Friday, May 12, 2017

1980 (29) - Nevis to Antigua

Scrimshaw pendant by Jill White.  Just over one inch tall.

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

In daylight we found ourselves anchored well out from the town of Charlestown, but as we only intended to stay long enough to repair our gear and rest up, we didn't bother moving in closer to shore.  We had stopped at Nevis the previous year when we had our problems on the passage from St. Maarten to Antigua.  I told Ed, since fate kept dropping me off at Nevis, sometime I really ought to go ashore and see the island.  (I never did.)  While Ed did repairs, I spent the first day cleaning up the boat, drying out clothes, and cooking.  I had trouble eating on the trip because of the heavy motion; I had subsisted on chocolate cookies.  Not having had a regular meal in three days, I was half-starved.  I made a mushroom quiche for lunch, chicken cacciatore for dinner, and snacked on everything in sight the rest of the day.

I took to studying the chart, and measured the distance between our anchorage on Nevis, and English Harbour on Antigua.  It was 50 seagull miles (that's in, "as the seagull flies," since I doubted they had crows in the Caribbean).  We would be continuing on a windward beat.  I'd worked out a formula for determining how many miles Tropic Moon would have to sail to cover a certain number of seagull miles, when traveling to windward.  I took the number of sea gull miles, in this case 50, and multiplied it by 2-1/2, which gave me 125 Tropic Moon miles.  Dividing 125 miles by our average 5 miles/hour, that would give us a sailing time of 25 hours from Nevis to Antigua. 

I presented my figures to the captain, who, in truth, did scoff a bit, but who agreed to an overnight sail, with a departure time of 2:00 p.m. the next day.  We had the anchor up, and were leaving the harbor on Nevis at 2:30 p.m.  We anchored the following afternoon in English Harbour at 3:30 p.m., 25 hours later.  Actually, I was a little surprised myself that it worked out that well.  We covered 134 miles, motoring for the last few hours through the strong currents off Antigua's southern coast.  Our "two day" trip from Tortola to Antigua ended up being four days and three nights of sailing, with a two-day stop at Nevis, and a distance covered of almost 400 miles.

The people on Aspen Leaf (back in Maya Cove), had asked us to keep an eye out for friends of theirs, on a boat called Different Drummer.  Bruce and Roxie weren’t sure where we’d see them, but thought it was about the time when Different Drummer would be moving from St. Maarten, where they spent the summer, to Antigua, where they were planning on spending the winter.  We entered English Harbour about a half hour behind a smaller sailboat we’d noticed traveling ahead of us.  When we anchored in the outer bay to await the Customs and Immigration Officers, we saw that the little boat was Different Drummer.  They also had their yellow quarantine flag raised to request clearance.  As the Customs dinghy wasn’t operating, the Customs officers were hitching around the harbor.  When they were finished on Different Drummer, David brought them over to Tropic Moon.  I introduced myself, mentioned the Aspen Leaf people, and invited them over for drinks the next night.

David and Jill White were from England.  They’d sailed Different Drummer, which was only 28 feet long, across the Atlantic.  They hoped to stay in the Caribbean, and were partially supporting themselves with Jill’s scrimshaw work.  Jill had studied the craft with a Portuguese artist they’d met when passing through the Azores.  Scrimshaw is fine etching done on the ivory of whales’ teeth.  It’s an old and beautiful craft that reached its peak during the 18th and 19th centuries at the hands of the men who crewed and worked America’s whaling ships.  David cut the cross sectional slices from the large teeth and polished them.  Jill carved extremely detailed designs with a very fine knife, and colored in the pictures with inks.  I purchased a pretty pendant showing one of the native fishing sloops popular in the islands.  (See photo above.)

We spent a week in English Harbour, visiting with people, and watching the ongoing restoration of Nelson’s Dockyard.  One day we took the bus into St. John to do some shopping.  We devoted a couple days to sanding and varnishing what seems to be (when we’re working on it), an endless amount of teak woodwork.  That project finished, it was time to head north again.

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