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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

So, I want to tell you about this little adventure that some (choose your own adjective) people do.  It’s called the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, and  every year people row little boats 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua. For Fun.  Some years ago I thought I would like to do it but Nancy suggested I didn’t fit the (again with the adjectives) profile, so instead I built my own rowboat and, along with Dusty-the-Dog, rowed down the Mississippi River 600 miles.

Randy and Dusty’s big Mississippi adventure (Dubuque, 2016)

But that’s another story one or two of you may have followed.  Anyway, while we were in Falmouth this year’s boats began trickling in.  I do mean trickling.  Thirty-five boats with as few as 1 person and as many as 5 are on this trip.  We got up at 0530 on a Sunday! to watch the winning 4 man crew from Switzerland arrive 34 days, 23 hours and 22 minutes from the start.  Since then another 6-10 boats have arrived and the last boat will take 85-90 days to cross the ocean.  Quite an adventure! www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com

Team SwissRaw!
A 4(?!)- person rowboat

Enough with the gripping adventure at sea!  We’re in the midst of our own challenge.  How do you get some parts sent from the U.S. to Antigua?  One way is to have them sent from the distributor via UPS to a marina here.  It takes about a week and there are some customs charges and we have a new boarding ladder for the dinghy.  Yay!  The other way is to have your wonderful but frugal parents send them via USPS.  Much cheaper yet infinitely more entertaining.  Depart Des Moines to Chicago to Miami to Antigua (wait, there’s more) to Miami to Belize City, Belize to (we think as of this posting) back to Antigua.  At least our mail agent thinks it is here.  We love Chuck and Charlotte.  

While in Falmouth/English Harbour we rented a car for the day and went to Colesome Farm for great veggies and fruit.  I even tried some strange things that we’d never heard of before.  

Colesome Market (friendly, informative staff and they’ll pick anything fresh that you don’t see in the market)

Some I hope never to hear of again!  We then drove on up to St. John to the Epicurian grocery to fill the larder.  By the time we got back to the boat we were too petrified to drive around and see more of the sights, so we returned the car and went to the Antigua Yacht Club to unwind.  This is one of the coolest places in modern-day Falmouth.  At the downstairs bar, all day sit, the same 4 or 5 old english guys greeting the other expats while drinking.  Unfortunately this bar closes at 1630.  Fortunately, the upstairs bar/restaurant opens at… 1700!  So these same intrepid guys troop upstairs where they continue their important work. EVERY DAY!  We know because we spent a week studying their habits.  Of course, being careful observers we drank along so as not to arouse their suspicion and scare them off.  Anyway, the food is great  and the people are friendly.  On Sunday evenings it is the big meeting place for extended friends and family.  It is also Steak and Jazz night.  If you come, this is the place to be on Sunday.  Forget about the crowded revelry on Shirley Heights, that’s for the Jaegermeister crowd.  This trio almost makes up for missing Max and the gang at NOCE.  (We still listen in as often as possible though)

Club House (part of the Antigua Yacht Club)
The Harbour Trio
Jazz and steak overlooking the harbor. How can you go wrong?

So, here we are now anchored in the lee of Green Island on the N.E. coast of Antigua.  There is a small cove where we are that holds about four boats and it is a great vantage point from which to watch the bigger boats pass around to the back side (or backside) of the island.  None are as majestic as this little 190′ schooner though! 

Isn’t she sweet! Sailing along the breaking reef

We are surrounded by shallow reefs that make for some pleasant snorkeling.  But the best part is the bottom which is covered in acres of turtle grass.  Which means we are generally surrounded by Sea Turtles.  I spent this morning sitting on the bottom in 25′ waiting for one to come by my camera lens, but no joy.  I’ll keep trying though.  However Nancy has had much better luck from the deck of the boat.  These guys are huge! some are 3′ across.

Just take the damn picture!!

We continue to spend our days hiking the island trails, paddle boarding and swimming.  Nancy paints and I plink on the guitar.  We’re heading back to Falmouth in a day or two to provision for the jump over to Guadeloupe. 

The hike across Green Island was an adventure… Nancy especially enjoyed the snakes and lizards
This black hummingbird almost missed his photo op
It’s “too” windy to paddle board almost every day. Getting out there anyway. Nancy has her life jacket on her waist… just in case the SUP isn’t floaty enough.

It was a good day! Nancy’s light-hearted painting reflects our mood.

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