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Anthem Adrift
What Do You Have in YOUR Wallet?
05/29/2009, Hermitage Bay, Antigua

Ft. James

May 29

As we (cruising friends) drove our Yaris rental around the small island of Antigua, it was difficult to find the way as roads were often marked, if at all, from the other direction. Looked for the 'you are here' map symbol with no luck. St. John's is cruise ship heaven, so quickly left. English and Falmouth Harbours were nearly deserted. We must be too far north for the seasonal migration to Grenada or Trinidad and too far south for those going to Bermuda and Europe.

Ft. James, guarding the entrance to St. John's Harbour, is a drive-in where iced tea costs $3.20 for a small glass with no refills. Perhaps this is why most defensive fortifications of the 17th and 18th centuries didn't include this feature.

Antigua is inside out in a way. The interior looks, for all the world, like suburban, small town America. City, towns and businesses are around the outside with bedroom communities in the center. This makes sense, of course, and is probably typical of islands, but just struck me as very pronounced on this roughly round, 36 square mile patch of dirt.

North around through the inside passage to North Sound tomorrow, then Falmouth Harbour on Sunday for a day or two before heading to Deshaies (Day HAY), Guadeloupe.

A woman asked a group of three guys what they thought was the worst thing about a dress. A suggestion by one, who will remain anonymous, was that they contained women... This answer was somewhat imprudent. It was also wrong. Dresses don't always contain a woman. Anyway the answer, as patiently explained to us as to children, and reason I seldom wear them, is that they don't contain pockets. Many women use a bra to store valuables. This is also a mistake as men, miscreants all, look there first.

Jack

Sailing, Expensive But Free
05/28/2009, Jolly Harbour, Antigua

Really Cool Picture of Volcano

May 28

Finally, a sailboat. Early conditions bode ill for making Jolly Harbour without mechanical assist, but tried. Angle was 20 degrees below rhumb line, but once past a NW setting current, wind backed and permitted sailing nearly three points free of original course. (*Sailors may skip* A point is 1/32 of a circle or 11 1/4 degrees. Free means the wind is farther off the bow than minimum required to sail. True course from Montserrat to here is 51 degrees. Ended day sailing 80+ degrees). That pulled the boat to within a mile of destination. Cool!

Clearing in was easy (customs, port authority and immigration were in same building by the seawall right in front of moorings) and cheap ($12, 30 EC - Eastern Caribbean dollars). Returned 530 dollar unnecessary wind instrument to Budget Marine for which refund will be authorized by St. Maarten store tomorrow (he said confidently). Troublesome old unit was fixed en route when a defective terminal connecting one of 6 wires was found. All subsequent energy was directed toward locating the Dogwatch Tavern to celebrate arrival with three friends and an Abbot, English bitter ale. Evening repast (and breakfast/lunch tomorrow) was Hawaiian pizza. No actual Hawaiians were used.

May divvy cost of vehicle rental for tour of island tomorrow. Ensuing two days planned for clockwise sail around north Antigua, through Boone Channel to English or Falmouth Harbour on south side.

Jack

PS Deeply chagrined at previous misspelling of Montserrat. Unable to fire slovenly editor as he is related by marriage to my wife.

Cowboys and Idiots
05/27/2009, Rendezvous Bay, Monserrat

The Volcano

May 27

Monserrat is an island of contrasts. The most lush vegetation since the DR on our end cheek by jowl with gray devastation south. Seems that every plant is in flower and a perfumed scent wafts over the land and out to our boats. There are four anchored here at 15 feet in sand beneath a cliff populated by goats and large, beautiful, noisy, light blue terns. Can't see how there aren't a few flat billys on the rocks below.

Joe Phillips gave us a six hour tour for $30 each of much of the island not in the exclusion zone. Very voluble, he spent 1/2 of the time going into great detail about the volcano, 1/4 of the time complaining that we weren't listening properly and the rest promoting his tour over everyone else's. He's probably right and it was well worth the experience.

Two Brits, two Canuks and two solo Yanks choked down his beverage of choice on Jackster, an Amel Super Maramu, discussing world events and by turns the foibles of British, Canadians and Americans. Warning! The last are knuckle-dragging, bigoted, trigger-happy rednecks - especially (as everyone knows) the previous president. You few decent folk evacuate while you can. Others faired little better, although, of course, are far less violent. Ours being a relatively small community, everyone had mutual cruising friends whose latest shenanigans could be updated to the others. All four boats headed, probably, to Jolly Harbour, Antigua in the morning.

Jack

It Was This Big
05/26/2009, Rendezvous Bay, Montserrat

The Kingdom of Redonda

May 26

Another decent motorsail in easy conditions to Monserrat. En route, approached the territorial waters of the Kingdom of Redonda. Fortunately, no hostile defensive measures encountered as gun deck is currently unusable and deck-mounted long nine is out for repair. Although named by Chris Columbus in 1493, it was not formally claimed until 1865 by a fellow named Schiell, King Matthew, upon the birth of his only son. In 1880 he abdicated to the boy, King Felipe, who reigned until his death in 1947. Monarchs since have been Juan I and Juan II. Currently two pretenders dispute his claim, but King Robert the Bald who resides out-of- country in Antigua is the widely recognized true fifth regent. Info at www.antiguanice.com/redondo. Picture to follow, eventually.

Graphics capability of new web site is creating guilt to take more snapshots. If by some miracle this occurs, posting will not be immediate as text is sent by radio from anywhere, photos require internet.

After being berated by Astarte crew on the SSB while underway this morning for neglecting to pursue the wily finned creatures, dropped in a line with new, non- cheesy lure and caught dinner tuna for the cohort of five now anchored in Rendezvous Bay, Monserrat. Take that Mike & Barb! Phffftttt! Couldn't trick anyone to prepare what ordinarily would be succulent meal, so filleted and prepared island style for dinner on Anthem. The fools. Upside to this experience is that word will spread for others to accept slain pelagic denizens as gift and feel obliged to offer dinner invite. Notwithstanding challenges, rollicking good time was had by all.

Tour of island arranged for tomorrow morning. Really good view of active volcano prohibited. Suspect lawyers.

Jack

A Life of Crime
05/25/2009, Charlestown, Nevis

May 25

Clearing in and out at Charlestown, Nevis required four stops and 2 1/2 hours with a break for mutton lunch. Then, as anchoring is forbidden, moved to moorings a mile north. Place is nice and people are friendly, but hardly seems worth an 18 hour stay.

Finessed neglecting to clear out of Statia (arrived Sunday, left 0600 Monday) by neglecting to mention being there. No one seemed to notice immigration stamp dated 24th. The life of a criminal is fraught with angst. Pass the rum, please.

Fearing for my safety (and sanity) trying to beach dinghy in medium surf on Pinney's Beach near Sunshine Beach Bar and Grill, Inspiration Lady enlisted passing tender to save me with an offer for happy hour on their boat. The Brit Samaritan and spouse were invited as well for a bloody (an expression used by the English who speak a language somewhat similar to ours) good evening. David and Jackie on "Jackster" (really, Pam!) are newlyweds and new to sailing. Bought their Amel at $1.80 to the pound in Ft. Lauderdale to begin a circumnavigation. Will join coterie traveling to Monserrat and Antigua.

Lights from Basse Terre (NOT a French expression for child of unwed parents), St. Kitts, ten NM away, look like St. Thomas. Nevisians show no ostensible jealousy.

Tomorrow we sleep in to 0630 for 30 NM motorsail to the volcano.

Jack

Long Day
05/24/2009, Oranjestad, Statia

May 24

Wind didn't back as forecast until late afternoon, but made good time motorsailing in freshening breeze with all sail.

Left boat at 1330 to clear in and didn't get back until 2100 due to more than one purveyor of refreshment and comestibles. Found a well-maintained town after grueling climb up 200' cliff to upper Oranjestad.

Jehovah's Witness has been collecting money for a church under construction for 18 years. Existence of only a bare frame probably indicates high overhead. Be sure to contribute soon and often.

Jack

Hot Items and Big Plans
05/23/2009, St. Maarten

May 23

Sale items at Budget Marine were everything no one wants, but still managed to make the kitty scream. Big chunk was for new wind instrument as fixers couldn't and wouldn't be in shop until noon, so dinked across harbor to clear out, then back across to pay for bench test and pick up crippled unit (still shows wind direction, usually).

Temperatures haven't climbed, but humidity has and wind is light. Highs haven't been above 85 (that's 29 for you furriners), but lows are in the mid 70s. After growing up, after age eight, in piedmont South Carolina (too far from mountains, too far from ocean and nasty hot sometimes) swore to never again live with that swelter. That worked out well - not. Actually, on the boat at anchor sleeping comfort is usually very good and fans help if necessary.

Went through Dutch bridge at 1730 to anchor in rolly Simpson Bay. After meticulously gathering all available data, creating charts, graphs, schematics and making scientific models using trigonometry and calculus, plan weighing of anchor (no change) at 0600 to sail motorless (he said with great confidence) for St. Eustatius (Statia, about 35 NM) tomorrow then, over ensuing days, to beat down through Nevis and Monserrat for motorless (he reiterates confidence) sail to Antigua on Thursday. Latest cackahlation shows probability of this exactly 27.83455733 percent.

Jack

Justifiable Homicide
05/22/2009, St. Martin

May 22

After petit dejeuner Americain consisting of plus facile d'oeufs, bacon croustillant and croissant, ran jerry can drill to replenish onboard diesel (gazole strangely does not indicate gasoline) sufficient to make Trinidad (he said hopefully). After that, climbed hill overlooking Marigot to Fort Louis (Lwee) which helped the inhabitants, according to them, beat the stink out of some Brits in 1808 trying to steal their coffee. "And not one bean was taken".

Delay here has allowed for my presence, tomorrow, at Budget Marine's big sale which should, along with instrument repair, correct last month's regrettably small VISA bill. Smile, Liz!

Dined at a Chinese restaurant which had, besides good food, loud Caribbean music, a mercifully muted BET Rap-off on the big-screen JVC and a child enthralled with its ability to continually shriek at 100 decibels. My years of traveling in coach prevented an unfortunate infanticide which would probably have miffed the parents and might have further delayed departure.

Probability is medium to good for passage through Dutch bridge out of lagoon at 1730 tomorrow to either keep going or anchor for nap and leave wee hours depending on destination. Will decide tomorrow after more ciphering. Forecast indicates 4 to 6 day window of easy winds before necessity to be in Antigua.

Jack

Cruising Warranty Invalid
05/21/2009, St. Martin

Royal Marina, Marigot

May 21

It's a scurrilous trick. Here's the deal. Trade winds blow from the east, right? Caribbean Islands run north/south, right? Ergo sailing on a reach, right? Not so fast there Hornblower. Lesser Antilles, while proceeding south, continue eastward to Martinique and St. Lucia at which point they begin curving southwest. Also, trades (measured in degrees based on true north) in the winter are ENE to NE, but by this time of year shift ESE to SE. So let's assume that St. Maarten to Jolly Harbour, Antigua is a magnetic course of 143 degrees. Let's further assume that wind in foreseeable future is from 120 degrees. And finally assume that magnetic variation is 14 degrees west making magnetic wind direction 134 degrees. Bugger! Only consolation is relatively light wind and seas over weekend if one can believe weasels des weather. Plan from here still ajuggle (not a real word).

Good news is that steering no longer wheezes, newly eye-spliced and whipped (my lawyers say this is not torture) anchor snubber is doing so, wifi antenna has been rewired to use all available USB power and compass nightlight brightness (thanks to installation of right sized resister) is like baby bear's porridge. Also, manuals bag (in dim past masquerading as a flight bag), which tends to ramble around cabin of a sail, has been provided a fiddle to quell its curious nature. All left for tomorrow is hosing out horrendous mess throughout. Acid test of Swiffer.

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." - Douglas Adams

Jack

Ganja, Better Than Rum?
05/20/2009, St. Martin

May 19

Hit the ground running. Frig. fixed (maybe), wind instrument being tested, windlass controller mostly installed (awaiting 5/8" hole saw), Anchor snubber parts and dinghy valve purchased. Also bussed to Dutch capitol to replace glasses that broke - cheap junk. New glasses are not, so plan to lose in short order.

Went to Kangaroo court (a bar/restaurant) in Philipsburg for iced tea (sacrilege) and asparagus muffin (it's good for you). Highly recommended with open courtyard and great ambiance for when you find yourself with nothing to do in Sint Maarten. Disregard all entreaties that include the words "Hey Buddy, want some ganja, Buddy". Only had tea, Angela. Pinky swear.

May 20

Lay down to rest at 1900 and slept until 2130. After using shower and toothbrush crashed until 0715.

Spent better part of day in bilge with tools, including bending and filing implements, fixing exhaust leak and cleaning up well sooted lazarette. Way fun. Discovered multitudinous additional stuff to do while down there including removing and replumbing for redundant H2O accumulator which was broken pummeling exhaust into place. Head to ankle in greasy soot with no water system. Way fun twice.

However, engine is sootless, windlass is winding, new dinghy valve is holding and bilge work will end with spray paint of wire-brushed and Ospho'd rusty bits. Instrument tested defective and will be fixed (he is assured) by Saturday morning. Tomorrow is Ascension Day and nobody works.

After crushing finger with newly robust windlass while trying to disengage chain hook (bloody and painful - no I didn't ice it as appropriate) hurried over to Turtle Pier for last cruiser happy hour of the season then second go of all-you- can-eat ribs at Lady-C. Returned home for ibuprofen, Zantac and second early night.

Tomorrow may consist of some boat work, but mostly island exploration and sloth. Hey, it's a holiday! Friday should see end of most maintenance duty. Depending on weather (wind is forecast coming from any logical destination) plan to crash and bash to Antigua Saturday night.

Jack

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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See profile for information on why this mess is being foisted upon an innocent world and, despite what is probably your better judgement, how to make contact.
 
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