Chirpy Ventures travel blog

Dragging out

Brute force ahead

preparing to lift mast

Roman brooms greeting in Antigua

Offering prayers for Chirpy in transit

Oasis from mayhem

did we mention we had not had rain for 5 months?

Chirpy arrives sunny Caribbean

weary crew in a mess

on the road again!!

back in a new ocean

marina dock, Rio Dulce

N.B. This particular entry should not be read by the faint-hearted or by those thinking of investing in ventures within developing countries.

Stress levels were reasonably high at 2am coming into a strange, major port with a motor that periodically stopped due to dirty fuel, a weariness after 4 nights at sea dodging literally hundreds of fishing boats and a plan to ship Chirpy overland that held a great deal of unknown. But the port captain was good, he held 60000 ton ships and tugs at bay and we tied to a safe haven of a quay.

We now waited to be dragged from the water for far longer than we expected as Carlos the trucker tried to unload a boat he had brought from the other side. Some of the delays were:

- breaking blocks as he tried to refit the masts (he eventually had to use mine);

- taking a whole night to reach the water as he constantly grounded and his crew of 5 lads dug him free;

- taking hours to refloat the boat from a trailer that could not be pushed far enough down the ramp, therefore missing our tide chance by 2 inches (we hit the trailer).

This meant we were now in the water for the approaching tsunami with no sails on or fuel in the tanks to go safely out to sea so we sat out the eventually non-threatening tsunami as Carlos and his crew drove miles up into the hills.

At last after 7 days in an unpleasant sports fishing marina with nothing but squalor and intense heat outside the gates we struggled onto the trailer (it took 2 hours and bad gouges up Chirpy’s sides as they forgot to pad some of the supports). At 11pm we charged up the ramp only to hit a concrete step under the water since they had forgotten to lift the trailer jacks. At sunrise they cut the offending jack off, and then we grounded at the top of the ramp. With a queue of Sunday sports fishing boats becoming anxious to launch, a big tractor and the truck backed us back down to the water and charged full throttle up the ramp to scrape mercifully clear. We only grounded once more as we sought flat ground to lift the mast. After a few trials the mast popped out, I tied it down as Carlos and his crew welded appropriate supports in place (he welded a few more during transit).

Laura and I could not travel with the truck or Chirpy but it was not that difficult to escape from the whole tangled affair and spend two days in the old city of Antigua, which was very beautiful and cool with a peaceful ambience.

Two bus rides and we were in Rio Dulce, a town praised by all, but I am not sure what for. It’s a normal gringo hangout found throughout the long term traveller’s world and although we are not that good at hanging out, we had to. Chirpy did not arrive for 2 more days and nobody knew where Carlos, his crew and Chirpy were. The heavens opened for 5 days after Laura’s smart quip in the last blog “ and we have not seen rain since October.”

Eventually Chirpy did arrive, Carlos had had water in the differential of his truck, a bearing had broken on the trailer and a two day journey had become 4. I must mention that Carlos is brilliant at fixing things and eventually making things work out with the resources he has. His crew worked really hard, often for 24 hours or more. They all do the very best with what they have. They are a trustful, trusting team that we really came to like and admire.

We now did our very best to clean a filthy boat, paint the bottom, smarten things up, put up the mast, put all the mast wires back, refit the radar and its arch and pack for our trip to my brother’s wedding. All in the torrential rain. For once it feels good to be sitting dry and clean in an airport lounge and writing this.

Yours Paul and Laura

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