Thursday, December 29, 2011

Family Time

We’ve had a fabulous week, having family time! We’ve had Karyn’s sister Kiki and her husband Peter aboard with us, sharing and experiencing what cruising is like firsthand. We’ve worked and played, repeating a few of the things we did with Ally: we sent them on the helicopter tour of Montserrat, then went zip-lining again. We had a huge turkey dinner with all the trimmings for the holiday, before we cruised aboard Equinox south from Jolly Harbour down to Falmouth Harbour. We did a bit of fishing along the way (no mahi-mahi this time, only a barracuda) and walked around Nelson’s Dockyard on Christmas Day with all the other revelers. They have a huge champagne brunch party there, so the boats are tucked in to capacity and obviously, champagne is flowing! It’s a neat place, with so much history! Billed as the only continuously working Georgian Dockyard, its 18th century buildings are beautifully restored, and house the marina, a museum, a hotel, art galleries and gift shops, restaurants and other marina businesses.
Captain Horatio Nelson, who served in Antigua from 1784-1787
An art gallery/gift shop in one of the many restored buildings
In the late afternoon, we took a taxi up to Shirley Heights, a restored military lookout. It’s named after a Governor of the Leewards Islands, one Sir Thomas Shirley, who strengthened Antigua’s defenses in 1781. At that time, with England having lost all other West Indian colonies as well as the one in North America (due to that pesky revolution!) Antigua was of great value, in part to its huge sugar production and the important Dockyard.
The Shirley Heights fortifications have been restored to function as a bar and restaurant, with spectacular 360º views of the surrounding hills and harbours, including amazing sunsets over the waters as the sun sinks behind Montserrat to the west. There is a traditional Sunday afternoon party, complete with steel band, barbeque and dancing. There was so much to see; we realized we barely scratched the surface, for there are walking trails and much more to the National Park than we realized!
The view of English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour  from Shirley Heights
Other days were more mellow; with many places closed for the holidays, we stayed aboard and did some projects. Ron and Peter replaced the pressure relief valve on the hot water heater, as our water pump pressure is such that we keep tripping the valve and getting a bit of water in the bilge. (We like our bilges dry!) They turned up the temperature a bit too; the factory setting was quite low and it was frustrating to have barely enough hot water for two quick showers! But, the most important project completed was that they got the dive compressor back in action! With parts from Nuvair, and some ingenuity and modifications, they replaced a bit of tubing on the cooling side of things, double checked the settings of the pressure relief valve, and reseated the auto drain gasket. With Peter’s mechanical expertise and Ron's assistance, it went very smoothly. So...happily back in business!
From snorkeling to exploring the local towns to dinners on the aft deck and movie nights aboard, to heralding the sunset with the conch horn to discussions of latitude affecting the view of the moon, we showed them what we do when we’re cruising. We all had a great time, and it was hard to say goodbyes at the end of the week. We will miss their smiles and enthusiasm! 
Sunset seen from our Falmouth Harbour anchorage

(And, by the way, the view of the moon IS different at different latitudes! I checked it out on an astronomy website and discovered that the view of the crescent moon is strongly dependent on latitude: it's very common to have the crescent lying on its back at low latitudes (the "Moon as Boat effect"), because the moon rises and sets in these latitudes with its north-south axis roughly aligned with the horizon. The higher the latitude, the more strongly the latitude affects the perceived tilt of the lunar crescent, making it appear to be angling up and to the right in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, the moon seen in the Southern hemisphere appears upside down when compared to that seen in the Northern hemisphere. This means that if the concave part of the crescent points "left" in North, it will point "right" in the South. I bet you never knew cruising could be so educational!)

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