Well it is Monday the 23rd November 2009 and I am in possession of and finally on board Elephants Child. There are some details to be sorted out as there is a mismatch on the registration number but it is just the last digit in a long sequence that has been missed from an official document.
The owners have taken a weeks holiday, so I am sorting things out on my own. I knew from my previous inspection that they were working on the plumbing to the loos and showers but was a little dismayed when I found that no loo was connected and no shower worked as well. Fortunately I found a bucket and a solar shower so I could make do if needs be.
However everything is new or rebuilt and I keep finding new stuff yet to be fitted lurking in drawers and lockers. When I looked at the boat on the hard it was not possible to get everywhere due to the amount of gear stored below.
The solar panels are putting out an impressive 20+ amps and the batteries are topped right up so refrigeration is a definite YES and according to the sellers they could run the watermaker most days so I will have something new to learn to use. I had said that I did not want the hassle of a watermaker but they make it sound simple to use so I may as well get on with it.
The bits and pieces from the RV arrive on Tuesday so I may as well sail over to Charlotte Amalie and pick them up. Just as well as there is not a pot, crock or plastic teaspoon on board. So I am camping out with a multi tool and some recycled tin cans as pots till I get the stuff through customs and unpacked.
It was great to sit in the cockpit and watch the sun set, with a faint creak from the mooring lines and the Chocolate Hole turtle poking his head up alongside every few minutes. When onboard you are supposed to maintain a listening watch on VHF channel 16 and an interesting exchange developed in the evening between the US coastguard and a sailing vessel somewhere to the North of the Virgins who seemed lost. I could only hear the coasties side of the exchange and while they were unfailingly polite and helpful it did seem that they were slightly put out at having to reassure some wandering yotties trying to make landfall. Mind you when they did the Persons On board roll call with DoBs it turned out that they were 62, 69 and 76. It was odd that they did know their exact position from a GPS but did not know where they were. I wonder if they were one of the many who rely totally on electronic charts and have no paper charts to fall back on.
I am making a to do list and high on it is a wifi aerial and booster unit. I can see a wifi router but am not strong enough to ping it.
Bed time. The first time onboard in twelve years.
Tuesday Wednesday. On Tuesday I mustered the courage to disentangle Elephants Child from the four separate anchor lines and raised sail on my own for the first time. We were heading almost dead downwind so I just unfurled the jib and made for Benner Bay via Current Cut. She picked up her skirts and the GPS was showing 5 to 6 knots without any fuss.
Dave Macall, the broker, works out of Benner Bay and has allowed us to use his address for mail and parcels and had promised to introduce me to whatever skilled artisan I required. I chickened out at trying to anchor in the incredibly crowded anchorage inside the protected section and finally dropped the hook in the open part of the bight. Unfortunately the swell gets reflected round the point and every so often it got really rolly. So not much sleep was had. On Wednesday I got some advice on where to anchor inside and was able to find Skip the rigger who replaced the lifelines and included an opening gate where the boarding ladder is situated. As the old lines were cracked and had rust weeps everywhere it was odd that the previous owners had not replaced them considering that almost everything else had been replaced or upgraded.
Skip is quite a character and I was regaled with stories from his days as a coastguard and his times at sea as a specialist rigger on some of the last big sailing ships. Even his swaging tool came with a story. It seems that on US WW2 bombers they carried wire and spare ends so that in the event of the control wires being broken by enemy fire the engineer could fabricate new ones in flight swaging the ends as required. Skip was adamant that he had obtained his through proper channels but you have to wonder how many of these useful tools were liberated from “Liberators” on their way to the scrapyards.
Thursday is Thanksgiving and it turns out that many islanders have added Wednesday and Friday to this public holiday and not much is getting done at a bureaucratic level including processing of my paperwork so I guess it will be Monday before I can liberate our stuff from bond.
So I had a quiet day today as did many others.
I liked this guy working his dinghy round the anchored yachts and through the mangroves forbidden to any IC powered dinghy.
I went ashore and watched The Green Bay Packers destroy the Detroit Lions.
Back on Elephants Child the hatches were open drawing in the cooling breezes and here in a quiet anchorage I have a banging wifi connection, a full 5 bars. Hence the blog post.