Thursday, February 2, 2017

1979 (12) - Home for the Holidays

English Harbor, Antigua.  Tropic Moon, front and center

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

English Harbor, on the southern coast of Antigua, is one of the most beautiful and popular anchorages in the Caribbean. The bay goes well inland with several twists and turns.  For the Christmas season, 1979, we left Tropic Moon in English Harbor and flew home to the States.  We moored Tropic Moon, tied to the roots of mangrove trees, in one of the smaller inlets at the head of the bay.  We left our dinghy with Ted, a fellow on another sailboat.  He kept an eye on Tropic Moon while we were away. 

We were in the States for almost three weeks, spending part of the time at my sister’s in Arlington, Virginia, where my parents joined us, and part of the time with Ed’s folks on Long Island.  It was nice to have “a vacation from our vacation,” and see our families again.  We slipped in and out of winter without seeing any snow, and with a low temperature of 25 degrees.  The cold didn’t bother us nearly as much as we had expected.  We returned to Antigua laden with new paperback books, cassettes for the tape deck, and film for the camera. 

The day we returned to Antigua, by the time we reached English Harbor, it was already dark.  Some nice people with a dinghy ferried Ed out to Tropic Moon.  I sat down with the luggage to wait.  Ed suggested that if he didn’t show up in an hour, I should try to find my own ride out to the boat!  I waited about twenty minutes before some guy asked me if I was going to sit on the dock all night.  I explained my problem.  He very nicely offered me a ride in his dinghy.  He took me - plus my tote bag, the duffel bags, and the new solar panels - out to Tropic Moon.

The only evidence we found of Ed on the boat was his shoes and socks.  The boat was locked, so I had another wait.  When Ed had reached Tropic Moon, he found the dinghy gone.  We had told Ted he could use it while we were away, and we'd come back a day early.  The people who ferried Ed to Tropic Moon then offered to take him to Ted’s boat.  Ed found Ted, our dinghy, the keys for our boat, and some of our laundry - which Ted had sent out to be washed.  Ted had stripped the bunks, and also found some other dirty sheets, which I’d stuffed in the hanging locker in the aft cabin.  I guess things had started to smell; I’m afraid his nose must have led him to them….

Tropic Moon is on the far left.  Orange nose (sail bag) and blue awning

Our experiences of going without electricity when the engine wasn’t working, and Ed’s general dislike of running the engine to charge the batteries, helped us make the decision to give solar energy a try.  We purchased two solar panels while in the States, and have been using them to charge the batteries since our return.  They charge at the rate of one amp when the sun is shining.  It’s fun to watch the effect of passing clouds on the amp meter Ed constructed.  Ed decided against attaching the solar panels to the cabin top, as it's advantageous to be able to prop them up, and turn them to catch the full effects of the sun.  So far, the solar panels are keeping the charge in the batteries, despite increased use of the lights and tape deck.  The engine will be relegated to getting us in and out of harbors.