Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stunning sunset after a steaming day

Lunch with Tony

Town trip with the girls

Birthday cake

Birthday champagne with most excellent company

See below for blog update!
I received an email last week soliciting my help to move a few million dollars out of an African country, and the salutation was "Hello Dear Fried."

How did they know?

We are no longer frying on the mooring, happily, though we did spend many longs days there. There are so many hours in the heat of the afternoon on a black boat with no sun shade that are good for nothing except guzzling cold ting and napping.

We discovered that we'd picked up a small gecko during the few hours we were at the dock at the villa. About two or three inches long, he was pretty entertaining, leaping about the cockpit, although he had trouble with some of the shinier surfaces. One morning, as I was wiping the dew off the filthy rails, he stayed one stanchion ahead of me, until he decided to leap for the side of the barbeque, and didn't stick. He hit the water flailing, and before I could even think of rescue, half a dozen fish zipped in and he disappeared. I felt bad.

But now we're back in sailboat mode. Masts are varnished and installed, rig is sorted and the sails are on and the awning is up. Nancy D looks like a sailboat again. Not that we've actually gone anywhere yet.

Celebrated my birthday yesterday with champagne and a potluck lunch with friends from Druiket Croney (I've spelled that wrong, but it's Welsh for "wet friend" I think), Mi Amante, Keewaydin, Belladona, and Peregrine. Excellent party, very full boat. No dancing, hopeful next time.

It's been blowing hard, 25-35 knots here in the anchorage in Jolly Harbour, and the other day we watched a charter boat anchor in ten feet of water with about 20-30 feet of chain. They dragged and moved several times, and it was entertaining until they dropped the hook a couple of boatlengths directly ahead of us. Crap. After a few hours of passive-agressive watching on our part, Michelle came by and I decided to go with her to the grocery store. Now that I'm mature, I asked her to stop by the boat, and I explained our concerns. Not sure the couple understood a word of English (there'd been yelling in German earlier), but they nodded and smiled, and when we got back from the store, they were spotted trying to pick up a giant stern mooring ball at the superyacht dock, having just motored by all the proper mooring balls. I'm not sure they were having a great holiday.

Still lots of work to do - the back-up bilge pump has disintegrated over the summer and went in the dumpster. New one is ready to be installed. Randy is ashore trying to find someone to look at the outboard, which is insisting on its annual check-up. The water pump has just been replaced with a new one, the fan in the forward cabin, ditto, and the brass and stainless is calling me. We had a monster grocery shop on Friday with a friend who has a car (thanks Marie!) and spent hours at the new Epicurian in St. John. As big as a Superstore, with booze. Smalls scrubbed in the bucket - that's it for laundry news until the hamper starts to talk back.

The Epicurean grocery store here in Jolly Harbour has set out stacks of customer comment cards, and there's one burning a hole in my purse. I'm trying to figure out a polite way to ask why 99 percent of the staff can't make eye contact, smile, or say hello. Do I smell that bad all the time? And they have a problem with theft? Okay, but if I have to leave my knapsack, why must I leave it where someone can just walk off with it? Sheesh! All the cruisers are mulling over their comment cards, and wondering if they fill them in, will they ever get served again?

And then there's the Customs and Immigration. I have it from an eye-witness that if you high-five the cop on duty downtown and pass off a folded bill in the process, you get really good service. If you don't know the drill, you don't even get inside to speak to an official. Bad way to attract and retain visitors.

I saw a guy here wearing a tshirt that said "Lock it, and they will come."

Time to leave Antigua! We're pretty ready for a change of scene, but there's a big north swell promised for the end of the week, and it's blowing hard now, so I'm not sure when or where we'll go. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 05, 2010

November 3, 2010 Welcome to Antigua, again.

I'm sitting here in a villa in Jolly Harbour, waves of ac puffing over me, and we're waiting to go to the boatyard. Can't quite leave the villa yet because there's a fella upstairs fixing the ac in the bedroom. Michelle and Charlie have been here for three days, and have been quickly compiling a list of what doesn't work in the villa. Fridge, water heater, ac.... So it's situation normal on all fronts. Lovely day though, some heavy rain in squalls zooming through, but the sun is out again, and we're anxious to go have a look at the boat.

Trip down was uneventful. Luggage arrived with us, yay, and we had the unusual treat of being the only passengers on the hop from Nevis to Antigua at dusk last night on a twin engine Otter. We sat just behind the pilots, two Dutch fellas, and Randy was reminded that this was a Canadian-built plane when he noted a warning on the control panel about ice formation.

We were the only people checking in in Antigua, and the immigration lady gave us 60 days, no problem, and then the Customs man recognized us from Jolly Harbour and gave us a very warm welcome, shook our hands and waved us through. That's a first.

When Michelle and Charlie arrived, they were told they could only stay one month, that two months could not be arranged. Oh, no, Can NEVER Be Done when you came in through the airport. Go figure. Cruisers always compare notes on these things and laugh. Some people are charged for bringing boat parts, others, no. Is it bureaucratic confusion? Constantly changing rules? Changing mood of the official? It's a mystery, always.

And then there's the taxi driver who has "no change," meaning he'd like us to give him two US 20 dollar bills for a $25 fare. We made him wait while I dug in the nether parts of my wallet for the small bills I'd squirrelled away from last year. Blah.

Now I'm back from the boatyard, and we had a lovely welcome from Steven, Ray, Mario, Danny and Lindsay. They take such good care of us. The painters and varnishers in the yard all welcomed us, and they laugh when they ask if Randy is doing his own work again this year.

Nancy Dawson is fine - dirty and lonely looking, and some very obvious varnish and paint jobs have lined themselves up in our absence. There was one bad leak in the hatch over the engine which delaminated the bulkhead, so that will have to be removed and replaced.

Off to work - It's now Friday, which has been designated sand-the-hull, flush-the-water-tanks, paint-all-the-detachable-bits, and paint Marjorie. She's looking very much in need of sprucing up! More news to follow. With photos I hope. Wifi access is worse than ever here - the coffee shop has closed, and a bank with unsecured wifi seems to have changed hands over the summer....

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