Happy New Year!
Thu 6 Jan 2011 19:28
How time flies when you're having fun?! Today (properly early this morning) Gareth has left us after nearly six weeks on board. So here we are, the three of us, wondering what to do. What should you do when you have nothing to do? Write a blog of course.
The last edition had us in the BVI just before Christmas. We have covered quite a bit of ground since then, departing from Virgin Gorda after saying goodbye to Sandy and Bill on Dragonfly, whose paths we have crossed many times since last year. They have been great company and we shall miss them lots. From there we headed for the islands of Saba and Sint Eustatius (Statia as it is known to everyone), which are part of the Dutch West Indies or Netherland Antilles. Most readers will have likely never heard of them, but Oranjestad - the only port in Statia - was at one time the busiest port in the world. This partly due to the Dutch neutrality in all the 18th century European squabbles, and also the lack of Customs, and therefore lack of duty on goods being traded. Oranjestad is still busy - mostly as a bunkering port: there were over a dozen ships waiting when we were there. The island itself though, as with neighbouring Saba, is very quiet. In Saba we walked a long way up a very steep hill to one of the two towns, curiously called "The Bottom", which is absolutely not where it is.
The walk up to The Bottom The Bottom
The busy Oranjestad anchorage, with Catacaos in the foreground.
One thing Saba is famous for is its scuba diving. Rated by many as having some of the finest diving in the world, Lorraine and Gareth took advantage of this on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the mornings. Christmas afternoon was spent cooking the Turkey on the barbecue, and everything else in the oven. This worked very well, having had previous experience with Xmas barbecuing back in the Canary Islands. I feel ought to mention that the turkey was a frozen one which had originated in the US; on the packaging there were instructions for various methods of cooking, including deep frying. Yes, really.
Anyway, a good time was had by all, particularly Lucas, who had the biggest pile of presents.
The day after Boxing Day saw us motoring up to the French island of St.Barthelemy, or St.Barts as it is known. We have been here several times before, and like it a lot, as do the rich and famous who seem to have made it the place to go for New Year's Eve. This must have been one of the largest concentrations of megasize superyachts ever. We were anchored just across from "A", possibly the mega-est mega yacht ever. It belongs to a Russian oil man, and is about the size of some of the cross-Channel ferries in Europe. Fortunatley there are some parts of St.Barts which are willing accept to us mere mortals, and we had a very pleasant New Year's Eve at Le Select, followed by fireworks. Which Lucas slept through! We also made a visit to St.Barts' airport, which our cruising guide describes as being "restricted to highly skilled pilots and passengers who like thrills and spills"! This just about sums it up, for there is a large hill at the end of the runway which has to be flown over, obviously, before the plane can begin a nose-dive type descent towards the ground. I didn't fancy it much myself!
"A" St.Barts' Airport
We left St.Barts late on New Year's Day, and sailed overnight towards Antigua. The initial plan had been to go to the island of Montserrat first, but the weather would have been very unfriendly for the trip back up to Antigua, so unfortunately that idea had to be scrapped. So here we are, back in English Harbour, Antigua, where we have spent a few days relaxing after what seems to have been a fairly hectic period of travelling from place to place.
Looking down over English Harbour, Antigua, from Shirley Heights.
Anyway, you can probably tell Gareth's been, as he showed us how to put the blog into the format you see here, which a bit better than usual I hope. It has been a fun packed six weeks, and we shall all miss him, especially Lucas who now has no one but his boring parents to play with! Actually that's not true at all - back in Antigua, he has met up again with Marlin and all the other boat kids who live at English Harbour, so he is having a great time.
We have barely 24 hours to ourselves now, and then Bronwen (Lorraine's mum) arrives, so the spare cabin is not empty for long! When the weather is right we plan to start heading south once more, down to Guadeloupe, Les Saintes and on to Martinique. Watch this space...
All that remains is to wish all our readers a very happy 2011!
Graham, Lorraine and Lucas.