If there’s a paradise in this world then we’ve just been there.
Imagine if you will, a glossy leaflet depicting the bluest of blue, shades of turquoise that would put the gemstone to shame and the whitest, finest most luxurious sand imaginable- you can photo-shop for all you’re worth- this place exists and goes by the name, Barbuda!
Jump forward a few days and we’re sitting in a hospital in Saint Martin, waiting to see how many stitches Seb needs in his big toe after an unfortunate accident with what we think was a can in the garbage. Our garbage, left in the dinghy, ready to take ashore and overlooked by two excited little boys jumping into the turquoise blue water mentioned earlier!
So describes the highs and lows of cruising.
There’s a lot that’s gone on since last post, and we are currently preparing the boat and ourselves to head into the Southern Hemisphere! If all goes to plan, we’ll be heading off today on an approximately 7-day passage to Panama. The San Blas Islands will be our first stop and then we need to wait until we can find our ‘slot’ through the canal. Next post should be interesting…
I’ve had a bit of a humour failure for the last few days, which tends to happen twice a month for about a week. It’s not until it passes that I realize I was in ‘that’ phase and that my special little dark cloud has lifted for the time being- THANK GOODNESS! It’s moving time again, which I always find a bit tricky to deal with, that and 24/7 with my two gorgeous kids who have Mum on tap and don’t realize the tap needs to be turned off every now and then!
Hey ho- so describes the highs and lows of living full time on a boat!
Mike worked most of March, the kids and I staying in Antigua while he spent more time messing about on boats-(big ones this time). We had a great time, hanging out with other boat families, doing schoolwork, exploring the island and the highlight- sailing lessons for the kids. Not having grown up sailing dinghy’s I was blown away (positively) that by lesson 3 they were off and skimming across the water solo. They were in a Laser Pico and took turns helming and controlling the main sheet. Whilst WE are sailing vast distances, they’re learning a degree of seamanship rather than actual sailing ability. In a dinghy, you learn really quickly or you end up capsizing, which they loved doing- running in to see me at the end of each lesson holding up a hand to indicate how many times they’d been in the water! Finally a fun learning experience for them! They were so enthusiastic about it I mentioned it to our Danish and English friends whose kids also took lessons. It was wonderful to see all of these children suddenly very enthusiastic and positive about the sailing aspect…perhaps a few adult classes would have been a good idea.
There were several reminders that no matter how tricky a day you might be having there is always someone out there doing it a lot tougher than you are- we met a pair of Atlantic Rowers who’d not long finished their 75 day journey across the Ocean Blue. We spoke at length to their Dad- a prouder man you’d be hard pressed to meet. The pair were very accommodating, letting the kids hop onto their boat, hold the oars and even try their food. They gave out autographs and took photos with them, answering the plethora of questions thrown at them by our small people.
The South African, Chris Bertish, completed his 93 day solo SUP, (yes that is short for Stand Up Paddleboard) Atlantic Crossing while we were in the marina. What an amazing achievement and how incredible it was to witness his arrival.
Two more rowers arrived while we were there- One guy had lost his rudder, his journey taking him 94 days. I take my hat off, I have complete admiration towards all of these people but it’s not something I feel I need to add to my bucket list- a sentiment I know at least one friend feels towards our travels.
All of the above plus sleepovers, birthday parties, a charity day at the sailing academy to support local kids with disabilities, regular trips to the beach, ice-cream Friday, walks to different parts of the island, history right at our doorstep in Nelson’s Dockyard and time spent with wonderful people, kept us all busy. Our time in Antigua was complete before we knew it.
A huge thank you to Helen and Kevin and Eli, who went out of their way to help us and show us around during our time there.
As mentioned earlier, Barbuda was our next stop. We spent our first night in Spanish Point, some reef navigation ensuring a calm and quiet anchorage in perhaps the clearest water we’ve seen to date. The next day we moved around to Coco Point to find an expansive beach which I happily walked along for as far as I could go one way, to as far as I could go the other. One end of the beach sports an exclusive resort that has it’s own little airport for guests to fly directly into. Apparently yachties are not at all welcome! At 2000 US dollars a night I guess guests don’t want to share the bar with just anyone!
A derelict resort takes up a fair share of the other end, boarded up bungalows almost blending into the palm tree lined beach. Princess Diana was once a guest here and Robert De Niro and Packer, (I assume James but possibly Kerry was the instigator) under a group called Paradise Found, own this space with plans to restore it to its former glory.
Barbuda has the largest colony of Frigatebirds in the Eastern Caribbean, larger than the colony in the Galapagos and incredibly accessible with the assistance of a guide. George Jefferies was our choice, the most experienced of guides and recommended to us by our friends who’d done the tour a few days before. He is a wealth of knowledge about the colony and his country and very entertaining in a Morgan Freeman kind of way. Sebastian was particularly impressed by his 60-horse power engine, that sped us across the lagoon quickly and comfortably!
We left for Saint Martin the same evening and had a lovely sail across in 15 knot winds under a wide expanse of stars- YES, you did just read correctly- I wrote lovely and sail in the same sentence!
And so here we are, prepping the boat for the journey ahead. I’m using free wifi in the local laundry and laughing while I type this- how things change. My previous aversion to going and doing the laundry being replaced by the realization that I’m on my own for a few hours with only the need to change clothes from washing machine to dryer as interruption! There’s the buzzer now!
Until Panama… this is Slice of Life standing by.