Antigua’s “open for business” and we’re going.

It’s only about 6 weeks until the Salty Dawg Rally departs from Hampton VA for Antigua and I am scrambling to get Pandora ready for the run.   Actually, Brenda and I are in MD babysitting for our granddaughter Tori as I write this.  So much for rushing along with Pandora.

And, this morning I set out to do a blog post and it’s now nearly 7pm and it’s still not done.  This is why.  “Grandpy!  Out of the way, I want to do a blog post too.”

Editor:  After Tori finished “typing” away the computer crashed and it took about 5 restarts until the wifi worked again.  Whew!
Anyway, adorable helpful Tori aside, there’s still lots to do and I’ll admit that I am getting a bit anxious about finishing up so that Pandora can make the trip without too much “adventure”. Of course, there’s not much I can do about what Mother Nature might have in store for us but at least I can work hard to make sure that Pandora’s systems are all in order.

As part of the “preparation” for this season, Brenda and I opted to have a new bimini made and a full enclosure to keep out the weather.  It’s not going to be of much use in the islands as we don’t need to be “sheltered” from the weather there, recent hurricanes not withstanding, but for the ten day trip south it will make a big difference in keeping the wind, water and spray out of the cockpit.

This is a big step for us as the desire for a nice enclosure on our boats in the past has always lost out to a more pressing item.  Fortunately, not this year so fingers crossed that something really “pressing” doesn’t come up between now and launch time.  Actually, that won’t matter as we are committed.  Happy for that.  I still hope that nothing else comes up, never the less.

The local canvas shop that we hired to do the work is well regarded and I’ll report on how it goes.  In the meantime, all I can show regarding progress is the plastic in place when he completed the templating for the panels.  I have always found that part of any canvas job to be quite a mystery.   The sections on the front of the bimini and over the dodger will be done in a hard plastic, not vinyl which will hold up much better.    There will also be what the canvas guy calls “smiles”, U shaped zippered openings on each side of the cockpit enclosure that will make it easy to get out on deck in a hurry. In the aft part of the enclosure, there will be three panels so we can close things up while the weather is nasty or cold, something that doesn’t happen much in the islands, actually.  There will also be a “smile” back there too for ventilation.  I do know how to do some basic canvas work but a job of this scope is way beyond me.    Remember the seat covers that I made for down below?  The ones to keep salt off when I am on passage? Projects like that are more my speed. This is the last piece, the cover for the ottoman.   The top is tan because I ran out of grey canvas in spite of ordering 9.5 yards of 60″ wide material.  Lots of settees, I guess.Meanwhile, we are in MD and will return home on Friday.  I can’t even begin to list all the little “issues” on Pandora that need attention like minor leaks and such but somehow I’ll just have to get them done.

In my spare time, HA!, I have also become the default “port captain” for the Salty Dawg Rally, now going to Antigua because their usual destination, the BVIs was trashed by Irma.    As a result, I have spent countless hours on the phone and on email for the last week or so, contacting folks there about the eventual arrival of perhaps as many as 80 boats in mid November.

Even while they dodge multiple hurricanes my contacts have been very supportive in helping me work out the details of dockage for boats, welcome dinners and checking in pets aboard, including, I am told, a parrot.   I wonder how a parrot does in a seaway with his/her cage swinging wildly.  I guess just fine as pirates have always kept parrots aboard, or that’s what I have been told, at least.

So when I get home on Thursday evening I can turn my attention back to getting Pandora ready for blue water.  Well, once I cut the lawn, I guess.

I am very much looking forward to making this rally the best it can be as I just love Antigua and can’t wait to make it a “favorite place” for the Dawgs too.  No, I didn’t take this shot but I am hopeful that this what Nelson’s Dockyard will look like when the fleet arrives in mid November.  Wish me luck.  One thing is for sure, in spite of the hurricane damage in the Lesser Antilles this year, Antigua was spared and they are “open for business” and I for one, want to bring some too them in November with a healthy fleet of Dawgs.


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