Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Stir Crazy!!

So we are still floating around at anchor in Falmouth Harbour and starting to go a little stir crazy so we hired a car for a week to have a drive around the Island. There are around 85,000 people live in Antigua and it is not very big so driving was not that bad and they drive on the right side of the road for us ….. though to be honest the majority seem to drive in the middle!
John is having problems with tooth ache so we booked an appointment with a dentist in St. John’s the capital. The big cruise liners come in here and it is set up for this and Redcliffe Quay is full of tiny boutique type shops and cafes all dealing in US dollars and claiming to be duty free. I found it ok for a day out but I am glad we did not anchor there.

                                                        The view from the Boxer Shack

 On our travels going up to St. Johns we travelled along the coast and found a little bar/restaurant close to Morris Beach called the Boxer Shack which had a lovely view and we sat and watched the pelicans dive bombing into the sea for fish. They really take no prisoners diving into the sea like kamikaze pilots. I tried to get a picture of them but you can’t appreciate just how fast they go from the picture the splash is the pelican entering the water. We noticed the restaurant did Sunday lunch so we went back for the full Sunday lunch last Sunday just for a change. We have got quite into Caribbean food and a particular favourite is Roti. They are sort of like pancakes filled with chicken, vegetables or pork. They really are great for lunch and there is a little cafĂ© in Falmouth called Colin’s Place where we have taken up residence!! I have had fish stew there also which was very good too. For some reason there are quite a lot of Italian restaurants too and we tried the Famous Mauro Pizza restaurant a really excellent pizza and dynamite chilli oil!  He has a proper pizza oven and cooks the pizza in front of you. I would recommend the place to any one going to Falmouth.
Just past St. Johns is Dickenson Bay and St. James Fort. We stopped off in the car and were surprised to see groups of tourists segwaying their way up the beach and odd sight! St James Fort is now sadly in need of renovation but the guns are still in very good condition with the inscriptions very clear. The beach at Dickenson Bay was very clean and crystal clear as well as warm the water temperature here is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit!

                                                 Another way of seeing the Island!!
I should also mention the mongoose which is found all around the island. They were introduced into Antigua to control the snake population. There are no snakes in Antigua now but there are a lot of mongooses which scurry around the place. I have to admit at first I thought they were rats till I took a closer look!  

The Wobbly Bob Rce took plce on Valentines Day teams had to make their own boat in two and a half hours we took our outboard over and ended up giving some guys a tow.... cheating was allowed and it looked good fun!!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Falmouth harbour mast step blues!

We are still in Falmouth Harbour but our mast is now off and we are waiting for the new mast step to be fabricated. When the mast came off it revealed that the mast step had been badly corroded but it did not look like the mast had been too badly affected. The boat looks sad without its main mast but John decided that he would take off the mast step in an effort to keep costs down. It was attached to the deck with seven screws, two came off with the impact screwdriver after a bit of a fight but the others were complete swines!!
                              The expensive jigsaw puzzle that was our mast step!

 When he thought that one of them had started to spin in the plate that is embedded in the saloon ceiling we had to take a section of the headlining off. This was a real low moment for the two of us. That headlining had been put on in Gibraltar in 2008/9 as part of our refurbishment it was with very heavy hearts that we ripped it off! However the plate is now off and has been delivered to Steve Miller at Marine Power Services who assured us he had seen worse and went through with us exactly how he was going to fabricate the new step. I think it made both of us feel better that things were finally moving forward. He told us that the material would not be in the country til Tuesday but I for one would rather he was upfront about time frames rather than give us unrealistic ones that he was unable to keep. He seems like a good guy to do business with.
The mast came off with apparent ease John had lubricated all the fittings we had taken off the boom and all the sails and disconnected the electrics so the lads at Antigua Rigging just had to disconnect the triadic stay and connect the mast to the crane. They went up both the Main and the Mizzen with no safety line.. ‘we don’t use safety lines’ but they did use their halyards for the job.

We also has a bit of a near disaster when we were sorting out the problem with the anti siphon valve. John discovered that we did not actually have one which could have been part of the reason the problems we had on the way over. So he has extended the loop and put in an anti siphon valve but to do this we needed to buy some more hose of the right size so he snipped a bit of the existing hose off to take to Budget Marine and left the hose wedged but not connected in the locker. We bought the hose but it was late and getting dark when we got back to the boat so it was a job for the morning. When John got up he was surprised to see that the bilge float was right up to the wheel in the cockpit. On further investigation he found that the engine room was floating and all of the underfloor lockers were as well!! The hose which he had not connected had dropped down and had been siphoning sea water into the bilge all night!! So we had to clear out and clear out all the lockers wash everything down with fresh water and then put the contents back again. However the good news was we discovered it early and John connected up the extra hose fitted the anti siphon valve and hopefully the problem has been solved.

Any way in the words of the song  …. ‘Things can only get better!’ so fingers crossed that in 2/3 weeks we will be out of here and on our way South. We had planned to go North and cruise around Cuba but I think that will have to wait so we have decided to go South and hopefully at some stage we will meet up with our friend Ben on Vieux Marlin who crossed just before us.
Our friend ben is from Sicily and is called Mauro ..... has he found himself a new vocation!!! This is an excellent Pizza place by the way!