We have now been in Jolly Harbour for a month, which explains why I’ve been pretty slack with the blog thing lately. Apologies! There’s several reasons why we’ve been here so long. First, we had Nick’s parents here, and it’s far easier for them to stay with us when we’re in a marina than at anchor. After they left, Nick and I deliberated over what to do with the rest of our time in the Caribbean. We had, essentially, four options:
1. Carry on with our season’s cruising plans, which involved getting up to the the east coast of the US by June. The distance between here and Georgia, US, is about the same distance as Falmouth, UK to the Canary Islands, a distance we would have about 2 months to cover. Hmm….
2. Cruise the rest of the Leeward Islands and then leave the boat in Antigua for the hurricane season.
3. Haul out early and go back to the UK.
4. Stay put.
We discarded the first option fairly quickly. This was, up until now, plan A, and we had been so excited to get to the Bahamas and the US. However, a few things slowed us down this season, including a few boat issues, and having friends and family out, meaning we didn’t make the progress north that we’d originally anticipated. It was hard for us to scrap this plan, mainly because I think that people generally find it hard to deviate from a pre-determined course of action, but once we made the decision to leave the boat in Antigua for the hurricane season a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders.
Now, deciding between options 2,3 and 4 was a lot more difficult, and I’m not even sure we’ve come to a decision yet. We’re just seeing how we go. Our current haul-out date is June 4th, and we have about a month’s worth of work to do on the boat before leaving her for the hurricane season. That leaves us with a bit of free time obviously, however we’ve been having such a fabulous time here in Jolly that we felt absolutely no need to go elsewhere.
And for some reason, this has been met by some opposition amongst other cruisers.
Why? I can only speculate. We’ve been told that we’re wasting money by staying in the marina. We’ve been told that we’re wasting our cruising season by not sailing around and seeing new places. We’ve been told that, if we want to stay put, the least we could do would be to go and anchor (for some reason if a boat is at anchor in the same area for months on end, this is acceptable. If a boat chooses to spend a couple of months in a marina, this is met with derision. Quite baffling).
The fact is, we have not been so happy and relaxed for… well, perhaps ever. For the past year we have been constantly on the go. We haven’t stopped, except for a few weeks in Gran Canaria before the Atlantic crossing and I count that as the most stressful time from the past year. I know that for a lot of people, the cruising life seems relaxed and stress free- “living the dream”. And it can be. It’s obviously a much easier life than a 50 hour working week- and I know for many, a 50 hour working week would be considered utter bliss. So I’m careful to keep things in perspective. Our life is amazing and we’re incredibly lucky to be fulfilling our dreams.
However, the constant race against the clock- or the calendar- to be in a certain place by a certain date is draining. The constant breakages or problems on board are time consuming and can be expensive. I’ve said before how our engine has been cutting out sporadically over the past 4 months. Imagine every time you go out on your boat not knowing if, at the crucial moment- as you’re manoeuvring in a marina, or trying to pick up a buoy, say- your engine is going to cut out.
The boat needs cleaning every day, it needs work every day, it needs attention of some kind every single day. It’s like a big, inert and inanimate child, needing constant attention. No sooner do you think it’s calmed down and everything is okay, that something else breaks or you remember another job that needs doing; and before long you’re head first in the engine locker, the place is a mess, all the lockers are open with tool boxes, spare parts, and random bits of equipment spilled all over the floor, just so you can change, like, one screw. I’m not even exaggerating. This morning all Nick had to do was replace a couple of bits of fuel line and the boat looked like it had literally been tipped upside down. It’s not because Nick’s messy. It’s because that’s what it means to live on a boat.
(By the way, we think we’ve now identified the engine problem. After inspecting the fuel, we spotted some little black dots in it and suspect it’s diesel bug, which we’ve now treated. Only time will tell if this has solved the problem.)
Where was I? So my point is, Nick and I have absolutely loved chilling out in Jolly Harbour for the past month. There is an incredible supermarket nearby (okay, it’s not that incredible, but compared to the rest of the Caribbean it’s positively heavenly), there’s fast wifi, there’s a sports centre with squash and tennis courts and a swimming pool next door, there’s the most beautiful beach a 5 minute walk away and- most importantly- we’ve had a constant stream of friends staying either in the marina or the nearby anchorage. We’ve actually been able to focus on doing things other than sailing- what bliss! We’ve been catching up on all the boring life administration that’s been forgotten about over the past year- accounting mainly. Nick’s also been doing open mic nights with Tina from Magic, and they’ve been practicing almost every day. Their hard work paid off when they stole the show on their very first song!
We’ve had two very successful Sunday night beach BBQ’s with pretty much anyone who wants to come along. We’ve done outdoor yoga. We’ve been playing squash (my goal is to beat Nick at just one game! It’s all I want!). Thanks to the awesome produce in the supermarket, we’ve been eating healthier than we have all season. We feel great, we’re happy and we’re relaxed. So that’s why we’re still here!
The only downside is all the goodbyes we’ve had to make. John and Sandra on Eupraxia flew back from the UK, stayed a few memorable and fun days, then dropped their lines to continue north. They’re making the journey that we’d always planned to do together: BVI’s, Bahamas then the east coast of the USA. It was difficult waving goodbye; we’ve become so close to them and had looked forward to continuing to sail in company with them. Next Val and Cliff off AWOL headed off as they’re crossing back to Europe this year and need to be in the BVI’s by the end of the month. One by one everyone is heading north or south and our little community is suddenly decreasing.
I’ll leave you with some photos from one of our Sunday night BBQ’s on the beach. I went a bit photo-crazy, so enjoy!