Rum Sodomy and the Lash

sailing around the world on our yacht, Ruby Rose

Month: May 2016

Life Onboard Ruby Rose

What exactly do we do?

My recent posts haven’t really focussed on what life onboard has been like recently, so today I’ll give you a little snippet of what the hell Nick and I have been up to lately. Prepare to be fascinated! (Yeah, not really.)

Nick ironing

Here’s a clue: Nick ironing a small section of Sunbrella…

Life onboard Ruby Rose: a typical day.

07:00- The light streaming through the hatches wakes us up. Nick gets up first and I groggily reach for my tablet and, before even fully opening my eyes, I’ve checked my Facebook, emails, whatsapp and viber. Sad. Very, very sad. Then I scream, “Coffeeeeee!!” and Nick dutifully makes us a couple of Nespresso coffees to wake us up. Tragically, we ran out of capsules a week ago and have since been living on cafetierre coffee, which, frankly, hasn’t quite cut the mustard.

08:00- Oh, that’s better. I can function now. We eat breakfast and get to work. By work, I mean I do some writing and Nick does something that is actually constructive like making side panels for our bimini. I do have to admit, he comes in handy. Several days in a row saw us stretching out Sunbrella canvas on the pontoon, measuring and remeasuring, pinning, and then measuring again, before Nick would take the fabric inside and spend several happy hours swearing at the sewing machine. Most of the time it was pretty windy outside, and I’d end up contorting myself Twister style to try and keep all the corners down while Nick made the measurements.

Nick the seamstress. A rare moment where man and sewing machine are actually getting along.

Nick the seamstress. A rare moment where man and sewing machine are actually getting along.

Cutting fabric in our cabin.

Cutting fabric in our cabin. Far too windy on the pontoon for this!

After a bit of trial and error, he managed to complete two side panels with a large window in each that we can roll down to protect the cockpit whenever it starts raining (which is often). Unfortunately we can’t find the correct zips on the island and we don’t want to use velcro, so we have to wait until we get back to the UK to buy the zips. So the final installation will have to wait until next year. But they look even better than we expected and we can’t wait to have them up for next season!

10:00- Snack time! Yeah, this is an important part of our day, so I’m including it here. Deal with it.

12:00- Lunch break. Usually Holly and Simon will turn up around this point and the four of us chill in the cockpit for several hours. I like to think they enjoy our company, but we also have really fast wifi onboard and they have nada because they’re in the anchorage. It’s cool. We completely understand that internet access comes first.

14:00- Nick’s usually exhausted by this point and goes for his afternoon nap. This is when I get to spend some time by myself, which I usually utilise by doing a workout. I recently discovered Fitness Blender and I am totally obsessed and wondering why I didn’t know about them years ago!?

Sometimes Simon and Holly would leave Scrumpy with us for a few hours while they went into town or the supermarket. On one such occasion I got out my exercise mat, started doing jumping jacks or high knees or whatever, and poor Scrumpy just had no clue what was going on. He ran around the saloon in circles, ears back and tail wagging but not in a good way. He was clearly torn: what was this mad woman who was leaping around in a tiny space doing? Was it playtime? Was it time to hide? To try and calm him down I decided to just do low impact stuff, but as soon as I got into a plank he clearly decided it was playtime after all and wouldn’t get off me! Not the most effective workout I’ve ever done…

This was taken when Scrump was still chilling in the bedroom, oblivious

This was taken when Scrump was still chilling in the bedroom, oblivious

... and this was taken after he came out to investigate. It's hard to relax into a yoga pose with a dog licking the sweat off your neck...

… and this was taken after he came out to investigate. It’s hard to relax into a yoga pose with a dog licking the sweat off your neck…

15:00- To celebrate completing my workout, I bake a cake. Or muffins. Or a flapjack. I wish I were kidding. I am the queen of boat-friendly baking recipes that only require one bowl, the ingredients I usually have to hand, and a short cooking time (or our bread machine). I even found a no-bake recipe that was like an oat slice with a layer of chocolate, peanut butter and coconut all melted together. It was amazing. The recipe was from this awesome website although I made a few changes.

Oats+melted butter+honey with a layer of chocolate+peanut butter+coconut. Mmm.

Oats+melted butter+honey with a layer of chocolate+peanut butter+coconut. Mmm.

17:00- Oh, look, Simon and Holly are back again! Scrumpy is getting to know us now. The other day I was cutting Nick’s hair (yes, after 6 months of nagging, he finally let me loose with a pair of scissors) and I was interrupted by the distinctive sound of Scrumpy’s panting coming from somewhere in our cockpit. He just abandoned Holly who was chatting to someone else down the other end of the pontoon and jumped onboard! Good doggy!

We hang out in the cockpit drinking beer until the sun starts to go down, at which point we have exactly the same conversation every time:

Nick: “So, what are you two doing for dinner?”

Simon: “Oh, we’re not sure.”

Nick: “Well, how about I make us some pasta/chicken/ribs/risotto?”

Simon: “No, we couldn’t possibly.”

Nick: “I insist.”

Simon: “Well, only if you’re sure we’re not intruding…”

Nick: “Excellent! Another beer?”

Except that instead of sounding like a couple of polite English gentlemen, insert a particularly colourful swear word into every sentence at least twice. I thought Nick had, shall we say, an inventive and colourful vocabulary, but Simon and especially Holly give him a run for his money. I often feel quite sorry for any sensitive neighbours!

20:00- We’ve eaten dinner, usually prepared by Nick, and now it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Game of Thrones! Simon and Holly are even more obsessive about this show than Nick and I have become, and when the latest episode was out Simon downloaded it, we got out the sweets and Simon’s chocolate cake, and sat back to enjoy the show.

Holly's turn to cook

Holly’s turn to cook

I love our decorative lights!

I love our decorative lights!

Another chilled evening on Ruby Rose

Another chilled evening on Ruby Rose

Sadly, Holly and Simon had to leave yesterday, but we have very similar sailing plans for next season so we’re hoping to cruise in company up to the USA. Of course, we’ve learned for ourselves that plans are drawn in the sand at low tide, but we really hope these ones work out! Holly and Simon are absolutely hysterical and we’ve fallen in love with Scrumpy dog, so we can’t wait to spend next season sailing with them.

And now we work…

So, with all our friends gone at last, Nick and I have run out of excuses. We’ve started working on our massive to-do list and cleaning out lockers, cupboards and shelves, throwing out-of-date food away and getting rid of items that are broken or we don’t use. I hauled about 20 books to the book exchange in the marina office the other day, a big sack of them slung over my back, and we are constantly filling up and throwing away garbage bags. Life onboard really isn’t that exciting at the moment!

Until next time!

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Our Highlights From a Year of Sailing

One year ago we motored down Conyer Creek with no idea when we might return. It could be in a couple of months, it could be in a couple of years. Hell, we may have made it to Ramsgate, had a sudden change of heart, and sailed back the following day. Sailing was our life, our passion and we loved living on board. But we had no idea if the life of being full-time liveaboard would be for us.

I’m pleased to report that after a year of sailing between the UK and Antigua, we love this lifestyle more than ever. In this blog, we look back at some highlights (and a couple of lowlights) from the past 12 months. Enjoy!

Best Anchorage
Muros Anchorage

Muros Anchorage

It’s not been easy choosing a favourite anchorage. Nick said The Saints, but I pulled rank and chose Muros. This was our first experience anchoring in the Spanish Rias and we stayed here for almost a week. It was perfect in every way: enclosed and protected, the water was still as a pool. We were an easy dinghy ride away from the village, which had a selection of truly sublime bars and restaurants and we celebrated the beginning of our sailing adventure by eating as much Galician food as we could manage. There was a nearby beach, the weather was warm and mild and we were, above all, full of hope and excitement about the months to come.

Anchorage in The Saintes

The Saintes anchorage- a close second!

 

Best Meal
Trying to decipher spanish menus!

Trying to decipher spanish menus!

Nick and I very quickly agreed that Spain had the most amazing food we’ve come across in our sailing so far. Portugal wasn’t bad if you really, really love grilled fish and potatoes, but I’m afraid the Caribbean can be discounted entirely. The food here is, quite frankly, not worth talking about. Morocco was okay, but there’s only so much tagine one can eat. So, that leaves Spain, which is totally fine with me, because Spanish food is friggin’ amazing. And the best place for food in Spain is…?

Well, Galicia came out tops in terms of location. If we had to pick one place, I’d have to say Combarro. We had some truly stupendous meals there and, with no english menus, our Spanish came along nicely. I mean, if you can order some calamares, pimentos de padron, navajas and almejas, accompanied by una cerveca, quite frankly, what else do you need to know? (Yes, I know I probably spelled those Spanish words wrong! Sorry!)

Charming Combarro, seen from the terrace of A Rosa Dos Ventos.

Charming Combarro, seen from the terrace of A Rosa Dos Ventos.

Lunching it up in Combarro

Lunching it up in Combarro

More foooood

More foooood

However, the prize for the best meal eaten in a restaurant must surely go to… do you know, I cannot for the life of me remember the restaurant’s name. However, it’s in Ayamonte and it was just so unbelievable that I sometimes still daydream about it…

Mmm again!

Mmm!

ayamonte9

Cheers!

Cheers!

 

Favourite Island

We’ve visited quiiite a few islands over the past year- in fact, since the Canaries, we’ve not sailed anywhere that hasn’t been an island. So, what’s been our favourite?

It’s hard to pick just one- Dominica, Saint Lucia, Bequia and The Saintes are all favourites. However, Martinique surely comes out on top. Not only was it French- already a bonus- but it was stunningly beautiful, had more picturesque and well protected anchorages that you could poke a stick at, and we could once again live off baguettes and rosé wine. The beaches and snorkelling were some of the best we’ve seen in the Caribbean and the palm-backed beaches full of little colourful bars and restaurants were exactly what we wanted when we decided to sail around the world.

Plus my friend Kate came to stay!

Plus my friend Kate came to stay!

Sainte Anne sunset. I mean, what's not to love?

Sainte Anne sunset. I mean, what’s not to love?

Anse Dufour snorkeling- a definite highlight!

Anse Dufour snorkeling- a definite highlight!

Craziest Location to Berth the Boat

This one is obvious. Essaouira in Morocco was- by far- the craziest place we’ve ever berthed our boat. We rounded the breakwater and got our first glimpse into the harbour, and our mouths dropped as the sight of hundreds of fishing trawlers, all crammed together like the sardines they go out to catch. A narrow corridor was left between the rafted fishing boats and the harbour wall opposite- which itself had boats moored up against it- and, holding our breaths, we slowly motored into the heart of the harbour. Thankfully, we found somewhere to tie up and had an incredible week in this charmingly insane location.

The view from our cockpit in Essaouira!

The view from our cockpit in Essaouira!

Essaouira port.

Essaouira port.

 

Most Memorable Sailing Moment

This one is easy. Crossing the ARC finish line after exactly 21 days at sea! We had the most amazing welcoming committee waiting for us on the pontoon as we tied up in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia and we were so elated when our feet finally touched solid ground again. Having our friends share that moment with us made it even more special, and it’s a moment we will never forget!

Our beautiful boat approaching the finish line! Thanks Miles for this awesome pic.

Our beautiful boat approaching the finish line! Thanks Miles for this awesome pic.

My expression when we sighted land!

My expression when we sighted land!

Nick's smiling!

Nick’s smiling!

Best Meal Onboard

Well, this is a tough one. I do believe that Nick’s famous Lobster in a Creamy Dill Coconut Sauce (yep, capitals are necessary. Just… trust me) was possibly the best meal I’ve ever had- ever. However, I was so excited about the phenomenal meal I was about to enjoy, I didn’t pause to take a photo. However, our Christmas feast comes a close second!

Magda and Tim, very happy about our feast

Magda and Tim, very happy about our feast

The big moment!

The big moment!

Peeling veggies on Christmas morning

Peeling veggies on Christmas morning

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

Most Unpleasant Passage

We take pride in the fact that we have very few- if any- sailing related horror stories to tell. Generally speaking almost all our passages have been pretty pleasant, if a bit bouncy at times. Sure, there’s been a few sails that have turned me and Nick green and we’ve just been waiting for them to end. But at no point have we been scared. I know sailors who will seize any opportunity to tell you all about that time they were out in a force 9 or whatever, with waves as tall as apartment blocks towering over them, and they seem oddly proud of it. Like a war story or something. The difference of course is that they allowed themselves to be in that dangerous situation in the first place. Nick and I never- never– go sailing in conditions like that. There’s certain places in the world that are notorious for bad conditions year-round- off the Cape of Good Hope for example- and perhaps if we’re ever sailing around those areas, we might have to just deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at us. But in Europe and the Caribbean, there’s defined seasons for sailing and even if you perhaps have to wait out a low pressure system over Biscay, or a storm off Cape Finisterre, all that is required of you is patience.

So the only time we had ‘lively’ sailing conditions were when we did not choose our own departure date, which was when we did the ARC. Had we been doing the Atlantic crossing independently, we probably would have waited for the high winds to pass through before setting off. As it was, we had 40 knot winds and 6 metre seas and, yes it was exhilarating, but if we hadn’t been surrounded by 200 other yachts who were all battling the same conditions, we probably would have been ever so slightly terrified. That said, I’m glad we did it! It was a good experience and we now know that the boat can easily handle it, even if we didn’t find it particularly enjoyable!

Best Overnight Passage

This one is also easy. We set off from Cadiz and crossed the Straight of Gibraltar, then night sailed down the coast of Morocco. Not only was this an exceptionally pleasant sail- light winds, calm seas, cloudless night- but it marked another milestone in our plans to sail around the world: we had finally left Europe! And it felt like it. As soon as we were off the coast of Morocco, the air became warm and scented with spices. It was quite extraordinary, and a moment we will never forget.

Crossing the Gibraltar straight

Sailing across the Gibraltar straight

Most Unexpected Achievement

Nick has had a fear of performing in public for his entire life, which might surprise some people considering he is ludicrously confident in almost every other respect. But playing a guitar and singing in front of an audience was simply not something he could bring himself to do. Enter Tina, from Magic, who, despite having a great singing voice, was terrified of singing in front of others. Put them together, however, and suddenly they were galvanised into facing their fears. They practiced daily and before long they were standing up on stage at an open mic night. After their first number, everyone burst into rapturous applause and from that moment on, we could barely drag them off the stage…

Nick and Tina at open mic night- before it all went wrong!

Nick and Tina at open mic night

Open Mic night with Nic-o-Tin- it's a nasty habit!

Open Mic night with Nic-o-Tin- it’s a nasty habit!

Nick and Tina treat us to a performance with some seriously questionable backing vocals from the rest of us.

Nick and Tina treat us to a performance with some seriously questionable backing vocals from the rest of us.

Best Cruising Moment

The night that really captured what this cruising life is- or, at least, should be- about was our first beach BBQ in Antigua. When we got to the Caribbean we hoped that we’d be fulfilling our somewhat naive visions of sitting on the beach, surrounded by friends, and watching the sun go down while sipping a cocktail. This vision didn’t materialise until one fabulous evening at Jolly Beach. Many of our ARC friends were in the harbour and an impromptu suggestion to have a beach BBQ suddenly snowballed and we ended up with about 20 cruisers- some of which we knew, many of whom we didn’t. It really summed up what cruising and sailing should be about.

Scrumpy, unlike May, absolutely LOVED the whole beach thing and spent the entire evening dropping his ball at people's feet in the hope they'll play with him.

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So we still have quite a long way to go before we achieve our goal of sailing around the world. But we’ve certainly sailed around quite a bit of it!