It took me again a while to post an update about the last passage but here it goes, the first of the new year. I m writing from Same, a small town in the north coast of Ecuador, where I usually spend Christmas and New Years Eve. I came here from Turks and Caicos after a 6h hours stopover in DC to change bags and get into a plane with Natalia and my daughter Sofia. We arrived on December 23th and since then we have settled into a very pleasant routine.
As planned, Richard and I arrived to Georgetown Exumas on December 12th. This time the drone was allowed inside the country after paying a USD 400 deposit (50% of its value). The frozen beef stew, fried rice, and chile con carne that Richard prepared and brought with him went through customs unnoticed. We rented a car and drove to Regatta Point to drop our bags, then headed to the boat yard.
Antares was on the hard waiting, sad and anxious, I’m sure. I was shocked and angry when I saw her, then simply felt guilty. None of the work I had asked for had been done, not even basic things like maintaining the varnish. Inside things were a mess. The genoa, removed at the start of the hurracain season, had been stuffed through the companionway and occupied most of the cabin. Why didn’t they fold the sail properly, put it inside its bag, and store it with the other sails is beyond my understanding. I guess things could have been worse. Our neighbors, a couple in their sixties, had found their boat infested with mice and were still cleaning after six days.
Soon came Rostin — the only reliable person in that boat yard where he lives in his boat now with his girlfriend — to report on his findings regarding the depth/speed wireless unit: power came in and out because the installation had not been done properly; the tiny wires that bring power to the unit were touching and creating a short, and one of those bringing the signal from the depth-sounder had also been connected to the power slot. It took him a while to detect and solve the problem because when he first came to the boat a couple of days ago he found that the batteries were death. Only one of the three AGMs could be charged. The small lead acid battery that powers the VHF and navigation/compass lights was also defunct. Folks at the yard didn’t bother to keep the battery charger connected to shore power yet left the battery switch in the ON position.
Thus we started to clean and prepare Antares for the short, upwind, passage to Turks and Caicos. We had a long to do list in front of us. We began by folding the genoa and found, not surprisingly, it had been damaged and needed stitches. So we brought it to the village’s tailor. He did an excellent job in record time. We also brought him the dodger a couple of hours later. It had been torn as well. That afternoon we were able to replace the small, lead acid, battery. Unfortunately, I could not find AGMs in town.
Before sunset we provisioned. Perishables went to the fridge in our room along with Richard’s frozen food and we were off to have dinner in town. The plan was to have Antares on the water the next day, Wednesday, and bring her to the marina, aiming for an early afternoon departure on Thursday. We were up by seven. Richard prepared coffee while I checked the weather reports and downloaded Grib files in PredictWind. We had a window of mild easterly winds that I wanted to catch. Unfortunately, a front with mild north westerlies had just passed the day before.
Antares was floating by 2:30pm, three hours before high-tide. The engine started with no fuzz. I paid two and a half months of storage, filled the aft water tank (the marina had no water or electricity) and left. We motored around the shallows into Victoria Harbor’s and by 4:30 we were docking, port side, at the marina. Rostin came to help with the lines. That night we cooked hamburgers at hotel keeping half of them for the trip. We had a restful night.
Though Thursday was going to be a busy day, I took my time in the early morning drinking coffee in the garden watching the boats at anchor, for once sitting still; there was no wind, there was no movement other than the photons of sun light coming in and out of the water. And I was there contemplating, as if time had slowed down and was going to come to a stop.
Everything was packed ready to be transported to the boat. We had a very precise plan, coordinated actions that needed to be executed without flaws: 1) bring and store our gear and food on the boat (not the perishables yet); 2) install the dodger’s frame after having repaired the portion of fiberglass where it connects to the roof-top; 3) install the dodger; 4) hoist and roll the genoa; 5) hoist Rostin up the mast to change the mast light; 6) fill the fuel tank with diesel and load the car with empty jerry cans; 7) take the propane tank out of the lazaret and drive to the refill station; 8) buy more jerry cans; 9) drive to the gas station and fill JCs with diesel and gasoline for the generator (at the same time add gas to the rental car so that the tank is half full); 10) buy ice and cold beer, bring to the boat and turn on the fridge; 11) put the propane tank back in the lazaret, install the wheel and connect the wind-vane sheets; 12) bring the perishables to the boat and organized in the fridge; 13) go to customs to check-out and get back my deposit; and 14) park the rental car and put the keys under the drivers seat. It was 1:30pm when we cast-off the lines and headed towards the North Channel Rocks.