33 || Settling In
The new dinghy ride was a success. Iain was pleased with his purchase which confirmed passengers and luggage could arrive back at the boat, dry and without incident.
We were back together again. Iain was excited to show us the new solar panels, the lighting and headlining in the master heads and the myriad of other modifications he had made during his solo months waiting. For me, the most welcome change is the fully functioning lights in the galley! What joy. Cooking in the evening without a head torch. Life was looking better by the minute. Sophia had also been very busy with her father for the two weeks they had been together. Iain and Sophia work well together achieving great things in a very short time. Dugald and I were suitably impressed. Our floating home was looking very smart and all provisions were on board and ready for our two weeks quarantine sailing and anchoring before we could meet our friends.
I was feeling a little worse for wear and announced to all I would not be lifting a finger for a week. All duties were to be dispatched without me. Everyone agreed to this and my tasks were split between the rest of the family. Sophia is very efficient at running the boat. She serviced all kinds of pumps and filters, produced some wonderful meals while also deep cleaning the boat from topsides to bilges after Iain and Dugald serviced the winches. All manner of maintenance was undertaken and everyone was kept busy while I was not.
Some twenty years earlier, when Sophia was seven years of age, I bought some yarn to make a jumper for her. She has always been my Sunshine Girl and I planned to make her a summer cotton jumper with a sunflower motif. Somehow, I never got to this project and for no particular reason, I decided to make it now. This was the first of my projects which I completed while just sitting and letting the days of our quarantine pass.
Once quarantine was officially over, we started to explore the island. We had some wonderful walks exploring the many trails which, in true Kirkpatrick fashion, ascended up steep inclines to specular views. Early one Monday evening we were on such a walk from English Harbour along the Middle Ground Goat Trail for a view over the harbour giving us yet another aspect of our home. It was a very busy path.
There were many extremely fit young people of both genders running or even mountain biking using the path. Every few strides we stepped aside to let another couple of extreme athletes pass. It was the usual fashion faux pas for me, Saturday afternoon shopping outfit, versus the minuscule matching lycra eye-patches which only a fit nubile young thing could get away with, while similtaniously tanning and glistening parts of their bodies which I don’t think I possess. Iain laments daily at my Catholic up bringing which he believes has a lot to answer for. Perhaps he is right, but having young twenty something adults, I cannot bring myself to see anything other than potential sunburn issues which need to be covered. Iain, on the other hand, was struggling. He was getting hot and very red. He did not have his sunglasses with him and was straining while looking at the path. He was glistening but not from being exposed to the sun and oddly enough, not complaining his stride was being continually halted. Dugald was most amused watching his father not watching the passing array of scantily clad young athletes bounding and leaping among the relaxed and not so relaxed old goats on the trail.
When we returned to the boat, having consumed our first rum punch of the evening, we were discussing our adventure with Sophia. She giggled, it’s Monday, “get rid of the excessive weekend indulgences” for yacht crew, she announced. The crews run up and down the Goat Trail several times. No one attempts to take in the view from the top on a Monday evening! If only someone had told Iain.
January rolled on faster than we had imagined. Getting used to our changed dynamics on the boat and trying to accommodate everyone’s needs. Sophia was absolutely marvellous at keeping the boat running smoothly. Meals were gourmet standard every evening giving Dugald a run for his money to create in the kitchen, which he did. We feasted like kings.
January came to a close with a couple of very enjoyable evenings with Annemarie and Karl who have Escape, their very well presented CNB66. Fatjax crossed the Atlantic with her during the Arc in 2019 and Iain and Karl had a “race for two” on the way down from Hampton, Virginia USA, to Nelson Dockyard, Antigua, in November 2020 as part of the Salty Dawgs Rally.
We were very keen to meet up as Annemarie and I failed to cross paths during the Arc, but Iain had spent time with Karl and Annemarie and it had become apparent to him that Annemarie and I have a lot in common. When Iain phoned home during our months apart, he mentioned how similar we both are. I think the main point is we are married to very competent sailors, and we suffer with seasickness.
Annemarie managed to book a table at The Pillars Restaurant in Nelson’s Dockyard the night before the Island went into lockdown with curfew restrictions. We were very happy to have one meal out before we were all confined again.
To make the most of the evening, we had an aperitif in Bar B’s, in the Antigua Yacht Club and then strolled to the restaurant.
We admired all the old buildings and some wonderful boats in the marina. During January, the marina was the finish line for the 2021 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge and we stopped to marvel at the sheer endurance of so many individuals to take on such an arduous row, over such a long duration.
For a moment, I thought of my niece Ornella, who had stood in the same spot just two years before me, waiting for her partner to finish just this Challenge. Suddenly, I had complete empathy for them both. Feeling warm and connected to home, we walked on. Around the corner on the hard was another, slightly worse for wear Challenger boat which was from our home County of Norfolk, many moons ago! I knew we were in for a good night. With warm thoughts of loved ones, Nelson’s Dockyard felt like home away from home.
As predicted, it was a great evening. Many glasses of wine and good food were consumed as Annemarie and I caught up on a year of life, while Karl, Iain and Dugald talked all things boat related.
Annemarie and I, clearly had not talked sufficiently, so two evenings later we had early drinks and delicious nibbles on board Escape. Due to the imposed curfew of 6pm the evening was short but we didn't mind, confident in the knowledge we would be seeing each other many more times this season.