Published: January 18th 2010January 17th 2010
Well what a slacky I have been, here we are sitting in the True Blue Marina in the suburb of True Blue (No Australian association that I can find of) and getting ready to set sail tomorrow for the Venezualan Island of Los Roques and thus ending our time in the Caribbean. We have been here over a month already and while I had all good intentions of blogging more regularly, a couple of things got in my way, the usual being the lack of internet and the second thing has been this settling into the Caribbean lifestyle, that is to say, take it easy mon, you don wanna rush dis ting called life mon, you gotta relax brother, tings will get done man. And so that is the way of the word. So I have a fair bit of catching up to do and I will do my best.
We stayed in Rodney Bay Marina until the 21st of December. Our time there was spent getting some repairs done to the boat after our crossing and having a bit of a look around the island and just resting. I dont think any of us realised just how tired we
were after we arrived and how long it took us for our bodies to recover. The marina was of course very busy with boats arriving at different times of the day and night. After the welcome we received, it was great to be part of the welcoming committees for other yachts who had finished behind us, not that there we that many though!!! There were the usual array of parties to go to and take part in the national pastime of consuming rum punch by the gallon. This seems to be a very popular drink over here and it is simply a combination of dark rum and different kinds of fruit juice, quite sweet and of course quite deadly for the uninitiated rum drinkers.
We did enjoy one fantastic day out of the marina and into the centre of the island where we went zip lining. They have set up these steel cables all through a part of the rainforest and you get attached to the cables by pully's and harnesses and off you go, zipping through the rainforest canopy. There were eleven different lines in all and some of them went for about two hundred metres. It was
sensational fun and we spent the day doing that with the crew of liberty which was a hoot. We also had the odd day or two at the closest beach to the marina and it we just so good to be able lie down on some nice sand and have a swim in some beautiful clear warm water.
After the presentation night we had our boat all ready and rearing to go so after saying our goodbyes to a lot of people who we dont think we will ever see again, we headed south for about 20 odd miles to an area called the Pitons. Our anchorage was between these two peaks called Grand Piton and Petit Piton and it was spectacular. The marine park authority has placed moorings in the bay and it was great to be tied up safe and sound and be able to jump off the back and go for a snorkel or across to the shoreline for a look around. There was a very large home just above us which is only used for about two weeks of the year and has full time staff just looking after it. This is so typical of
the differences between the rich and poor throughout the Caribbean. This was also our first major encounter with the 'boat boys'. These guys run around in their boats with powerful outboards and are there to assist you take your moorings, help pick an anchorage, sell you fresh fish, lobster, fruit, vegetables, bread, water and ANYTHING else you can think of. They are all very friendly and of course are there to try and make a living to support their families. This service was not unique to the Pitons, it is everywhere we went to. A lot of places also have small beach bars and restaurants and they also come out to the boats to tell of their business and services, one being the very popular beach barbecues where they cook up chicken, fish and freshly caught lobsters.
We had two nights at the Pitons and then sailed further south spending a night in Cumberland Bay on the Island of St Vincent. Unfortunately St Vincent does not hold a very good reputation as far as safety is concerned and quite a lot of boats get robbed in certain anchorages so we hoped that our venture into Cumberland Bay was going
to be ok. We were met at the harbour entrance by Joseph the Rasterman and he would have to have the biggest dreadlock that any of us have ever seen, it was like a piece of 4 x 2 sticking out the side of his head. Anway Joseph helped us drop our anchor and then back up and tie off to a palm tree at the front of the Mojito Bar and Restaurant. Then of course we were met by Joseph the Fisherman, not to be confused with Joseph the Rasterman as Joseph the Fisherman also had a bar and restaurant that we were encouraged to go and visit but Joseph the Rasterman was very confidant that we would like the Mojito Bar and Restaurant far better. Then we were met by another guy, this one a Frenchman who encouraged us to go to his bar and restaurant because, of course his was the best in the bay and he had free wi fi.
Well we decided the closer the better so we paddled into (well it was 40 metres to the shoreline) the mojito bar and restaurant where we had three of the best mojitos and salsa dip
that we had ever had. We were joined by Linda and Jesper from Denmark who were anchored up next to us. They have been cruising here for a number of seasons and were a wealth of information and advice apart from being just great fun to have a drink with. We left pretty early the next morning and sailed south for the Island of Bequia where we planned to have Christmas. The bay at Bequia was packed to the hilt with cruising boats of all sizes and nationalities, most of whom were planning on spending Christmas here as we were. We were a bit up in the air as far as Christmas was concerned as we were so far from home and our families and friends. Debs had come up with the idea of each of us making something for each other instead of buying presents so that got the old thinking caps on. There was a beautiful beach not far from our boat and a great bar and restaurant called Jacks and we had a couple of drinks there of an afternoon, watching the sun go down over the bay.
We didnt do the traditional Christmas Eve Dinner
as we didnt think we could buy food to suffice our demands for traditional fare that we normally enjoy so much. We did head into shore however to go to the Christmas Carols at the local church but through a mix up of mine with times, we got there in time to sing the last carol and that was it. We then spent a fair bit of time in the internet cafe ringing family and friends who were enjoying Christmas Day due to the time differences. We were all feeling a bit, no make that a lot homesick after we got back on the boat, Debs got out the Santa Hats and Christmas Carol song sheets and after singing our heads off we all felt a whole lot better.
We were able to make our traditional Christmas brekky of rice and fresh mango with coconut milk and sugar so that got us off to a good start and then we went back into the Church which is something we so rarely get to do on Christmas Day and the service was really special with lots of carol singing thrown in amongst the prayers, readings and sermon. I have to
say, I was a bit chuffed when at the end of the service the Priest made a special thank you "to the big man in the orange T shirt for his wonderful singing"!!! Well that made my Christmas like no other I can tell you. After Church we went to Jacks Bar and Restaurant for Christmas Lunch and while it was not the traditional lunch, the food and setting were fantastic. We then headed to the beach for a game of beach cricket with a few other aussies and brits and a little nana nap for Alsy. Later that evening we went back into town where we had booked into another restaurant for a very traditional dinner of roast ham and turkey and all the trimmings which just capped of one of the best Christmas Days we had had for long time.
Boxing Day was more of the Beach Cricket Test Series and I am happy to say we gave the Brits (and their rest of the world team) a right proper thrashing and we had a great afternoon, very much like we would do back home. We caught up with Mikey and Nicola from Pandora, another Hanse 470
who we had made contact with by email a year earlier when we were looking at buying the boat and wow what a difference a crew makes!! Mikey and Nic live on the boat full time and just with the two of them on board, the boat is able to remain absolutely immaculate, a bit different to our live a board home at times. It was great to catch up with them in person and made plans to meet up further down the track. By this time, John and Helen and their kids from Nika had caught up with us and we sail off in company with them to the Island of Mustique where we planned to spend New Years Eve. Mustique is more or less an island where the very rich and very famous have private holiday homes and it is renowned for being a pretty cool place to be. Of course the anchorage was packed and after getting a tad peeed off with people charging in and nearly colliding with us as we were trying to get our anchor set we thought we had had enough and were considering heading off somewhere else. Then to top it off,
our anchor roller decided to pack it in and that made getting our anchor up and down a right royal pain in the butt to say the least. Anyway to cut a long story short, with some help from Brad off Ghost we rigged up a bit of a replacement roller and got our anchor down and ended up having three great nights in Mustique including New Years Eve which was spent on the beach having a few drinks with crews off other boats and a great couple of aussies who we met, Sid and Bridge who manage one of the houses on the Island. We spent the day with Sid and Bridge and without giving anything away, it was one of the greatest days, New Year or not that we and the kids have ever had.
We left Mustique, bound for Tobago Cays via the Island of Mayreau and into Salt Whislte Bay. This place is one of the picture post card sorts of places and while the anchorage was pretty busy it really was very beautiful. White sand, palm trees and clear blue water were the recipe for a very memorable place indeed. John and Helen and
family took to the shore for a beach barbecue and from all reports was fantastic with heaps and heaps of food and really good value. From here we headed over to Tobago Cays where the famed beach of turtles was the main attraction with turtles swimming around munching on sea grass, trying not to be too peed off with the masses of people who are snorkelling around them as they go on their daily routine. We were able to catch up with Adam and Leonie and their kids from Elena and as we had not seen them since we left St Lucia it was great to spend some time with them, catching up on all the news. Adam took Nikki, Luke and I to the outer reef in his dinghy and we had an afternoon snorkelling amongst a good variety of fish, including a pretty good sized and active bronze whaler shark. The coral in the area has suffered greatly from hurricane damage and that is a real shame. John and Helen organised another beach barbecue that night and we had the crews of about 5 boats joined up for a bit of a barbecue banquet that was a bit
of a hoot. We spent two or three nights there, seeing the turtles which really are beautiful before heading off to Palm Island which is a very small island just off Union Island. There is a beautiful resort right on the beach and it really is a very pretty place but after having a fair bit of trouble trying to get the anchor set and after having had a few nights of strong winds and not much sleep we decided it was time to head somewhere a bit more protected so we headed around to Chatham Bay on Union Island.
Chatham Bay is very big but is quite protected, certainly from the swell but there were a few gusts of wind coming down off the hills that made the boat rock a bit but overall was a really nice anchorage with good holding and good water around us. The charter season is in full swing here at the moment and there are lots of charter boats around with people from all over enjoying the place as we were, in particular, lots and lots of Italians and a group of Russians in one boat we nicknamed the Cosmonauts. Without going
into too much detail, one of these guys who was on the larger side of being a big fat b@#$%^^ spent all day and night wandering around in the nik amongst his two mates and three women on board. It was not a sight to see and certainly put the kids off being up on deck for brekky!!!
A real find at Chatham Bay was the brand new Aqua Bar and Restaurant which of course we renamed Cafe Aqua after our favourite cafe back home. This bar was just beautiful with views to die for and drinks at very sensible prices, a nice pool for the kids to swim in and a really nice italian restaurant that unfortunately we didnt get to try but from all accounts was really, really good. We had a couple of afternoons at the bar with John and Helen and Helen's Mum, Nada and the kids enjoyed the pool while we enjoyed the drinks and view. As I said before, we had arranged with Miky and Nic to catch up with them as Mikey, who is a keyboard genius was booked to play at a restaurant in Clifton Harbour, a bit further around on
Union Island so we motored around and tied up at the little marina with the very rickety pontoon, the dodgy cleats and another Aussie boat crew, Mark and Marian from Zenna. We spent a few nights there and Clifton Harbour was a really great little place with good little shops for food, fruit and veg including one called Captain Gourmet run by a really nice french couple who had heaps of little treats in their shop that we hadnt been able to get anywhere else for a long time. Clifton also had a superb pizza restaurant, again run by a french woman and made the best pizzas we had had since europe. John Mclean off Pantanemous had also come into the marina and after dinner, John and I headed up to the local bar for some jump up which is the Caribbean term for a bit of drinking and a bit of dancing and whatever. Well the bar was just an old two storey home with one room converted to a small bar and dance floor, another room where the local green vegetable matter was freely available and consumed and another bar where crack was the order of the day.
Well we had a few rum and cokes and chilled out with some of the guys from the marina staff and headed home feeling no pain whatsoever!!
We had to check into Customs on the Island of Carriacou and spent a night there before heading down to the island of Grenada. This was the longest sail we had done since we arrived in the Caribbean and the weather was just crap, rain bucketing down and squally winds and sloppy seas. We were rewarded for our efforts however with being able to get hooked up at the True Blue Marina where we had shore power and water and free showers and wi fi. My god,how things have changed since we left home and now just the simple thing of having the ability of having a nice long hot shower is just an absolute luxury. The marina is associated with the little resort on the shore of the bay and it has two nice pools that we have all been enjoying. We got a few things we needed for the boat including a sail batton that we have been trying to source for ages and also an new anchor roller to
replace the repair job we did back at Mustique. We had one of the marina guys here help us out doing a few odd job and we only wish we had been here when we needed some other work done that we did back at St Lucia, his work was so good and incredibly good value. We also had a day out with John and Helen and family and hire a mini bus to have a look around the island which was excellent, nice waterfalls and beaches and a visit to the rum distillery and the Grenada Chocolate factory which was really excellent. Grenada is one of the biggest exports of nutmeg in the world and apart from nutmeg, the island produces a big variety of spices and cocoa, hence the name the Spice Island. The quality of the cocoa they produce here is one of the best in the world and the beans are highly sought after by the big chocolate making countries of the world such as Belgium and France. The estate where the cocoa beans are grown and prepared for conversion into very fine but very dark chocolate is known as Belmont Estate and has been producing
and preparing the beans in essentially the same manner for about 380 years. So nice to see a company that has not turned into an automated monster but still employes local people using very traditional methods.
Mikey and Nic from Pandorra have also arrived here so between John from Pantanemous, Brian and Francis, a brilliant couple from Tralee in Island, John and Helen from Nika, ourselves and Mikey and Nik, we have had many a pleasant evening or two. There is a very large medical faculty here in the St George University where students from the U.S and other parts of the world come to study before going back to America to work. John from Pantanemous has friends here and he and Nikki and Luke have had some great nights out at the various student functions that have been organised. We have also been able to re provision here with some very hard to find food goodies thanks to some very good supermarkets in the main town area so all being well we will head off tomorrow and make a safe passage to Los Roques about 300 odd miles away. From all reports from Adam on Elena, Los Roques
is a bit of a paradise and while we will miss the Caribbean, we are off to new countries and new adventures. Lets just hope I can get a bit more internet and a bit more organised!!
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