Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Where we left off in April…

Aspen at Jolly Harbour Boatyard, Antigua - ready to go into the water!

Aspen behind our rented condo at Jolly Harbour , Antigua - no sails or anything else has been put on her yet.  So much work ahead of us...

 Two days later and Aspen still behind the condo at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.  Now everything is fitted again and she is ready for sea and another sailing season in the warm Caribbean Sea.  What a view we have as well!

S/Y Aspen – November 14, 2017 – Log #151
Aspen Position: 17 degrees 03’ N  061 degrees 52’ W
Jolly Harbour, Antigua, Caribbean

Well, how about that?  It is already the next sailing season for Aspen!  How fast time flies, or so it seems.

Aspen survived a category 5 hurricane at Jolly Harbour boatyard in Antigua.  WOW.  Hurricanes don’t get any stronger than category 5.  The eye of hurricane Irma with 220 mph gusts pummeled Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda, completely and absolutely destroying everything on the island.  Antigua is a mere 25 miles away from Barbuda with the massive eye wall of hurricane Irma measured at a diameter of 40 miles.  Antigua took a solid hit from hurricane Irma as well.

News reports from Barbuda told of total destruction while the reports from Antigua seemed surprisingly positive.  “Not much damage in Antigua”, the local broadcasters said solemnly on the TV station being broadcast live via our internet connection as Irma churned murderously right next to Aspen sitting patiently in Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

As our airport taxi dropped Maria and I off at the boatyard, we looked in wonder at pretty Aspen sitting just as we left her in April.  What a glorious sight!!!

We scampered onboard Aspen and noticed lots of dirt and pieces of gravel littering her decks, blown in from the surrounding hills.  Those fantastic hills provided the protection Aspen needed in order to survive the monster hurricane Irma.

The boatyard manager was surprised when I reminded him we were putting Aspen into the water in two days.  “What?” the manager said.  “Don’t you want to paint the bottom and work on your boat?”

I reminded the manager we did all of our boat work prior to leaving in April, allowing us to get Aspen floating as soon as possible and out of the dreaded dirty boatyard.

Aspen was launched last Thursday, on island time of course.  Once in the water, Maria and I motored 1 minute, around the corner to a dock located right behind a condo we rented for the week.

So here we are, watching Aspen float quietly 10 feet away from Maria and I, sitting in our air conditioned condo with hot showers, refrigeration, reliable internet and TV.  We never had the opportunity to have this kind of arrangement before but thanks to our friends, Don and Donna who miraculously still have a Villa on St. Maarten, all of this was possible for us.  But this great arrangement won’t probably ever happen again so we have to enjoy it while we can.

Did I mention that the admiral is really happy???

So what are our sailing plans for this season, you might ask?

That’s a tough question.  Our favorite islands have been literally destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria.  Those favorite sailing places are:  Dominica, Sint Maarten/St. Martin, The Virgin Islands (British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands - Maria’s idillic Disneyland sailing places) and even Puerto Rico.

Talking with our sailboat insurance company, storing Aspen in a boatyard anywhere in the “Hurricane Box” - meaning anywhere north of Grenada, will result in at least a doubling of our insurance premium, IF they will insure us at all.

All of this means that we will sail south from Antigua this year and slowly make our way to Grenada where we will store Aspen for the 2018 hurricane season.

Sure we have been south before where there are lots of choices for islands to visit again.  Places lying in the sunshine like Guadeloupe, Dominica (to see the destruction, geeze), Martinique, St. Lucia, Bequia and the Grenadines with the end of the season eventually in Grenada.

Most of our cruising friends will be heading to these same islands so we will rendezvous with them in the Windward Islands this sailing season.

You can bet the rum will still flow as we watch the setting sun during happy hour; the beaches will be blindingly white in the scorching rays of the tropical sun; and the warm Caribbean Sea still invites us to snorkel and swim with her every day.  We are very fortunate to spend winters in this tropical paradise!

So stay tuned and we will share our adventures, both idillic and not so good, during our continuing sails on the good ship Aspen in these little latitudes this season.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

PS -  Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com

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