Rum Sodomy and the Lash

sailing around the world on our yacht, Ruby Rose

Month: January 2016

Sweet Bequia

After another enjoyable stay in Rodney Bay- which we’ve spent so much time in, it’s a little bit like being home- we set off to Marigot Bay, a whopping 8 miles south. It was a beautiful sunny day but we didn’t bother putting the sails up for such a short passage, so we simply turned the engine on, set the autopilot and enjoyed the short cruise along the coast.

This is actually a shot sailing down the St Vincent coast, but I forgot to take photos of Marigot Bay! Sorry!

This is actually a shot sailing down the St Vincent coast, but I forgot to take photos of Marigot Bay! Sorry!

Marigot Bay is a tiny inlet which is completely invisible pretty much until you’re upon it- and even then the peaceful and gorgeous inner harbour is hidden around a bend. Legend has it that a British admiral hid his fleet from the French here by tucking themselves in and tying palm fronds to their masts to disguise them.

There’s an anchorage in the entrance, but we decided to pick up a mooring buoy in the inner harbour. The guide warns against those who come and meet you in their dinghy’s, trying to guide you to their unofficial mooring buoys or help with your lines, and so we were a little mistrustful of these offers of help- but the marina moorings are reliable and so we radioed them to ask for assistance. One of the blokes who’d just come up to offer help answered on the radio, and was like, “Yeah, it’s me!” Whoops! Sometimes you can be a little TOO mistrustful…

Anyway, once we were all tied up and had paid the lady at the office, we took stock of our surrounding. Marigot Bay is truly stunning. It’s small, and has a very exclusive feel about it, largely due to the impressive Capella Resort which occupies one entire hillside. At night all their villas light up and it looks like Rivendell or something.

Unfortunately prices reflect the fact that there’s an expensive hotel nearby and we had quite a steeply priced lunch in Chateau Mygo, looking out over the bay. If you ate a meal here, you could use their pontoon to tie your boat up for free- but as we discovered, even their cheapest option was more expensive than what we were paying in the lagoon, and we got use of the hotel’s facilities with our buoy.

So, determined to take full advantage of the cost of the mooring buoy, we changed into our swimwear and spent a very pleasant afternoon by the pool lounging about in this pod thing that had lots of comfy cushions and sofas, marvelling at how ridiculously lucky we actually are…

However, we decided to leave the next morning. As always, the weather was the main dictating factor in our decision making process, and there was high winds forecasted for Wednesday, a few days away. We wanted to be protected in an anchorage that had good holding well before the weather set in, so we made the decision to leave for Bequia first thing. We comforted ourselves by promising to return to Marigot Bay on the way back north.

Sailing past St Vincent

Sailing past St Vincent

It was 60 miles and, after a delayed start thanks to the customs guy turning up an hour late, we got going at about 10am. It was, shall we say, an interesting sail. The winds were anywhere between 25 knots and nothing at all. We spent the entire day not only trimming the sails for various wind strengths and angles, but putting in then shaking out reefs, turning the engine on and off, and periodically dumping the main whenever we caught a sudden gust and the boat heeled over. Once again we had several breakages: a couple of apples and a bottle of beer. At least the basil plant survived (this time!).

Once we got out from the lee of the land and were sailing between the islands it was more consistent, but sailing along the coasts of St Lucia and St Vincent required a quite a bit of concentration. Still, it was fun and although the day started out very cloudy with occasional showers, by the afternoon the sky had started to clear and we quite enjoyed ourselves.

We thought about stopping in St Vincent, but decided against it as we just wanted to get south. However, the island looked absolutely stunning as we sailed past, and there looked to be some gorgeous anchorages, so we hope to have time to stop there as we return north (whenever that might be!).

Sunset as we sailed past St Vincent

Sunset as we sailed past St Vincent

Unfortunately this all meant arriving in Bequia after nightfall. As we approached the wind and swell increased and there was also a strong current we had to contend with. The lights of Admiralty Bay became clear, but as always the dark night wreaked havoc with our senses. We were still a way off when Nick suddenly said, in some panic, “What the hell is that massive ship coming towards us!?”

“What? Where! What?” I look wildly around, climbing all over the cockpit to get a good view around the sails.

“There! A couple of points to port! What the hell is that?”

“Which one!? Where? I CAN’T SEE ANYTHING!”

“There, right here, look in front of you woman! There’s something coming straight for us and it’s huge and I can’t see it on the AIS!”

I look where he’s pointing. “Do you mean the three masted tall ship I pointed out an hour ago?”

“Er… the one with the blue lights?”

“Yes. The one that hasn’t moved for an hour, and is anchored in the bay we’re heading for?”

“That’s the one.”

Sigh.

So we came into Admiralty Bay in the dark and we timed it perfectly so that the full moon disappeared behind a cloud just as we were trying to negotiate our way through a sea of anchored yachts, looking for a space to drop the anchor. Eventually we decided on a spot, and it was fine, but boy, what a nerve wracking experience. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry, not in a busy anchorage we’ve never been to before.

John and Sandra then turned up for drinks as they happened to be anchored nearby, and we had a couple of hours of sleepy conversation before they cleared off and we went straight to bed, exhausted.

Sweet Bequia

Sweet Bequia

The next morning the strong winds had well and truly set in, and we were swinging all over the place. There was quite a bit of roll, and we realised how far away from town we were- our little dinghy really isn’t up to trips longer than a few hundred metres! Especially not in harbour chop! So we moved to a more sheltered spot closer to town and the boat seemed much more comfortable.

The local church. Beautiful!

The local church. Beautiful!

Bequia is a well known favourite amongst yachtspeople. In town there are more yachties than locals and many businesses obviously depend on yachtspeople as there are more dinghy docks that footpaths! The town- actually more like a little village- is very sweet with lots of colourful huts and palm trees. There’s plenty of stalls selling trinkets and jewellery, souvenir and dive shops, and restaurants line the harbour front, each with their own dinghy dock. We’re stuck here until the windy conditions pass through, but I couldn’t think of a better place to be!

Goodbye!

Goodbye!

The Latest Visitor

Two weeks!? I do apologise. Let’s get straight to it, but I hope you’re prepared for a lengthy one…

Firstly, we never did make it out of Rodney Bay with Nick’s parents. You know how it goes. Bad weather, then someone doesn’t feel too good because they ate a dodgy prawn (or possibly overindulged in the local rum), or there’s a kite surfing lesson (we’re now standing up on the boards!) … there was always something. So instead we spent the next week chilling out at Marie’s fish shack on Reduit Beach, going to the Friday night “jump up” street party, and catching up with our mates on Belafonte who actually left on the World ARC last Saturday. We sat on the beach drinking beer and waved the fleet of about 40 boats off. The sun was shining and there was 10 knots of wind with almost no swell. Far, far more benign conditions than the beginning of our Atlantic passage!

After a fortnight of eating, drinking and sunbathing, we said goodbye to Nick’s parents, and spent the following 24 hours madly trying to wash all the linen and towels and clean the boat from top to bottom in order to make ready for the arrival of our next guest: one Kate Berry, a mate of mine from London who had wisely decided to escape the cold of another UK winter and hang out with us for 10 days.

Grande Anse d'Arlet

Grande Anse d’Arlet

Sunset chilling

Sunset chilling

We celebrated her arrival in typical Caribbean fashion: by dragging her out, feeding her chicken wings and plying her with passion fruit and thyme cocktails- fabulous combination by the way. The next day we got up early and finally, after a month- yes, a month!- dropped our mooring lines. We were Martinique-bound!

Sainte Anne sunset

Sainte Anne sunset

Three hours later, after a beautiful sail in brisk but sunny conditions, we dropped our anchor in Sainte Anne, a pretty seaside town on the southern coast of Martinique. We went ashore, cleared in, then came back to the boat and watched the spectacular sunset with a bottle of newly purchased rosé. Just as we were admiring the serenity and congratulating ourselves on a job well done, four charter boats rocked up and anchored literally right next to us. They were all together and soon congregated on the boat nearest to us, where they proceeded to play loud music, whoop loudly (for no particular reason that I could see) and generally be a bloody nuisance. I woke early the next morning, and, as I was enjoying the sunrise and thinking, “Surely those charterers will sleep in today and give me some peace,” they emerged into the cockpit, flicked the sound system on and started dancing. I mean, you have to admire their stamina. Trying to get more than a couple of monosyllabic grunts from me before my first coffee is almost impossible, let alone dancing and socialising.

Needless to say, we moved soon after breakfast.

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Give Nick a beach bar and he’s happy!

The next few days were spent bay-hopping up the Martinique coast. It was lovely, with some spectacular anchorages. We left Sainte-Anne after a couple of days, and moved to Grand Anse d’Arlet, a stunning bay with good snorkeling, some very cool beach bars painted in all the colours of the rainbow, palm trees and soft, white sand.

Not bad...

Not bad…

Feeling the need for some exercise and adventure, we also decided to hike to the bay next door, Les Anses d’Arlet. Okay, so I bullied Kate and Nick into doing the hike with me and what started off as a gently sloping trail turned into clambering up and down steep rocky paths surrounded by jungle and gasping for water. We passed many others using the trail and, almost without exception, they glanced at our flip flops and sweaty brows, smiled sympathetically, then continued with their hiking boots and poles. Some even had those water tube things that attach to a backpack. I mean, these French tourists take their hiking seriously.

Views were worth the hike!

Views were worth the hike!

But the views were well worth it, and Les Anses was even prettier than Grande Anse, so the grumbling didn’t last too long, although Kate was complaining of sore thighs for some days to follow, bless her cotton socks. Fragile thing, isn’t she?

Grande Anse d'Arlet

Grande Anse d’Arlet

Unfortunately, we were quickly running out of food. So we made a mad dash to Fort de France, the capital, and Nick and I caught the bus out to the hypermarkets for a big shop. Kate, sensible girl, stayed on board and read her book in the sunshine, while Nick and I slogged way out to Hyper U. Our energy levels were temporarily revived by the sight of all the french wine, but then we saw the prices and realised that although we’re talking french produce, we’re still looking at Caribbean prices. We trekked up and down the aisles, piling up the trolley with food and slowly losing the will to live. We gave up around the dairy produce section, headed to the till and then into a cab. From there we lugged the bags into the dinghy and finally arrived back at the boat shortly before collapsing. Stocked up, we later enjoyed an easy and satisfying dinner of roasted chicken and salad with buttered baguette washed down with a glass of wine, musing that the ordeal was very nearly worth it.

The following day we woke to rain and cloud. Nooooo! We stared at the sky, willing the clouds to break up and saying things like, “It looks a little brighter over there…” or “I think the rain’s lighter than it was an hour ago…” while knowing it was anything but. However, it did eventually clear for long enough for us to motor across the bay to a tiny cove called Anse Dufour that was described in our cruising guide as having superb snorkelling. We anchored and jumped off the boat into the crystal water, and were not disappointed. When the sun came out, it turned the world underwater into a magical place, full of shifting light and colours. Afterwards we ate homemade banana bread (there’s a lot of bananas in this part of the world…) and made the final journey of the day back to Les Anse d’Arlet.

Snorkel time!

Snorkel time!

No, it's not some strange new breed of fish... that's just Kate.

No, it’s not some strange new breed of fish… that’s just Kate.

Anse Dufour snorkeling

Anse Dufour snorkeling

Snorkel selfies

Snorkel selfies

That evening we went ashore for a sunset drink and selected one of the many beachside bars with plastic chairs and tables and a great view of the bay. The eccentric and genial owner rushed over and took our order. When I hesitated, he simply asked me, “Alcohol or no alcohol?” The answer was obvious. “Planteur!” he declared. I agreed, perfectly happy to have the choice taken out of my hands and it turned out to be a delicious rum punch, Martinique style! We watched with some amusement as he literally ran from table to bar, slightly hunched over with a tie died t-shirt and a bandanna, his grey hair in a little pony tail, chatting all the while to passers by and his customers. When we paid the bill, he all but ordered us to come back tomorrow for lunch, booking us a table pretty much before we’d even nodded our heads. We were instructed to return at 10am to place our order, then we will eat at 12pm sharp. Bemused, we agreed.

The meal the next day was superb and I urge anyone staying at this anchorage to visit Chez Fab et Claude and don’t leave without trying the coconut ice-cream! Full of fish and rum punches, we had (another) lazy afternoon snoozing and reading.

Perfect anchorage

Perfect anchorage

Monday we headed back to Saint Lucia- another brisk and not altogether comfortable sail!- and anchored in Rodney Bay. Tuesday we moved into the marina and then Kate and I decided to head to Pigeon Island. “How far’s the walk?” she asked casually.

“Oh, about an hour, then a steep climb to the top,” I replied.

“What!? How am I going to manage that?”

“You’ll have to use those skinny white things sticking out of your shorts,” Nick said.

“Terysa, Nick’s being mean to me…”

We had yet another boozy lunch (sensing a theme?) at the national park, in a restaurant called Jambe de Bois. Kate almost attacked the waitress who came to clear her glass before she’d finished the last, warm mouthful of her pina colada. The waitress returned a minute later to give Kate her passionfruit daiquiri, and even poured the leftovers from the blender into a small plastic cup, obviously sensing Kate’s need for every last drop of that cocktail!

So today Kate left, and it’s been such a fun week and a half with her. She’s the ideal boat-guest: cleans up, sits and quietly reads her book when we feel lazy, goes to bed early and sleeps in, is obsessive in water conservation, eats anything and loves her rum-based cocktails! We’re already planning her next trip out to see us.

The next few days will be spent in Rodney Bay sorting out the boat and then we will see where life takes us next!

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

Gwen and Marco arrived on Boxing Day after an uneventful flight and we immediately celebrated with drinks and pizza in the marina. The following day was Gwen’s birthday, so we decided to spend the day down the beach. This involved getting everyone into the dinghy, which Nick and I were quietly trepidatious about, but it was managed without anyone ending up in the water and we scooted around to the beach. By 10am were on our first of many rum punches for the day. We had planned dinner at a nice restaurant in town, but by the time night fell it was all we could do to stagger down to the marina village.

Little girl who decided that the perfect location for eating her lunch was under our table. She later gave me a total body exfoliation (i.e., rubbed sand into my arms, legs, stomach and back), which was about as much fun as it sounds.

Little girl who decided that the perfect location for eating her lunch was under our table. She later gave me a total body exfoliation (i.e., rubbed sand into my arms, legs, stomach and back), which was about as much fun as it sounds.

We spent the following days showing Nick’s parents around Rodney Bay and one day we all went to Cas-en-Bas beach for another kitesurfing lesson while Gwen and Marco ate shrimp curry in a beach restaurant.

We celebrated the last day of 2015 with Gwen and Marco down the beach, swimming, eating BBQ’d fish and drinking beer, followed by an obligatory snooze, and then a night of partying at a beach restaurant called Spinnakers.

Our main form of transportation these days: dinghy!

Our main form of transportation these days: dinghy!

Playtime at the beach

Playtime at the beach

On New Years Eve we got down the beach quite early and Spinnakers was still setting up, so we took our shoes off and wandered across the sand in search of somewhere to have a drink. We came across a little stall with a tarpaulin roof, the domain of Auntie Jane and her motley crew, including a beautiful grand-daughter, a couple of nephews, and an old drunkard who claimed to be her husband, but may have just been her whipping boy. They sat us down in their little tent, out of the rain, and we drank Auntie Jane’s homemade rum punches, chatted to her and her family about anything and everything. Jane was quite a character and had all of us, including the various family members in fits of laughter. We wished we could have stayed with them the whole night, but alas, we’d already paid to go and party with the British/American middle classes a few doors down.

Marco and Sandra having a dance

Marco and Sandra having a dance

Gwen and Sandra having a laugh

Gwen and Sandra having a laugh

Sandra and Gwen getting into the swing of things...

Sandra and Gwen getting into the swing of things…

Let's party!

Let’s party!

New Year celebrations

New Year celebrations

Me. God, my hair's gone light...

Me. God, my hair’s gone light…

So, allow me to get a little reflective, since it is the end of a fairly significant year for Nick and me.

The first 4 months of 2015 were spent in Conyer living onboard, with regular trips to Nick’s parent’s house in London whenever we fancied sitting in front of a warm fire, getting some washing done, or having fast wifi- which was quite often. We also enjoyed a series of European holidays to Florence, Rome, Leipzig, Seville and Rhodes with Nick’s parents as an almost last-ditch attempt to have some quality time together before we set off. Amongst all this we were, of course, preparing our boat- and ourselves- for a life of cruising.

Quick piccie break

Quick piccie break

Finally we had our farewell party- which, to this day, Nick has very fuzzy memories of- and a week later on the 7th May we got our weather window, dropped our mooring lines, and motored out of Conyer creek for the last time in a long time.

The first month of our cruising was spent in the UK, exploring the beautiful West Country, and so it didn’t really feel like we’d actually left. It wasn’t until we crossed Biscay and arrived in Spain that we finally felt we’d taken the first step of this new adventure.

Looking back, it’s hard to choose a favourite. But, for those who care, Nick and I both agreed that the week we spent at anchor in Muros in Galicia was borderline perfection. If the water had been a few degrees warmer and thus more inviting for a swim, I think we would have found paradise. The anchorage was wonderfully secure and scenic, the town of Muros was a beautifully quaint Galician town full of Spanish holidaymakers, the food was exceptional and the weather was warm and sunny.

Since then we’ve sailed the coast of Portugal, Andalusia, Morocco and the three eastern islands of the Canaries. Crossing the Atlantic was, of course, the biggest challenge we faced this year, and we’re feeling pretty damn proud of ourselves for getting across safely and with no breakages. Turns out crossing oceans is actually fairly easy! Who would have thought?

So, as our thoughts turn to the coming year, Nick and I are excitedly planning our 6 months cruising in the Caribbean. We have to find somewhere safe to leave the boat for the hurricane season as we plan to use that time to head back to Europe and Australia for holidays. But part of the beauty of our lives right now is that we can just let life unfold however it wants to, and we cannot wait to see what the following year brings.

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