It’s 2:30am. The anchor has dragged 3 times tonight and we’ve had to reset it. This time we’ve moved into deeper water. Nichola and I are running an anchor watch meaning we have one of us awake all the time to keep an eye on things. The wind is up to 25 knots and we’re surrounded by other yachts. It keeps you on your toes to make sure all is safe.
So, it’s 2015. I still have to pinch myself and remind myself what an incredible adventure we’re on. It still feels unreal at times.
The last 3 weeks since arriving in the Carribean have flown by.
The first 10 days were in St Lucia at Rodney Bay. Being part of the ARC made it very special as we made many friends and it was impossible to walk the length of the pontoon without catching up with many friends and swapping tales of the Atlantic and upcoming plans. We worked to fix things on Aretha and enjoyed the great food and drinks that St Lucia had to offer. We had plenty to fix – a broken auto pilot, chafed halyards and sheets, broken toilet pump, the seals on the raw water intake for the generator spring to mind amongst others. It’s funny how quickly you learn about things when they break and you need to figure out what it is, what you need to fix it and how to do it. The learning curve remains steep.
Leaving Rodney Bay, we headed South and spent one night at Marigot Bay, the scene of where Dr Doolittle was filmed. It’s a picturesque spot and we moored on a buoy for the night. Early evening saw us spinning by the mangrove swamps aiming to catch snapper and small barracuda. Supper was onboard as we rafted next to Matilda.
One of the highlights for us has been meeting other like minded people and we arranged to spend Christmas and New Year with a number of other good friends on family boats. We planned to rendezvous on Christmas Eve with a number of boats and enjoy the festive times together at Chatham Bay on Union Island. The core group of us has been Matilda (Barry and Sophie with their 2 children – Emily (7) and William (2)), Khujada 2 (Julian and Albane with their 3 children, Hugo (11), James (9) and Daisy (8), and Take Off (Jorgen and Louise with their 2 children, Alex (5) and Innes (3). Having so many friends for the children to play with really has been a massive part of what we are doing and is so important for them.
We left St Lucia and sailed through the St Vincent channel to the Island of Bequia (pronounced Bek-Way). We anchored there for 2 nights in a very crowded and blustery bay. The dinghy is such an essential piece of kit as we zoomed around the bay to do shopping, find the local cafes with the relatively slow internet access and to explore. Interestinly Bequia is one of the few places in the world where they still hunt whales. You can see evidence of this in the local market selling scrimshaw – the carvings on whale bones and teeth. No, we didnt get any – not something we’d encourage.
It was lovely to now have the marina of Rodney Bay behind us and to start really experiencing the CArribean. The picture postcard beaches and swimming in beautiful turquoise seas surrounded by fish and glorious sunshine. This is what we came for here.
We slipped anchor early on Christmas Eve and headed South to Chatham Bay. We arrived around lunch and moored next to Matilda who arrived the previous day. Straight away we settled into life in this isolated bay which was to be our home for the next week.
To paint a picture, there are no roads leading to Chatham Bay. There are 4 tin shack bar/ restaurants dotted along a long palm tree lined beach. That’s it. Nothing else. The guys running the bars come each day by boat from the main town Clifton some 4 miles away. For the next 7 days we snorkelled every day seeing lobsters, moray eels, sea snakes, turtles, trumpet fish, stone fish and literally hundreds other fish. All within 30 metres of the beach. We fished off the boats and round the headland catching jacks weighing up to 2 lbs (excellent grilled with fresh limes). Every morning was swimming off the boat, then a lazy breakfast, dinghy ashore and the children playing on the beach. The children have revelled in the sea and Columbus who was a tentative swimmer before we left is now a true water boy – always with a mask and snorkel on diving and playing – he is rarely out of the water. Willow loves building her sandcastles and runs happily in and out of the water. Bluebell is always surrounded by friends.
We got to know Tim who ran one of the bars very well and he provided us with Christmas Dinner and New Years Eve dinner and drinks with tables and chairs set on the beach. Every day was spent drinking Pina Colada’s watching the sunset.
This truly has been the most relaxing part of our adventures and we’ve loved every moment of it here. We’ve got to know our friends really well and have enjoyed our own paradise. You realise that up to now, its been focused on the boat and safety and crossing the Atlantic. For this week its been complete down tools and chill.
We were joined by plenty of other boats too – Chili, Delfia, Interlude 1, Nisida, Time Out – all from the ARC. All like minded people – all full of positivity and energy, all driven. People here only see opportunities, not problems. It’s a truly inspiring community.
One of the days we hiked up the rocky path through the hills and met the pre-arranged taxi for the 4 mile trip to Clifton – the vibrant one street capital of Union Island. There is a tiny airport here and a handful of shops and restaurants. Internet access is slow and things take time (especially Customs clearing in and out).
On 2 days, a few of us ran to Clifton – a 2 hour round trip jn this heat. This is the longest I’ve run since my back operation and I’m delighted to report all seems to be in good working order. So lovely to be able to run again and get some exercise – especially when the cool down is diving into the sea and swimming back to the tender anchored just off the beach.
So today was the day we slipped lines and headed South towards Grenada. It’s been a short hop today to Carriacou and tomorrow to Prickly Bay in Grenada. We have another week with our friends on Matilda, Khujada 2 and Take Off before they head North again through the Carribean Islands and we head West towards Santa Marta in Columbia. We’ll be very sad to say goodbye and at the same time looking foward to meeting up again with Juno and Pentagram meeting them in Columbia.
We have Caroline joining us in Grenada and will be sailing with us to Bora Bora in the Pacific. She’s sailed a lot with our friends on Juno and amongst other things is a teacher. Having some extra help with the children will be great for both us and them I’m sure.
Christmas has been very different this year. Delighfully minimal. One present only each, a small Christmas tree and one small box of quality street. It’s been perfect, calm and happy. Its been incredibly memorable.
Nichola and Columbus birthdays were similarly low key and relaxed. On the beach, supper with friends and fine cooking. Probably way too many rum punches.
Time now to start prepping for our next travels though and I can’t wait to be back at sea again and on the 1500 mile stretch to Panama.
I hope you’ve all had a fabulous Christmas and New Year.
Have a fabulous 2015 all,
Caspar & Team Aretha.
PS Just checked the anchor. All seems to be holding ok. Phew.
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