March 7, 2013-Antigua's West Side
Antigua's West Side.
For most Caribbean islands, and that includes Antigua, the west sides are generally protected during the trade wind seasons.
And we have been gunk holing along Antigua’s west side for the last few weeks, going from one west side bay to the next and enjoying beautiful and peaceful anchorages.
But normally doesn’t mean always.
For example, even during trade wind season, from November to April, unusual weather patterns can set in. The trade winds can shift from NE to SE, or even die off. And even when the trade winds are blowing something like the book says they should, the ocean swells can come rolling in from weird directions.
So, when you are in one of these west side anchorages, which are open to every direction but the east, you pay attention to the weather.
Like today: The trade winds stopped, the swell came in from the NW, and our anchorage in The Cove outside of Jolly Harbor became unpleasant. So we moved inside the harbor and picked up a mooring buoy. Here it is quiet, like a millpond. Yes, we have to pay a daily fee to be on the buoy, and they don’t allow anchoring in here so we have no choice but to pay, but it is worth it.
And it was a good thing too, because we needed a calm place to work on the dingy engine. It packed up yesterday and we had to be towed home. Overheating. There are always boat projects, and for us, lately, there have been very few urgent ones, but the dingy engine is one.
We hitched a ride to town, bought a new impellor, and spent two days going through everything on that Merc to get it to run properly. In the end it did (after we removed a stuck thermostat). Well, I still believe that Mercury is number one, made in the USA, one pull, etc. etc., but after 13 years even a Merc can have problems. At least we got it fixed, we think.
Zen and the art of Mercury repair
wingssail image-judy jensen
Working on the Mercury.
In the first place, I have a sore back so I work slowly. That’s OK. I let the pain sit in the background and work slow, and at night I take my codeine drugs and it all feels better and worth it. Judy helps me work doing what she can and lets me be me. When we work she stands by and hands me tools and holds nuts, and offers suggestions which usually are spot on. We are a team.
But working slowly is really rewarding; without pressure I can think about each problem and do the right thing. And I don’t have to force things. If you look at a problem the right way, and long enough, you often find a good way to fix it. It feels good to solve things and fix things the right way. Also I have a good work space in the workshop on Wings; I can mount the engine on the workbench I have a nice little stool which I bought in Mongkok (Hong Kong) so I can sit down and work on the lower parts, and I have good tools. If the going is slow, that’s OK. What else should I be doing? As long as we are at anchor, and are not going to have to get underway, it doesn’t matter if I have a two day mess in the workshop.
Some problems still get me stumped but we have Internet and a Google search usually results in some good technical advice, and I was able to download a shop manual for $9.95, which has been helpful.
So I am happy to be working on my Mercury Outboard. I had to put it on the dingy twice to try out the water pump and gear shift, but in the end I had them all fixed, and now I can look at some other projects.
Gunk holing and doing boat projects in Antigua.
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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Jolly Harbor, Antigua