Jolly Harbour Marina, A Dock
Saturday morning and we’re back home in Jolly Harbour. Its actually our first weekend here in a month — we visited Falmouth Harbour, Barbuda, and Deep Bay on the prior 3 weekends — since we’ve been diligent about connecting the boys to St Thomas. This past weekend, anchored in Falmouth, was our first good use of the Digicel hotspot and it worked great; the boys did school remotely from our anchorage about 200 yards off of Pigeon Beach. It was fun to be away from the marina, and we got a good chance to use the dinghy to get around, going ashore many times, for food, entertainment, and some spare parts. It felt a bit like going home, returning to Nelson’s Dockyard, though it was sad to see all the restaurants closed. The winds were a sustained 15-20 knots, so we got a good taste of windage at anchor. Some excitement when the bridle snapped, mid-afternoon, the port shackle buckling around the pressure, perhaps because the bolt worked its way loose. It was easy enough to dinghy into Budget Marine and replace the shackle, fixing it all within a few hours (glad we decided to practice anchoring in a busy harbour before heading to more remote spots)
The highlight of the week was yesterday; Archer and August got there first experience with scuba diving! Tiffany came across a local dive shop that offers kids classes, and has kid-sized gear, and we signed the boys open for an introduction class. They took to it like little dolphins! Archer in particular (in part because the gear fit him better) picked it up very quickly, and managed to learn all the basic skills in less than two hours. It was so cool we signed him up on the spot to get fully certified, which we’re going to start on Monday — he already started doing the theory portion online this morning! This will be Archer’s birthday present — he turns 11 on Wednesday (how did that happen!?!) — and he’s super excited about the whole experience. August would love to do it too, and he was awesome in the pool, very comfortable under the water, but you gotta be 10 years old.
Barbuda. Two weeks ago we went to the island of Barbuda, our first open water passage, just over 33 miles north of Antigua. It was a wonderful sail, with steady 15kts winds on the starboard beam, we were averaging 7-8 knots, never even had to tack. We got rained on by a squall at the end, which passed quickly and just added to the sense of making an adventurous passage. By the time we dropped sails and motored into the waters off Coco Point, it was sunny again. We anchored off Princess Diana Beach, among maybe 20 boats. It was a lovely spot, but we were surprised by construction on the beach, and a frequent helicopter in and outs at the nearby airstrip, put in by Robert Dinero no less, as part of a controversial development plan. It was not the remote, unspoilt experience we expected. We did have fun on the dinghy and visiting the beach, but did not make it to the mangrove or frigate birds. Still, just great to get away, successful first passage and our longest sailing to date!
Finally, can’t finish a journal entry without commenting on the state of the boat. It is a never ending process. This week’s highlight was the replacement of the solenoid that controls the master toilet water pump — a key fix! I managed to get the parts sent out from Seattle a little over a week ago, had them custom cleared by a super-yacht agent in Falmouth, picked them up by dinghy, and installed it myself. Pretty cool actually. On the downside, I now have a mystery house battery charging issue, and I had to trouble shoot a bilge pump issue, both in partnership with Wayne Bell, the electrician that’s all but lived on the boat here in Jolly Harbour. Oh, and we had some excitement on anchor in Falmouth last weekend, the day after the bridle snapped. As we are having dinner, I notice that the water pump is working non-stop, even though there is no water running, and even as I point this out, the port engine bilge pump alarm goes off. Stressful 60 seconds before I figure out that the hand rinse hose on the fan tail has split open and there is fresh water pouring into the engine compartment! Easily fixed, but it shook the family up, being dark and windy adding to the drama. Replaced the hose the next day and August did most of the repair – the boys are really eager to be hands-on…