Friday, April 27, 2012


We pulled up anchor and headed around to Jolly Harbor yesterday. My first sail on Elephants Child and in the Caribbean. The sail was by head sail alone and it was great to be out on the water again! The water is absolutely amazing! The shades of blue are even better than the houses! We passed by my first reef so that gave me an inclination as to what to watch out for in the waters around here as I understand that there are a lot of them around and about! After we anchored, we headed into the local Marine Chandlery to pick up an item and then walked over to the local supermarket! First impression was that I was back in the states in a very upscale market! The first exciting event was that my ATM card actually worked and now I am solvent again---however, just, after paying for my share of the groceries!!!!!! Yea Gads! Four apples were about $4.50 US. A little bitty bag of dried pineapple was $5, Hamburger--the cheap kind-- was $4.50 a pound and on it goes until we came to the coffee. By now I was getting somewhat over my sticker shock---until I saw that 10 oz. of Folgers roasted ground coffee was $33! OK, so it was Folgers Colombian Coffee---Jeez! By the time we were at the checkout, I was kind of mumbling to myself! The final bill was $368 EC and we didn't get That much! Everything was Way, Way more expensive than I am used to in my humble La Paz! I asked how the locals afford to live here and the bag boy said that it was great because when he went to New York, everything was so cheap! Ah, what price paradise, eh? JOHN SAYS Is ANY price to high for my morning ambrosia, my morning nectar of the gods, hmmmm I think not! Classic week is over for another year and we both got some great shots of people enjoying sailing some interesting boats. The first one gets my vote for the ugliest boat there.
These guys were close in when they tacked.
We walked up to the bluff overlooking the course These shots give an idea of the disparate sizes.
Not last, well not always, here is OLD BOB who definitely has the most fun per boating dollar during Classics.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Decadent; definition, Marked by or providing unrestrained gratification; self-indulgent Now on Sunday we dined at the Admirals Inn English Harbour Antigua. The setting looks out on the pillars of old sail loft and the tables are set on the same flagstones that Nelson walked over all those years ago. Starting with asparagus and prosciutto and finishing off with pineaple sorbet for Sandy and lime ginger sorbet for me. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Sounds like it might have been decadent and it definitely was.
Eilean was racing, this lovely old yacht built by William Fife in Fairlie on the Clyde in 1936 and survivor of 36 Transatlantic passages was discovered rotting in the mangroves in English Harbour, transported back to an Italian boatyard and rebuilt with 40,000 hours of loving labor. Now she belongs to Panerai the watchmakers, sponsors of Antigua Classics and boat racers. OH yes she was also used by Duran Duran, captained by teen idol Simon Le Bon, to shoot the video for the song “Rio”, included on the album of the same name, one of the British band's best selling records. Could this be decadent?
We spotted this lovely old boat, another Fifer called Tuiga. She was launched on 20th May 1909 at Fairlie in Scotland, at the yard owned by her architect, William Fife III, one of the most famous yacht designers of all time for the Spanish duke of Medinaceli who really preferred big game hunting, so he gave his new racer the name of one of his African prey, the giraffe, which in Swahili is Tuiga. After a long racing and summer cruising career Tuiga, now old and infirm (she almost sank during her voyage to England in 1990) became the seafaring equivalent of Faust. She was purchased by a benevolent demon who took an interest in her soul. Albert Obrist didn’t like sailing, but admired yachts, especially those designed by Fife. He had just finished the exemplary restoration of Altair. With a historian’s loyalty and perseverance, he decided to bring Tuiga back to her original 1909 condition which he duly did. This includes NO SAIL WINCHES! She is now owned and sailed by the Monaco Yacht Club. Monaco Yacht Club sure sounds decadent to me.
We counted 40 crew on this competitor. 40 crew sounds decadent to me.
If you are sailing a giant schooner and you have your jib staysail yankee, foresail, mainsail, fisherman staysail and jackyard topsail all hoisted and drawing well and the course consists of two reaching legs. That sounds pretty decadent to me.
Someone decided to build an eyeball replica of a J class yacht but with an ultralight carbon fibre hull, dyneema rigging, a torpedo keel and spade rudder. Now this sounds decadent to me. Finally we made our way home to Elephants Child sitting in the safe harbor of Falmouth. Sitting in the cockpit and listening to the sounds of evening jazz coming over the water from the Antigua Yacht Club. This just might have been a truly decadent day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


The Friday start was too miserable and wet to go out for but today normal service was resumed and we woke to sunshine and puffy trade wind clouds so it was into the dink and out to the start line off Falmouth harbor. Along the way we saw Kate locally built in St Kitts and now sporting her yawl rig.
After a couple of collisions in previous years thay had reduced the numbers in each start but there was stil some close in manouvering to get the favoured end.
This was a magnificent group of million dollar oldies all wound up and running hard.
We did like the comment from the race starter who was using a gun fired off the aft deck off the committee boat " when he anounced that he had killed the helicopter as well as starting the race. I was sure this was a J class and not so sure it was Endeavour but was puzzled by the sail number. It turns out that it is a new one design boat called Firefly.
With long overhangs and sleek lines, Firefly’s exterior styling is similar to Js such as Svea. A sweeping sheer with a flush deck and moderate deck camber echoes the look of yachts that were developed in the early 1930s. Below the waterline, however, she is more comparable to a modern maxi racer with a high aspect ratio, T-style fin keel with a lead bulb. The combination of a 5.2 m draft with a 3D-tonne lead bulb and carbon high aspect ratio spade rudder is exceptionally powerful. Nonetheless, Firefly can be effortlessly steered with two fingers.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sandy joins Elephants Child at Classics week

Sandy flew in from Mexico via LAX JFK and finally VC Bird airport in Antigua to join me on Elephants Child.
However having promised her sunshine and warm days what did we have on the first morning; RAIN AND CLOUD BASE OF 50 FEET!
It was so bad the we instantly changed plans no early start to go and watch the start but a gentle introduction to the coffee situation on Elephants Child. Columbian met with her approval.Her search for the timepiece in English Harbor was successful and I do believe Sandy is embracing the concept of Island time. In fact it was cloudy so who knows what time it was and who cares. We were both hungry so it was lunchtime.
In the afternoon a tree caught her attention and much of the
rest of her digital image space was filled with wood. No not classic wooden boats but this tree which we were told was a sandbox tree. In fairness it is an interesting tree, at least 200 years old with palm trees [ her favourite! ] growing through a gap in the twisted branches and in places the branches actually grew back in to themselves. We were told by a local docent that it was a sandbox tree but reference to Mr Google showed this to be untrue. Anybody with help on it's identity please comment below.

Monday, April 16, 2012


It is raining hard in Antigua as I write this. Like parts of the UK they need the rain with reservoirs low and crops looking parched. I have my buckets out collecting water where the rain pours off the bimini into the cockpit. Doing something about this has been on my ToDo list since the first time I sat in the cockpit on a rainy day but it would need a radical rebuild of the bimini or a very large awning to sit above the existing bimini. So I have been sketching possible solutions and looking at how other cruisers have solved similar problems.

The Classic Yachts Regatta starts this week and the old and the beautiful have been trickling in to Antigua, the airport taxis have been in demand as have those craftsman who can maintain a wet edge across a wooden transom with the varnish brush or spot repair an Awlgripped topside,

Old Bob has been getting spruced up to but it is a case of owner and friends rising to the call and doing the work themselves.

The locally built decked sloops are being prepared to, I wonder if the Pink Lady will make it up this year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Went for a hike on Easter monday to blow away the cobwebs from the previous day when it had rained almost all day.

I was up near Shirly Heights looking out over Willoughby Bay when I spotted some spouts in the distance. After watching the area for a while I was rewarded with more spouts and then the classic whale tail of a sounding whale. I did not have my good telephoto camera with me so no photos that show anything clearly I am afraid. I also saw a small pod of dolphins in the same area as the whales, maybe there was some kind of food out there.

I walked back down a different path and got good views over English and Falmouth harbours.

I was thirsty when I got back so my evening sundowner tasted better than ever.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Well what was supposed to be an easy afternoon sail to Falmouth turned into some really hard work.

I got the hint of what was to come when the anchor windlass started to slow down and then struggled to a halt with only a 1/4 of the chain recovered.. I tried a bit of a burst on the throttle but nothing was moving, so it was on with the snokle gear and down for a look.

My chain was wrapped several times round a heavy iron bar sticking out of the sand. I could just see a large ring and the tip of a fluke. I guessed it was a lrge fisherman pattern anchor that had been used as a mooring or maybe abandoned by someone caught in here with a westerly swell which would make this anchorage untenable.

Back on board I was able to break the fisherman anchor out haul it to the surface and get a line on it which allowed me to slacken off my chain and go around in the dink to untangle things. I was very careful about where I put my hands as the load on the line was considerable. eventually I got things clear but am still bemused as it looks like the two chains had been knitted, there were so many wraps.

Anyway after a couple of hours it got sorted and I am in Falmouth again, getting in last night and sheltering from the large swells. The VHF this morning was full of people looking for berths and complaining about how uncomfortable their nights had been elsewhere.

Some bits of news that did not make the regular online papers I read,

Jeanne Socrates made it in to Hobart safely after a 56 day passage from Cape Town. This is part of her second circumnavigation. Jeanne is 69 and single hands.

Earl Scruggs died aged 88, Earl was a virtuoso bluegrass banjo player and Foggy Mountain Breakdown went on the music box in his honour last night.

The Volvo Ocean Race is running out of boats. Nearly all are suffering from hull delamination and another mast broke yesterday.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


There was a thread recently on boats that have lots of "stuff on the back".

Well I think I am next to a contender for top prize.

I wonder how many degrees of pointing ability that lot costs them?


Well they were at it again last night producing a spectacular show off Jolly Harbor.
It is nice to be able to see the horison as the sun sets just in case we get the green flash.

But not for much longer as it looks like we are getting another lot of big northely swells arriving midweek so I am off to somewhere with shelter from the NW and W.