After spending a few days in and around the muddy mangrove area of English harbour, I went on a long walk through some fenced off areas across the lagoon, got kicked out of some hotel grounds by security, and found the most beautiful decrepit house in the world:
I've put an offer in for $60 American dollars - They tell me the deal is pending...!
Constellation is that tiny boat you can see through the trees.
After my walk, I found a beautiful little beach:
I sat down for a few hours, and read Thor Heyerdahl's wonderful Kon-tiki. I felt terribly guilty just sitting there on the white sand when Constellation was in need of preparation, however those feelings soon departed, as I began the construction of a raft out of flotsam and let it drift away in the bay.
Walking back, I wondered why I wasn't anchored over on the other side of English harbour, where I could go swimming everyday. I'm told Lord Nelson woke up every morning, and promptly had six buckets of water thrown over him, for his 'daily hygiene routine'. After that he drank a quart of goats milk, and then complained about the mosquitos of the previous night, loudly exclaiming "damn this infernal hole!", so the entire harbour could hear. However, I'm sure as the day went by, even Lord Nelson must have grown to appreciate his surroundings again. So I decided for my hygiene routine (and, I must admit, I haven't had a proper shower since Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, circa the 26th of March) - The closest I've come (under strict and self-imposed sweet water conservation rules) is the dumping of 2 litres squarely over my head - A mere three times since that fateful day in March. So, while I couldn't afford, nor find a personal hygiene assistant, what I needed was a daily swim. I guess that explains why Jack left so quickly... Here is my public apology!
Really, that's the colour of the water. Promise.
I edged up as close as I could to the beach, next to this beautiful Cornish Trader, owned by ex-merchant seaman Peter, from the white cliffs of Dover:
I swam over and circled his boat to check it out, thinking it looked like a beefed up Cornish Crabber, which I guess is exactly what it turned out to be. Built in 1979, Peter bought 'Rainbow' brand new, and upon asking when he crossed the Atlantic, he looked at me sheepishly and said '1989'. Ha! He's been sailing up and down these islands and the East coast of America ever since. I think he was rather excited to have met an Australian, and kept mentioning the cricket (which was currently playing on his TV in the cabin). Unfortunately when it comes to popular sports, I know very little. He kept mentioning players and cricket grounds, and I nodded agreeably with everything he said, blissfully ignorant of how good a player Brian Lara really was.
As we sat drinking tea, an enormous Catamaran with fifty drunken tourists came speeding up to our private paradise, as if attempting to play 'chicken' with our stationary boats. It proceeded to beach itself in the sand, and let loose it's store of pasty white tourists into the bay. After the noisy tourists left, a turtle swam by the boat, with what must have been fifty years of growth on its back. Someone should introduce him to International Antifoul.
During my daily hygiene routine, with a set of goggles on, I came across a pile of chain underneath my boat. I spent 20 minutes diving down to find each end of it, thinking it was probably a mooring. I was pleasantly suprised to find it had two stainless steel shackles on the end of it, and wasn't attached to anything! It's diameter was enormous, and weighed a ton - Constellation could probably anchor off the chain alone, with nothing on the other end! Getting the dinghy over, I hauled it up, to the suspicious eyes of the boats around me, who I'm quite certain thought I was a mooring thief. Not wanting to be labeled 'The Great Ground Tackle Pirate of English Harbour' (or rather, wanting to named exactly that, but afraid of its consequences), I dropped the chain and got back to my boat. At dusk I dived down and attached one end underwater to my existing chain, and will pull up my anchor when I leave, quite innocent of the fact that there is a loose 12mm length of chain attached to it. So, while I was worried about my lack of chain (remember, 35ft was all I could afford, at $2.76 a foot, duty free), I now feel confident Constellation could sit rock solid in full hurricane strength winds, and I could sit onboard cooking pasta, oblivious to the carnage and uprooted trees being flung past my port window.
I previously mentioned my camera had died on the Atlantic, which it had (it's alive again after I hard rest it). I managed to take a few photos, and found this video looking to the stern of Constellation. Other than the footage on the video camera, it's all I have, and sorry for not making it pretty or editing it - But you get an idea of what it's like out there:
While this has all been going on, I've been chipping away at the tasks that need to be done on Constellation, and also spending a lot of time collecting information for my trip up to New York. I've been assisted greatly by several Americans and Canadians, and now feel much more confident about what I'm doing and where I'm going. Not having any almanacs or cruising books on the area, I was really at a loss of what to do - I felt grossly underprepared. Nevertheless, I now have an enormous amount of information, from tidal data, charts, and first hand information and advice for my trip into New York harbour. I'll detail things a bit more in the post I make before setting sail. I said I was going on the weekend, but heck, can I have one more day in paradise before I break back into 40 degree latitudes? I think so.
Monday it is.
P.S Before I forget, I haven't blown the money I raised over the Atlantic on electric winches or rum parties - Jack had the idea of attempting to raise the remaining $275 to buy a full bridge with my North American voyage of 1552nm. So that's what I'm going to do - The $400 already raised is in a separate savings account with a rum lock on it. A 'rum lock' is a special option now offered by Lloyds TSB to poor sailors, smugglers and misfits.
P.P.S Thanks to everyone on the subscription list that responded to my 'spamming' in order to test that things were working again. If you're on the subscribe list, and are reading this but didn't receive a notification... Please let me know.