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Great Bird Island
20/04/2010, Great Bird Island, Antigua, WI

Having traveled afar yesterday and returned to the boat with a new throttle cable, and armed with a cup of tea and screwdrivers, by the end of the day, Quasar IV was back up and working again. A great Thai beef curry for dinner, an early night, and the end of a very tiring day. This morning, a short trip into Parham to look at the church and the surrounding views was folled by a 3 Nm motor from Parham Harbour to Great Bird Island where we are currently anchored. Sailing this route was not really feasible, as it passes between numerous coral reef heads, shoals, and obstructions that really do need to be avoided. We set off at 1030 am to make maximum use of the light in showing the coral when viewed through polaroid sunglasses which are essential out here for this type of navigation. We motored along slowly and reached our destination after about an hour, dropped anchor, admired the outstanding view, then went swimming for an hour, cleaning the side of the boat mainly. We noticed a 6 feet long blue mark with a big chip in our gel coat on the starboard side of the boat which was most likely caused by some one trying to get on board when they thought we were both ashore. For such a peaceful spot, we were surprised this happened in Parham. Still, no major damage that is not easily fixed, nothing stolen, and a sharp reminder to lock hatches at night again, which we always do, despite the hot climate. Our current location at Great Bird Island looks idyllic and is apparently excellent for snorkeling on the numerous reefs surrounding us, so that's for tomorrow after breakfast.

Braving the weather
17/04/2010, Parham Harbour, Antigua, WI

After more torrential rain yesterday and this morning, we decided that we were going to leave St John's Harbour regardless of the weather (within reason!) and head for Parham Sound on the NE coast of Antigua. With a northerly swell in full action and 20 knots of wind, this was likely to be a slog of a motor sail. We set off at 10 am in drizzle and, sure enough, found plenty of waves and wind. To add to today's fun, the navigation needed to be spot on as we were making our way through numerous reefs and rocky outcrops requiring 'good light' according to the pilot guide. Well, we certainly did not have good light, but we do have a good GPS, with a secondary one also programmed today with our route in case of failure. This may seem somewhat of an overkill, but when you are sailing in 4 metres of water about 15 metres from coral heads with no sun above, you really need to know where you are fairly precisely! Our depth gauge proved the most useful tool of the day and was essential in working a way through to the anchorage. After a couple of of breathtaking moments with the gauge reading 2.1 metres (our draft is 1.9 metres) near our anchor point, we finally anchored in Parham Harbour .... just as the throttle cable snapped! This is about 2 years to the day when it last snapped in Poole Harbour. Unfortunately, it is now late Saturday, the chandlery is shut until Monday, and will require a half mile dinghy trip to shore, four bus journeys, and a dinghy trip back to the boat to get the spare part. Then it needs fitting which I recall is a real pig of a job. That's Monday's plan sorted then! In the mean time, with very strong winds expected tonight, we have our second anchor ready to hurl over the side in case of a dire anchor-dragging situation. Most unlikely of course! The best thing about our new location is that the sea is flat calm, the view is very pleasant, there are very few other boats here, and it was incredibly peaceful watching the pelicans dive into the sea for their dinner this evening. We are planning on staying in this area for a week now to investigate some of the surrounding islands once I have fixed the throttle cable.

A short move to Ballast Bay
14/04/2010, Ballast Bay, St John's Harbour, Antigua, WI

The rain remained very heavy all night and finally stopped at about 6 am this morning. Blue sky appeared, and all of our wet clothes from yesterday went out on deck to dry. This now included bedding and carpets which had suffered from a number of leaks we have at the moment through various hatches. There were about 15 boats in the anchorage, and by 10-30 am, there were 3 left, all probably aware of the forthcoming forecast south westerly wind later tonight which will blow straight into the bay. We had already decided to move, and left the bay, turned right twice and re-anchored in Ballast Bay, a pleasant spot inside St John's Harbour, but out of the shipping lane which would later be in use by the 3 cruise ships moored up in town. This afternoon's jobs? Finish reading 'James Bond - You Only Live Twice', then start repairing the leaks into the boat. Given that there are at least four, I suspect that this may take some time.... With the wind forecast at a Force 7 North Easterly for the weekend, we have delayed our trip to Parham Harbour up on the NE coast, figuring that albeit protected, there would be no means of escaping through the maze of coral reefs in the event of an emergency, so a trip for next week now.

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