Friday 15 February 2019

If you find yourself here, don't take the right-hand turning

I don't know why but I've been itching to get to Indian Creek. In Feb last year I made
an attempt to get to this quiet cove in Antigua but chickened out at the 11th hour (see post)

You can see Indian Creek from the Block House up at Shirley Heights. It looks like an Estuary but as there are no rivers in Antigua it isn't
The access is challenging for my wheels. Its a long drive with the final few kilometres on dry rough tracks.

It ends in a steep 50m decent over bare rock, storm cut channels and loose scree

This last section is what stopped me last year but determined, I forged my descent. The lessson learned is that Genny will descend to places it is unable to return from

I'm asking a lot from a mobility aid as I think a land-rover in 4 wheel drive would struggle on this section but finding limits and identifying solutions is how progress is made. I got out of this by dismounting and putting Genny into the Segway riderless balance mode, then guiding, pulling it up, clearing the worst of the rocks from the path. Riderless balance mode is a Segway function that allows you to get the Segway up steps for example but does it in driverless and at limited speed. It requires an exaggerated front to back lean to drive Genny. This is an issue as the foot-plate becomes the limiting factor crashing into anything standing proud on the path in-front. The solution is to weave Genny in a zig-zag path avoiding all obstacles, but it requires a lot of strength and may well be beyond many users caperabilities. A solution could be a folding foot-plate that I notice is used in many of the other Segway powered chairs. You would still need to dismount the chair but I'm sure it would make those difficult off-road situations considerably easier

In this instance the no-entry access chain was down indicating that although the way ahead was open, you weren't welcome. When I did get to the end of the path and onto the beach it was rough loose rocks and not sand, making access to the sea impossible anyway

Saturday 9 February 2019

In the blue

I spend my days in Antigua either swimming or hanging out on the beach. This is not charistically my style as someone compulsively busy but it seems to work here. Moving from too hot in the sun, despite palm tree shade, to the cool blue waters is like coming home. As a race our evolution moved from the safety of the waters to the land and we cary the memory of the liquid womb. For someone with mobility issues, the supporting walm, salty water is a homecoming. Weightless is freedom

I always excelled at swimming just finding my element.  Moving through water is a meditation and warm saltwater is my ally. Antiguan waters are safe from strong currents and warm enough to spend considerable time in. I don't snorkel, I find the breathing laboured, preferring a simple eye mask that doesn't cover the nose, holding my breath

Lost anchor

The more time you spend in the sea the more you see. The anchor was lost from a friends boat and we hope to salvage it over the next few days

I am charmed by the turtles who make a living grazing the intermediate zostera beds. How they are sustained by such meager sustenance surprises me in their passage from egg to adult in this less than stable world

There seem to be several types of rays that visit these warm waters. Reminiscent or creatures from another universe they cruise the bottom to feed

Out beyond the safety of the reef the waters are clearer and the rise in energy supports a different range of species. Fan corals wave in the shallows whilst shoals of brightly coloured fish feed amongst the rocks

Beyond the natural Harbour made by the reef and to the east lies the 'Pilars of Herculese'. These beautiful limestone pilars are formed by the hydrolic action of the sea and are a challenging swim. They can also be reached by path but the best views have got to be from the perspective of the sea

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Down day

Today is overcast skies with intermittent showers. There is not a lot to do except maybe bus it to town but I'll save that pleasure and post some images instead

This frigate bird is hunting fish just over the sea wall from the apartment I'm in
Wheels at Galleon beach
Last night's sunset from the garden
The Copper and the Lumber Store hotel in this mornings rain. I covert a stay in this hotel. It is built in the Nelson's dockyard site in English Harbour, a World Heritage site and full of historic charm, even in the rain

Sunday 3 February 2019

Antigua 2019

It's hard to make these reports real time as life goes on and its currently the evening of my 1st full day in Antigua with 2 large rum and 'Ting's' in me belly. This is the 3rd time my wheels have visited this island in the Carabbean and I'm happy to be back

I had a long day yesterday rising at 4:15 and a taxi to Jersey airport at 5:30. I'm just one of those people who isn't late but traveling with lithium powered machinery by plane requires that extra time

Despite the possibility of snow in Jersey all was clear and flying to Gatwick airport was easy. The check-in staff know me by name and are happy to speed me through security and the boarding process and I was the first passenger on the plane

Gatwick arrival was also fairy easy but you never know what you gonna get from the "special assistance" staff. Sometimes you get "do you need to go to the toilet now Mr Tipping" but most assistants are great. Unfortunately it's the loaders that need to sign off on your wheelchair and the presence of lithium batteries puts fear in their very hearts

I have a set of "Acceptance for Travel Guidelines" that can help with getting lithium powered devices onto planes and into the air. The decision makers are the lead loaders that sign off the cargo as safe to travel. Lithium ion batteries ring many bells with loaders and the designated Genny route via the travel document is to surrender the chair with legs up and infokey removed and to wait 7- 9 mins till the lights go out. Loaders generally don't have the required time to wait that long and every time Genny is moved the clock resets itself again. I have been responsible for several delays and I think this is a big issue with Genny flying. To assist I have equipped my Genny with an additional battery isolation switch that sits under the seat and tricks people into thinking Genny is fully dead and safe to travel. This is great when it works but deviates from the "Acceptance for travel guidelines" which can be a problem in itself

Yesterday in Gatwick airport I had a loader that insisted I remove the lithium batteries. I delivered the guidance docs and proudly demonstrated the isolation switch but he was determined to get the barrettes off and into the cabin. So cornered I pulled out my hidden toolkit - the one stashed in the seat cover that never should have made it through security. Tipping Genny onto its side I attempted to remove the batteries but not having been removed for a while the Allen screws were not going anywhere. It was obvious the batteries were going nowhere and the clock was ticking so I resorted to asking for the captain to make the final shout. Flight Captains 10 mins before departure are busy people but convinced by my magic switch he signed off on the hazardous goods form and we were away

It's a long day flying to the Carabbean but I love it that you leave in the dark worried if the snow will stop the flight - finishing the day swimming in 28°C blue Carabbean waters
Such a beautiful Harbour and so full of posh yachts