Sunday, May 30, 2010
Arrival in Anguilla
After a good full day of solar charging my starter battery, I managed to start the engine at the Spanish Town anchorage in Virgin Gorda. Much relieved, I motored Alexandra into the local marina for a full night of charging using the shore power plug. The next morning the 25th of May, with the starter battery showing 12.5 Volts (charged as one could hope) , we set sail, rounding the southern end of the island and making a nice bay on the East side protected by a long reef before sunset.
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it makes for entertaining reading; I lost my anchor for the 2nd time the night before we motored into the Marina on VG. It's worse than that, we had been ashore to see The Baths (a boulder covered beach) on a particularly windless day. When we returned to the boat at dusk, I noticed it was about 100 yds from where I had anchored it. I felt the nylon anchor line and realized the weight of the Anchor and chain wasn't on it. Had it been a normally windy day, the boat would have drifted to Tortolla before I ever noticed. In a way, my tragedies are often intertwined with a strange luck, where I make a mistake, am much inconvenienced by it, but in a way where the boat and I remain safe from any major problems. Basically, the anchor shackle must have worked itself loose. Normally I wire the shackle pin, but I had changed out chains quiet recently and hadn't wired the shackle yet, only tightened it, thinking that was enough. We re-anchored with my lighter anchor and managed, with great difficulty, to recover the anchor on our own from 7 fathoms of water. I owe recognition to my crew-member, J, for excellent underwater lassoing technique. Lesson learned... again.
ALEXANDRA departed VG for good on the morning of the 26th, arriving in Antigua 64 hours later on the 28th. We didn't have much wind and it rained the entire time. We caught and returned two barracuda. On the 28th we passed the lonely and deserted Sombrero island by about 100 yds. it's only 1 nm long, and features unusual looking buildings, a lighthouse and ruins . I thought I might anchor there for a rest, but I never saw less than 11 fathoms along it's coral cliff coast. Apparently they used to mine phosphate there, until the Brits depleted the mineral and left the once hilly island flat, barren, and un-manned.
On to St Martin for repairs tomorrow. I plan to Island hop on down to Grenada, arriving around July 5th or so, unless a hurricane forces me to make a dash out of the belt earlier. My crew member plans to depart in late June, so I will be back to single-handing again. With a faulty Aries steering gear (plan to get a new one in St. Martin) we've been doing 4 hour watches on the longer sails, hand steering the entire trip. I've come to enjoy the 0400-0800 watch, when it's cool and you can enjoy a coffee and watch the sunrise. That's what it's all about! Now I'm considering not making a September return stateside. My sister sent a reminder of the predicted intensity of the coming hurricane season, and I'm fairly sure I broke my dad's heart when he read I might return without seeing the Pacific ;) . We'll see, I'm not so decisive in these matters. I had particularly annoying complications with the boat recently, but perhaps when I've made good my repairs I'll feel better about continuing on for longer.
I'm already feeling better about her, in fact, after a recent bout of productivity. I dove on the hull this morning, scraping the hoards of barnacles that are attacking my so recently (oh wait, that was a year ago?!) painted hull. I think it best to haul the boat out of the water in Grenada, giving her new bottom paint, maintenancing all the seacocks (underwater valves), and finally painting the topsides, which still show my repairs to the deck fiberglass. I've been cleaning and re-organizing, etc. I've also gotten quite handy with my pressure cooker, I make all sorts of stews these days and even brownies and cakes. You can cook rice with only 6 minutes of cook time. Great thing to have on a boat.
Also! June 4th marks the one year anniversary of buying my boat! cool.