Would you like some Lobster with that Lobster?

Wednesday 17th Feb. 2010

As I stand on deck at the bow of Lady C, anchored in Tobago Cays, looking
across the water the colours are unbelievable and if you were to see them
on a postcard you would swear they had been Photo-shopped. They are
extreme, iridescent, luminous, exaggerated, ridiculous and at the same
time so beautiful you can't quite accept that you're seeing them. If they
were to make this place one of the wonders of the world it wouldn't
disappoint. Stuck out in the Caribbean Sea it is a huge coral reef in the
shape of a giant horseshoe covering several miles, Five very small
uninhabited islands are spread around it's perimeter, each one slightly
different but all lined with Palm trees and white sandy beaches. Amongst
the trees you can find strange, pre-historic looking Lizards about 3 feet
in length and in the waters around, close to the shore lots and lots of
turtles. Today we took our dingy and with careful navigation picked a
path through the reef to the outside where we tied up to a mooring which
has been placed there. Slipping over the side, in our fins and snorkels,
we entered a different world as we drifted along the edge of the coral,
which sloped away underneath us and ended many metres below where the reef
gave way to the sandy bottom of the sea bed. In the first minute I
spotted a large shark prowling at the edge of the reef, in the distance,
it's movement was unmistakable and I was very glad that there was plenty
of food around in case it was hungry and quite some distance between it
and us.. The reef below us was teeming with all sorts of fish in every
colour and size imaginable some individuals and others in large groups
swimming past, it was such a privilege to be able to glimpse into their
world and although I have snorkeled quite a lot in different places I
think that today's trip was the best ever. It's hard to imagine anywhere
so beautiful as I look around at the boats anchored nearby. I did wonder
how many there would be and I think, thanks in part to the recession,
there are less than I expected. The entrance is very difficult and the
hungry reef is never far away but with careful navigation you arrive
safely inside and have the option of picking up a mooring buoy or
anchoring. We chose the latter and dropped our hook to end up fairly
close to Brigante with whom we sailed here on Wednesday morning. As we
weren't too sure how many boats we would find here we left Bequia at 0800
and quickly hoisted all of our sails. With 3 reefs in the main and
everything else up full we left the bay and were quickly doing 6.5 - 7
knots on a broad reach across a gentle ocean with around 20 knots of wind.
It was a truly exhilarating sail for around 5 hours and we all, Lady C
included, loved every minute of it. This is sailing how it should be with
fairly short hops from one island to another in constant warm breezes and
it feels so good you really don't want to arrive. Bequia was as we left
it 5 years ago and it was nice to see that not much changes in these
parts. Once we had returned to Lady C one of the many boat boys came past
selling fish, He had a huge Red Snapper, about 2.5 feet in length and some
King fish from which he cut us two large steaks. Marinated with some
garlic and olive oil they made a delicious accompaniment to some stir fry
rice this evening. Last night we all ate fresh Lobster onboard Brigante,
what a treat! Gaynor and I have been talking over our options and we may
decide to find out if we can get Lady C shipped home instead of sailing
her back. We have missed so much precious sailing time doing repairs, both
in the Canaries and St Lucia, nine weeks in total. It would mean that we
could carry on sailing around these beautiful islands for another 6 weeks
or until a couple of days before I have to go back to work.

Friday 19th Feb.

Another day has drifted past in Paradise, we all went back to the reef
this afternoon, Caetano and Kimbo, from Brigante, both saw a shark, while
Gaynor and I followed a huge Ray as is floated, like a gently shaken
blanket, over the reef following a turtle that looked as though it was
running away. To end the perfect day Caetano, who is soon to be returning
to Rome, took us all out for dinner. At 1800 we got into the dingy and
motored away from the boat, looking back to check, I could see that the
automatic anchor light, which is switched on and off by a light sensor,
was trying to make up it's mind if it was day or night and was going on
and off in a random fashion. Turning back to look forward I steered into
the most glorious of sunsets with a crimson sky to the West and still blue
to the North, the silhouettes of many palm trees framing the scene, the
dark outline of the neighboring island, and the patch of charcoal cloud
behind it added to it's dramatic statement and when we arrived on the
beach we all stood there, quietly enjoying a cold beer, watching the
changing colours as the sun slowly set behind Union Island in the
distance. It was like looking at the most beautiful oil painting that
slowly changed before your eyes, incredibly emotive. Then we sat down in
the softly lit area which had been created by Jean Claude, one of the boat
boys, under the palms on the beach and enjoyed, once again, fresh lobster,
garlic potatoes, savory rice and fried plantain, all washed down with a
chilled white wine. A huge platter of passion and star fruit completed the
meal and we headed back to Brigante to enjoy a nightcap. She is a 65ft
steel sailing boat that David and Ilva, his Ethiopian wife, bought to do
charter holidays in. He had the boat out of the water in Rome and spent
two and a half years working on her, cutting out lots and lots of rust,
re-newing the teak decks and fitting her out to a very high standard. We
saw the sequence of pictures he has showing the project from start to
finish and the amount of work is truly awesome. If boats really do have
holistic black boxes I am sure that they will have a great time here and
we both wish them every success with their venture. It's so nice to meet
such interesting people and always such a wrench when goodbyes have to be
said, Brigante has had more than her share of characters and we bid a fond
farewell to one of them, Jordi in St Lucia when he had to return to Spain
to attend to his own boat which had been damaged. Caetano has always
wanted to be a Pirate and is living his dream, he has had his beard
plaited, is dressed like something from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and his
antics are always very amusing. It wouldn't be a hard decision to just
stay here in the Cays, it must be one of the best places in the whole
world, but we will probably move on after the weekend there are so many
places to see and we need to find out if Grenada really does smell of
spices as you approach, apparently due to the production of nutmeg.

Hasta Pronto


Lady C her crew and a few lobsters.