Monthly Archives: August 2018

Why you will want to make Antigua your destination this season.

If you follow this blog you know that I am the Port Captain in Antigua for the Salty Dawg Fall Rally to the Caribbean this fall.  The rally has a number of destinations and I am obviously biased about where you should make landfall.

In particular, I think that you should make your destination Antigua.  And, it’s all about what happens once you arrive.  In spite of what some say, it’s not all about the journey and after an ocean run of over 1,000 miles, you will be ready for some R&R.

I have gotten a number of questions about what’s in store for those who do the rally or join us in Antigua, so here goes.  Some have also asked me if they could join in with the fun even if they don’t do the rally and the answer is YES!

We’d hope that you would decide to join the Salty Dawg Sailing Association but that’s up to you, so come to the party.  N0, make that “parties” as there are plenty of events.

Better yet, if you have been down in Grenada or Trinidad for the summer, sail north to Antigua and join us.  It’s not that far and I promise we’ll make it worth the trip.

The arrival activities are slated to begin when the bulk of the boats in the rally arrive in Antigua so for planning purposes,  they are slated to kick off on November 13th and run for nearly 10 days.

Let’s call it “A Week of Celebration, Antigua style”

My goal is to tie into the best of what Antigua has to offer and to do so in a way that won’t break the bank.

So, with that in mind, we will be hosting a series of fun events to celebrate your arrival in Antigua, wherever you come from.

It’s all centered on Nelson’s dockyard, arguably the most spectacular destination in the Caribbean.   I am working with the National Parks commissioner to arrange for discounted dockage, probably somewhere in the $.50US/ft/day, a bargain in a spot as beautiful as this.Nelson’s Dockyard:  The plan is for all “Dawgs” to tie up along the dock for a week of fun.  This historic dockyard is one of the most beautiful and well-protected harbors in the Caribbean.  Nelson’s Dockyard, the only operating Georgian Dockyard in the world, was the home of the British Royal Navy.   You will be in the heart of the Salty Dawg Arrival activities when you join the fleet here.

You can also anchor in Falmouth or even in English Harbor but wherever you are, these events await…

Tuesday, November 13th it all begins…

Antigua Sailing Center Happy Hour:  Overlooking beautiful Falmouth Harbor, the sailing center is active for local sailors.  Join us for drinks and appetizers at special happy hour prices.   $5 US payable at the door and cash bar.

Thursday, November 15th

Rhum, Reggae and Art:  Join us for an evening of fun to celebrate the season opening of Rhythm of Blue Art Gallery, located between Falmouth and English Harbor.  There will be a local Reggae band on hand to set the mood along with complimentary light snacks, rum drinks as well as beer and wine for sale at very reasonable “happy hour” prices.  Who knows, you might win a prize.

Friday, November 16th

The Royal Navy Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda:   An evening with this group was one of our most popular events last fall.   The “Tot Club” grows out of the  discontinued tradition of issuing a “tot” of rum to all officers and seamen in the Royal Navy.  Learn about local British navy history and raise a glass with fellow Dawgs and Tot Club members all for $3 US, such a deal, payable at the door.  Includes a “tot” of fine rum in a fabulous historic location.  Drinks at happy hour prices are also available.

Saturday, November 17th

Fleet Welcome Happy Hour at Admiral’s Inn:  This venue, in the heart of Nelson’s dockyard, is arguably the most scenic venue in the area.   Our fleet will be treated to drinks at happy hour drink prices as well as supplied light hors d’oeurves.  $10 cover charge, per person, payable at the door.

It’s a spectacular venue. Our arriving skippers and crew last fall. 

Sunday, November 18

Antigua Yacht Club Member/Guest Welcome Reception:   Enjoy appetizers and even a welcome drink, compliments of the Yacht Club.  This event is a must as we meet local members of this wonderful club overlooking beautiful Falmouth Harbor.  Government dignitaries will be invited as well as members of the Marine Trades Association so you can meet businesses that can solve any problems you might have with your boat.   Cash bar.

Monday, November 19th

North Sails Open House at the Loft:  Complimentary beer, wine and snacks at the North Sails Loft in English Harbor along with fun door prizes.  No charge.

Tuesday, November 20th

Safe Arrival Welcome Dinner, Admiral’s Inn:  Held poolside at Boom restaurant, at the Admiral’s Inn with a breathtaking view of English Harbor, this enormously popular event celebrating our arrival, features a barbecue dinner overlooking beautiful historic Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbor. (reasonable fee)

Thursday, November 22nd

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Antigua Yacht Club:  To be held at the Antigua Yacht Club and managed by Angie in “the Clubhouse.”  This event with a popular local band will carry a modest fee and will also be open to all Antigua Yacht Club members.And, if you and your crew need some shore-time, the Admiral’s Inn is offering rooms for arriving crew and skippers at very attractive “dawg rates” starting at around $150 per night.  Contact The Admiral’s Inn for more information.  Mention that you are with SDSA for these rates.And, of course, on the “off nights” there will be informal pot luck dinners and cocktails behind our boats in Nelson’s Dockyard.

Finally, can’t decide where you want to cruise this winter?  Antigua is ideally situated for cruising farther south as well as making your way, on a civilized broad reach of course, toward the BVIs, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas later in the season.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  If you hang out in Antigua for New Year’s Eve, you’ll see spectacular fireworks in the Dockyard.  It’s not to be missed. But best of all, all season long, you’ll see sunsets like this.  Still not convinced?  Need more information?  Contact me, Antigua Port Captain, Bob Osborn,






The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) is a nonprofit educational and charitable organization that conducts seminars, rallies and rendezvous to help sailors realize their long distance cruising dreams…safely.   Visit our website:




Painting Pandora to dazzle.

I have written lately about the of choosing a color for Pandora’s new paint job and it has turned out to be quite the process.

Most owners and certainly builders, trying to keep it simple,  just say “paint it white” and it seems that even that can be complicated.   White isn’t always white.  Awlgrip has about 25 colors that can loosely be described as “white” and that doesn’t even get into the colors that stray into the greys and tans.

White is so pervasive among boats that the line of Island Packet cruising boats and their distinctive tan (Or is it biscuit?) off-white always stand out in a harbor.

So, here I am complicating things further painting Pandora grey.  My biggest concern has been that if I go too light there would not be enough contrast with the cabin and deck and she’s look like a marshmallow and if too dark she’d look like a micro-battle ship.   One comment on my blog suggested “Bob, just pick a color that’s the same as bird poop”.  Thanks Mary-Marie, that helps a lot.

The yard, Cooley Marine in Stratford CT, that’s handling the refit was recommended by one of the managers at the yard where I normally haul Pandora each year for work.    The owner, Andrew Cooley has been very helpful in assisting me with color selection and somehow took a photo of Pandora and overlaid various color options which I chronicled in nauseating detail, in case you missed it, in this post.  He has two facilities, one in Stratford CT at the Brewer’s yard and another in Stamford at the Hinkley yard.  I understand that Hinkley has a terrific paint shed but the yard fees were a bit too rich for my blood (There’s a reason that Hinkley describes their boats as having “million dollar paint jobs”) so we settled on the Stratford yard.  Cooley has done some big as well as little jobs and handles complex refits as well as straight up paint work.

Pandora’s job was a bit complicated because of a wooden rub rail that protects the hull.  Unfortunately, it was never properly prepared when the boat was built and therefore it has had a habit of peeling badly over the years.  Cooley has taken some special preparation steps that we hope will minimize the problem going forward but only time will tell.   This is me and Andrew checking out the “bad news” regarding the toe-rail before she was prepped for paint.  Notice that his smile is bigger than mine?  Just why is that, exactly?We settled on Alexseal paint, as I have mentioned in past posts as it’s easier to repair and with all the distance I cover with Pandora, things do go “bump in the night” so repairs are inevitable.

“So, Bob, Bob, what color are you going to paint Pandora.  You’ve been torturing us for weeks on this already.  JUST DECIDE!”

Ok, you win.  We chose “Light Grey”.   A color, and to paraphrase the fairy tale
The Princess and the Pea, that we hope isn’t too light or two dark.

This is what the mockup of Pandora is like with that color.  However, I expect that it will look a bit darker, or will it be lighter, when it’s all done?  Who knows.I visited her in the shop the other day after she was primed, a sort of, light grey.  Yep, looks a little like a micro-battle ship.  So, what will Light Grey really look like , really?  I have only the vaguest idea when you come right down to it.

Or, to put it another way, she may look a lot like this 18″ square piece of aluminium that the yard painted Light Grey.  That, of course, would be if she was 18″ long and happened to have the woods, red flowers and hummingbird feeders as a backdrop.   Confused?  Me too.  But wait.  When all is said and done, I expect that this whole “choose a color” exercise will be a bit like choosing perfume.  After the first 3 or 4, they all start to smell the same anyway so just pick one and be done with it.

One way or the other, it’s all about the execution and I am sure that she will look just smashing when she comes out of the shop.  No wait, smashing?, not the best choice of words.   No, I am sure that she will look beautiful in her new colors.

Before I break, here’s another idea.  How about drawing inspiration from the Navy in WWI when the British artist Norman Wilkinson, came up with the idea of painting ships with a mix of geometric patterns to make it more difficult for German U boats to get a good bearing and distance.   Besides, it’s a timely question as a nod to the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI this November, an artist, as reported in the NY Times, has painted the now retired NYC fireboat, the John J. Harvey in a modified “dazzle” paint job.   Actually, it’s a very interesting article.  Check it out here. Oh, never mind.  I’ll just stick with grey.  Whatever the color, I am sure that she will come out of the shed in a few weeks, ready to dazzle.