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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

November 20-21: Prologue: San Francisco, California to Jolly Habor, Antigua

 We'd originally planned the trip to Antigua for Spring break of 2020, but with COVID19 outbreak at that time, everything got cancelled. There was a ton of miscommunication between our yacht charter company, our yacht broker, and AirCanada. First of all, Dream Yacht Charter thought we were rescheduling for Thanksgiving 2020 instead of 2021, then after (with some expense) we got it straightened out, AirCanada rescheduled our flights (we were intended to arrive on Saturday, but we got rescheduled to Sunday). Fortunately, our sleepaboard had been scheduled on Sunday anyway, so all this meant was that we had to spend an extra night in Toronto in each direction while at the same time not having to spend any nights in hotels in Antigua.

Joining us this time was Arturo (who was flying to Antigua via Miami) and Niniane, who was going on her first sailing trip and was already situated in Puerto Rico and had to scramble at the last minute to find flights to Antigua when Mark Brody discovered he suddenly couldn't make the trip.

We got up at 4:45am, got into our Lyft ride, and made it to the airport and through security without major hassle, and an uneventful flight which got us into Toronto at 2:45pm. Since we were staying overnight, we had to exit, use Switch Health for another round of PCR tests, and then piled into a rental car (which was cheaper than a round trip Lyft ride to dinner) and drove to the hotel, where the receptionist was very surprised to see vaccine cards even for our kids (they were only partially vaccinated, so did not qualify for the PCR test exemption).

Bea was at Niantic but left earlier in the year before we had a chance to work together. Since she was in Toronto and was a foodie (her food pictures were amazing), we asked her to pick a restaurant and after we left our lugguage at the hotel, we drove to Zukkushi. I've heard a lot of people complain about Bay Area traffic, but Toronto's traffic was if anything even worse. It took us a good hour to get to downtown, and once there we had several minutes to walk around the neighborhood before meeting Bea for a scrumptious meal, where she was surprisingly not terrified by Bowen and Boen, who put on quite a show for her.

The next day we got onto the flight to Antigua, which was on a small plane that didn't have screens but had wifi which you could use to access onboard content. We managed to watch several movies we'd missed including Black Widow, Luca, and Thor Ragnarok. Arriving at Antigua, our PCR certificates got checked and then we were at Jolly Habor in an hour. It didn't take long to find the dock, where someone told me I was clearly there for the Chinook.

The Chinook was a Fontaine Pajot Astrea 42 sailing Catamaran in an owner's configuration, which is a complete waste of space with the starboard side of the boat filled with an owner's suite with an extra large bathroom. There was fortunately a V-berth in front for crew, so no one would have to sleep in the saloon. Cleaning was still happening and the cleaning crew was upset that we'd showed up early, but we were allowed to leave baggage on the boat and walk over to the curry house for dinner, just as Niniane showed up. Arturo showed up while we were having dinner, so now we had a complete crew!

When we were finally allowed onboard, the provisioning had been done, and we could now take a look at what was missing. They'd bought us bread and cheese but no ham, I'd way over-provisioned on water, and I'd forgotten to ask for a paddleboard. There was no gear for diving to be rented for love or  money on the island (the rental places had been hit hard by the pandemic and closed, and the shops that were still open were no longer renting for a week at a time). I met the base manager and her staff, and they were very friendly, assuring us that we'd get a chart and technical briefing the next day and the paddleboard and fins would be no problem.

We went to bed thus reassured and ready to sail the next day.

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