons by the pool, several long showers and a rattle round a normal kitchen to provide a break from onboard claustrophobia. Not that I've got it, but it's nice to make a meal in a place where you could swing a cat if you were so inclined.

They were game to hike and get a good look around the terrain, so we started with the hike from the Dockyard over to Pidgeon Beach. They were totally amenable to our usual routine of hike/swim/rum punch at the beach bar. How many people would be this easy to get along with? They also did well on a sail up to Jolly Harbour - lunch onboard, followed by shelling on the beach. The sail home was beautiful, but the last hour getting into the harbour was rolly and swelly and I know I was queasy, so they were very good sports about it. No whining at all. They did have me make a pot of tea, which was at the very edge of my galley abilities in a swell, but it seemed to keep them happy.

Shirley Heights is an obligatory trip, so last Sunday, we took the water taxi over, dodging showers, and hiked up the short trail up to the top for a couple of beers. Soon after we arrived, the masses did too, long lines of taxis and buses disgorging pink and noisy British and American tourists, and before we got squashed in the crowds, we headed off in the rain to find the trailhead for the Jones Valley Trail. I asked a taxi driver if he knew where it started, and he had no clue: "We don't deal with dat stuff. Jus taxis." A quarter mile down the road that he travels how many times a year? is a sign saying "Jones Valley Trail, this way." It was a great trail, even in the light rain, through an ancient graveyard, over an old dam and down a dry creekbed. We got to the main road just at dusk, and headed over to "Life" for a proper roast dinner, cooked up by Wendy, who became Gail's NBF (new best friend.) Wendy said "Remember, we not strangers now girl!" We also had a good laugh over the sign in the ladies bathroom (see below), which Gail couldn't find, because, it turned out, she'd gone into the men's.

As well as having a great view of Monserrat and Redonda (renamed "Rotunda" by Gail - see below for a photo of the King of Redonda's car, spotted in English Harbour) their villa overlooked Rendezvous Bay, so we thought we'd have a hike over thataway. Several wrong turns later, we found ourselves dodging giant boulders thumping down a hill, dislodged by construction at the top. Very exciting. We retired to Pidgeon Beach for a restorative swim, picnic lunch and rum punches. During their visit, our other favourite spot was sitting in the outdoor dining room at the villa watching the boats go by and the bananaquits and hummingbirds empty the many feeders. And stuffing Honda, the delightful Caribbean dog, with bisquits. He'll miss those Canadian women.

We had great meals out - Trappas and Abracadabra were both stellar - and great meals at the villa and onboard and now we're back to normal life, staring at each other over our steamed hot dogs and chips.
Just kidding. Out of chips.

Classics week is in full swing, so there's lots going on ashore, and we've been catching either the start or the finish of the races. We're headed off to Fort Berkeley this afternoon to watch the finish of Race 3, and the Parade of Classics in English Harbour. Maybe we can crash the champagne party after. We haul in six weeks. Time flies.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I was trying to come up with an April Fool's story about selling the boat and going skiing, but nobody would believe it for a minute. We reminisced for a bit about the time many years ago that Ian and Tom got up early and attached the end of the toilet paper roll to the bathroom doorknob, and then waited, wildly snickering, for Randy to open the door and the paper to unroll all over the floor. They hadn't noted that the door opened in, and the effect was rather spoiled. There was also a sprinkling of salt in the sugar bowl that had them vibrating with glee as we sipped our coffee. Unfortunately, we didn't notice. Sorry about that lads.

Bit like a rainy weekend at the cottage just now. Lots of squalls coming through, lots of wind, but we're snug in Falmouth Harbour, enjoying the sound of water trickling from our rain catcher into our water tanks.
For the first time last week, we actually ran out of water. The pump just kept pumping and nothing was happening, so we cut short our trip to the north end of Antigua and headed back to Jolly Harbour to fill up. Too many shampoos apparently. Too much dishwashing, more like it.

In an effort to move the boat and see someplace new, we decided that we really did need to explore the northern end of the island for a bit. The sail up the coast was lovely, but as we rounded the corner and headed more easterly, we were, as usual, dead to windward. Randy noted that it would be a sleighride coming back, and that was true. Fast trip back under the jenny with 25 knots of wind.

The anchorage off the Jumby Bay resort (Long Island) was gorgeous, as promised. Turquoise water that reminded us of the banks off the Turks and Caicos. The water wasn't clear, but it glowed. Great swims.
We'd hoped to stop at Maiden Island, which the guidebook said was a shell-collector's dream, but as we made our way into the anchorage, we could see that there was construction going on ashore, and a sign on the beach that said Private Property, No Tresspassing. And I'd been so SET for beach walking... So we continued on to Bird Island and had a great walk through the jungley interior and a stroll across the cliffs at the top, then we bought a beer on the beach from a lady from Seatons. Her husband brings her and her stock of drinks and tshirts over by boat every morning and fetches her back the three miles every night. During the day, there are tour boats full of tourists who come to snorkel and strew the place with garbage, but there's local fellas who come and clean up. She says "it's a great place to work."

We spent a couple of days back in Jolly Harbour out in the outer anchorage and dinghied over to the little beaches and wandered around picking up shells for a few hours. That's got to be one of my all-time favourite pastimes (shopping at Frenchy's is right up there too). See photo of our day's haul. I found a beautiful helmet shell as big as a small fist tossed up at the back of the windward beach near English Harbour. A victim of the big swells we saw a couple of weeks ago.

Looking forward with great excitement to the arrival of guests at the end of the week. Our neighbours and great friends from Halifax, Gail and Charlie and Alice and Michael, are arriving for two weeks. No, they're not staying aboard. But we're cleaning and tidying and stocking up so that they don't go home and tell people that we're deteriorating into grotty tropical flotsam.

See below for recent photos. Janet, fortify yourself before viewing.

A crazy caterpillar we saw on a hike - a tetrio sphinx

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