Monday, February 27, 2006

EnglishHarbour, In Antigua... Hell yeh!

I staggered of the boat this morning and jumped in the dingy I’d borrowed from Lesley on Coconut. As I’m drifting away from Magic Roundabout I pull the cord to start the engine…nothing happens, I try again… nothing… Bollocks. Last night I met up with Chris and Joe from ‘Lazy Dawn’, who I’d originally met on my way down to Lanzarote, Lots of beer (cold beer... So good!) followed, which my poor alcohol starved body wasn’t used too, I had a great night, but christ I feel like crap today. So after allot of tinkering, pulling cords, grunting and swearing, another dingy comes round the corner and, very kindly, gives me a tow to the dockside. Welcome to the Caribbean.

I left Gran Canaria on Saturday the 4th of February at 1600, under blue skies and northerly winds, perfect. However, its not going to last. The weather forecast I got before I left wasn’t good. Its Saturday today and on Tuesday a filthy great weather system is coming through which is going to beet the crap out of me. I know this, but I’ve just been stuck in Lanzarote for 2 weeks, and I can’t face waiting any longer. The weather is likely to head North, so I head south down the coast of Morocco to try and get bellow the worst of it. There are loads of great big container ships everywhere and I never get more than 20 minutes kip at a time. When I finally turn west and head towards the Caribbean it all kicks off on the VHF Radio, there are boats all around me and one of the starts playing Britney Spears over the Radio, so then half the ships are telling him to shut up and the other half are shouting for more. This turns into a full scale slagging match which culminates, understandably, in more Britney. This would be the last time I’d see a ship or hear a voice for three weeks.

That was on the Monday. By Friday I’d passed through the worst of the storm and the wind was starting to come round into the north. The last couple of days had been pretty tough. I’d been sailing with the boat laid over on it’s side, hardly any sail up and water going everywhere. My hatches were all leaking and it was pretty damp down bellow. Cookings a tricky one when your going along like this, but I managed to keep myself going on a nutritious diet of coffee and Hob Nob biscuits. God bless McVities.

By the second week the weather forecasts I had, had all expired, so I was having to take every day as it came. I did have a couple of hours break before the wind went round from the south west to the north east. The sun came out and I managed to have a bucket shower and brew myself up some spag boll. However it wasn’t long before I was flying down monster waves with 35 to 40 knots of wind (1 knot is 1 nautical mph and a Nautical miles about 1860 meters) blowing me west.

The next couple of days were perhaps the most fun, but at the same time the most draining. When a big wave comes up behind you, if you catch it right, you surf down it, and how fast you go depends on how big the wave is… I was going very fast. At one point I went down to make some coffee, next thing I knew there was this massive RAUGH coming from outside and the whole boat starts shaking, I look out the back and water’s flying all over the place. I glance over at the GPS as the speed swiftly climbs to 16.9 Knots! My top speed is usually around 7 knots. So it’s probably the equivalent of getting a Minnie to180mph! It was, as I say, great fun, but all it takes is for a wave to catch you in the wrong way and it can cause allot of damage. As a result I had to take the helm almost the whole time, and got very little sleep. When your tired it becomes so hard to think straight and you start making stupid mistakes. Mine usually came in the form of leaving the hatch open. Waves were constantly breaking over the boat and an open hatch warmly invited all this water to go bellow. Looking back on it now, a bit of water down bellow doesn’t seem to bad, but at the time it really pissed me off.

My last week was such a contrast. The wind and waves died down, the sun came out, and the fish started biting my line. I started cooking, and came up with some true culinary masterpieces. My personal favourites included ‘Salami and tomato soup Shepard’s pie’ and a very fine ‘Tinned tropical fruit Crumble’ all made in my trusty bread tin, which also produced some very fine bread.

I finally dropped my anchor in English harbour at 1500 on Saturday the 25th of February almost exactly 21days to the hour after I left.

Hell Yeh…