Another day in paradise

Moon in the rigging

Moon in the rigging

Ah well, it’s finally arrived, our last night (possibly ever?) aboard the Magic Badger. The last two weeks have been, I’ve got be honest, pretty horrendous! Poor Jamie’s been working manically on the engine and he finally managed to put it all back together again this afternoon and it works, phew! It’s lovely and shiny and red too, great improvement.

Shiny red engine

Shiny red engine

I’m afraid that there isn’t much else to report, it has been work, work and more work with the exception of an afternoon off to celebrate our first wedding anniversary (at my insistence, Jamie would have carried on…)

The heat has been oppressive for the last week, sweat is streaming by 10am and it doesn’t stop until 6pm and we can’t just jump off the back of the boat into a lovely, turquoise sea like we used to be able to, we are limited to a meagre basin wash in 3 inches of water. If there’s one lesson I’ve learnt whilst I’ve been away it’s the art of water conservation. How recklessly wasteful we are in our houses! It’s so funny how excited we both get when we find a rare fresh water shower on the beach, I always take my shampoo with me just in case.

Another lesson learnt has been not to live in a boatyard in the tropics without an electric mosquito killing bat. I’m afraid I’ve gone from someone who tries at all costs never to kill anything (unless I’m going to eat it) to someone who takes sadistic pleasure in electrocuting as many mozzies as possible with the bat. Although not a lesson but more of a tip really, is that the BBC world service rocks! We wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on in the rest of the world most of the time if it weren’t for the good old BBC. Oh, and our supermarkets are really pretty damn good, I’ll never slag Sainsbury’s off again (mmm, that’s probably going to turn into a lie…)

Jamie means business

Jamie means business

I feel I should conclude our blog somehow but I’m  bit stumped as to how to. I have nothing witty or profoundly interesting to say with which to tie it all up. I just feel a strange mix of sad sentimentality at leaving the boat and our ‘free’ lifestyle and a nervous excitement at returning to the UK to build a big nest! Poor Jamie’s gutted, he hates England whereas I love it. I know it has it’s faults, it’s overcrowded and the weather is sh**e most of the time but it’s not always a bed of roses living on a yacht in the Caribbean either!

That’s it I think, I’d like to acknowledge what a fabulous and privileged opportunity we’ve both had for the past year and what amazing adventures we can look back on for the rest of our lives. We’ve met some great people and seen plenty of beautiful places and I hope that we can do something similar again one day in the not too distant future… maybe Europe next time?!

 

 

 

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A hole new experience

Ile Fourchue - St. Barts

Ile Fourchue – St. Barts

I’m writing this from a hole in the ground, but I’ll tell you more about that later…

Port Gustavia - St. Barts

Port Gustavia – St. Barts

Our last day in St.Barts was spent, unfortunately, hunting for a replacement phone. Jamie’s smart phone died which caused us quite a few problems. Firstly, we were no longer able to carry something pocket sized to shore to get internet access and therefore, crucially, the weather reports. Secondly, we became un-contactable, something which the yard owner had specified that we should NOT be. Thirdly, we had no means of knowing the time, neither of us having a watch. This would make navigation more difficult.

Jamie on a Mission

Jamie on a Mission

All the phones, it transpired, were too expensive and so we scrutinised the weather while we still had WI-FI and decided that we were OK for another day. We purchased an alarm clock for the time which proved actually, to be astoundingly inaccurate when it came to timing the cooking of my rice…

Badger at anchor - Ile Fourchue

Badger at anchor – Ile Fourchue

 

Gormless looking fish

Gormless looking fish

The next morning, a lovely, shining bright one, we sailed, just on the jib (actually it’s a Genoa but I’ve got jib stuck in my head after referring to it as this for months) to Ile Fourchue, a little rocky, uninhabited island, a few miles off the coast of St. Barts. It looked more like an island off Scotland as it had been decimated by a goats who ate themselves into extinction, however, it is starting to regrow in places.

We took a mooring ball as the coast is all part of a marine park and spent an utterly divine day firstly kayaking to visit the wreck of a catamaran on the rocks, then hiking up the hills on land followed by snorkelling on the rocks in the bay.

Friendly Lizard

Friendly Lizard

Whilst hiking we were met by a whole host of extremely inquisitive lizards. It was quite funny, we’d sat in a clearing to put our trainers on and heard all this rustling, then all these lizards started to appear. They weren’t at all afraid of us and one even climbed onto my foot and had a nibble of Jamie’s ankle. I presume that someone must have fed them at some point for them to be so bold.

Rach is still game :)

Rach is still game :)

Unfortunately we felt compelled to return to smelly St.Martin the next day with a possible hurricane on the way and no internet to check the weather or phone to be contacted on. We sailed into Simpson Bay  and made our way to MacDonald’s for WI-FI. The weather looked decidedly dodgy and so we rang the guy who owns the yard into which we planned to haul and he said “get here now!”

After a rather rough sail around the coast we made the French bridge into Simpson Lagoon just in time. We were lucky to catch it as it was broken and they were only opening it manually once a day.  After anchoring outside the yard overnight we eventually managed to get a haul out the next afternoon. It was quite depressing and sad to see Magic Badger carted through the air and plonked into a hole in the ground. I think the grottiness of having to live in a dirty, muddy, mosquitoe riddled yard for the next 2 weeks and the sorrow that our sailing adventure is no more, has made us both feel rather blue.

Buried Badger

Buried Badger

We have some work (there’s always work to do on a boat) to leave her looking spik and span for future owners. We hope to have some spare time left to catch the ferry to Saba which is where we planned to sail to before the weather forced us to return to St.Martin.

Remnants of Isaac

Remnants of Isaac

The last 24 hours have been spent in the Badger, in a hole, listening to the shrieks of  ’tropical storm Isaac’ and, despite being a mere tropical storm instead of a hurricane, I’m still quite glad that we’re not anchored out in the bay because it sounds like it’d be pretty frightening.

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Tunny-tastic

Moody Morning - St. Barts

Moody Morning – St. Barts

Kayaking to Little Bay, Anguilla

Kayaking to Little Bay, Anguilla

Anguilla got even better! We sailed around to the next bay – Crocus Bay, and anchored. We were the only yacht there with just a few fishing boats bobbing around in the lovely turquoise water. We blew up our new kayaks and strapped on our snorkels and paddled around to the marine park (Little Bay) which was a turquoise expanse of sparkling sea surrounded by beautifully patterned and coloured cliffs. The water was so clear you could see down to the bottom. After beaching our kayaks on a tiny beach we had a snorkel along the cliff edges where colourful fish and coral grew in abundance, gorgeous.

 

Little Bay, Anguilla

Little Bay, Anguilla

The next morning after a stroll into The Valley, Anguilla’s capital, to provision, we set sail to St.Barthelemy known as St.Barts. We’d heard some slightly damning reports about St.Barts, mainly that it was an over priced, pretentious, millionaires playground full of preppy, sloany types with more money than sense. But, as we have learnt, never take someone else’s opinion as read, always judge a place on its merits.

 

 

 

Tranquillity - Anguilla

Tranquillity – Anguilla

The sail was a rather rough and choppy affair, one which reminded me all too well of the bits that I don’t like about living on a boat, mainly sailing…. I hit a particularly low point as we sailed through the gap between Scrub Island and Anguilla. The wind was gusting, the boat was being roughly handled by an awkward swell and I felt sick as a dog. Then I managed to create an enormous knot in the fishing line as I pulled in the lure to check for weed. I hate knots and I felt so sick that I gave up and just put the end back in, which then became entangled in the dinghy engine arghh, utter irritation! And then I was violently sick, mostof which managed to land in the sea. Just as I sat there with tears in my eyes feeling despair at the knot I was going to have to tackle, the line jerked through my fingers in a most unusual manner. I looked at Jamie and said “did you just see the line?” I begrudgingly took over the steering (I usually chicken out when it’s that rough but the

Tunny on the swim-deck

Tunny on the swim-deck

massive knot, dinghy tangle and potential fish haul made it seem a more tempting prospect than usual). Jamie, embarrassingly enough, undid the knot in a matter of seconds, unhooked the line from around the dingy and started to haul in the line. I was too excited as he said “mmm, I think there’s something on there…” to feel too scared about steering. And then we saw it! A lovely, gleaming silver fish firmly hooked on our blue over pink sparkly squid lure. Jamie had to haul it into the cockpit where it immediately became free of the hook and flapped around violently. The winch was grabbed and the poor fish gave up it’s life, very bloodily,  a surprising amount of force was needed to kill it. I was still too excited to even notice the splatters of blood all over my body and the cockpit or to worry about the drastically tilting boat. We identified it as a Caribe or more commonly Tunny. After this my spirits lifted and I didn’t hate sailing quite as much as I had half an hour earlier.

Anse De Colombier - St. Barts

Anse De Colombier – St. Barts

We took a mooring (marine park regulations) in Anse De Colombier, a beautiful wide bay with a gorgeous beach on the south west coast of St. Barts. The Tunny was gutted and some very generous steaks cut. We dighied over to the beach, lit a BBQ and ate some of the freshest and most gorgeous fish I’ve ever eaten. Even Jamie liked it. The flesh was dark red in colour, very similar to Tuna.

Our morning dawned in rather a grey, blowy and disappointing manner, so we decided that a walk on land would be the best use of the weather. We went for a beautiful circular walk with some gorgeous views. St.Barts is a very picturesque island and certainly seems to have a wealthy population if the houses we passed along the way were anything to go by.

Anse Des Flamandes - St. Barts

Anse Des Flamandes – St. Barts

Back on the boat and some more snorkelling was enjoyed where we saw some types of fish we hadn’t seen before as well as squid, an eel and bright blue parrot fish. Unfortunately the underwater camera ran out of batteries half way through.

After lunch we had a short sail to Gustavia Port, the capital and we seem to have chanced upon another music festival. Our boat is in the harbour not more than one hundred feet from the main stage, it sounds like we have a band playing on the swim deck. We treated ourselves to a meal ashore which was lovely. Although there are many rich and beautiful people here we don’t feel too much like peasants, we both managed to scrub up quite well. I’m eagerly anticipating sniffing out the boulangerie in the morning in the search for croissants, hurrah for the French islands! And then I think we plan to sail to St.Kitts (again). I shall update you when we manage to find the ever elusive WIFI.

Teeny Weeny Hermit Crab

Teeny Weeny Hermit Crab

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Last sail of the season

Shipwreck - Road Bay, Anguilla

Shipwreck – Road Bay, Anguilla

Porto Cupecoy pool, St. Maarten

Porto Cupecoy pool, St. Maarten

Phew, well, we’ve managed to escape St.Maarten, the Blackpool of the Caribbean. Think stretch Hummers and sleazy strip clubs. From a cruisers point of view the crime rate is high and we have had to be extra vigilant about where we leave our dingy and have been loathe to leave the yacht empty. This wasn’t an issue in the gated and guarded marina but out on the lagoon we heard many a horror story of dingies stolen and used to sail to the yacht to empty it. According to the guide books, making the island duty free has ‘saved’ it…we’re not so sure. Luckily, our marina, by it’s remoteness, kept us spared from the worst of the place and we enjoyed the lovely pool there and a cafe that served the best almond croissants I’ve ever had.

Nice beach - Road Bay, Anguilla

Nice beach – Road Bay, Anguilla

Anguilla in comparison is a slice of heaven and only a couple of hours sail away. We’ve spent a deliciously lazy day swimming and beach-combing with the most taxing job being to scrape off the barnacles that have collected on the bottom of Magic Badger’s hull over the last 3 months. Hardly an effort when you consider the crystal clear turquoise water that we’re anchored in. Even clearing in was a pleasure with the most cheerful and friendly immigration officer we’ve ever met.

As my bump blooms and my due date draws closer we have had to make some decisions about what to do with Magic Badger. If only the Atlantic weren’t so big and dangerous… Our options were to wait until hurricane season is over, equip her with some serious blue water safety stuff and sail her over the Atlantic, or, ship her back on a ‘boat ferry’, which would cost a whopping $18,000 USD or sell her in the Caribbean. We feel that selling her is the best option with a baby on the way, despite feeling sad about doing so. She has served us so well, been our home and method of travel for the last year and we’ve had some fabulous adventures in the process. We have found a broker and she is now advertised on Yacht World.

Jamie makes a new painter...at last

Jamie makes a new painter…at last

Now we have just a couple of weeks left of to sail her in before we have to return, reluctantly, to St.Maarten. Our insurance policy dictates that due to hurricane season we have to haul out of the water, bury Magic Badger in a hole and remove her mast. We have booked a ‘hole’ in a yard and are hoping for just a couple of weeks of hurricane free weather to enjoy our last days island hopping. We’re in Anguilla for another day and then plan to sail south east to St.Barts. We shall keep you posted!

 

 

Magic Badger for sale

Magic Badger for sale

 

 

 

 

Fancy your own Caribbean adventure?

http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1997/Beneteau–Usa-381-2670102/St.-Maarten-St.-Martin#.Uv8s1fl_swA

 

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Deli-icious – The Big Apple

NYC - OTT

NYC – OTT

Green Mountains, Vermont

Green Mountains, Vermont

Heading south again we spent our last few days with the SUV travelling through New York (up state, not the city) and Vermont doing some more walking up picturesque mountains and camping by beautiful lakes (that I could swim in without the leeches).  We dropped the car back off in Providence from where we’d started our journey 3 weeks earlier and we felt like we had seen and done so much in those 3 lovely weeks but were also glad to no longer have to camp in the back of the car!

 

 

 

Adirondack National Park, Up-state New York

Adirondack National Park, Up-state New York

We faced the dilemma of what to do with all our camping equipment, I wanted to post it home but Jamie wouldn’t let me  so, we drove to a YMCA camp in Rhode Island with the idea of donating it. They didn’t actually want our stuff as it transpired that it wasn’t actually a camp ground  but, after some persuasion (I think they thought we wanted money for it) we managed to give our stuff away to 3 ladies who liked camping and worked for the YMCA.  What a relief, I couldn’t face having  to throw it all away.

 

 

 

Zabar's, Rachel can't believe her eyes!

Zabar’s, Rachel can’t believe her eyes!

Onto a train we jumped and into New York city we arrived! We spent the next 3 days doing all the touristy stuff, visiting the Natural History Museum, walking through Central Park, queuing to the top of the Empire State Building and catching the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and have both agreed since that as enjoyable as all this was, the best and most memorable bit was the food! The deli’s there are out of this world, Jamie had to practically drag me out. I could have spent hours and hundreds of dollars in each one. Zabar’s was the one nearest to our hotel and we spent each morning breakfasting and people watching, I feel a bit disappointed that I couldn’t stay for a month and sample their entire menu… And the quantity, quality and variety of the cafes and restaurants was so impressive. We sampled Korean, Peruvian and classic New York dishes which for me was much more exciting than Times Square or the Flat Iron Building.

Rachel sports new dress on Broadway

Rachel sports new dress on Broadway

Times Square

Times Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The city was hot, hectic and we were a bit shell shocked after 3 weeks of remote forest, mountain tracks and lake camps with nothing but chipmunks, wolves and moose to share them with. New York seemed quite paranoid, presumably since 9/11. The financial district was heavily guarded and we were surprised to notice that our ferry, on the return journey from Staten Island, was accompanied by a coastguard launch endowed with an enormous machine gun guarded by a uniformed boy on the bow.

Willamette Meteorite, Natural History Museum

Willamette Meteorite, Natural History Museum

Ammonite [classed as a gem], NHM

Ammonite [classed as a gem], NHM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie tries out the new Kayaks

Jamie tries out the new Kayaks

Yesterday we flew back to St.Maarten and the Badger and it felt like coming home (almost). I had the disgusting job of cleaning out a 10 inch monstrous millipede that had somehow managed to find its way into the aft head basin, drowned (the window leaks) and started to decompose. Where did it come from?! How long had it been living on our boat? Ugh. Jamie’s been trying to fix the outboard on our dingy which has decided to break and we have a few other bits to do which we’re eager to complete because once they’re done, we can go and enjoy the last few weeks in the Caribbean before flying back to the UK.

The whole of today has been spent relaxing in the pool and trying out the new kayaks that we acquired from our last job. It’s been heavenly doing so little…

Camp - early one morning, New England

Camp – early one morning, New England

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Cultural Canada

Comedy Festival - Montreal Canada

Comedy Festival – Montreal Canada

From Acadia we drove north east to Baxter State Park. We were surprised to find that Baxter park was quite heavily controlled by rangers and had a good few visitors, much more than we had anticipated. We found a lovely camping spot near a swamp just outside the park on our first evening and it was here that we had our first sighting of a moose as it ambled, noisily enough to wake us both, through our camp in the early hours.

Double Top - Baxter State Park

Double Top – Baxter State Park

 

 

 

 

The next morning we hiked up ‘Double Top’ mountain which was a fairly strenuous climb with beautiful views across the lakes and mountains. It was a really hot day and at the end of the walk I decided to just jump in the lake at the bottom of the mountain (with all my clothes on because there were a few people around). A little girl at the side of the lake shouted to me, “There’s  leeches in there” but I ignored her imagining that her parents had told her that to keep her out. I plunged in, had a little swim, washed the mud off my legs and then joined Jamie on the bank, and the second I had stepped out I watched as a ‘tide’ of what I at first thought were black fish zoomed up, clearly searching for something (me) and then I realised to my disgust that they were leeches with red spots on their backs all slurping into different shapes, sniffing around the water where I’d been only seconds before. Urgh! The horror! It makes me shiver thinking of it now. Thank god they didn’t get  to me, you’d have heard my screams from Lancashire.

Moose Ponds and Double Top

Moose Ponds and Double Top

We camped in a park camp-site that night, there was no sneaking off to wild camp, the park was (disappointingly) too heavily policed by rangers. After a pleasant hike to some waterfalls in the morning we headed out of the park and north to Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

Chateau Frontenac - Quebec City

Chateau Frontenac – Quebec City

We reached Quebec fairly late but had luckily managed to book into a lovely B&B. The next day was spent exploring the very beautiful Quebec City. It was the last day of a big music festival and the streets were busy and the sun shone all day. We had a lovely time eating good food and indulging in some culture. They speak French here and the people are fiercely ’Francophonic’ believing that this will help to preserve their cultural identity. We tried our best to communicate in our very basic French but most people just spoke English back at us!

 

 

Downtown Montreal

Downtown Montreal

Montreal was a sleep inducing 2 hour drive away with a lunch stop at Trois Rivieres, a rather faded and impoverished looking place, not dissimilar to Morecambe… Montreal is big and busy with lots of stuff going on. After feasting upon dim sum in the Chinese Quarter we chanced upon live bands, comedy acts and dramatic performances and streets that were packed with people, all part of the comedy festival. It was an impressive introduction to ‘Canada’s city of culture’.

 

 

The Old Dock - Montreal

The Old Dock – Montreal

 

Yesterday we hired bikes and headed off to explore the rather faded jewels of the ’67 Expo, the Biosphere, Habitat ’67, L’homme (sculpture) and the Gilles-Villenueve F1 racing track. We bought lovely French style produce from Atwater market and had a pic-nic overlooking the city from Royal Mountain or Mont Real from where the city derives it’s name.

 

 

The Biosphere - Still looks cool

The Biosphere – Still looks cool

 

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Portion Control

A cold night in the mountains

A cold night in the mountains

Our long awaited road trip began with a 40 minute drive to Providence, RI to choose our vehicle. It had to be big enough to sleep inside as we would be travelling deep into bear country and we didn’t fancy being on the menu. This took a little longer than expected because the first SUV (That’s Sports Utility Vehicle by the way) we chose was the smallest one they had and we thought it would be fine, however, after lying down in the back of it in the car park, we realised that it was at best “cosy” and at worst (which let’s face it, it is when you’re sleeping in the back of a car) it was cramped. So we drove straight back in and asked to upgrade to a bigger model, a lovely shiny black V6 KIA Sorrento AWD with just 2000 miles on the clock – Whooo, what a beaut!

Appalachian Trail, New Hampshire

Appalachian Trail, New Hampshire

Off to Walmart we whizzed to buy our camping gear, a double blow up mattress, heavy duty tarp, double burner gas stove and steel fold away barbeque – basically everything we needed for a comfortable camp. This took all day and we didn’t leave Walmart until 8pm and we then drove round till 11pm looking for somewhere to camp. This was tricky as we were in a populated area and what looked on the map like it would be a quiet state park near lakes was actually covered in prime real estate properties, none of whom would take kindly to finding us camping in their garden. In desperation we spent our first night on a kind of farmer’s ‘machinery junk field’ which was actually nicer than it sounds!

Jordan Lake, Acadia - Maine

Jordan Lake, Acadia - Maine

After a fine camp breakfast we headed north east through Boston Massachusetts up the Appalachians towards the White Mountains National Park in New Hampshire. It took a couple of days to reach as we were in no rush, the scenery was gorgeous and we stopped regularly whenever we saw something interesting – which surely is a prerequisite of any good road trip?

Lunch and a paddle at the Falls

Lunch and a paddle at the Falls

We found it a lot harder to find good camping spots than we thought we would. A lot of national park roads have blocks on them, presumably to stop people like us wild camping… However, we have managed to find good spots each night and have only stayed in one campsite so far.

White Mountains - New Hampshire

White Mountains - New Hampshire

We had a couple of days hiking in the White Mountains which were beautiful. God I have become so unfit, our first walk took us up a mountain that was over 4000 feet and I really felt knackered!

Crawford Notch Falls

Crawford Notch Falls

It was a lot colder at night in the mountains and we relied on the heat from our camp fire which also kept the vicious mozzies at bay. One night we were enjoying the fire by a river and we heard a colossal splash which I though must be a bear plunging into the river in pursuit of our pork ribs. Terror prevailed and I leapt into the car, Jamie was much braver and donned a head torch and went over to the river to investigate. The splashes kept coming and Jamie eventually reappeared, it turned out it wasn’t a bear at all but a 5 foot long beaver swimming around and crashing its huge tail onto the surface of the water.

 

Atop Mt. Penobscot, Acadia

Atop Mt. Penobscot, Acadia

For a change of scenery we headed east via beautiful Grafton Notch State Park, nipping into Lancaster, NH on the way. During the journey we started to notice, particularly in the ordering of ice cream, that portion control is a contentious issue here! A small ‘one scoop’ ice cream is actually a cone with literally 3 huge over filled scoops towering from the top, ridiculous, even for people as greedy as Jamie and I.

We are about to spend our third night in Acadia National Park, which is an island off the coast of Maine, and it is stunningly beautiful here. We went for a lovely walk with amazing views this morning and are now writing this from a cafe over yummy iced coffees, which we have become quite partial to, in the picture perfect town of Bar Harbor. Oh, and the lobster is excellent ;-)

Bear-proof bed

Bear-proof bed

 

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Newport Race Week

Ladies go shopping - Bermuda

Ladies go shopping - Bermuda

It took us three and a half days to sail from Bermuda up to Rhode Island and the journey was fairly uneventful save for some whale spotting, several Portuguese Man of War floating past and the biggest pod of dolphins I’ve ever seen on our last day. I didn’t enjoy the passage really because for most of it I felt sick, I did however manage to perform my duties as ship’s cook. I was, as ever, immensely grateful to reach solid ground. The weather on arrival was scorching, 97 degrees Fahrenheit (they don’t use Celsius here), and, apart from one chilly, rainy and windy day, the weather has remained beautiful since. Not that we’ve had any time to enjoy it…!

Oracle AC45 Catamaran - Newport, RI

Oracle AC45 Catamaran - Newport, RI

We managed to finish work at 3pm last Sunday and drive to Newport to visit the America’s Cup Series, and, although we got there too late to see any of the races, we did get to see some amazing racing yachts at Fort Adams and it was lovely just to get away from CAP II for a couple of hours. Yesterday was our last day of work with the charter starting today and we worked from 8 am until 1 am with no breaks… awful. However, after a short stint this morning, we became free again… wonderful!

Today has been spent trying to decide where we’re going to and how we’re getting there. We have decided that hiring a car will be the best option and camping will be the most fun  although we are both (mainly me actually) a little bit afraid of being eaten by a bear and so we may try to get a car that we can sleep in the back of but get a small gazebo for shelter from the rain and a small stove. I also had to buy a new wardrobe today because I can’t fasten any of my shorts or trousers any more. I’ve had to opt for some dreadfully unflattering drawstring pants that

On the dock - Bermuda

On the dock - Bermuda

make my backside look like a sack of potatoes although unfortunately it looks like one without the help of unflattering clothes due to the excessive intake of American junk food (no time to cook and shop when you’re working from 8 till 8 every night) and my tummy is expanding to match my behind. Not a good look. I’m just so excited with the prospect of walking in some gorgeous places and feeling a bit fitter again.

 

 

 

Old Glory - Hinckley Yard, RI

Old Glory - Hinckley Yard, RI

Once we’ve hired the car tomorrow and bought our camping gear we can set off, woo hoo! We want to visit a few National Parks to get our walking fix and we’d love to see New York. We’re both so excited and happy to be free from the restrictions of working after such a long slog and no real free time and the good thing is, it really feels as if we’ve earned it.

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Any port in a storm

Louis Vuitton - Hamilton, Bermuda

Louis Vuitton – Hamilton, Bermuda

Splash Down for CapII after 9 months

Splash Down for CapII after 9 months

So, we finally left Trinidad (again) after many days that blended into nights of hard slog and toil in an effort to turn CAP II into the sailing beauty that she almost is again…

We had a turbulent 3 day sail to St.Martin (this is the French side as opposed to the Dutch side, St.Maarten) and I (although everyone else fared much better) struggled to keep any food or drink down and basically spent the better half of 2 whole days lying on my back feeling like death and vowing never to get onto a boat again. Finally we reached St.Martin, a very welcome sight indeed. We tied the boat up in Fort Louis Marina in Marigot Bay and spent the next 3 days trying to fix what had broken down on the way from Trinidad, the major pain being the generator. Luckily, I know nothing about generators and so was spared that particular ordeal and instead spent my time with Dina driving around the island in a desperate search for the 220 volt appliances that we needed for the boat. This, although exhausting at times, gave me a good opportunity to get to see the island in some detail.

Rach preparing a meal

Rach preparing a meal

Jamie and I, in between all the hard work, took the tender (that’s dingy to you none sailing folk) and went to visit Magic Badger in Cupecoy Marina on the Dutch side of the lagoon. She looked bare without her sails and bimini and a bit lonely but other than that, exactly as we’d left her, give or take a few dollops of bird poo.

On our last evening we decided to treat ourselves to a slap up meal in Grand Case, a town on the French side reputed for it’s selection of ‘posh’ restaurants. Initially we’d planned to eat piza but the place was closed and so we continued to drive north until we reached Grand Case. We chose one of the many restaurants at random (well, not quite random, the tasy looking specials on the board tempted us in) and had a sumptious feast. I chose  Mignon Rossini, a fillet mignon on toasted brioch with fois gras, sweetbreads, ceps and black truffle sauce…yum. The cheapest bottle of wine we could find on the list was 50 Euros (!!!) which we chose reluctantly whilst still reeling with the shock of seeing one priced at 19,000 Euros (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) eek! And yes, we asked the waiter if anyone had ever bought a bottle and he replied “oh yes” and told us that one man’s wine bill had been into the hundreds of thousands of Euros.

Out in the Atlantic

Out in the Atlantic

The other exciting thing to happen in St.Martin was that I had my 12 week ultrasound scan. It was so exciting watching this totally unfamiliar wiggly thing on a monitor and realising that it was inside MY body. We don’t know what sex it is and the sonographer refered to it as ‘he or she’ and I almost couldn’t bear not to know and wanted to ask him if he did (I’m sure he did) but I resisted the temptation. Anyway, ‘it’ has a predicted D.O.B of the 27th December. Mmmmm, not the date I would have chosen as ideal but I’m sure it’ll be fine. (Please don’t let it be Christmas Day!!!!)

Under Sail

Under Sail

 

Anyway, we left St.Martin on the evening of, well, I’m not sure when it was exactly but it was evening. Thankfully the weather was MUCH calmer than the sail from Trinidad had been and I could resume my official post as ships cook. I even managed to bake a carrot cake of which I was rather proud. Three days into the sail I began to feel rather sick again when we hit some rougher seas and I had to eat some meals lying down to avoid bringing them straight back up again. I have come to the conclusion that it must be ‘baby’ who is making me feel so much more sick than I usually do. On our fifth day of sailing our captain Keith realised that some bad weather was sitting in the gulf stream which would make our sail at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerous and so we detoured to Bermuda which is where I’m writing this now.

Sunrise on watch

Sunrise on watch

Our first full day here was yesterday which happened to be Jamie’s 40th birthday, what excellent timing. I’m not sure that I would have managed the (though I say it myself) most excellent chocolate cake if we’d been at sea, although I would have tried my best! We all got the bus through from St.Georges (where our marina is) to Hamilton, the capital city in the evening and had a lovely walk through the very beautiful and cosmopolitan city to an Indian restaurant. The whole island is a picture perfect scene of beautifully painted Georgian houses, all with white roofs, and clean streets and lovely clear and clean looking water. Unfortunately cruise ships stop here making the streets in St.Georges almost unbearable until 4pm because the crowds are so heavy. Today I planned to have a nice walk with Jamie if I could prise him away from his duties, however, we awoke to torrential rain which has continued throughout the day and it now feels more like we’re in Conniston than Bermuda…

Arrival in Bermuda

Arrival in Bermuda

Anyway, we plan to resume our sail to the US of A tomorrow (Saturday the 16th) and should get there on Tuesday if all goes well. We are to expect some ‘rough’ weather when we hit the Gulf Stream which I have to say I’m dreading. I hope to prep as much food as possible (my frozen chilli and tomato sauce was a life saver when the weather got rough on our second leg) just in case I end up flat on my back wanting to die again. I shall let you all know as soon as possible how it all goes. Remember to track our progress on ‘Spot’ ( http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0aECk7oHmLHEVik78GrhXl9i0QyOssbVl )! Love to you all, over and out.


The arduous journey to work ;)
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Return to Hades

St. Kitts - Sunrise

St. Kitts - Sunrise

It was all a bit of an anti-climax once Joe had left, our holiday was over, we had to sail up to St.Maarten, deposit our boat in a marina and fly back to Trinidad to resume work on CAP II. (The yacht we’d been working on previously).

Rachel enjoying sailing at last :)

Rachel enjoying sailing at last :)

Basseterre, St. Kitts - Lobster sandwich

Basseterre, St. Kitts - Lobster sandwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sint Maarten - Simpson Lagoon

Sint Maarten - Simpson Lagoon

… A couple of days later we checked out of Antigua and sailed first light to St.Kitts which was a pleasant sail, even achieving up to 8 knots at times! We sailed through the channel between Kitts and Nevis, wondering if Nevis had been named so after it’s Scottish namesake, it looked to be a similar shape at least… We anchored in the small White House Bay just before sunset and sailed up the west coast the next morning to check in at Basseterre, the capital. It was quite a pretty and bustling little town and after provisioning and eating the most dismally disappointing lobster sandwich you can possibly imagine, we continued our sail up the coast and anchored off Sandy Point ready for an early start to St.Maarten the next morning… which paid off because we arrived in time for lunch after a lovely sail past Sint Eustatius, a small rocky island that was once the chief port of the entire Caribbean, hard to believe when you see how small it is, and Saba, a very steep and rocky island that is supposed to be lovely. We decided we’d love to visit both if we get the chance, but alas, on this occasion we hadn’t the time.

Lonely Badger

Lonely Badger

St. Maarten is an island owned by 2 countries, the north side is French and the south side is Dutch. There is a huge lagoon, Simpson Lagoon,  that you can access from both sides, however, if approaching from the south, it’s much easier to go in the Dutch side despite it being the most expensive option. We were leaving our boat in a marina in the lagoon and so had to anchor outside in the bay and wait until the bridge to the lagoon opened. At 17.30 we were ’rounded up’ by a guy from customs in a dingy and had to form a watery queue to pass under the bridge where we were then escorted by an employee of the marina for the surprisingly long journey through the lagoon to Cupecoy Marina. This was the first time we had had the ‘luxury’ of staying in a marina, and, after 2 nights of being viciously eaten by mosquitoes, we decided it would be our last! It was sad and a bit worrying to leave our faithful Badger in a marina all by herself while we flew off to Trinidad, however, this was the safest option and there are staff there who check on her bilges and batteries each week to make sure she’s still floating.

 

CAP II - Crane raising the mast

CAP II - Crane raising the mast

Jonas tensioning the shrouds

Jonas tensioning the shrouds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here we are…AGAIN!!! In Trinidad, living in a house instead of a boat, working our backsides off along with the other crew to get CAP II seaworthy and back in the water ready for her imminent charter. She should ‘splash down’ by the end of this week (today is Monday the 14th May) and, after some sea trials and other inevitable tweaks, we shall be sailing her back up to St. Maarten, where we pause for a couple of days to buy some of the many things (like small light fittings) which are just not available here. Then, we plan to crew her over to Newport, New England.

Day off - Trap and Skeet

Day off - Trap and Skeet

A much needed and rare day out was had yesterday, Keith (the captain), Dina (his partner) Jamie and I drove up to the beautiful north east coast of Trinidad via Toco to Grande Riviere on the north coast. Grande Riviere is a famous breeding ground for leather back turtles and, despite realising that it was unlikely to see any beaching until after dark, we waited until dusk and saw loads of huge heads and bodies popping up out of the waves and even one who decided she’d start to get out before changing her mind and going back into the surf, presumably until it was darker when there are less predators around. Even though we were disappointed that we weren’t able to wait until dark to watch them properly, it was still magical to see what we did see and the scenery was so spectacularly beautiful we decided that it would be lovely to return one day and stay in the little hotel on the beach for a week to turtle watch and explore the area by hiking and kayaking.

 

 

Saline Bay with Keith & Dina - North East Trinidad

Saline Bay with Keith & Dina - North East Trinidad

Rachel on the beach

Rachel on the beach

 

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