02/22/2009, Still in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
Oh noooooooooooo...my honey couldn't take it anymore. This boat just got too small and he split! He got on an airplane and left me! It's been a year and I'm really loud, really intense and excessively domonstrative (I loved "Patch Adams). He, on the other hand, is wonderfully peaceful and a very quiet spoken angel. He must've cracked and I drove him away! Oh no!
He had to go home to the States for a couple of doctor appointments and I'm proud to say he thought I was the most logial and qualified one to care for our 'floating' home! He REALLY IS Dudley Do Right and spent two weeks before he left making sure I had the most current 'projects' completed, the pantry full, water and fuel topped off, etc. I truly am the luckiest woman in the world! Who do you know that gets to have an open ended honeymoon on an exotic
adventure in the Caribbean?
Well I thought he took all his peacefulness back with him! The first night he was gone the wind came to a screaching halt and woke me right up! It was 4am. I had gotten so used to the winds rushing past our boat, churning the harbor to a froth and boldly pitching us to sleep! The winds have been whistling thru the rigging and something is always ting, ting, tinging somewhere on the boat! I thought we had dragged since Altair wasn't pitching and I was able to feel the swell! I didn't get back to sleep. I managed to be awake early enough to see the bay so tranquil it looked like liquid glass, undulating with the gentle swell. The crimson light from the sunrise about to peak over the hills and burn off the clouds was so serene, equalled only when my captain is by my side. This is worth getting up early, don't ya think? This reminds me of being on watch when the sun comes up. I love night sailing...I love sailing, if I can remember. I am a night person, guess it's my loss.
One of the last things "Dudley Do Right" insisted I do immediately was to attach the kellet to the anchor rode. Well, the opportunity presented itself this calm morning and yours truly got that baby on! I tried by myself, cranked up the engine, inched up, ran up and pulled in some rode, repeating that until I got most of it on deck. Usually Dudley and I work together on this. Well, I thought I was on the verge of tripping the anchor when I was getting too close to the chain. I chickened out and let the scope back out.
Ok, my caretakers, Droukit Cronie, offered to stick around along with the X-mas winds, to keep an eye on me. They call me their 'ward', hehe. They came by to help and pick on me. Lorry is always doing that, and she said "The l20' marker was not where Dudley left it, fix it!" It's her nature, hehe. I'm happy to report that the anchor is dug in well and will stay put with a lot of help from that little kellet. It's a boon having them around, in light of the fact that Lorry and Stephen are fun, entertaining, and experienced cruisers to boot. Not to mention they love food as much as me and have been coming to this island for so long they know every culinary hot spot I'm sure.
Well, the wind stayed away and so did the sun that day, one week ago now! I got into a zone and started getting my ducks in a row, organizing and getting a lot plugged into the laptop. The main reason I was ok staying on the boat by myself was I wanted to get this blog up and loaded with most of last year's adventures to share! I had been writing a journal half of which was in the computer and the other half in two books. When I peaked at the batteries they were low! l2.2 to be exact an it's only 2pm. Yeiks... I'm going to have to crank up the engine.
Damnnnnnnnn, not again! Alternator is not charging! We just had a new bracket made for the alternator and then had it checked out by yet another electrical expert when we first sailed into Antigua at the beginning of December! This problem has been plaguing us for a year, ever since Nassau, in the Bahamas last February. In November, we pulled the darn thing and had it bench tested in St. Martin. It was fine! Doncha just hate those hit or miss problems? What the hell is it?. Wouldn't you rather have something broken l00%? Then you can fix it, right? The good news is that we have only started the engine for power once or twice in this whole year of cruising. The solar panel and wind generator are marvelous additions and we love 'em!!!!
It's amazing how much you depend on power and internet, funny that? All night long I was frugal with lights mostly off, no writing, no inverter, no laptop battery power, no Skype! I did take a chance and tried to call Dudley, but the light was not blinking on the Dell battery
pak! The inverter sucked the boat battery juice down all day until the display on the power pack didn't read. The boat batteries were at an all time low at 12.1....Sheisa! If it 'ain't one thing, it's another'...I now have a great internet connection just NO freakin' power! Doesn't it just figure! Dudley said to get in touch with Signal Locker again! I turned off my flashlight went to bed...it's 8pm.
No, alternator, no power supply for laptop! This is a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown! (I love Pedo Almodovar). I went to bed early which means I was up at 4a, again, worrying! Like that's productive. That's the Captain's job anyway...I quit. Just kidding. I was about to go into panic mode when Stephen offered to come trace this problem himself. Maybe I could avoid calling someone in at $90 an hour, US dollars that is! Lorry and I bailed and jumped in my dink, then we took off on foot for Nelson's Dockyard! I took that dell power pack with me and when we got to the Mad Mongoose, I plugged that little bugger in. The power pack was fine, there just wasn't enough juice to activate it on the boat. That's one piece of good news, what a relief!!!! Next project. The walk with Lorry was a good diversion but I was still in a funk even after we stopped at a gallery of fabulous photography and the mixed media gallery next door. She tried, God love her.
As if Altair's power problems weren't enough, Sir Allen Stanford is allegedly being exposed for fraud of shoking magnitude. (This info, and 'island news" will go in the "history" category of this blog, when I figure that out). Everybody on the island was over-reacting (sound familiar) when we walked past a bank (One of Stanfords?) it was obvious. It sure looked like there was a run for the money anyway. People filled the lobby and overflowed outside. It's always about timing, isn't it. WILL I BE ABLE to get money to pay someone to fix the alternator? Lorry was a trouper and patient with me..."The news is always exaggerated..." she said, and it settled me down for a few minutes anyway! Lorry was trying to be rational and trying to keep me grounded, but I just wanted to get back to the boat and write! I backed out of joining her for lunch growling, "I have all this food onboard"! A little cranky huh?
I so wanted to get caught up while Dudley was away, taking advantage of a neat and orderly boat with no new building or repair projects consuming the writing or painting space. I wanted to dispense with those handwritten journals once and for all. I planned to cull from my journal to get the BLOG UP AND RUNNING at last. Now THIS!
With all this being said, I pulled up the weather on-line that night and as if on cue, the winds picked right back up and then some! We were getting wind tonight and more planned for the rest of the week! YIPPEE!!!! The wind and waves are both going to be from the east, so that means Altair will be pointing into the sun and the solar panel will get all the east/west rays we desire. Excellent news right? If Dudley were here he'd say "calm down, it always works out"....which is right, I just prefer to let it all out instead of holding in, poor Dudley!
YAHOO, YIPPPEE! Love the solar, love the wind generator!!!!
02/21/2009, Still in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
Maltese Falcon, Fundraiser at AYC 2/20/09
We, my friends Lorry and Stephen on S/V Droukit Cronie (Gaelic for soaking wet friend) and me, managed to gather a small group of cruisers to join in on the fundraiser bash last night at the Antigua Yacht Club. "Bring Back the Love" by The Maltese Falcon. The Falcon was the host with the mostest and they organized a thrilling evening full of cruisers, kids, yacht club members and, we heard, some WHO's WHO in the sailing world!
We sure didn't know the movers and shakers or famous sailors that were there, but WE were guests, so there. The evening included a raffle, a band, an auction, a BBQ, a bar, of course, and tons of positive energy as exhibited by the generous turnout. A bit of mystery was added to the evening when we found out the guest list for the Maltese Falcon was closed according to the Falcon's website. Surprised...no? We wouldn't know them anyway! The winds have been howling for days giving us a delightfully cool night, the sunset was gorgeous and we couldn't have asked for anything more unless it was a boatload full of money for the cause.
So what do you think small cruisers like us went for, eh? The Paaarrrrty! (There are so many Canadians in the crusing community that I'm going to have stop with the "eh" thing soon. So far there's French, Spanish and now Canadian to learn... I've got my work cut out for me, I think.) There was good music, food was simple yet plentiful and the vast group of volunteers made the evening spectacular. Who doesn't like to participate in a function like this when the major reward is giving back. I don't know who the auctioneer was but she was really good! She was quick, fun and thoroughly entertaining. With her stage presence and ability to rev up the crowd, the participation and buying power of the guests during the auction, the raffle and the food and drink sales, I'm very optomistic the proceeds were plentiful! We all want to thank The Maltese Falcon for organizing and hosting such a wonderful event. Thanks to the AYC for providing the venue, staff and for their support. We had a blast AND we were able to give back to the wonderful people on this island! Actually, I've been waiting for news of the actual success of the monies raised last night from the yacht club and the names of kids who received these gifts. No word yet. I sure will post it when I find out.
Know about the Maltese Falcon? This blog entry depicts a picture of yet another boat that is not ours! Why you say? It's just mind boggling that there is that much money out there for mega yachts like this. She's a special one though. This sailboat is a clipper sailing luxury yacht owned by an American, Tom Perkins, and is the largest privately-owned sailing yacht in he world at 289 feet. This quote is dated last year, so may not be acurate today. The sailboat
has a permanent crew of 18 to maintain the technical aspects including the rig, and to operate the onboard "hotel" which can accommodate twelve guests plus four guest staff. The boat also
includes an onboard gourmet chef and stewards and stewardesses. Think I'll just reserve a suite for Dudley and I. Ok, probably not that nor even a spot on the sole in the engine room . It's really worth looking her up unless you're already familiar. If you love the lines of a classic yacht of yester year, this will probably not be pleasing to your taste or mine! But you just have to appreciate the technology, not to mention the design achievement. She is enough to make you drop your jaw! I made the mistake the first time I saw her come into the harbor here at Falmouth of calling DC on radio and declaring that it was "ugly"...even though I can appreciate it's magnitude". Oooops, You're never supposed to 'dis' another person's boat on the air, not PROPER, ever?
I'll sign off by sharing that we met another couple during the evening who was also on a boat called the Maltese Falcon, not (THE) mind ya. Well, I had to jump in and declare that our 34' Tartan was the baby Altair, speaking of another mega yacht that stole OUR name too. We got a good laugh at being the 'who's who' in our little group last night.
02/20/2009, Antigua, Caribbean West Indies
FALMOUTH HARBOR, ONE YEAR LATER...
We Altair's like to hobnob...doncha know...hehe
When we tell just about everyone we meet that we've taken a year to get here from Miami, they guffaw at the silly news! When we arrived here at English Harbor, that gorgeous blustery day early in December, 2008, there were boats pulling in Nelson's dockyard after the Nelson Pursuit Race renowned on this island for decades. The yachts were breathtaking! We had just sailed in from St. Barts the day before and were sitting at the dock licking our wounds. A gorgeous 60' Oyster, "Savage", pulled in behind us at the dock and just arrived from from the Canary Islands, all six crew! When they asked us where our trip originated they all but giggled and retored with "It took us 16 days", exclaimed the owner, "with some of them seasick, all exhausted, yet they were all exhilarated still "! Too right then. We were truly, thoroughly impressed. The elegance, beauty and stealth streaming by us that day was absolutely remarkable.
Back in St. Thomas (way back in June, 08) we learned of another Altair, this one a mega yacht and she's a l33' wooden, gaff,
rigged, 1931 William Fife & Sons, schooner. Simply gorgeous. See for yourself. The crews were calling to us reminding us of that mega yacht and they were addressing us as the "teeny Altair, itty bitty, Altair", you get the idea! Boat after boat passing us by, pumped with the excitement of their race, cheering another "Baby (not inflamatory in any way mind ya) Altair". They were describing our sloop as small, which it is! Bloody Well Right . We're in British territory, so I'm getting with program. Of course it was all in good humor and we were quite puffed up being all tied in close to the rich and famous! You can look up events like the Oyster Regatta, Stanford Antigua Sailing Week or the Superyacht Cup, just to name a few. To get a peak at the history and staggering wealth of Antigua Yachting look at the AYC Classic Regatta. Sailing is synonomous with Antigua, and various racing events have been annual traditions for over 40 years. The most recent addition to the racing calendar is the distinguished annual Caribben 600 that takes place in February out of English Harbor. This is a joint venture between the Royal Ocean Racing Club, (ROYC), and the Antigua Yacht Club. It's coming up in a couple of days actually and it would sure be cool to be on one of those boats! Check out the Antigua Yacht Club website to see the entire year of racing and just for the record ladies among you, AYC's commodore is a woman, Hip Hip, Bloody Righto, and all that. Jolly goodo! I'm really not on any committe promoting these races or regattas, you just can't bloody help getting caught up in all this Yachtdum, hehe!
We just happen to be very fond of our 'whittle Altair! Just for the
record, she's a beatiful, Tartan design, 34' sloop rig and sails like a
witch, when we have wind, of course.
Now that you're caught up with the "where" we are part, let's get caught up with our adventure on our humble cruiser. Soon come...I'm possessed now.
12/31/2008, Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua
We're still in Antigua and making the best of it! It's New Year's Eve and we are ready to whoop it up on the lawn at Nelson's Dockyard! They sure know how to pull off some good parties here on the island!
We were lucky to have Jane and Andy, our friends on Drimia, join us for a whopping good time! These are wonderful, crazy brits heading for Austrailia! The BBQ, the music, dancing and fireworks were a hoot!
Happy New Year to ALL!!! We love you, Dudley and Bec
12/25/2008, Nelson's Dockyard's Christmas Party!!!!
Ho Ho Ho and A Jolly Great Christmas to Everyone!
Had no idea we'd still be in Antigua for Christmas! How crazy is this! Being away from home for the holidays, from our warm, caring, wonderful family and all of our delightful friends! "It's a Wonderful Life", "Miracle on 34th Street", Nat King Cole, turkey and stuffing and the carols. Miseltow, candy canes, presents under the tree! Absolutely NOT this year! We miss you family! We are so blessed to be loved both near and far!
Merry Christmas AND a joyous, jovial and a jolly holiday everyone!
On Christmas Eve, we chickened out of our trek to the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Anglican Church up the hill from Catamaran Marina! Wind was howling and would've been crusty and soaked from the dingy ride for the service! We all decided to have Christmas dinner a day early and DC would cook a bird cause they have the oven! Oh well, OK! If we must! We prayed and gave thanks over that juicy and so delectable bird for this special day and every day! Lorry and Stephen prepared a feast for kings and queens at least, thank you soooooooo!
The Party at Nelson's on the 25th was awesome! We got a plentiful peak at the personalities that come out for this and any celebration here on the lawn at the Nelson Dockyard Marina! It kept us hopping all day! We ate, drank, danced and people watched, it was a hoot!
We had a blast! We miss you soooooooooooooo!
12/06/2008, Ordinance Bay, English Harbor, Antigua
When we left St. Barts, we were so exhilarated! Everything, the wind, the fluffy angelic clouds, the fireworks sent off in our honor last night... NOT...just kidding, WAS PERFECT. It looks like we are going to do some sailing! You can never have too much of that! Excellent!!!!
How long, we don't know, but seas are looking mild with 4-6 footers on a beam and the wind was reaching us to our first waypoint, 100 nm away! It's a spot on the west coast of Antuiga called 5 Islands... a bit too high to start with, just a constant reminder as always to stay high on the mark til ya get there! If you can!
What a gorgeous sunset, a phenominal sail, all night long! About l0-15 superb hours of sailing. Well there you have it...that's it...Finito!!! Kaput!!!! No Mas!!! If it could go wrong, it probably did and here it is:
We are always thrilled to be sailing, but we were extra happy about it for this leg because we have a leak from the fuel pump or an injector! The chart plotter beeped at us or stuck it's tongue out every five minutes, how annoying. Resetting, finding the satelittes, etc., like I said, annoying! At about the time we could see Antigua thru the sunrise, it was time to wake my honey up for his watch! "I'm sleepy, and it's your watch"!
I'm still sleepy when I bounded down the steps and splashed in water! "We're Sinking"!That's not a pleasant thought...ever! I'm looking at stuff floating, the printer, stereo, some books, the coin can....coins everywhere....and I immediately reached down to that squishy carpet and tasted it! YES, it's fresh! Thank God! A cruiser's worst nightmare...you hit something, there's a big bad whole in the boat, something hit us! It's bad that it's our drinking water, at least 25 or 30 gallons of it, depending on which one blew--good that it's not salt and our 'home' is not sinking! Yep, hate that word.
That's not it, of course! We are really stuck in that current between Antigua and Monsterrat and we decide to crank up the engine....yes, the sail is over! We needed a tow! Seriously though, the current and wind on the nose joined forces to make sure we got a good shot of the south coast, going nowhere! Four hours of staring at that same spot on the foggy coast! The alternator is screaming at us! It's probably the belt more than liklely, and that happened coincidentally at the same the auto pilot went on hold, or sneezed or said "Piss Off"!
Just at about that time, I'm steering, my amazing captain is down below trying to tighten the belt and the weather decides to squally as all get out now with the wind coming from all directions taking the sun with it! We would love to brave it right into a close haul, screw the seas, we've seen worse! We are going to pull down the sails and motor into everything and just get there! We probably stared at Monsterrat going on nine hours now, and yes, we want to go check out that volcano ....some other time, not today! Dudley went up to the bow to see what's buggering up the roller furling when he noticed the anchor chain hanging overboard off the starboard side of Altair! No way! Way!!!! He managed to retrieve all the rode and chain but not before it took out some of the toe rail; the hull... can't really tell (it's pretty bad to begin with); but the new bottom job is toast for sure! It looks bad for a good long stretch near our water line on that side! Bugger!
As if that's not enough, we have two new salt water leaks! Of course, one is over the storm berth (could be chain plate area, probably not that, too easy right?) and the other is over the galley (the dodger should prevent that, oh.... yeah... it's a boat). We're afraid to look! Higher priority first!
We're going to have a lot of work to do. We've now gotta get another slip, pull that carpet! Get a mechanic for the alternator, fuel pump, exhaust elbow, injector leaks, ordering re- placement water bladders, two now! Yeiks!
You know we'll keep you posted and it sure is beautiful here!