Southern caribbean Feb 2013

Halsway Grace
Robin and Sue carter
Sun 17 Feb 2013 01:31

14.30.00N 61.05.29W

Apologies to you all for not writing sooner, apart from a litany of excuses, we are currently retracing our steps and are visiting places I wrote about last year so didn't want to bore with you with the same information again.
I arrived back on the boat about a month ago when it was still out of the water in Grenada where we had left her for 8 months to ride out the Hurricane season. All was well, no major problems and Robin had been here a week before me to do some jobs that required upheaval of the interior and was easier with only one person on board. There seemed to be several other men doing the same thing before their better halves arrived and they would meet in the bar each night calling themselves the Lonely Hearts Club! There was still an enormous amount still to do when I got there and we spent a frantic few days putting sails on, provisioning, cleaning and finding a home for the 70 kgs of luggage we had brought from the UK.
Dave and Mary Carpenter joined us a week later for 2 weeks sailing up to St Lucia. They had done little sailing before but slotted in really well, helping out, cooking and picking up the sailing terminology albeit with a slightly northern lilt, Mary's 'come by' to describe tacking the boat has now been firmly accepted in Halsway Grace nautical jargon! With them we did lots of swimming and snorkelling as well as cycling and walking. We visited the islands of Carriacou, Union, Bequia and St Vincent before dropping them off in St Lucia to fly north to spend a few days in Dominica and Antigua. They are also having a few days on the more remote Barbuda which we loved last year and where Mary spent a year teaching with VSO in the 1970's.
We have moved on to the French island of Martinique where it is Carnival Time!! This happens for a few days before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. I'm not sure if this is true in other parts of the world where carnival happens. My theory is that it is a good time to party before the fasting 40 days of Lent. If anyone has any information on this please let me know? Anyway they certainly know how to party, we were in one small village for 3 nights and there was a carnival procession each night with the associated revelry.Just about everyone was dressed up in brightly coloured clothes, even the babies. Many of the men were in drag as you can see from the photo and their attention to detail was impressive, there can have been little left in the wardrobes of the female members of their families. Day-Glo pink and green was especially popular as were fishnet stockings, suspenders, bodices and hair dye. Of course all of this was accompanied by very loud music with a persistent African beat and they all danced to it, even if they didn't mean to they were moving in time to the music as only Afro Caribbeans can, they are born with that rhythm in their bodies and they are so good at it. The band put so much effort into playing and moving they must have been exhausted by closing time. On the first night we thought we would get little sleep but our fears were unfounded, it all stops at 8.30 pm only to start again at about 4 pm the next day, all wearing different outfits. Everyone is good natured and there was little evidence of alcohol being consumed, the weather must help the party to go with a swing.
We have met a few friends that we got to know last year including Neil and Josie on Lucy Ellen from our old club Castle Cove in Weymouth. It's a small world here with many boats spending years sailing up and down these islands at this time of year to escape the northern winters. I can't think of a nicer place to escape to, glorious weather, good yet slightly challenging sailing and nice islands, all a bit different from one another and great people. I am sure we shall miss it when we return home.
Tomorrow we have a long day sailing from the south of Martinique up to the north of the next island, Dominica. It's a distance of about 70 miles and will take approx 12-14 hours so its an early start if we are to arrive in daylight. So, no romantic supper with a bottle of wine for us on Valentines day, it'll be in bed by 9 pm for a 4.30 am start. See it's not always paradise here!
We are looking forward to having John and Melinda Crosfield with us at the beginning of March to sail from Antigua up to St Kitts and Nevis hopefully. They have both sailed with us before on various boats including Madrigal. The last time they were aboard Halsway Grace was in Menorca I think.
I will try to be more regular with blogs in future but you know how it is?!
Please reply if you have time, just a short note would be great. Large files and photos are probably better sent to our bt address rather than mailasail. Do pass this on to anyone who might be interested who I might have overlooked.
Off to bed now!!
Love Sue and Robin
PS Our sail up from Martinique to Dominica was exciting yesterday. The wind was a force 7 gusting to force 8 ( a gale) We flew! it was great and Halsway Grace coped well, the 3 metre waves were challenging and we only had a pocket handkerchief for a sail but we did the 70 miles in 10 hours despite being in the wind shadow of Dominca for the last 20 miles. you know how it is, we kept thinking it will calm down a bit soon, this wasn't forecast and then we were half way so there wasn't much point in turning back!
PPS sorry said photo of cross dresser was too big to send.

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