When you’ve spent over three weeks at sea Antigua really is a piece of heaven on earth. We don’t need to tell you what it was like because it’s all that you imagine it to be: warm, idyllic, welcoming and simply stunning. With free-flowing rum and the fact it was approaching Christmas the vibe was fully switched on to ‘party’ mode. Tim, Dobby, Michel and myself rented a shack for a month on top of a hill overlooking Falmouth Harbour and quickly sussed the perfect recipie for rum-punch. Yachts came and went, providing the south of the island with crowds of party people who crammed the local joints like the Mad Mongoose.
Within the space of a couple of hours Michel, Dobby, Tim and myself sorted out some accommodation – a breezeblock house that sits on top of a hill, overlooking Falmouth Harbour. Every evening we sit on our balcony, rum punch in hand, and overlook our lucky find. The crickets strike up a Caribbean drum pattern and we sit there, getting slowly eaten by the mozzies gazing out at the huge super yachts in the marina.
Three hours and forty five minutes before my estimated time of arrival we drop anchor at 6.15am, just in time to watch the sun rise over a beautiful and lush looking island! Cracking open our last bottle of wine we celebrate and congratulate each other on our safe passage which, of course, has been one memorable trip!
Maybe it isn’t going to end. We’ve no wind and we’re doing minus one knot. The air is close and it is baking hot. Everyone is tired and I’ve got a headache. I managed to give myself rope burns to the hand and we’ve run out of gas. Our destination is only 80 miles away and we’ve just been bobbing aimlessly.
The countdown continues and although we’re still over 200 miles away our destination feels just round the corner. Strange, isn’t it, how a half hour traffic jam can cause so much stress to a three hour journey, yet we’re getting excited because we’ve only got 24 hours to go!
Sunday, the day of rest, was spent stripping layers of skin off our hands with some very toxic cleaning fluids.
Got woken up by an excited Timmy at 4am, claiming aliens had visited him! Apparently whilst on watch the sails were lit up by a huge bright spotlight.
We had a hard morning’s work tidying up the boat whilst Roger and Manuel were cast either side out the back of the boat. An unprecedented move this late in the season but within 10 minutes Roger had attracted the attention of a sail fish (not dorado!).
Today’s highlight was Simon’s new fairground ride, “The Reins of Indies”, which consisted of a rope hung out the back of the boat with two loops to slip each hand through. Throwing oneself off the back of the boat the body was immediately stretched horizontally as it’s dragged out the back of the boat, which was traveling at around 5-6 knots.
I was elated. I had finally bagged a fish worth talking about and I had photographic evidence to boot. With Rich still up the mast I figured I’d save some time and start filleting one side of this monster. I took the chap down to the swimming platform at the back of the boat. He was a healthy adult male. His appetite was obviously very big since a flying fish popped out of his guts!
Our first 24 hours of running a dead ship took us into our third week at sea. Only one person had been to the toilet over the back of the boat, the rest of us suddenly becoming constipated. Washing up in salt water became a real pain in the arse and the boat was damp due to a very wet night watch that included some Scooby Doo style lightning storms.
Another miserable day on the weather front (the second in a row with no sun), giving us a grim backdrop for the bad news: the batteries had stopped charging and neither the skipper nor the first mate had any idea why this was so. Ocean Indies is, after all, a new boat. This situation meant we now had to run what is called a ‘dead ship’, i.e. no electricity.