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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fun and games in Rodney Bay

So, where was I? Ah, yes, a very social week and an alternator problem. Well, it's continued to be very social, and we have less of an alternator problem but the last few days have seen other interesting events.

As usual, sleeping on a problem often brings new ideas in the morning light. And so it was with the alternator. We had two of these, a low power one supplied on the engine and the high power one on a custom bracket which has caused all the trouble. Thinking about the forces involved in generating our electricity, it is clear that it will be very difficult to make a mounting that will not put huge stress on wherever we fix it to the engine chassis. But technology has moved on since 1987, and I realised that the low power alternator could now be replaced by a very powerful one in the same small size. We'd lose redundancy, only one unit, but should solve all the mounting issues at a stroke.

It hasn't been quite that simple, but almost and we can now charge the batteries again at as high a rate as we used to, but with less vibration and noise from the engine, which is a plus. I've also discovered an underlying issue with the electronics that control the charging rate to the batteries, and solving that might get even more power out of the alternator, so I'll be digging into the wiring there in the next few days. Thankfully, I tend to enjoy these sort of challenges as long as they can be dealt with on our timeframe, not theirs!

As arranged, we went back to Windjammer Landings and collected our friends Simon, Antonella, Francesca and Rebecca for a day trip to Pigeon Island, a couple of hills that form the northern part of Rodney Bay. This is another of these British forts that, like on the French islands, were built at each strategic point to maintain colonial power over the caribbean. It is now a national park, with nicely kept woodland, fun walks up to the peaks and beaches facing both the calm Caribbean side and the wild, wave tossed Atlantic. It's very pleasant, and we spent most of the day there, having lunch at a quirky little cafe, Jambe de Bois, named for a French pirate (ol' wooden leg, of course) who used the island as his base in the eighteenth century. At the end of the day, we went back into the lagoon to drop them off for a taxi and have a peaceful night at anchor. Hmm.

I must sleep fairly lightly these days, for at around 11pm I head voices close by. I get up and go on deck to find a yacht almost touching us. She had been anchored upwind and dragged her anchor, being blown down towards us. Luckily they had noticed, and managed to start their engine and motor out of the way and go drop their anchor again. She was smaller than us too, so I think they'd come off worst but I'd rather not have to fix anything else this week.

Well, once is unfortunate, but twice would strike one as somewhat careless. About twenty minutes later, I'm again disturbed from my bunk (not yet asleep anyway) and go up to find that they have dragged again, are raising their anchor and have turned sideways and drifted such that the front of their boat touches the front of ours. Their pulpit (a stainless steel framework on the bow) slides under ours as they try to reverse away and thankfully there is little more than an annoying scraping sound as metal slides over metal. No harm to us but now Gesa and I are both wide awake and spend the next forty five minutes watching them try to re-anchor several times before they end up a safe distance from us and anyone else and we can settle in for the night. It's now the early hours of Feb 14th, and whilst spending the start of Valentines Day on the moonlit deck of your yacht in the Caribbean sounds terribly romantic, somehow the presence of a poorly secured and incompetently crewed yacht to windward kind of ruins the atmosphere.

In the morning, we watch with dismayed interest as they hoist up their dinghy and motor away without a word. I may be naive, but had hoped for a conversation along the lines off - terribly sorry, any damage? - no, no, these things happen, we're fine, have a good trip. But perhaps I expect too much.

We had new friends from Seabright - Dave, Jo and Beth, on board for dinner and drinks last night, an enjoyable and somewhat too rum soaked evening for me, at least, then woke up to a very squally morning, with heavy rain showers and very strong gusts of wind. We'd arranged to go back to see Simon and Antonella at their resort so we waited for a gap in the rain and headed round, leaving the boat rocking at anchor whilst we spent a very pleasant day with them. It stayed squally, probably the worst weather we've seen since arriving here but we managed to enjoy beach and pool, a nice lunch and, joy of joys, a long hot shower in their villa. In the world of small water tanks and limited heating, this is a luxury we do enjoy. We're now back at Rodney Bay, nicely anchored and rocking gently, and we'll head south to Soufiere and the famous Pitons, a pair of volcanic peaks that will be familiar to anyone who's seen Pirates of the Caribbean. One day we'll find internet access and time to post some photos, there's a bit of a backlog building up. Till then, all's well. Nick

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