John & Susan Simpson
Mon 23 May 2022 00:01
From Terry Pratchett’s novel I shall wear midnight:
“I know it’s not the right thing to say to a lady, miss, but you are sweating like a pig!”
“My mother always said that horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies merely glow….”
“Is that so? Well, miss, you are glowing like a pig!”
At the end of a week of preparing to leave Casamara in Grenada there has been plenty of glowing, probably enough for a whole sty full of pigs! At times we seemed to be mopping ourselves more than the boat! Every surface and every nook and cranny has been cleaned, dried and wiped with mildew-deterring liquids. It was very hot work and at times it seemed a bit of a fruitless task to be ‘glowing’ so much that we were simultaneously dirtying the very area being cleaned. The end result looks good though and we’re on track to have Casamara stored in as good a shape as we can manage. Sails have been removed and sent for washing, repair and storage; ropes have been cleaned and stored below decks out of the sun; every item of linen left on the boat, from mattress covers to clothes, has been washed and packed in vacuum sealed bags. I was even caught vacuum packing my shoes! Can’t be too careful with that mildew! We’re leaving Casamara under the watchful eye of a ‘guardianage’ service. They will inspect her every couple of weeks to make sure that everything is ok inside and out, as well as doing some of the maintenance work that needs doing: engine/generator servicing, for example. So we’ve done everything we can think of to look after her until we return in November but it’s with mixed emotions that we’re setting off for six months of travel. Casamara has become our home and it feels odd to be moving out, albeit for more adventures elsewhere.
We’d been in Clarke’s Court marina in Grenada for a few days before the boat was finally lifted out of the water and taken into the boatyard for storage. It’s a busy, bustling place with constant movement of cranes, tractors and other vehicles. I keep thinking of our grandchildren and how much they would be transfixed by the goings on. We’ve been very impressed with the organisation that goes into storing hundreds of boats in the boatyard for the hurricane season and the care taken with the lifting and storage. There was even a guy in the water as the slings under Casamara were positioned and he bobbed under the boat wearing his flippers and mask to see that the slings were in the correct place. You don’t get that in Southampton!
Diver adjusting the slings
Casamara in the travel lift heading to her storage space
In position in the boatyard, complete with metal cradle supports and tie-down straps. The spray hood is yet to be taken off.
We’ve completed 14 months of living aboard Casamara and travelling the Atlantic and Caribbean seas. It’s been an amazing experience; we’ve seen some wonderful places and met some lovely people. We’re pleased to know that when we come back in November to get ready for our Pacific crossing in 2023 we will meet up with friends again and pick up where we left off. We were reflecting on the year just gone and what we have learned.
1. Casamara is a very comfortable boat and a joy to sail. She’s done all we’ve asked of her and some, with plenty of room for 2 and the flexibility to cope with more. We’ve slept 7 on board when Tom, Gemma and family came to stay, and we’ve had drinks parties where there have been people stacked three deep around the sides of the cockpit singing along to John’s guitar. She’s ghosted along in hardly any wind and powered seamlessly through the waves in strong winds. Originally we thought we might treat ourselves to some time in hotels to have a break from boat life but we haven’t felt the need for that at all. We’ve essentially been living outdoors most of the time since August 2021 and it feels very odd to be indoors staying in apartment in Grenada whilst Casamara is in the boatyard. We can count the number of times we’ve been in a car since January on the fingers of one hand. It will be strange to hire a car when we leave Grenada and arrive in the USA.
2. We’ve become much more aware of the scarcity of resources and how carefully things need to managed when you don’t have access to much. I’m thinking mainly of food but it has also heightened our awareness of the need to manage the Earth’s resources carefully. There’s a lot to be done about the use of plastics and the management of waste on the Caribbean islands. It’s as much to do with education as it is with recycling facilities. As an example, we stopped for a cold drink whilst we were exploring Carriacou and were in a spotlessly clean cafe looking out of the most beautiful beach. A guy had been sitting at a table at the edge of the verandah drinking water from a plastic bottle he’d bought from the counter. The bottle cap rolled under the table, where it remained, but when he finished his drink he threw the bottle over the verandah onto the sand. When the guy had left, the lady serving wandered over and picked up the bottle top. Oh good, I thought, I’m pleased that isn’t going to blow into the sea as well. She tossed it over the verandah onto the sand and wandered back to her post at the counter. Cafe clean …. Job done! Sadly that’s not an isolated example.
3. Time and days of the week are very difficult to pin down when there isn’t a regular rhythm to days/weeks/months. That’s despite the certainty of a Caribbean day where daylight arrives and disappears at virtually the same time very single day. There are no long light evenings here - it’s always dark by 6.30 pm. It’s a good job we have our phones to keep track for us!
4. Although each of the Caribbean islands has an identify of its own, there are some common features:
- if you’re in a Caribbean restaurant there will be a resident cat
- at frequent intervals as you make your way along any road there will be a chicken crossing. I’ve often wondered why???!
- you won’t get through the day without hearing Bob Marley at least once. Three Little Birds is the top favourite,
- someone in each village/settlement will have taken on the role of chief DJ. There’ll be a stack of speakers 8 feet high that wouldn’t look out of place at a rock concert and it will play music that: (a) is extremely loud; (b) has a powerful bass that will make your innards jiggle; (c) will have a frantic beat such that the only response is to jig from foot to foot or nod vigorously. The chief DJ will blast this music out for all to enjoy, and as all windows are open it’s probably a good thing that there’s only one person playing the music. Imagine the cacophony if each house went into competition and played all at once! Occasionally there will be a young pretender to the chief DJ title but he will have his music stack in his car. You can hear them coming from a long way off as the very road they’re driving on vibrates in time to the sub-woofer on the back seat!
Our humble abode whilst Casamara is in the boatyard. We’re staying in the red apartment building behind the yellow house. Reference to the apartment having hot & cold shower puzzled me - it meant that the sinks (bathroom and kitchen) only have a cold water tap, but the shower also has hot!
Tomorrow we close the book on this chapter of our adventures and head to the airport to fly to Miami. More to be revealed in future posts…...