We arrived in Antigua five days ago and have been busy getting Calliope ready to go. As usual, there were minor repairs and glitches to sort out – and one quite major one: the boom isn’t connected to the mast. Today, only three days before the big departure, we hope the new gooseneck connection between the two will be fitted. We’ve also done a lot of sorting, making sure things are stowed where we want them (and can find them – it’s amazing how many nooks and crannies there are, and items can get put away and forgotten). I had a happy session with the labelling machine yesterday, carefully itemising our first aid kit. Last time I was labelling, I got carried away and labelled the labelling machine itself; ah well, little things please little minds… Meanwhile, the boat is sparkling clean, fully fuelled and berths made up for our first crew, Aldeburgh sailors Caroline and Keith Martin and Hilary and James Grogono, who arrive this afternoon. I’m sure our beautiful Aldeburgh map cushion will make them feel right at home (thank you, Ann and Emma!)
Yesterday Charlie, who has been our skipper since last June, left us and moved a hundred metres down the pontoon to take up his new job aboard Miss Tiggy. We had a send-off supper at Papa’s, with a very loud steel band, last night (best onion bhajis ever). We’ll miss him! What else have we been up to? We had our first kiteboarding lesson on Sunday. I was sure I wouldn’t have enough upper body strength to do it, but was pleasantly surprised to find that’s not required. We got as far as being pulled through the water by a kite, with more or less control over our direction, which was exhilarating. Next time, we can try standing on a board. I anticipate lots of wipeouts.
A presentation was arranged by Oyster on tropical weather – basically, watch the clouds and avoid squalls – followed by a session with a charity called Sea Mercy. We had signed up months ago to distribute glasses, both simple reading ones and more complicated “eyejusters”, at remote locations in the Pacific. We’d completely forgotten how many glasses we had ordered and were taken aback, after our training in eye tests, to be presented with 550 pairs! Another exercise in stowage. I’m looking forward to giving them away; I know how lost I feel without my own reading glasses.