The computer is temporarily not working as advertised which has put a dent in our prolific blog entries. Reduced to an iPad (I can only imagine what device you will eventually be reading this on in twenty years…) I will chronicle the past few weeks so that you can at least join the dots on a map.
We stopped in Ponce, Puerto Rico to pick up some spare parts and our good friends, the Wiebes, before heading up to Las Salinas which is a bit of a retirement harbour for sailors who have run out of wind. There were lots of folks waiting at the bar with free advice and boats that will never again leave port. We have encountered several stops like this along the way where folks have found life ashore more comfortable than on the water, yet have not had the inertia to sell the boat and move on. These harbours are somewhat depressing as boats in various states of disrepair symbolize unfulfilled dreams or perhaps the last gasp of adventure, and I try to move on before some of that bad karma rubs off on us.
After a day we pressed on with an overnight sail to Culebra, part of the Spanish Virgin Island chain. With Dorothy navigating (I’m holding my tongue here) we did an 80 mile run into rough seas hugging the PR coast and then along the east coast of Vieques. After dropping anchor in Culebra for a few hours we continued on to the US Virgin Islands and grabbed a mooring ball in Christmas Cove, St. Thomas where everyone went swimming and snorkling.
The following morning we continued to Soper’s Hole, Tortola to have the starter relay on the port engine replaced and spoiled ourselves with a marina slip and air conditioning for the night.
Our mechanic muse in Florida had a contact at the Moorings so, after a huge English breakfast, we travelled around the island to Road Town where we were able to replace the RIB with a used 10 ft Caribe which you have christened “Pumba”.
From there we spent the day at “The Baths” which is a popular swimming hole among the rocks on Virgin Gorda. We had to swim to and from shore which was a work-out in itself but it was a fun day for everyone. That evening, with potential flights waiting for the Wiebes in St. Martin, we pushed off for the long and difficult 80 nm run across the Anegada Strait, arriving in St Martin at first light. Dorothy was a tremendous asset on these passages and really took the load off Mommy and me (although now you had three tired adults to contend with the following day).
Our stay in St Martin was most remarkable because we replaced the outboard engine with a brand new 18hp two-stroke, which pushes the RIB faster than it should. We broke out the tube and pulled you two girls and Matt around the anchorage much to the chagrin of the other boats. We also met several other families who were on the return leg of a circumnavigation which put our past two months into a different perspective and new wind in our sails.
After two and a half weeks we were sad to say good bye (not sure they were…) to the Wiebes who returned home to Yellowknife. I did an oil change on the main engines with competent support from Alex, we did some last minute shopping for provisions and parts, and the following morning we pushed off for St. Kitts arriving into White House Bay at dusk.
Now planning is usually your parents strong point but we left the next morning for Guadeloupe without really doing a time/distance calculation and, once underway, realized that our ETA was going to be 2300 that night! Oops. We decided to turn east to Antigua which, while closer, was another….yep…eight hours straight into 20kts of wind and large swells.
Antigua is a charming island and will require a return visit. The tourist season is almost over and many of the shops are closed and the anchorages empty, which suits us fine. We walked in the harbour area and I asked a lady how far town was, to which she bellowed and a van quickly pulled over to the curb. She yelled again and motioned to me to get in…so I did…and we picked you and mommy up fifty feet up the road. We then roared off to destinations unknown, with your mother making non-keyboard friendly gestures to me in the back of the van. We arrived at St. John’s, the capital, twenty minutes later and walked down a very busy, loud and crowded Main Street. A bit of sensory overload for you two I am afraid, but interesting nonetheless. I think you were both relieved to get back to the boat.