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Anthem Adrift
Friends, an Insidious Influence
06/04/2009, Portsmouth, Dominica

Portsmouth Anchorage

June 4

Slightly choppy close reach using wind vane steering from Les Saintes to Portsmouth, Dominica (Doe-min-E-ka) this morning had anchor buried by 1130. Computer based pre-clearance actually worked, making process at customs a dollar eighty piece of cake.

However and dang! Caught up with numerous cruising friends. Planned to mellow out today for possible excursions beginning tomorrow, but became entrapped in the sticky web of social interaction, lubricated with something called a yellow bird produced, apparently in the gallons, by Melanie on Spectra (big trawler that towed Annie II from Luperon to Boqueron as you may recall). Future plans include movie night of "Captain Ron" (a classic) on same party barge for nine, soon to be ten, boats currently in residence.

Option tomorrow of local bus trip to Roseau (the capitol south end of island) at 0800 or snorkling at 0930. Choice made easier by stinko drunk Kiwis on S/V Cant (really) screaming Maori war chants during intended rejuvenating nap this afternoon and also to previously mentioned refreshment extending to cruiser's midnight.

Jack

Au Revoir Iles des Saintes
06/03/2009, Le Bourg, Les Saintes

June 3

Crew earned his keep today, completing all tasks with efficiency and aplomb (not a pre-desiccation prune).

After listening to weather and Coconut Telegraph, dinked into town to find local gendarme who handles customs duties. My end of the entire conversation with him was, "Bon jour, parlez vous Anglais?, oui, pardon, oui, oui, merci". So far, the French have been the easiest check-ins and Americans have been the biggest pricks.

Next, carried aromatic fabric items to laundry lady at Yacht Club des Saintes to be washed, but not dried, by 1600. She wanted to charge 30 Euro for admittedly large sack-o-clothes, but eventually settled for still outrageous 20. Boat currently resembles a low-end thrift shop.

Returned to gendarmerie for clearance papers (in and out) faxed back from Guadeloupe. No charge. Celebrated with cafe au lait, jus d'orange and pastry chocolat (no oeufs) for petite dejeuner after finally finding ATM. They speak only le Francais and take only euro. Le Bourg is very, pardon me for saying so, Sue, quaint.

After breakfast, climbed 300 some feet to Fort Napoleon (named after that short guy who had the little dust-up around the turn of the 18th century with British Admiral Nelson, who died kicking his derriere at Trafalgar) to discover three things: a beautifully maintained fort, an incredible view of the harbor and, after four and a half months on a boat, appalling endurance. Also got a hint why French fare so poorly in armed conflict. Their rifle positions for firing through thick fort walls are constructed backward. A small slit is on the outside with open angled field of fire facing inward. Somebody should have told them.

Second attempt at fixing fresh fish was significant leap forward with help from distaff member of Inspiration Lady crew. This possibly due to improved cleaning technique and species more amenable to fine dining.

Jack

Bloody Good Show
06/02/2009, Le Bourg, Les Saintes

Turtle

June 2

Dive at Pigeon Island much better than initial impression. Shallow areas just rocks, but hard coral, fish and turtles were revealed deeper. Abandoned Jacksters, enjoying additional dives there, to motorsail four hours to Le Bourg, Les Saintes, still flying quarantine flag. Immediate activity after setting hook was repairing to Inspiration Lady for appropriate celebration of... ummm, Whittuesday with five other boats. Most will leave AM. Could clear in and out tomorrow, have laundry done and climb mountain to Ft. Napoleon or could just sleep in until next happy hour. Slight lean toward that first thing due bouquet emanating from laundry bag, current repository of virtually all attire.

Laundry lady at Yacht Club des Saintes washes, but doesn't dry. No problem as everything gets wet immediately anyway. Despite angst concerning both, oil change and fuel can wait until Martinique. Being familiar, from a previous visit, with boudin creole, a favorite of Pat Barth, there is little reason to dawdle in these island, lovely as they are. The unexplored wilds of Dominica call, "Jacque, Jacque (int'l border), Jack, Jack".

Headline News tomorrow: "Mighty hunter and slayer of fish triumphs over pelagic denizen while transiting channel from Basse Terre to Le Bourg. Hundreds spared from ignominy of hamburgers and goat." Slightly exaggerated heft of recently expired creature to be blamed on irresponsible media. Current thinking assumes the fearsome big-eyed tuna as he's a tuna looking fellow with really big eyes. Extraneous information: Cheap gin has expected salutary effect on annoyed incipient dinner.

Jack

Second Offense
06/01/2009, Anse Malendure, Guadeloupe

June 1

Two great days of sailing, coincidence or a trend? I'm going with that second thing. Initial light ENE wind raised specter of bobbing into Guadeloupe at midnight, but it veered and filled with a comfortable quartering two to five foot sea. Love the places visited, love the people met (cruisers and locals), but sailing is the essence of the deal and this is how it should be. Arrived at Pigeon Island just after 1500.

Plan dive at the Cousteau Underwater Park AM with David and Jackie, then sail to Les Saintes PM. They're big into diving and Jackster has a compressor to refill tanks. Cool!

Beers ashore without clearing in extends crime spree to two. Customs people are enjoying righteousness with everyone else on Whitmonday so official entry into France (all French Antilles are regions of the mother country) will occur tomorrow (assuming arrival Saints on time). After receiving our three beer order, discovered that bar only takes Euros and we had none (not quite true as I had a grossly insufficient 40 centimes). No one spoke English... at all. After watching libation go warm and flat (less a problem than might be expected because friends are British and I like their beer), bartender returned with change from $20 at unsympathetic exchange rate. Had a cracking good time regardless.

Jack

It's Grand
05/31/2009, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Pillars of Hercules

May 31

It's sometimes easy to get caught up in the logistics of moving a boat from place to place under varying conditions, getting fuel, washing laundry, finding the best bar in all the Caribbean, that the esthetic gets lost. All five senses are constantly being caressed or pummeled to produce an experience that is sometimes good, sometimes good in retrospect, but always an important part of making this the grand adventure that it is.

After winding through Little Bird Island Channel into open water at 1000, an ENE wind allowed sailing from close reach to broad, then jibe to broad all the way to English Harbour in 12 - 17 knots and easy 4 foot swell. A good experience. Anchored in Falmouth Harbour after motoring in and out of English Harbour between the Pillars of Hercules and Fort Berkeley, then past Nelson's Dockyard. (Nelson, who served here in his twenties from 1784 to 1787, hated the place.)

Can't get fuel or laundry done today or tomorrow (*Alert! The following may be offensive* Whitsunday is a religious event. Is Whitmonday a fabrication to allow people to feel pious screwing off?), so decided to pack it in and head to Guadeloupe as conditions are forecast to become more challenging as the week progresses. Rushed to arrive at customs and immigration with 53 seconds to spare. Departure tax and harbour fee $9.

Ate cheap dinner at Nelson's Dockyard fishing tournament party then came home, showered and went to bed (this remains an assumption) in anticipation of 0500 departure for someplace French.

Jack

Too Slack to Dress Up
05/30/2009, Jumby Bay, Antigua

Jumby Bay

May 30

Because of a desire to see the north side of Antigua and not short tack through narrow channels to get there, left mainsail covered and motored around to reef- formed North Sound with dinghy in tow. Surprised to find significant development all the way. Able to get wifi periodically while motoring by resorts. Occasionally checked for traffic, reefs, islands, etc. to avoid.

Long Island is a private resort with, as the cruising guide says, an "exquisite anchorage" off Jumby Bay - palm-lined, crescent beach with surrounding reefs. Visiting yachts may dine at the restaurant with several hour advance notice if there is enough room. Slacks and sport shirts are minimum dress with jackets, presumably, preferred. Maybe next time or the time after that.

Tomorrow's adventure is escaping the sound by way of a narrow winding channel through protective reef while facing into morning sunlight. Famous English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard await end of 18 NM sail. Have waited 15 or so years to get here since aborted attempt (no wind) to sail charter boat from Guadeloupe. This is a major Caribbean sailing hub and home to Antigua Race Week every year in April.

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." - Oscar Wilde

Jack

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

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