I had made it and this is what I had to look forward to? The exact life before I left, except I didn’t have work to interrupt my…work! My boat had had a salt water beating inside and out.
Antigua: Post Passage Clean up and Fix up
Aw, Acedia was safely on a mooring finally. Though it was a bit of torture that it was getting late and the thought of getting the dinghy in the water to go to shore was just too much of a project. I just wanted to go in and have a celebortory drink and find myself some positive energy! We had made it! I seemed to be all alone in the success of the accomplishment. I sailed my boat 1500miles offshore to get to the Caribbean. All the effort, energy, encouragement, and support that went into this journey was simply amazing! Yet, everyone was drained (me included, I actually was pretty delirious by then). We popped the bubbly Shelby insisted on getting in Bermuda for the occasion <!!!>, scraped together some dinner, jumped into the water, and went straight to bed.
The next morning I had to strategize. My good friend John Keane had assured me that I was correct and that the fuel filter needed to be more than drained, it needed to be changed. I set at that right away and got the engine fired up again. Not knowing how much time we had, we immediately hailed the Antigua Yacht Club Marina and got instructions where we could go tie up. Once we were on the dock, the fuel filter water separator was filled up again. Oye. The diesel without a doubt needed polishing. After a minute with the dockmaster, Tommy, I had an appointment the next day to have that serviced.
Next was the windlass, I couldn’t anchor even if I could motor off the dock. Well, I could anchor, I just would be stuck until I could find someone wayyy stronger than me to help pull it back up again! We went to have a big breakfast and while I went to check in at customs, Joe had a look and repaired a few electrical connections and with doom deemed the windlass almost dead with corrosion. The windlass worked and I kept it on my check list to find a better solution to make sure the footswitches kept working.
Laundry. Oh boy, was there laundry to do. I went through the boat and took out everything wet, damp, and/or moldy. My deck looked like a trashy yard sale, as I wanted things to dry out so I could sort out and strategize the laundry loads. In Antigua, it costs $20-30 American for a load of laundry! I sorted out heavy items that needed a dryer to dry and items that could quickly dry out in the sun. It ended up being a very expensive laundry day as my forward hatch and my mast leaked all over my bed and my clothes cabinets. A salt water soaked life is what I had.
Joe and Shelby enjoyed the local beach and relaxing on land. I took some naps and we met up with Gaia as they had arrived to Antigua a few hours prior to us. They were in the next harbor over, but the walk was short and I was so happy to see my friends!! So. Very. Happy!! We did dinner and drinks and I crashed early again. I can’t begin to explain how exhausted I was. And overwhelmed by the passage and the aftermath. I just wanted everything settled, clean, orderly, homey, and working again.
The next day, Shelby and Joe had arranged to fly out together on a early afternoon flight. After having the diesel polished and laundry started, they were off. Acedia and I were at the dock in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua. I had so much to do to sort myself out getting ready for being out on anchor. My dinghy had gotten banged up on the Bermuda trip that I wanted to utilize this time to try and patch her up. I had no luck finding any patches at any of the local chandleries. I needed to fill up with water and secure my friends for helping me get off the dock and anchored safely. I was a bit scarred from the trip into the harbor. If I had issues, I certainly didn’t want to be alone. I was constantly taking care of the next immediate thing that needed to be attended to.
That night on the dock, I grabbed my computer and went to sit out in the café to catch some wifi. There sat Mike from Bermuda! I had a new friend on Antigua that I got caught up hanging out with for the night, it was so fun to see him. The next day Mikey and Kirsten trustily came over early afternoon to help get Acedia over in the neighboring harbor to anchor next to them. The short trip went smoothly until we put the dinghy in the water and it seemed to deflate faster than it had in Bermuda! I had about 1.5hours before it was in dire straights and needed to be pumped up with air again before the engine would start to go under! Needless to say, my dinghy was in a sad state of affairs. How the heck was I going to manage now?!
The next morning after trying to make plans with my new friend Mike, he showed up to investigate why I might have needed to swim in to shore to see him (as that was what I told him). He and his fellow crew Andrea, crazy Italian guy, realized the state of the dinghy and invited me to the beach for a swim. A swim turned into exploring the pillars outside English Harbor, Old Years Day Regatta spectating and a lovely afternoon, evening, New Years Eve night, fireworks, New Years Day on the beach, exploring to a local bbq, drinks, dinner, and good times. I had been kidnapped from the woes of my boat! I couldn’t have asked for a better New Years holiday on this island stop.
Once the holiday was over, Mike kindly hooked me up with contacts on island that could assist with getting Acedia and dinghy all set again. I had the dinghy off to be repaired, it had 8 holes in the pontoon and 5 on the bottom! It was a good 3-4 days sans dinghy, but worth the solid repair. Mike kindly gave me rides here and there, Mike and Kirsten would stop by on their way to shore, and I even was able to hail down random boaters passing by for a ride.
I had not tightened down the engine’s fuel filter after the final change with the fuel polishing and I had found a big mess of diesel in my bilge. I had an electrical connection that had totally corroded on my solar panel hookup so running the engine to keep the batteries topped off had made that diesel leak worse. I spent a few days hand scooping diesel and running around the island to find oil rags to clean up the bloody mess. Mike kindly came out and reconnected the solar panel wire so I was back in renewable energy mode again. Those panels are so much cleaner , neater, and less noisy that’s for sure! I had found a new switch for my windlass which needed to be replaced and a few halyards and reef lines that had some pretty significant chafe. Mike helped sort out the repairs and set me on my way with a list to find the necessary parts. The Friday before he and the Blue Peter were off sailing, he came by and sorted out some of the last essential manageable fixes. I’m not sure what I would have done without him 🙂
It was a crazy whirlwind of a good week and half. I hadn’t even had time to process where I was or going out to explore and have fun (Mike did that for me, at least for New Years!). It had felt like the whirlwind I had just spent the last six months prior to departure getting Acedia ready. I had worked so hard and here I was in a predicament with seemingly everything in shambles again. I was so far away from home. Mike was amazing help and support but was leaving so soon. I had to stay behind waiting for my new autohelm to show up on island. Mikey and Kirsten had left earlier than anticipated. I was overwhelmed and missed my good friends and comforts at home. I cried. The passage down was a nightmare in itself leaving me feeling uncertain about my ability to Captain as rumors were flying that I was reckless. It seemed like a storm hitting me instead of celebrations and good times in the Caribbean! After all, I had made it!! Yet, I curled up and cried.
It was time to sort myself out and start my blog. After I got my windlass switch fixed, I set out anchor in the mouth of English Harbor where I sat out in my cockpit for sunsets, I swam off my swim platform in beautiful turquoise waters, I had found a neighbor from Marblehead who was friendly and helpful, I slowly started to enjoy my new surroundings around Acedia. I was home and things started to fall into place again. Thank you Mike for helping me get there, I learned so much and had a great time in your company! The Blue Peter and its crew were my Rock while they were my neighbors which helped me get on my feet again. I am continuously grateful to ALL those helping me along this journey.