Christmas In Bequia

Leaving Port Louis was an adventure in itself as we’d been static for 6 months but as we left the marina Clive thought there was something wrong with the power.  We anchored in the bay and I dived in to look at the propeller and it was covered in barnacles.  Great!  Clive got the dive gear out and set to work with a chisel and hammer so it was another hour before we finally set sail, at a greater speed.

We anchored for the first night in a sheltered bay further up the coast and then sailed over to Carriacou the next day where we met up again with Debbie and Stephen on Amelie.  This island is part of Grenada so we checked out with customs before going to our next stop, Union Island which is part of St.Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).  

 

Here we checked in with immigration and customs before settling down to enjoy the hospitality of the locals.  We anchored off a coral reef where a very resourceful guy called Janty had made an island out of conch shells and built a bar ontop of it.  The only way to reach the bar was by boat or to swim over to it.  We spent a few hilarious nights there, Debbie ending up behind the bar making a rum punch for Stephen. 

We needed a courtesy flag for SVG as our old one was in shreds.  A tall, lanky guy called Charlie Brown offered to go and get one for us while we waited in one of the bars in town.  When he finally turned up he wanted 40EC for the flag and 25EC for his walk!  Clive haggled a bit before paying but that’s all part of the fun.

Here we met up with some friends from the UK who’d done the Atlantic crossing the same time as us last year.  They’d left their boat out of water in St.Lucia for the hurricane season and were now heading south.  

 

Once we were checked into SVG it gave us scope to go exploring the many islands of the country.  The first was Petit St.Vincent which is an exclusive resort island.  We anchored off the shore which was dotted with little thatched beach huts.  We spent a couple  of nights at anchorage there, eating at the Goatie’s Beach Bar which is a lot smarter than it sounds.  We were even treated to an open air classic film night, 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea which was projected onto a huge inflatable screen on the beach.

Opposite was another tiny island called Petite Martinique which was only a short dinghy ride away and where we hoped to get some cash out from the bank.  Slight problem, the bank was no longer there!   We found a restaurant on the beach that opened up just for us one evening and a bar where we had a few rums and played dominos, otherwise there wasn’t much on the island.  We went snorkelling off a reef and also dinghied over to a stretch of sand with a thatched umbrella on it.  The place is called Mopion and quite tiny, I can’t really call it an island but it was very picturesque and ideal for snorkelling. 

As we hadn’t been able to get any money out, due to the lack of a bank, we went back to Union Island for another night.  We took the opportunity to stock up on diet cokes as I know from experience that a lot of the islands we’re going to revisit don’t have it. 

We sailed around to the other side of the island to a very calm bay where I was able to get my paddle board out and go turtle spotting.  It was the perfect location and we kayaked  over on my paddle board for lunch at the beach bar.  It was here that I was attacked by sand flies.  I didn’t feel anything at the time but overnight I came out in a rash.  They call them ‘no see ems’ over here.  So just when we’d got rid of the mosquitoes we had another little flying menace.

 

Our next island was Mayreau where we anchored in Salt whistle Bay and then Saline Bay.  We had an energetic walk around the deserted beach on the windward side, via the Last Bar Before The Jungle for a rum, and then up into town.  We stopped off at another bar run by a friendly Rastafarian called Robert.  He showed me and Debbie around the bar, kitchen, dance area and he was very proud as he’d built it all himself.  We noticed in one of the side rooms there was a camp bed which he obviously slept on.  I didn’t like to look but Debbie said his pillow was a pile of neatly folded clothes.  

 

After a few days here we upped anchor and sailed over to Tobago Cays where we picked up a mooring ball from a couple of young lads in a boat called Romeo and we booked a lobster beach barbeque with them for Clive’s birthday.  We spent a couple of days snorkelling with the turtles and clambering up one of the sandy hills to look at the iguanas.  There were some real beauties up in the trees, with their colourful spikey backs and various coloured bodies.

On Clive’s birthday we went over to Amelie where we were treated to a full English breakfast washed down with bucks fizz.  We went to another deserted island for a picnic lunch sat on a white sandy beach under the shade of a palm tree.  This was the island that had been used in The Pirates of the Caribbean when Jack Sparrow had been left marooned on an island with a hidden rum stash.  After a sumptuous meal we were entertained by the hermit crabs who Debbie and I decided liked cheese slices more than cheddar Pringles.  After a brief pit stop back on board we were collected by our hosts (Romeo) who took us ashore and cooked us lobster on the barbecue.

Next stop on our whistle stop tour of SVG was Canouan.  This is quite a sleepy island and we were shocked that the luxury hotel on the beach had absolutely no guests booked in, the week before Christmas but were still fully staffed, it was quite eerie..  We had a lovely meal in the restaurant and bought quite a few goodies from the attached deli there.

 

Clive and I had to go back to St.Vincent to export the cats and so we set off for Blue Lagoon to re-unite with some lovely people who we’d met up with in April on our way down to Grenada.  Stephen and Debbie headed straight to Bequia where we were due to meet them again for Christmas.

Blue Lagoon had undergone quite a lot of redevelopment, the Black Pearl Restaurant no longer existed and a new restaurant was due to open a few days after our arrival.  Our friend Raymond, the sail maker, was now working out of different premises.  We took the opportunity of asking him to make a plastic cover to put over our flat screen TV in the lounge for when we’re sailing and he had it back the same day.  A truly customised, speedy service!

The vet came and inspected the cats twice while we were there.  Once to import them and then again to export them.  So much paperwork and red tape!

We stayed for a few days and were able to go into Kingstown which is one of my favourite cities and totally unspoilt.  It didn’t disappoint with the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas.  We had a lovely Sunday lunch with Raymond, Nicky and their gorgeous children.  They were cute and so well behaved.

 

We arrived in Bequia 3 days before Christmas which gave us just enough time to re acquaint ourselves with the bars and shops.  

Christmas Eve was Debbie’s birthday so there was much celebrating, eating and drinking.  She’d requested that we take Peri and Thornton over to Amelie for her birthday breakfast and the boys loved it.  They’d not been aboard before and took great delight in exploring every cabin, nook and cranny.  Peri found the laundry basket to sleep in and Thornton chose the master bedroom (on Stephen’s side).  Stephen was very tolerant, managing to cook breakfast with the cats wandering around under his feet.  We got a taxi over to a fabulous beach hotel on the other side of the island and had the most spectacular lunch washed down with Chablis.  Somehow we found the energy to go out again in the evening and Debbie and Clive ended up having a tequila slammer shoot off.

Christmas day involved the usual turkey fest for lunch.  We went ashore to have a Caribbean brunch and try to skype family.  Back on Sephina we started with a magnum of champagne courtesy of Debbie and Stephen and tucked into our meal about 3pm.  Clive had cooked lobster bisque from scratch.  I refused to allow any slaughtering on board so he’d bought a cooked lobster from a local restaurant and googled a recipe.  It was the best lobster bisque I’ve ever tasted and we’ll definitely do it again some time.  Clive cooked the turkey  so that it was lovely and moist and everyone helped out with the trimmings.  There was just enough room for ice cream as we settled down to watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

On Boxing Day we went to check out with Immigration and managed a quick skype call home.  

 

We left Bequia the day after Boxing Day and sailed all the way up to St.Lucia and are now tucked into Marigot Bay again, the scene of last year’s Christmas day celebration.  From here we return to Rodney Bay Marina our first port of call after crossing the Atlantic last year.  We will celebrate New Year there and then start to sail north some time in January.

 

I hope all our followers had a good Christmas and would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for 2015.

 

Learning to cook

EsterI can’t cook to save my life and will do anything to avoid the humiliation of failure so it may surprise you that I’ve become a fan of the weekly cookery classes. We go for the entertainment factor provided by Esther and Omega, the very able and funny duo that host it. I sit there unable to understand half of what they’re talking about and only half listening, to be honest, while my friend Debbie (swot!) gets out her notebook and neatly takes notes on the handouts. After watching them prepare a dish we are treated to one they prepared earlier and all happily tuck in to whatever it is. Last week was flying fish in gravy and this week we had Thai chicken and it looked relatively easy so I made the stupid decision to announce that I'd cook it in a couple of weeks when it’s my turn to do Friday supper. Fortunately the sauce can be done in advance and frozen so that will stop me stressing about it for the next couple of weeks. Another reason I’m a fan of these events is that there’s a lovely little gift shop at that marina and they do a mean rum punch at the bar.

 

July came and went

Amelie Day OutSo what did we get up to in July?

Our friends from Amelie, Stephen and Debbie, had a couple of their friends over from the UK for a couple of weeks and they were great fun. Mike was hilarious and it’s always good to meet like minded people, we had such a laugh with them. We sailed Amelie around to a place called Whisper Cove where we had lunch, played with the paddle board and a had a quick swim before heading back to the marina. It was a lovely day and provided good memories that Clive managed to capture on video.

We’ve done a few jobs on the boat. Clive asked me to take a plug out of the dinghy while it was up on the davits so I balanced on my paddle board underneath to do it and got covered in the most foul smelling water imaginable. I was not impressed and hot footed it up to the showers.

We watched the football up at the bar and were sitting with a group of very lively Trinidadian’s when the epic Germany v Brasil match was on. Our neighbours on the pontoon are German and were embarrassed at the score.

We went on our first hash run and were instantly converted. (It has nothing to do with drugs and if you google Grenada Hash House Harriers all will be revealed.) Basically, you turn up at a given point, announced a couple of days in advance, and then follow a trail through the hills that has been marked with clumps of shredded paper. There are false trails that lead you down dead ends and it’s usually about 2.5 miles.  Start of HashThere’s a hash every Saturday afternoon and as they are at different locations each week it’s a really good way to see the island. Our first hash was quite tame but the second one had us wading through 3 stretches of river and climbing up and down muddy banks. Very exhilarating and very messy. There’s beer and food at the end of the hash and it’s great fun taking part.

We’ve got into the routine of going in the dinghy around to Coconut Beach bar for Sunday lunch. There’s always live music and as we’re sat on the beach under a little thatched roof it’s not a bad way to spend Sunday. The entertainment also involves the local lads running along the dinghy dock and jumping into the water, throwing each other into the water and generally having a ball.

I found a local vet that was able to do the cats’ annual vaccinations so we took them there for a general check up and got their passports updated. 

One of the guys on our pontoon had his 50th birthday and invited us all to his party up at the marina and we all ended up on the beach sat around a bonfire having a drink or two or three.

We went to a cookery demonstration at one of the other marinas on the south of the island. They showed us how to do a local dish called ‘oil down’.  It contained pig’s nose and other indescribable bits that we didn’t want to know about. Not a recipe that I’ll use again but Clive thinks he can do an upmarket version.

Activities are ramping up for carnival time in August and we went to one of the nearby villages to listen to their junior steel band rehearsing.  They were brilliant and there were some very cute little girls playing drums bigger than themselves. One had to stand on a beer crate to reach the drums.

Other than that we’ve walked into town, cycled around a bit and just generally had a good time. 

  Bring on the carnival! Beach FireSteel Band

 

Carnival craziness

Grenada Queen 2014The whole of Grenada is now in recovery mode after days of dancing, loud music, drinking and general over merriment. There were various events leading up to it all including the Beauty Queen Pageant at the National Stadium.  We turned up there at 6.45pm for a 7pm start and they were still building the stage!  We had the pick of all the seats and sat patiently waiting for the start.  I asked a sleepy woman on the popcorn stand when it would start and she just said “Soon. Be patient”. Some smartly dressed police arrived and the lady in charge shouted up in our direction “English!” so I prodded everyone to stand up. It turned out she was calling a policeman behind us called English.  Eventually it started, just before 9pm. Lots of dancers and then the 7 contestants came on and each gave a short speech about their given topic.  They were well rehearsed and very passionate.  One was about domestic abuse.  They then paraded in their swimming costumes and had the most ridiculously long legs. Then it was the carnival costumes, which were huge and very colourful. When they all got on the stage together there was a bit of jostling and cramped dancing. After that a local singer came on gyrating his hips and thrusting his pelvis, resulting in all the big ladies in the crowd standing up and wiggling their bottoms at him.  He jumped over the security fences and ended up a few rows from us doing unspeakable things to a large lady. The audience loved him. We were shocked.  I bought some fudge from an innocent old lady at a sweet stall and it turned out to be chilli fudge. The sly woman. It was hot!

On another evening we went to watch the Panarama which is the adult steel band competition.  They were brilliant and very talented.

Jab JabThe carnival got into full swing on Monday morning with the Jab-Jab procession. It started during the night and into the early hours. We couldn’t sleep as there was loud music blaring out from 11pm and we got up at 5am to watch them trail past the marina. The men were covered head to toe in black oil and were carrying chains. They were mostly drunk and dancing about wildly. We’d been warned to wear old clothes as they were known to grab people and get oil everywhere. We watched for about 30 minutes, marvelling at a woman in front of us that was effortlessly moving her bottom in impossible directions.  It seemed to be detached from the rest of her body.  There was another procession in the evening which we missed but the following day there was yet another procession. It started about 3pm and went on until 5.30pm. It was so colourful and everyone seemed to be taking part in the dancing and fun.

 

I went for a run on Wednesday morning after the 2 days of endless partying and the place was like a ghost town. There was oil all over the roads and pavements and oily handprints on buildings, boats, lorries and even the police car.

 

Next week is Chocolate Week? Any excuse to party.

 

West Indies cricket

Caribbean Premier LeagueYesterday I sat through a game of cricket that lasted for 2 and a half hours!

I’ve never really understood the rules or seen the fun in a cricket match that goes on for days but this was different.  A 20/20 match, and I really enjoyed it. Guyana were playing Antigua to open the season at Grenada’s National Stadium and play was fast and furious. There was a costume procession around the stadium before the game started and again at half time, including some dancers covered in oil, wearing helmets with horns. Very loud Caribbean music played randomly, cheer leaders on podiums shook pom-poms every time their team scored a run.  There was a dog that kept circling the stadium and even crossed the pitch a few times as the game carried on regardless.  Everyone was jigging along to the music, it was contagious. Even the groundsmen that were repainting the white lines at half time were wriggling their bottoms as they went about their work.  

If cricket was like this back in the UK I'd be hooked!