Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cabin Fever

What’s it like to live on a boat? For me it is fantastic. I get to sail from one fabulous location to another. I get to move my entire home when we have stayed somewhere too long. I get to travel. I get huge satisfaction from generating our own electricity from a wind generator and solar panels. From filling our water tanks with rain water from the sky, catching the occasional fish for dinner and I am happy that our footprint on the world is small. I get to meet great people from all walks of life. I love sitting in that perfect anchorage watching the sunset on another day with a cold beer in my hand. I feel hugely satisfied living the simple life where everything is elementary and back to basics; it is challenging to live this way. To some, the way we live is just glorified camping. In America we would be boat trash. But I choose to be here and feel very privileged to be so.

However sometimes the elements we like to live so close to, chose not to run in harmony with us. Sometimes the wind turns a safe anchorage into a dangerous one, sometimes the sea swells are so large and fast that the boat pitches and rolls and at night all you want to is to sleep but you are constantly turned on your head. Some nights are so stormy you can’t wait for daylight to arrive. Sometimes you get boat bound for days on end. And then sometimes there are flies. Common household flies. I don’t know what it is about Jolly Harbour and Five Islands Bay in Antigua but over the years whenever we have stayed here for any amount of time – it’s always the same thing – huge amounts of flies. We are not the only boat suffering from this problem; all boats anchored here are the same – that is why there is hardly anyone here. Our boat is on constant lock down. Netting is over every window and our companion way hatch is covered up. We are either shut inside our boat or shut outside it. The cockpit is awash with flies, every time we open the netting half a dozen fly in and out. Its not like the cockpit is dirty – it’s been refurnished (in places) and scrubbed with a toothbrush!! Now add to this fact for various reasons that we have been stuck on board for days. Cabin fever is setting in. The days are either hot and muggy with no wind or the wind is howling through the rigging. We go for more walks on beaches to break up the days but monotony is setting in. We move the boat from Five Bays to Jolly Harbour and from Jolly Harbour to Five Bays, we go for more walks on beaches. To get a change of scene we take a bus ride into the capital St Johns. It’s raining so we take the ½ mile dinghy journey in our swimwear and change into clothes at the marina. Then we wait for the bus in the rain. The bus winds its way through the small town of Bolans past the football field and the post office where a guy known as Bushman sells his homemade family rum. Past small colorful houses in pastel pinks and greens with peeling paint and corrugated roofs, past cars without tires jacked up on bricks. Past schools and churches and fields with horses and cows and littered with trash until we arrive at the bus depot and get off in the rain. The streets are pack with people and stalls selling music and dvd’s, fruit and vegetables, one has a bottle of shampoo with tape around it and a pair of socks. You wonder if these are just their own unwanted items. Corn is barbequed on grills and crabs are pilled high on a table. They are being eaten straight out of their shell with fingers, slimy crabmeat dribbling down chins. The smell in the air is pungent and dirty rainwater is swamping the pavements. Sim and I carefully navigate our way though the puddles aimlessly walking though the streets. It’s nearing lunch time so we try and find somewhere reasonable to eat. But lots of these places are geared towards cruise ship passengers with fat wallets. We settle on a local café with plastic chairs and tablecloths painted in gaudy reds and yellows – perhaps they heard that McDonald colours sell. We both order shwarma kebabs, which are not as unhealthy as you would imagine – I even had lettuce in mine! With our spirits lifted we had one last stop at a supermarket before getting the bus back. The supermarket is behind the bus station. As we neared the entrance to the shop the pungent smell that arose was a mix of mothballs and camphor. I felt I could hardly breathe. The supermarket was swarming with local people, the isles where full with hustle and bustle. A kid slobbered on his hand and then wiped it grinning down my arm. This was too much, I needed to leave. We hurried out of the supermarket and back to the bus where we wound through the roads with the palms trees and battered looking houses with hurricane shutters hanging on by a thread and stray dogs lying limply at the roadside and I wondered what it is that I see in this place that to me is usually so bright and vibrant. Perhaps I am just having a bad day.


  1. It's not always postcard perfect. BTW we have no flies here.... wait I think one just flew in.

  2. I think it is still a tad better than being stuck in the lagoon here... :-) Just a bad day. I'm sure you are already feeling better and happier! Look: the sun came out!