Saturday, December 9, 2017

Cleaning the oven … and thoughts of my childhood 9th Dec 2017

Saturday 9th December 2017

Ever since the big passage there have been smells of burnt food on the boat whenever I light the oven. I think that when we were warming up Brian’s wonderful stuffed shells in bumpy seas during the passage we spilt some of the contents onto the back wall of the oven. So yesterday, in anticipation of Gloria’s arrival, I decided to clean the oven! It actually wasn’t as bad a job as I feared, but for reasons I’ll try and explain it did get me thinking of my childhood ….

I was lovely child. You don’t believe me? Just ask my mum! Actually, I suspect what she might say is that when I wasn’t wrecking the furniture, breaking windows or fighting with my sister, I wasn’t as bad as you might expect. Damned with faint praise. When we were naughty as kids it was my mum who maintained discipline, at least she was the one who gave out the “smack-bottoms”. I remember wind-milling around her as she held onto me with one hand whilst trying to smack me with the other and I vigorously tried to avoid contact. It’s a very vivid memory, so it must have happened more than once, but in truth, we very rarely got smacked – mostly just sent to bed, where we could expect a stern talking to from our Dad when he got home. One occasion that I do remember from my early childhood was being smacked for biting my sister Ali. I have no recollection of what she had done to prompt me to bite her, but I’m sure it was justified! I also vaguely recall an incident where I stuck the fire poker through the glass in the front door because Ali wouldn’t stop ringing the bell, but strangely I don’t remember any punishment! Ironically, I think the most cross that my mum ever got with me was when I was much older, maybe in my late teens. My Mum, Dad and brother had gone on holiday to Europe for three weeks and I stayed at home because I had a summer job and would look after the house. I guess I didn’t do a very good job of keeping things clean and tidy because when they came home she was really unhappy with the state of things. I was little old to be smacked but it didn’t save me from a good tongue-lashing! But, perhaps this had some impact because it's clear in my mind that when Gloria gets here the boat better be looking spiffy!

In the evening, I was delighted to see that “Numada” with Richard, Rafaella and their two boys Sebastien and Matthew had come back into the marina. I had a very pleasant evening with the four of them plus Richard’s parents at the Friday night barbecue at the marina Tiki Bar. Richard and Matthew also came by our boat this morning and I had a chance to take the portraits below.

Matthew - from "Numada". Three different expressions - within one minute - all shot with natural light in our main cabin

You forget how much energy young boys have!

One of the friendly crew from the Husky salvage team


Friday, December 8, 2017


Friday 8th December 2017

Yesterday  (Thursday) was a difficult day as I woke up with horrible vertigo. Immediately I sat up everything started spinning in an uncontrolled and nauseating way.  I managed to stagger over to the bathrooms and then took a seasick tablet when I got back to the boat. After half an hour sitting in the cockpit, whilst I ran the engines and re-charged the batteries and cooled the freezer, I didn’t feel much better so I took a second Stugeron and went back to bed. I got up again at about 10 am feeling slightly better and cycled into Road Town to check moorings in the harbor and get some exercise. It went fine and I took the opportunity to stop by the frozen yoghurt shop for a “pick-me-up”! On the way back I decided to take a short detour in Sea Cow Bay and check out the horse-racing course, where I had heard that Irma blew down the stadium. I was shocked to see the twisted girders and debris. You can still just about clamber up onto some of the bleachers but even I started to wonder if this was a wise move. There were a few race horses out in the fields around the track, one in particular was close to the stadium, but looked in poor shape. I heard that many of the horses died during the storm.
When I got back to Nanny Cay Marina, I got a call to say that the new bolt for my inner forestay “high field lever” was ready. Randy (who appears in the photos of blog "Up the hill" ) did a great job machining a replacement for the one I lost. With the parts in hand it was an easy job to reassemble the inner forestay (see below) – which is good, because with the trade winds blowing we are going to need to use the stay sail a lot. I was also able to fit an additional cam cleat in the cockpit to help control the mainsail reefing lines.
After a lovely long chat with Gloria, I spent a quiet evening eating left over chili and fried potatoes. Only 5 days until Gloria arrives!

Horse racing stadium in Sea Cow Bay - destroyed by Irma

View of the stands 

The bleachers

Abstract bleachers

Sad and skinny looking horse, with actual track behind

Total devastation - a house down hill from the stadium (in background) - amongst other things a large tree collapsed on the buildings

The inner forestay - high field lever. The new machined bolt is top left.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Crazy Sailing

Wednesday 6th December 2017

Monday was a fairly quiet day. I relaunched the dinghy and tested the outboard … not so great. It is hard to start and has a tendency to stall even after it’s been running a while. I thought we might have bad fuel in the tank so I dumped that and replaced it with gasoline from the jerry cans we carry (which might also be quite old), but this made no difference. The spark plug looks good so I figure it’s either the fuel filter or the carburetor. It’s a bummer because our outboard has been easy to start and super-reliable up until now. I’ve ordered some spares from Honda, which Gloria will bring out with her, and a service manual that I hope to download on line.

In the evening Sylvain and Valerie from ZENlattitude came over to Cotinga for dinner. I cooked up some Wahoo and Val brought over a fantastic rice dish flavoured with coconut milk and a variety of spices. It has been great getting to know Sylvain and Val and we have become good friends. Sadly, they just left today, having finally completed repairs to their forestay that broke on the passage from Norfolk. They need to make progress down the islands as they are meeting their daughter soon. I hope that we’ll be able to meet up again when we head south.

On Tuesday I took Cotinga out for a sail with Matt Sellers, an English guy that I met watching football in the bar on Sunday. The trade winds have filled in substantially in the last couple of days and it was blowing 15-20 kts outside of the marina, so we opted to head east up the Sir Francis Drake channel in order to do our windward sailing early in the day. It turned out to be very windy and quite bumpy. A couple of squalls came through on the outward leg that topped 30kts on the gauge, but Cotinga handled them well with a single reefed main and stay sail. For the first time in my sailing experience we flipped the dinghy we were towing behind. At some point we realized that we weren't sailing as fast as we should be and when I looked around I could see the bottom of the dinghy as it plowed the water behind us. I suspect it flipped partly due to the conditions, but also because we tied it up too close to the back of Cotinga.  Thankfully, we were able to right it whilst underway. However, I began to feel distinctly sea sick, not having taken any preventative meds, and so we re-considered our plans to go up to Virgin Gorda and instead picked up a mooring at Cooper Island. After a rest and cold drink we left the mooring and had a very pleasant broad reach on a single tack all the way back  to Nanny Cay. We did get caught from behind by one further squall which prompted us to reef the genoa as the seas to our stern turned white with rain and the winds peaked at 35 kts! These were the fiercest conditions that I’ve sailed in but Cotinga handled it fine and Matt seemed totally in his element having spent a lot of time sailing in the North Sea. The only issue is that we lost one of the bolts from the inner forestay tensioning lever, but I’m having a new one machined at the marina and if that fails we can use a large clevis pin.

Tasha – if you are reading this – these were unusual conditions even for this area where the trade winds can blow quite strongly. We will make sure that we spend time in protected waters and beautiful anchorages when you visit.

On Monday I was out taking some shots of the salvage crew righting some overturned vessels. I was looking at a boat where a stand had punched through the hull when all of a sudden a Bananaquit landed on the section of torn fiber-glass looking for nesting material. Lucky timing on my part!

Abstract hull and a cute little Bananaquit ... what could be better!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sunday is Football

Monday 4th December 2017

Sunday tends to be a bit of a lazy day. I did some easy jobs in the morning, repairing the latch on one of the galley drawers, downloading a new set of Kindle books from the library and I also made a loaf of bread. It’s a ciabatta, but I’m a little out of practice so it came out somewhat flatter than you might wish. It also stuck to the pan, but it tastes good. I discovered that if a put the bowl with the dough on the table in the cockpit it gets plenty warm enough to rise. I also discovered that “cling film” (Saran wrap) sticks to bread dough.
In the afternoon I wandered along to Captain Mulligan’s open air bar and watched football on the big screen. It was great to see the Patriots whip the Bills! However, I think that Rob Gronkowski deserves and will get a one game suspension for his cheap shot on Tre'Davious White. Anyway, after the game I grabbed camera and tripod and set out to take some low light shots, returning to the boat about 7.30pm. Just enough time left before boater’s midnight to cook up a chinese stir fry with chicken, broccoli, red pepper, onions and mushrooms. Yummy!

Let me finish with a question …would you trust a weather forecast from an iPhone that says “it is currently 80oF … today’s high will be 79oF” … sounds like  your average comment from a White House press briefing!

Kids playing with light-sticks in the marina grounds

Kids playing with light-sticks in the marina grounds

Gennaker's restaurant at Nanny Cay

Gennaker's restaurant at Nanny Cay

Gennaker's restaurant at Nanny Cay

Gennaker's restaurant at Nanny Cay ... the way to the bathroom!

The boat lifting operation ... This boat was a real issue. As they started to lift it, the adjacent boat began to lean against high voltage transformer. The manager of the marina quickly shut down the transformer stopping power to the docks until both boats were safely out of the way. Work was done for the night when I took this shot

Toppled boats backlit with the full moon. I took this shot with a tripod and long exposure, running around frantically trying to illuminate the boats with multiple discharges from my flashgun.

As above ... I have both shots in B&W as well but can't decide which I prefer.