02/28/2009, Boggy Peak/Now Obama Mountain, Antigua!
I'm so syked!!!
I heard mid-week that there was to be another walk with the Environmental Awareness Group today! I WANTED TO GO BADLY, LOTSLY. It was to be a hike up to the top of Boggy Peak, now called "Mount Obama"! (More on that in the "Island History" category!) Getting to the Agricultural Station in Christian Valley by 7am was going to be the challenge. I called for help from Judy of English Harbor Radio. If after announcing the event, would she add: "Altair wants to share a taxi, early Saturday am, call on Ch. 68 after the net". Judy was kind enough to do this for me for two days, but I didn't get one call. I finally reached Cap Green, who's the one organizing this hike on this end of the island. It turns out, he's a very 'green' guy (pun is appropriate) because he's an EAG board member (making his name even more punny, ugh). He not only picked me up and took me to the site but I had the good fortune to be in the company of Chris Platt, dedicated to the cause botanist, Nigel Whittington, Island Academy, EAG Activist and Professional mountain climber, and three super guides who were all equipped with bird, flora, fauna and Antigua knowledge to share.
The turnout was delightful! There was a huge group that was representing the EAG, either board, active or soon to be members. Then the rest of us, mere eco-novi (pl?), who were willing to learn and contribute $ to help the work continue. These walks transpire monthly around the island and I was thrilled to participate at this one! The group gathered at the Agricultural Mango Research Station in Christian Valley. This place is distinctive in that it is doing research on the most prestigious collection of mangos species in the world. They're renown for their work with guava and citrus too, with groves in abundance for as long as the eye can see. The AMRS is located at the base of the highest point on the island at 1319' which has been known as Boggy Peak until this year's election of the US President when they renamed it Obama Mountain.
For all those of you who know me, know I didn't waste a moment meeting the locals, cruisers and guides. Some were local lovers of nature who enjoyed sharing their generous acts of green help, a few cruiser's like us who agree to help protect and respect the islands we visit, and the guides who were extremely proud of their work to help protect the island from varments like goats, developers and non-indigenous plants.
They've done this before and know how to coordinate this many people. They counted us and insisted we stay with a buddy to prevent getting separated from the group and lost in the rain forest. Can't even imagine wandering around aimlessly after dark, in the forest....LOST AND ALONE!. Yeiks! We were advised to visit the 'facilities' because it was going to be hours before we got back. I quickly jumped at the opportunity, being a big water drinker, but I missed being counted, I thought. When I returned I asked to get a number because my buddy was #34. They HAD already assigned me either #1 or #2, How funny.
Kim was our group's EAG guide and she's a native. She believes we should all do our part yet she has a personal stake in the island...to save her and all fellow islander's homeland. I liked her alot, too. She was extemely knowledgeable and effervescent in addition to being loud enough so all of us behind her could hear what she was describing along the way. Her sense of humor was infectious. When you're climbing, more than 'walking or hiking' very much UP a mountain, you're breathing heavily and laughing, at yourself, alot. Just as we were entering the dense, really high forest before us, she described a voracious fig tree which will overtake and completely consume a host tree and stated they were'rootless', arrrrrrrrrr! I noticed the air starting to thin out, the higher we puffed. Laughing is normally effortless, but today it was 'breathless', HAH! Sorry.
It really was invigorating exercise and we cleaned up too. Cap and others bring bags for these hikes for rubbish removal along the trial! You would not believe the garbage! This IS A PROTECTED SITE FOR GOD'S SAKE! Car batteries, boat ladders, shoes, lots of them...bottles and plastic jugs, trash everywhere. Articles are being published in the local papers since the renaming of Boggy Peak, reflecting a concern that this nature trail, being the special place it is, will be compromised. They will have to work even harder to insure it's protection now! I emphatically agree with them. We just have to help in whatever way we know how to preserve our world for our kids and their kids. Extremely worthy, doncha think?
Mrs. Lisa Nicholson and her daughter were there. We asked her daughter who came up in her truck to take all that garbage down the mountain for us and she didn't hesitate even a blink to help either. That was gosh darn convenient for the hikers leaving our hands free for 'hugging' the trail on the way down. It was whispered Mrs. Nicholson was related to Vernon. That would be Commander Vernon Nicholson, who sailed into English Harbor back in l947. She was a spry old gal having not one bit of problem getting up or down that hill, ummmm, mountain. She was trying to tell a fellow 'old' geezer that they were septuagenarians, and proud of being able to keep up with the youngsters. Now think about it. If she is 70 to 80 years old, you do the math. I think she could've been the Commander's wife. Ok, I did the math and she'd have to be a 13 year old bride if she's 75. So maybe she's a descendant. A daughter. Would his wife have been on the boat with him? hmmm.. I'm going to have to find her and ask. She was very interesting.
By the time we got to the bottom of that mountain, I found out that she had gone to Harvard and majored in Fine Arts! We had been talking about art for the last hour while tripping, slipping and gripping trees and giggling all through our visit. All day long we had been climbing under and over roots. We tried bracing and grabbing at trees and brush to keep from catapulting down a ravine. All of us successfully traversed a river bed that meandered back and forth across our trail up and down the mountain with big, medium and slimy moss covered boulders and rocks. She was amazing! Just like my incredibly vigorous love, Dudley.
When we reached the end of the trail we followed the fruit groves, where we were enticed by the guides to check out the guava trees. They were demonstrating the act of devouring the delectible bounty and we had no trouble joining in on the...beautiful, colorful, tart quava! There were ripe ones everywhere that had fallen and I shared a few fresh, never been processed guava with Lisa. It was awesome and we ate the skin, they knew it to be very tender and pleasingly edible too. I've only had it sweetened to fill a pastry and it was much better this way... yummmmmy.
Exileratingly adventurous to say the least. The trail was magnificent, we got a great work out and we can say we climbed Obama Mountain. Thank you EAG! Thank you Cap, Chris, Nigel, and Kim, et.al.
02/25/2009, Sailing the Caribbean, or Not...
So Much for the Mystery of it all!
Dudley thought we'd have the illusion of being 'lost at sea' or something like that! It's hard to be incognito when you've got a high strung, social, need to keep in touch with all of our friends and family, internet junkie, right? It's not like we are that far away either!
With that being said...write, call or NOT! Now, THAT'S the beauty of a blog! You can covertly check our whereabouts If you want to and there's no obligation to even begin to respond to my exaggerated view on things out here in the wild blue yonder.
Here are a couple of ways:
You can also drop us a quick line thru the "comments" link.
We do have a SSB, but we don't move very much or often and it's unlikely, for a while, that we'll even have the bugger on!
Hope you enjoy our Blog!
|The Clark's contact info....||
02/24/2009, Antigua Yacht Club
Here it is, had to share!!!! I got the results from the magnificent fund raiser held by the Maltese Falcon llast weekend.
Leizu was super! I ran around everywhere trying to find out the results of the fund raiser on the 20th. I finally got a name from the Antigua Yacht Club, and she is the only one left on island since the "Maltese Falcon" left the day before! When I got in touch with her, she was willing to meet me the following morning to share what she knew! She was modest about her contribution and was shocked that the Yacht club knew of her work and gave her name! She was pleased and felt honored!
Leizu not only showed up with her gorgeous, hyper son but we got a surprise visit from Charlotte Cayless, who was the co-organizer. She worked along side Timmy Attard, Second Officer of the SY Maltese Falcon to bring this fabulously successful event to fruition.
Here's the great news: $38,000. (US dollars) were raised. The proceeds from the auction, food, drink and raffle tickets all net a whopping bundle of help for the kids on the island. The captain who was killed in English Harbor had two kids, Ella and Karolinka; Emanuel's two year old daughter who had a kidney removed; and Oliver Taxi's son who had a tumor removed will all get help from this bounty!
Thanks to everyone who made "BRING BACK THE LOVE" A HUGE SUCCESS! What a great cause!
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.