Firstly we wish Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our ‘readers’!
The weather in the Caribbean is as strange as it is in the UK so our plans had to change from a beach BBQ in Bequia. Since we arrived in St Lucia it’s rained heavily every day and some days it’s literally not stopped all day.
After arriving we stayed in Rodney Bay for 6 days with all the other ARC boats. We only made two official ARC parties but there were plenty of informal parties to keep our spirits going and the spirits flowing. It was great swapping ARC stories with the other boats, we seem to have fared better than most with nothing significant going wrong, a testament to Stella and how well she was maintained by the previous owners.
There were quite a few tales of boats passing spares from boat to boat in the middle of the Atlantic which really highlights the spirit and camaraderie of everyone involved.
We left Rodney Bay on St Lucia on Wednesday 22 December and joined 5 other boats in the ‘picture post card’ Marigot Bay, about 2 hours south of Rodney Bay. The intention was to stop for the night and then we would all move on to Bequia for Christmas. Well, it didn’t quite happen because (i) it started raining and (ii) we all decided that JJ’s restaurant where we were all moored ‘stern to’ would be an ideal place to spend Christmas day, especially as it was likely to rain. There were also many reports of large swells which would have made the anchorages very uncomfortable and landing on the beach for a BBQ impossible.
We were moored next to each other at the top end of the Lagoon with million dollar views looking out to sea over the small beach covered in Palm Trees. Justin at JJ’s did the best food we’ve had since arriving in the Caribbean for about £10 a head. As long as we occasionally ate and drank at his restaurant and bar (this wasn’t difficult) he seemed very happy for us to stay without paying berthing fees. 50 yards away at Discovery Marina, still ‘stern to’ and with an inferior view because you would be sandwiched between two super yachts (the marine equivalent of someone building a block of flats right in front of your house) it cost U$40 a night. We were very happy!
Alan hoisted our Christmas tree lights up the mast to compete with the super yachts so we could look more festive, although the Caribbean doesn’t really get that Christmassy.
On Christmas Eve it rained heavily all day from first light to dark and didn’t stop once! Everything on deck was saturated and down below it got very stuffy as we couldn’t open any hatches to let air in. But at least it was warm and the best approach was to wander around in your swimming trunks all day and just accept that you would get wet. Much of the day was passed in JJ’s bar having a long lazy lunch, playing Monopoly with the other boats and dancing to the steel band in the evening!
The weather improved on Christmas Day just enough for us all to have a classic British BBQ (in the rain) on the small beach at the entrance to the lagoon. Throughout the day it rained every 15 mins for 5 mins, but in between the showers it was sunny. During the short showers the best approach was to go for a swim as you were going to get wet anyway or go to the bar for a beer! Everyone dinghied over with their food and BBQs and with the services of the ‘on beach bar’ (a typical Caribbean beach shack selling beer and rum punch) we had a great time. Alan had made his famous pavlova, a trifle and two fresh loaves of bread which were a great hit. We couldn’t find any caster sugar so we spent part of the rainy Christmas Eve hand grinding sugar in a pestle and mortar!
We all spent the evening in JJ’s where there was another live band and plenty of rum to wash down Alan’s Christmas Cake which we have been carting around since we left the UK. Everyone made a reasonable dent in it, but there is still plenty left!
We left Marigot Bay on Boxing Day and had a cracking sailing down to St Vincent. We left 4 of the other boats in Marigot Bay (they were heading north for New Year) but we’re still in company with ‘Triple D’, a very friendly Southerly 42 sailed by Trish and her two young daughters Alice and Jillian. It was proper Caribbean sailing with 20kts on the beam and even the rain held off for most of the day. However just as we approached St Vincent we got hit by a nasty squall with heavy rain and 35kt of wind. It was the first time we have reefed the mainsail since we crossed the English Channel in August – which is an indication of how little wind we have had.
We anchored in Wallilabou Bay which is where the first Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. The remains of the film set are still here although it is very much falling apart. We tied our stern line to the remains of the old jetty where Capt Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) was strung up. It wasn’t very exciting and there was a bit of a turf war on the beach with the locals so we left fairly early and finally made it to Bequia for midday.
It is beautiful here, the sun is out, the sea is blue, the wind is blowing to keep it cool, we got to do our Caribbean swim last night and we can finally dry out. Everyone is very friendly and we have already bumped into loads of people we know so it should be fun.
Roger left today to catch his flight back to St Lucia before heading back to the frozen UK. We are sorry to see him go after 6 weeks and will miss his company. But we don’t feel too sorry for him as he is off skiing next week!
For the first time since we left we now have no particular schedule, which is weird. We are getting the boat tidied up today and have arranged to meet some other boats later and tomorrow we are going diving. There is a big firework display here on New Year’s Eve so we may stay here and go to one of the many parties in the bars. First however we will have a couple of nights off to detox!
It’s been a very different Christmas in virtually all possible ways, but it’s been fantastic fun and one we won’t forgot for a long while. We’ve been lucky to fall in with such a great group and our mooring at JJ’s in Marigot bay was a perfect setting given the rain. As we’re away from civilisation we’re back to using the Sat Phone, so photos will have to follow when we get wifi.