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The Voyages of s/v Silverheels III
...a virtual ship's logbook, and some thoughtful (unabashed?) reflections on our sea-going experiences.
Redundancy and Redundance
03/29/2015, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

(another overdue post)

Our venerable old Garmin chartplotter that was bought before we left decided to finally let us down on our way up from Dehaies, Guadeloupe. The display died, but the rest of it was working fine (we could still see our lat and long on the VHF radio that was fed by that plotter). We have two chartplotters at the helm, but the other one we bought to work with our AIS unit, and frankly, we don't like navigating with it unless we are forced to because there are numerous things about it we don't like.
So, as Ken does, when he has the chance, he took apart the Garmin to see if there was something he could do (remember, kids, he is a trained professional, so don't try this at home). Well, after peeling away the bits of the display, he discovered a miniscule fluorescent bulb that provided the backlight to the display; it was toast.
In English Harbour, there is an electronics dealer who also happens to have a plethora of old bits and pieces around from different units of various vintages. We went to him to see if he happened to have an older unit with the same size display... and lo and behold, he did! For $40 USD, we bought the stuff, as is, and took our new treasure back to the boat.
Ken spent a couple of careful hours with his magnifying glasses on, soldering gun in hand, and the scent of flux wafting around him. He successfully transplanted the fluorescent from the one display to ours. It works, but the display is a little too light to see in full daylight.
So now we realise that we have a decision to make. New plotter, make do with what we have, or something else? We are both opposed to using a tablet or computer for navigating... they aren't made for being in the cockpit where they might be splashed, and they don't hook up to a VHF radio for DSC capabilities (I know, some of you won't get what that means). So, that wasn't an acceptable option for us.... And I did download the Navionics charts for the tablet, and we quickly noted that at least one island was MISSING, at every level or resolution. No thank you to that one.
We decided to buy a new chartplotter, and found one that would do what we wanted without totally blowing the budget. We like having a fishfinder for another depth gauge, (notice we like some redundancy?) and this would work with our current ultrasonic unit with a change of plugs. But... it uses a new language and won't talk to our current radio without an expensive "translator box". Or to any of our other instruments, really. So for now, when we finally get it, it will work in isolaton until we get around to networking it. At least the charts will be good... we have the same ones on our computer and are happy with them.
The chartplotter Ken fixed will still be hooked up to the radios for now, in another location.

Limin' in the Caribbean
Over Hill and Dale in Antigua
03/29/2015, Falmouth harbour, Antigua

(this was written before, but just getting posted now!)

We have been Antigua for almost a month now. We had only planned on about a week or two, weather dependent, but as always, stuff happens and we stayed longer.
One of the benefits for me has been the chance to explore a little more of Antigua on foot, whether running, hiking or walking. Of course I hooked up with the Antigua Hash House Harriers, who happily greeted me with a down down for being a backslider; never mind I wasn't even in the country! However, with the beverage of my choice, and it being cold, it is not a problem for me at all.
One of the Hashers that I know here is also very active in Grenada, too. Dorothy, a.k.a. "Cereal Killer", has homes on both islands, and her home in Antigua is quite close by, which became very advantageous for me! I was able to get a ride to the two Hashes with her, but she also introduced me to "The Rambling Soles", a group of friends, many of them Hashers, who normally hike on the Saturday mornings that they don't Hash. These are not ambling hikes, these are "bring water and good shoes and get ready to walk" hikes. I suppose the fact that Antigua is much drier than many of the islands is a small blessing, as the trails are generally mud-free.
My first hike with the "Soles" was from Dottie's house (actually, so was the second). We trekked through some local trails, and a little bit of road. While Antigua is of an older volcanic era than some of the other islands, there are still some hills that will get the heart rate up, and that provide views to glad the heart. We didn't actually do the route that Dorothy had hoped on, but it was still a solid 8 mile hike.
The next week we had a "two fer"... a hike and a Hash. One of the Soles said that he wanted to hike on his birthday, so it was arranged to have another hike from Dorothy's place. This time we found the trail we wanted, and ended up by Signal Hill and hiked the trail down to Rendezvous Bay. The trail we followed up the hill was actually created by the local quadracycle club, and went through acres of lemon grass. The sharp citrus scent was invigorating in the early morning air (did I mention that we start the hike at around 6:00am?) as we climbed up, and up, and up. We reached a maximum altitude of about 1200 feet, which is pretty good since we started at pretty much sea level. We missed the turn off for our trail down, but backtracked and found it easily enough.
So we enjoyed another 8 mile hike together... but this was also a hash day! We were going to be hitting another trail of unknown length a little later. I will readily admit that I was tired, and seriously considered doing the walkers' trail for the first time in over 3.5 years. However, my stubbornness won out, and I ran the runners' trail, too. I was afraid to stop for fear of not starting again!
Now, I haven't just been hiking with other people. Ken and I have got out for some nice walks, including a 6+ miler up to the Fort at Shirley Heights. There are trails that lead up from Freeman's Bay/Galleon Beach, and we walked to, and up, the Jones Valley Trail. When Ken and I hike, it is much more relaxed than with the Soles. I had bought some saltfish stew that morning, and we had fresh bread and fresh pineapple with the saltfish to enjoy for lunch, as we sat on some rocks in the shade.
The rest of the walk/hike had us visit the various sites of the sprawling fort that protected the major naval center at English Harbour. This fort took advantage of every high point in the area for good coverage, and the views are excellent from all of them. It was quite hazy, so we could only just make out Guadeloupe in the distance. On a clear day, she stands out very well, with the high mountains reaching to the sky.
I've also explored more with my running... this is a good place for trails, road or a combination. As far as I'm concerned, being here longer than anticipated isn't so bad.

Limin' in the Caribbean

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