We flew back to Antigua and stayed in the same “villa” near the Jolly Harbor Yard where Mermaid was hauled out. The unit we rented may be called a villa by the locals but it’s not what comes to mind when we use the term. It did have Air conditioning, good internet and was clean so we were very happy to not be staying aboard in the yard where it can be warm at night and buggy.
We had the lower ports in Mermaid’s hull pulled before we left Antigua and it was time to re-seat them. She is an old gal and we didn’t know if this had ever been done and it seemed like a good time to do this job.
This trip we rented a golf cart to take us back and forth to Mermaid. We also enjoyed the cart to do a little exploring and provisioning. Ports back in, new packing gland and a little touch up on bottom paint and Mermaid was ready to float again. We launched her and moved to a slip to paint new non-skid (Kiwi Grip), get her sails back on, provision and get her ready to go sailing. It was hot and raining so we were very happy to be in a marina with the air conditioning blasting while getting her ready.
We departed the slip, loaded some diesel and headed out to the anchorage. What a great feeling to be at anchor again! We swam, snorkeled, made water and enjoyed a few sunsets. We declared a couple of days of lay days… no boat chores.
We moved up to Falmouth Harbor and anchored away from all the other boats and under our friend’s house on the hill. We realized why the other boats weren’t anchoring on that side of the bay a couple of days later when a swell rolled in making for a rolly night! We moved over to the town side and happily anchored in flat water. We enjoyed watching the sea turtles in the bay, exploring Falmouth and English Harbor and meeting new friends anchored nearby. Our friends Al and Maggie had an OCC gathering on their boat before we all went in to Antigua Yacht Club for a full on Thanksgiving dinner. A good time was had by all!
There is a fun organization called the TOT Club in Antigua and we were invited by some cruiser members to a TOT. We accepted and promptly went back to Mermaid to search the internet for info on what a TOT is… It turned out to be an old British Naval Tradition that this club carries on every evening. After the British navy discontinued the tradition of the daily rum ration back in the 1970s, the tradition was kept alive by the Tot club. Each evening they read a passage about British naval history that occurred on that day and dispense the traditional tot of rum. We wanted to know how much rum a tot was before heading in and discovered that it was half a gill. That didn’t help much but we finally found that it was around two ounces. Participating in the tot with the mostly British crowd was great fun and we came back for a few more tots before we hoisted anchor.
Our friends Richie and Claudia came to Antigua and found lots of yard work needed which made for a great weekend. We worked in the yard, swam in the pool, enjoyed their amazing view and ate and drank. They also had us up to the house for Robin’s birthday which was spectacular. Friends of theirs from the UK visited so we all went for a day sail on Mermaid, anchored in Carlisle Bay for lunch and a swim before returning to Falmouth.
New friends Bob and Carol on SV Oasis arranged to rent a car one day to provision so we jumped in on the opportunity. We toured the island a bit, had lunch and provisioned at a big grocery. Also had a nice hike out to English Harbor then back over the hill to Pigeon Beach in Falmouth.
The evenings in Falmouth were full of music and fun so one night Mike packed his harmonicas and we headed into town. We found a bar called the Lime with an open mike night and Mike joined in. They played a couple of blues songs he sounded great. We will go back there again! Another musical venue famous in Falmouth we had not seen yet had to be visited.
We piled six of us in Richie and Claudia’s little vehicle and headed to Shirley Heights to hear the steel drum band. As we arrived a squall with lots of rain moved over and no one seemed to mind. Some crowded under awnings and most just enjoyed the rain. We were treated to an amazing sunset, great music by both the steel drum band and the band that followed and good fun with friends.
In preparing Mermaid to depart we noticed a bit (a big bit) of growth on the anchor chain and decided to pull some chain up and scrub it off. Good thing we did because there was a lot of growth. It is amazing how much growth the anchor chain acquires when one is in one spot for a month or more!
We checked out of the country in Falmouth, stowed the dink on the boat and prepped for departure to Guadalupe. As Mike was on the bow getting the anchor up and Robin at the helm a big dolphin jumped around the boat which we saw as a good omen and headed to sea… South.