Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Good Life

Helinconia House, Boguis, St Lucia
With Alianna safely tucked up in a corner of the boat yard we have immersed ourselves fully into landlubber life. We have a car to drive us where ever we want to go; running water and electricity, a freezer with ice and ice cream, a beautiful villa set in two acres of lush tropical garden in a verdant valley, oh and a swimming pool. In the mornings we pick star fruit and mangos from the trees and sit outside on the verandah watching the sun rise up over the valley. The gardener Charlie lives onsite in a shabby little building behind the villa. He has a dog that is permanently chained to his own colourful dog house. The poor little mutt is so skinny and never allowed to roam free. The trees and plants all have name tags on as the small grounds use to attract cruise ship visitors. Lofty Royal Palms sway gently in the cool breeze and humming birds flutter about in and out of the tropical flowers. This place really is a little oasis. Life as a sailor, or a cruiser as those who live on water are collectively known, is a distant memory. We live life with abundance – taps running, lights on. Sadly it is only my lifestyle choice that makes me a conservationist and not my own good nature. I try but it’s easy to give in to the luxuries that being on land has to offer.
The Dog House and Charlies house.
 We hang out at the villa, its cooler up in the hills. So high up that we are level with the clouds. Every now and then Sim and I nip down to the boatyard and spend the day working on the boat then come back for a refreshing swim in the pool and a hot shower. We have driven around the local area, the little car struggling up the hills with four of us in. It’s so pretty. The land is dense and thick with tropical fruit trees and flowers. Every available piece of land is covered in green foliage and flowering plants. Rickety little buildings with flaking paint and corrugated roofs are dotted along the roadside along with more prosperous looking properties raised off the ground and made of concrete – all painted pretty colours. Why don’t they do that in the UK – it’s so up lifting and cheery.

End of the world party
Our friends Sam and Jon on Imagine have family out too and they joined us last Friday for an uneventful end of the world BBQ party here at Heliconia House. We have been up to Rodney Bay for the odd lunch and down to Marigot Bay, the small enclosed natural yacht harbour where Admiral Rodney hid his fleet of British ships from the French by tying palm fronds to the masts to disguise them. And very excitingly we won a Christmas hamper at the supermarket, full of crisps, biscuits and other nibbles enough to last us the entirety of the family vacation!
Marigot Bay, St Lucia
 Today Sim is cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  The full works on Christmas day.  We have had Mimosas for breakfast with Mum and Dad on the verandah and opened all our pressies.  We have just had a quick dip in the pool and are waiting for lunch to be served. Once again Life is good.....
So on this festive day we wish all our friends and family near and far


Spinnakers Bar, Rodney Bay Beach
Helinconia House

The pool

Five Finger or Star Fruit

Mango Trees

Calabash Tree


Bauhina or the Tulip Tree

Royal Palms

Heron at Marigot Bay

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Its Boat Yard Time

Alianna in the slings
It’s that time of year again when Alianna gets hauled out of the water to re paint her anti fouling – the protective paint you apply against marine growth under the boat. Last time around we were very disappointed with how quickly the Sea Hawk anti fouling came off. Even though we knew it was ablative paint we didn’t reckon on it coming off quite so quickly around the water line even though we did put extra paint in all of these fast wearing areas.

Being transferred from travel lift.

A lot of people don’t look forward to their boat yard duration, Sim and I, especially Sim love this time. The boat is safely on land with no worries or a dragging anchor or an uncomfortable anchorage to deal with. It’s easy to just nip off the boat and go where ever we want without getting soaked in a dinghy ride. We normally have electricity and water plugged into mains so we can splurge leaving lights on, laptops on and taps running. The obvious nuisances like mosquitoes and having to climb down the ladder and walk across the yard to use the loo are just small annoyances that have to be absorbed. One of the advantages of hauling at this time of year is that it is much cooler than the summer months, well as cool as it can be in the Caribbean anyway. We get into yard mode and the whole boat suddenly becomes a giant work shop. Sim is in his element and happy fixing and repairing things as he can now make a mess which he is not otherwise often allowed to do!

Sim keeping an eye on things
It is always nerve wracking watching your home be lifted on to dry land by what are basically two bits of string. Then shifted on to a large wheeled metal bed where it can be driven into its allocated place. Finally all that stops your humble home from toppling over are a few strategically placed chopsticks poking into the ground. But Alianna seems happy like this and life in the yard begins. This year we don’t have quite the same work load to apply as previous years. We have spent a full hard day sanding almost all the old (Seahawk) antifouling off and new (Jotun) tie coat and anti fouling is to be applied nearer to our launch date. Sim is improving the fridge and will finish adding the cosmetic trims to the bowsprit. The shaft will be pulled and inspected and new shaft packing added..Plus the usual annual maintenance jobs.  We are hauled for 5 weeks which is primarily because we have the wonderful added luxury of staying in a villa with my folks who are out visiting for an extended holiday and my sisters who join shortly. My kind of boatyard experience! Sim is down there most days keeping an eye on things and checking small jobs off list.
The remote travel lift controller
Scarily held up with only metal poles while they remove the truck!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Colours of Carrriacou

Colourful Hillsborough
 After Sims Birthday shenanigans we kept a keen eye on the weather waiting for some wind (there wasn’t any) to come from the right direction (what wind there was, was from the direction we wanted to go). So we pottered about enjoying the calm and balmy days. We went for a walk to Paradise Beach with Sam and Jon from Imagine. Paradise Beach lives up to its name; a white sand beach arcs in a crescent out into the beautiful, blue waters of the bay with views of Sandy Island and Union Island in the distance. Living on a boat we tend not to be beach dwellers, or sun worshippers. But give us a beach bar or a small restaurant and we are a happy bunch. With our thirst quenched at a colourful bar at one end of the beach we walked the other to sate our hungry appetites. It really is such a beautiful beach and I think again how lucky I am.

Tyrell Bay
 The weather gods gave us a slither of a not so brilliant weather window to sail on up to St Lucia and we decided to take it to make sure we arrived in time to greet my parents. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a bit of a slog but with the help of our engine we made on time and in one piece. Now we are back in our usual spot in Rodney Bay at the north end of the island. We’ve cleared customs and been for an obligatory roti at J’aime de Bois on Pigeon Island. Now we are preparing to haul Alianna next week and get ready for my Parents arrival.

Paradise Beach

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Captains Birthday Party at Miss Luckys Rum Shack

Tyrell Bay, Carriacou
Sim and I both love the small, laid back island of Carriacou. Sitting at anchor in the crystal clear waters of Tyrell Bay it’s easy to forget the rest of the world even exists. Boats come and go; we tinker on with little projects waiting for our friends Sam and Jon to catch up from Grenada. We are traveling with them up to St Lucia as we both happen to have our families visiting over Christmas.
The Slipway maybe?

Some of the motley crew at Sims B'day
Sam and Jon arrive in time to start some early celebrations as Sim’s Birthday approached this weekend. It was a hard decision to decide where to go for the actual big day itself. Maybe the charming Slipway restaurant, an authentic nautical beach front place with fairy lights and odd boat bits and charts decorated artfully around it; and views out across the inky colours of the bay. That was until it was suggested that we try Miss Lucky’s place up the road. No sea view offered here but instead a genuine and friendly “rum shack’ complete with oil drum BBQ out front for those all important ribs and chicken pieces and chips - all for the grand price of 12EC or £3. This is much more Sims style - a more local environment. Oh, and cheap!
Birthday sparklers from Beach House
 A fun night was had. Miss Lucky is lovely and put up with a large number of cruisers joining her small bar for drinks and BBQ. Rum is measured by the ¼ in old Lambrusco bottles for the equivalent of £3. ½ litre of rum, 2 cokes, 4 beers and two good platefuls of BBQ food and potato wedges came to less than 20 quid. Bargain! The Birthday Boy IS a cheap date! It can not be denied. Sim enjoyed himself and we had good fun with good friends Imagine of Falmouth, Darling Blue, Beach House, Kaya Moya and some other boats I forget the names of. The toilet facilities need a mention for their entertainment value. Sam and I who had not been here before got laughed out of the bar when we asked for a key to the toilet. The joke was it was an outhouse and for the most part it was by passed in favour of squatting at the back of the shop. For some reason it is deemed necessary to lock this slightly squalid little hut that houses a homemade wooden toilet over a deep hole – I’m not sure why. But there you go. Sam and I did find the experience entertaining as only you can when under the influence of a small amount of alcohol while several large frog leaping over your feet in the dark. When you gotta go you gotta go and anywhere will do.

The "out house"
The Privy
Now the birthday weekend is winding down. We are looking at the weather to continue our journey north and on to St Lucia. It looks like the end of the week might be good to go.
Moi et Sam
On our way home.