March 2021 (Jax)
The thing about Lockdown and Curfews is we are all restricted, except when it comes to walking and meeting in small groups! So the month began as the last ended. We walked to Rendezvous Bay with some of the Salty Dawgs.
There was no significant sailing as we are restricted to Antigua and Barbuda, just gentle drifts from bay to bay, sometimes for a change of scenery, for a boat related issue or to meet friends.
While we have been drifting, Sophia has rediscovered her passion for horses and has helped in a yard with two young ponies. She is in her element. A joy to watch her giving and receiving so much love from her beautiful new found friends.
I spent a very happy day watching Sophia gently coax the ponies to listen to her commands, but no different to small children, very often they had ideas of their own. She has so much patience, and persuasion that eventually, they listened and both rider and mount were bonded for the afternoon.
And then, the big work began! The boat had been booked into North Sound Marina for the weekend. She was coming out of the water to have her bottom taken care of! We were told, “all hands on deck. This is part of owning and living on a boat. We have to look after her so she will look after us!.” True.
We arrived at the yard just in time to see Annemarie and Karl with Escape being lowered out of the cradle as we were preparing to go in. They had also had work undertaken on their hull. It would seem, it is the season.
North Sound Marina is possibly the most professional yard we have ever been to. The marina was exceptionally clean and tidy, the staff were very efficient and helpful. Everything happened when the staff said it would and without any fuss. We could not recommend the yard more highly and we are not the only people to have the same opinion.
So she hung. Our home for the next three nights, suspended 24 feet above of the water. We felt very regal. We had the same view as many magnificent super yachts which glide through the Caribbean waters looking down on us. An excellent start to what was going to be a very hard weekend.
The following morning, we received a text from Richard on Hawkeye, a 450 Lagoon Catamaran which crossed the Atlantic with us in 2019 as part of The ARC. Many a rum punch has been shared on both sides of the Atlantic, and I suspect will continue even when this adventure is over for both of us.
Richard had rented a car for the weekend and was coming to help for the day. He was bringing Alexandra, his wife too. What joy, I had a sick note! The gloves were off and
quickly stowed. However, Dugald and I were a little apprehensive. Whilst Iain and Richard have shared many a glass together and listened to each others tales of sailing and adventure, Richard has never experienced The List.
He did not know there are procedures which are followed and then ticked off.
Dugald and I were not sure if Richard worked in the same manner. The last time any work was undertaken on the hull was in Levington Marina, some two years ago before we left on our journey. There was much to do. Iain was not happy with a number of strange noises and the odd vibration when the engine is running. All these issues had been discussed with Dugald and Richard and so they began. Richard was absolutely marvellous. He has a list too! He got stuck in. All was well in North Sound Marina
So as there was an extra pair of hands, I really didn’t think I would be needed and I could not leave Alexandra to fend for herself for the day while Richard was working in the heat on someone else’s boat. I did the only thing I could, I got an afternoon pass to Hawksbill by Rex Resort and spent the afternoon, singing the praises of our husbands, swimming and having lunch.
As curfew was at 6pm, our afternoon passed in a flash and we returned to the boat yard for a quick drink before Alexandra and Richard had to leave.
Richard had so much fun, he announced when leaving he would return the next day, earlier with sandwiches, which only meant Alexandra and I had to go back to the resort for another afternoon. The weekend was a resounding success. The List for the weekend’s work was completed on time and within budget! Imagine?
Many things were changed, tightened, levelled, sanded, painted, and polished. Much was discussed, reiterated, eaten, drunk and discussed again until finally, Fatjax was ready to be launched again.
We owe a great deal to Richard and Alexandra for giving up their weekend to spend it with us. The hull of our boat was repainted and bonded, ready to transport us to where ever the wind dictates. I have a feeling it is more than our boat which has forged new bonds.
With our shiny new bottom, we sailed back to Deep Bay Marina to see if the visibility was any better for the wreck of The Andes.
The following day, Iain and Dugald were exhausted. We did not wake early and the day began to unfold without an agenda. I felt the men in my life deserved a treat, so we phoned the Royalton Hotel, and booked ourselves in on a day pass and went ashore. We had the most enjoyable afternoon. The first of two which I will remember fondly for the month. We stayed until curfew and rolled back to the boat feeling rewarded for the arduous work undertaken.
As true homing pigeons, we returned to Falmouth after a few days. We met with Annemarie and Karl on Fatjax and exchanged our experiences at North Sound Marina. It is absolutely uncanny just how alike Karl and Iain are. I have never met anyone who is in complete sync with my husband. The two men agree on everything boat related and work in the same manner. I’m very pleased we have become friends. The following morning we walked with them to Fort George to blow the cobwebs from the evening before.
Toward the end of the month, the headlining renovation in the day heads resumed again in earnest. It was finished and the results are marvellous. Iain remarked how disheartening it is that one’s eye only catches the issues yet to be dealt. A sad thought, but perhaps true in every walk of life.
For now, I cannot stop marvelling at the wonderful finish and the difference new lights and the fabric make to the experience of washing one’s hands.
Curfew was extended to 8pm which was a great reason to celebrate. Lynn and Mark invited us to have drinks and supper on their boat, Roxy, a most majestic Camper & Nicholsons 58. We marvelled at the build quality and the sleek lines of such a classic racing yacht of her time.
Lynn tried a new recipe for prawn curry which was such a success. It made me giggle as both Mark and Iain questioned why we put ourselves under such pressure when cooking for other people. Why do we always try something new, when we have so many tried and tested menus we could just cook without any thought or effort? I don't know the answer, but for Lynn, our meal was a total success. After supper, we played a new game called Blockhead which was so much fun. Our family has never been very good at board games as all except me are so competitive. Games usually don't go well. I was not looking forward to this one. However, I was so pleasantly surprise. It was a game of engineering skill, which of course went down a treat. It is about team work and skill to create the tallest tower from many odd shaped wooden blocks. This thrilled everyone. We played until curfew and were very sorry to leave for the night. Lynn and Mark have been very kind to us. They have taken us into their fold. They are endlessly kind to my whole family, keeping an eye on us all. I am sure we will continue to stay close to each other and I am very proud to call them our friends.
Our travels are dictated by the present pandemic. We are constantly challenged by restrictions and separations, and through it all there is The List, which continues to determine the schedule of our days.
However, while our time continues in Antigua, it is not just our floating home which is being revitalised. As March continued, we made memories with new friends, we walked, talked , learnt to play games and we sailed to Great Bird Island.
I am grateful for the new people in our lives who have formed a community around us, making Antigua a little more like home. I thank God for my family who are safe and sound.