Once again, I stayed at Christal’s dad’s house, but not before I attended a ballroom dancing lesson down the road. Seriously! Christal’s dad, Owen, cooked me an amazing dinner (seafood pasta) which was such a breath of fresh air after three weeks of fried chicken and rice (it’s all they eat on these islands. You know…Trinidad has more KFCs per capita than any other country on Earth!) and to sleep in that bed again… ahh… bliss…
But I couldn’t sleep…
My hair was beginning to fall out about ever finding a way off this island.
Maybe if I went to see Stan’s Barely-Used Ship Emporium and got the swordmaster, the talking tattoo guy and the guy I sprang from jail (using the highly acidic grog passed from cup to cup whilst running from the Scumm Bar) to be my crew.
I forgot to say, yesterday I lost my hat. Hat4. It blew off my head as we were leaving Owen’s house and I thought Christal picked it up, but she didn’t. Luckily it was still there at the side of the road 12 hours later when we returned. Phew. Sorry, Hat4, I’ll be more careful in future. I can’t go gallivanting off around the world without a silly kangaroo hat. It would be most unbecoming.
In the morning I said my goodbyes to Christal, her dad and her mum, Edith. I headed back to the Marina at English Harbour DETERMINED to leave on a boat TODAY.
I started by asking around every single boat I could reach, visiting every yacht club, every charter company, anything and everything I could find. This afternoon, I camped out at the immigration offices asking everybody who came in if they could give me a ride west. No, no, no and no.
But I had my supporters. I was now in the local paper, so all the bus and taxi drivers recognised me and cheered me on. Jackie from Horizon Yacht Charters offered me a yacht FOR FREE if I could find a crew, but it wouldn’t leave until Saturday. Andrew from Superyacht Publications was on the case, and it looked like I was going to be able to hitch a ride onboard The Moonbird – a FIFTEEN MILLION POUND superyacht.
Excited by this prospect, I tried to get off the passenger list for the boat I came in on.
But immigration had other ideas. I needed the captain of the Vagrant to sign me off. But captain Grant flew back to Canada yesterday. I almost had a nervous breakdown. Antiguan immigration has a reputation for pulling stunts like this, god knows why they do it – Antigua’s sole industry is tourism – it’s a bit like Saudi Arabia putting sugar in their petrol – why would they bother?
I had a stand up row with immigration, which culminated in me storming out – see ya later Antigua – no, I don’t need an exit stamp, I’m never coming here again, my lawyer will send you a fax tomorrow. GOODBYE.
I ran in the hot afternoon sun, weighed down by heavy bags, sweating and panting, towards the Moonbird – my passage off this infernal rock… when my phone buzzed in my pocket. It was a text from Lorna in the UK.
The captain may have said yes, but the owner said no.
For the love of god!
A third night in Antigua. This may undermine my manly credentials somewhat, but I had a little cry. A third night roaming the bars asking and asking and asking. And to make matters worse, I had lost my wallet. Christ on a bike, what’s with this island?! Hundreds of boats… none of them going my way… if I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor…
But I still had people barracking for me.
Joanne, the lovely lady who used to run the Last Lemming bar down by the harbour gave me a couch for the night, and Cap’n Rocky, the helpful scouser (also a Kopite, he threw a bottle of water over me at the end of the derby – ha!) and his mate Gaz bought me a beer or two to drown my sorrows. Thanks guys.
But there was rumour afoot – a small sailboat called the ‘Monparess’ was leaving tomorrow at noon and they had been in the Waterfront Hostel to say they’d take me. I called out on CB radio channel 68 for them “Monparess, Monparess, Monparess. Waterfront Hostel.”
But no reply. We would have to see what tomorrow would bring. I’m now two weeks behind schedule.