I forgot to add a few things in the last post, so I’ll start off with those first.
Here are a few music videos which a barman at a Jump Up party in St Lucia said were hot right now. Not really work safe if you haven’t figured out by the music titles.
After Christmas we went on a fishing charter, as we really wanted to catch something big. We shared the boat with a family and surprise surprise Trina caught the biggest fish (barracuda). I caught the second, and the family caught nothing. We gave them the biggest one, and faced with gutting a 4ft barracuda for myself (Trina’s allergic to fish), I left it with the charter to give away. I’m hoping it went to a good home.
Here’s the cheap fishing reel we bought in Bequia, it’s a heavy duty reel with a wire leader and a squid lure on the end. Heavy duty gloves are a must to keep your hands intact when reeling in a catch. It’s the same setup we’ve seen a vlogger use (life in a nutshell) with a lot of success. To date we haven’t caught anything, but I wouldn’t put that down to the reel. This thing cost about £10, and is considerably cheaper than rods and reels.
… and a few pics of the parents from over Christmas after a few too many rum and cokes.
Much of what we did in Bequia was in the last post. Other than going to a music festival and checking out a beach, not much else happened.
We topped up with water and diesel. While you’re at anchor, guys come to you in their boats with big tanks and generators which makes life a lot easier. I don’t know why other islands we’ve visited don’t do the same. We then left for Tobago Cays.
Tobago Cays is a marine park with coral reefs and turtle nesting sites. For the amateur sailor, it looks like a bloody nightmare to get into. It’s a busy busy place with charter boats going in and out all day long, so the local guys help you get onto a mooring buoy which is a great as it’s a windy place.
We celebrated my birthday with a lobster BBQ which is one of the things to do there. We were placed on the outskirts of the BBQ with a table to ourselves. Trina’s allergy to fish is another man’s gain. So I had an entire lobster to myself and my beard. We brought our own cheap fizz and the dregs of a bottle of Chairman’s Reserve.
A guy walked through the crowd of tourists with a live lobster, which prompted every man and his dog to stand up and get their iPad out for selfies and videos of the doomed lobster before he was taken to the chopping table. Here’s a picture of the blood thirsty crowd.
After the commotion died down, we wandered around looking for some conversation. We found a table, pulled out a bottle of rum and had a few swigs. It was all that was needed to break the ice, then followed half an hour of Brexit chat with our new German friends. We tried to explain what the heck was going on, but it’s not easy to explain the illogical to the logical, even after a round of rum. After they left, like the billy no mates we were, we walked around trying to find some new drinking companions, but they all left. We rowed with all our might across the windy entrance of the Cays back to the boat and called it a night.
My new pastime in Tobago Cays is to pick up the monocular in the evenings after the sun’s gone down, and narrate what’s happening on the catamarans around us with a beer. It’s the sailing equivalent to curtain twitching without the curtains.
We saw plenty of wildlife on the islands around TC. From the boat we saw a Manicou scuttling along the shore, which we’ve nicknamed PigRat. One day we rowed to a small hilly island nearby, and were met by a tortoise tucking into an anthill, unfazed by our presence. And later whilst we were talking away, a 6ft iguana zipped behind us across the path. I ordered Trina to catch me a specimen like the little boy from Master and Commander, but he was too quick for us.
We stopped briefly at Mayreau as it was a small hop. Not much to say, small nice island. Anchorage smelt of poo so we left. We also had run out of cash by this time, and there aren’t any cash points in Tobago Cays or Mayreau.
After poo anchorage we went to Clifton Bay in Union Island, which was windy as hell. Any entrance with a reef or breaking waves is a bit intimidating to the uninitiated. There’s a reef in the middle of the bay which is called Roundabout Reef. We got hassled by a boat guy wanting to take us to a mooring buoy. I wanted to take my time to find somewhere to anchor, and after the first lap of the bay the guy came up again and shouted “I thought you wanted to anchor!!! Come with me I take you to a mooring buoy”. My body language said sod off and he left. If anchoring in a windy busy bay isn’t stressful enough, the last thing you need is persistent pestering while you’re trying to concentrate.
We spent the day eating, drinking and talking with our friends Neil and Mandy who we met on the ARC. Oh and the day before we had sundowners at a bar that overlooks a kite surfing area which is one of the best places to learn to kite surf! As the sun sets, the local kite surfers put on a show and jump over moored dinghies.
(skip to 1:50 in)
I think this could be a new hobby, time and money willing in the future.
In other news, we’ve almost run out of our UHT milk that we brought over from the Canaries. The cartons expired 5 days ago so our tea is starting to taste a bit funky. Thankfully our supernoodle stock levels are still at an all time high.
In Carriacou we got the outboard working, and buzzed around the harbour and explored some mangroves nearby. This little Mariner 2hp outboard is working like a dream (all thanks to Ollie C I might add).
We took a walk down to a beach bar one evening to listen to some live music. We met an arsehole from the UK, and some nice Canadians.
We didn’t stay long in Carriacou, as we were on a bit of a mission which will become clear later. We sailed to Secret Harbour, which was a blustery affair, though only uncomfortable as we rounded the bottom of the island. Perhaps it was the light, or the shape of the land, but coming into Secret Harbour and mooring up felt quite homely and familiar, almost like we’d turned up into a small creek along the Cornish coast.
We took a snorkel tour to check out some underwater sculptures that encourages marine wildlife back to the area. If you can picture Timmy from Southpark snorkeling, that was pretty much me. I still can’t swim, so I had an aircraft life jacket, a horse shoe and a chaperone.
Later on we caught up with one of Trina’s dads friends, who kindly took us on a sunset bar crawl around the island.
Trina found a dentist after breaking a tooth, which cost her just £60 for a chipped tooth repair!
We went to a full moon party, took a rucksack of beers and listened to some more live music.
We really liked Grenada, probably the most out of all the islands so far. We had the warmest welcome by the marina when we arrived, and the unfriendliest send off by Customs and Immigration. But all in all, Grenada was by far the place we wanted to spend more time at.
Showered, stocked up on water, diesel and UHT milk, and with clean clothes we left on a blustery day. Coming through the narrow entrance to the bay was fine. Outside, the emerald green seas were something strange. With an unfamiliar motion we swayed and bobbed around in small deep troughs. With the wind behind us it was fine, but thank god it wasn’t like that coming the opposite way.
Unfortunately the rest of the trip was a bloody uncomfortable slog. We had 17-25 knots of wind on the nose all the way to Carriacou. We spent 15 hours slogging away at a dismal speed, mostly at 2 knots, smashing into wave after wave with occasional downpours. Beating to windward isn’t something we’ve really ever had to do, not for any length of time, and dropping anchor in the dark in a busy anchorage at 3am was a new experience too. Trina found on the internet one person’s advice about sailing to the north from Grenada: “Charter a boat in St Lucia, island hop down to Grenada and dump it there, and let some other poor sod bash his skull out sailing back north”.
We haven’t really hung out with any other boats out here, other than a few friends we made on the ARC. Unfortunately we all have our own timetables to keep to so it’s logistically quite challenging. Trying to make new friends is, as Trina put it, a bit like dating. We go through phases where we’re like ‘come on let’s go make some new friends’, only to be disappointed to find out they’re nutters, charter boat day trippers, or nice but just not nice enough to want to become lifelong friends. It’s probably an unexpected downside to the trip. We’re caught in this middle ground being in our 30s. Several of the silver sailors have just wanted to give us non-stop advice (kind, and appreciated, but a bit one-way). The 40 year olds have young families to manage and are too busy organizing pirate birthdays for little Johnny to bother with us. And the few 20 year olds we’ve met are inspiring but remind us of excitable dogs bouncing around the furniture. So far, finding people of our age or just on the same wavelength regardless of age has been a bit hit and miss.
Few thoughts on this cruising life
So far the cruising life has been an improvement on my previous job working in an office in Swindon. The working hours are much more agreeable, the dress code is relaxed, and the morning rush hour is pretty much non-existent. On that score, life is good. I’m glad we headed south and explored the windward islands. After a while the islands feel much of the same though. The islands have their own character, but at the pace we’re getting through them we’re perhaps only scratching the surface. I think we need to really stay 3 weeks in each island to really wind down, do a bit of exploring and work on some of our own personal projects, though this wont really be feasible going forward because…
So…..we’ll be taking some time off from Excalibur to go and check out a boat that we’re looking to buy. I don’t really want to say too much at the moment, but the rest of our trip will very much depend on what happens in the next couple of weeks.