12 October 2016
Our visit back proved to be the catalyst for a huge get together of our friends.
The day started with a rendezvous at Castle Combe racing circuit where Chris Cadman was racing his 1920's MG C-type. Chris and Paula had travelled down in their motorhome with the MG on a trailer behind. The day was mostly dry but when the rain did come, it was quite a sight to see the motorhome with 12 people inside it!
We spent the night at The George Inn in Norton St. Philip where we had dinner together and caught up on all our news. We did sleep in one of the haunted rooms but luckily did not get spooked!
It has been quite a while since we have all been together and we had a wonderful time. Thanks everyone for making the effort.
12 October 2016
Time spent with family is always special.
With sister Debra and boyfriend Joe, we travelled to Penzance to celebrate Debra's birthday weekend and visit our cousin Claire and her family, Billy & Grace. A visit to Lands End had to be included, as well as into Mousehole where Chris spent many a childhood holiday. We sampled plenty of Cornish pasties and ice-cream at the food festival in Truro.
Back in Surrey, we celebrated Debra's birthday with our nephews Callum, Nathan and Adam. Big birthday next year for Deb!!!!
Angie, Wayne & Caggy
12 October 2016
We were eager to see friends Angie and Wayne, not only because it had been a while since our last time together, but because they are the new owners of Caggy a historic canal tug, commissioned by Sir Winston Churchill for the war effort in the early 1940's. Very different from their previous sailing boat!
Our visit included a trip to the Black Country Living Museum, where Caggy is moored. What a fabulous place. The whole site has been developed to replicate a 1930's/40's town with motor museum, shops, houses, coal mine and even a vintage fish and chip shop where the fish and chips were cooked in beef dripping and were the best we've ever tasted.
Chris took a nostalgic drive past Longbridge where he did his engineering apprenticeship. How different it looks now with most of the buildings re-developed for housing and shops. We also found the cottage and farm where he lived during those learning years.
12 October 2016
We started our time back in the UK by visiting sister Audra and brother-in-law Gavin who live near Bingley, Yorkshire.
The weather was great which made blackberry picking all the more pleasureable. We are looking forward to Gavin's blackberry whisky in due course. If his sloe gin is anything to go by, it will be good.
We visited wonderful Skipton Castle and the award-winning pie shop next door.
Pub dinners, walks along the canals and Audra and Gavin's delicious cooking, including Viennese Whirls as per the Great British Bake Off challenge, made for a great visit.
See you again soon!
Carnival in Grenada
11 October 2016
One of the highlights in the Grenadan calendar is Carnival; the culmination of months of steel band and music competitions that is celebrated by the entire island in 3 days of partying.
We were mezmerised during the steel band competition to see huge bands of up to 70 people of all ages bringing the National Stadium to life with their melodies. After each group, the whole set had to be wheeled off the stage so that the next group could set up. It resembled an enormous jigsaw puzzle getting everything in place.
The night Carnival showcased all the bands that would be taking part in the main Carnival event. Each band was headed by a lorry onto which was loaded massive speakers that blasted out with extra bass and from which plenty of rum was being distributed. This was followed by a procession of people waving colourful light sticks that lit up the night sky.
Pretty Carnival was the main event where participants of all shapes and sizes paraded down the road wearing costumes of feathers, beaded bikinis, gold fishnet tights and very bright colours. The main theme for the girls was very bright and very small. No matter what size, most seemed to be wearing a costume that was several sizes too small for them. It was great fun, everyone had a wonderful time and what impressed us the most was that whilst there were hundreds of people on the streets to watch, there was not one policeman to be seen, it wasn't necessary because everyone behaved properly, even those who had been making the most of the rum punches. A great example to everyone.
If you get the chance to go to Grenada, try to be there for Carnival and experience one of the happiest times of the year.
Click here for all the photos...
Hiking & Waterfalls
31 July 2016
At almost 12 degrees north of the equator, Grenada is a popular place for cruisers to be based during the hurricane season. Each morning at 7.30am there is a VHF radio Net that we can all listen to and participate in, and which covers subjects such as the weather forecast, security issues, sourcing parts/tradespeople, items for sale and arranging social activities and events. It was by listening in that we heard about a couple of hikes to some waterfalls that were being organised and we signed up.
Our first hike was to the famous Seven Sisters Waterfall, located in the Grand Etang National Park and proved to be so popular that when the minivan arrived to pick us up, it was already full but with a bit of breathing in all 21 of us got in to a van designed for 16, though I did have to sit on a guy's lap (and it wasn't Chris's!!).
Cruiser Steve led us through the lush rainforest where we clambered over rocks and trees, up and down steep and sticky mud inclines and waded through streams. We've made friends with fellow Brits, Ali & Stephen, who live on a catamaran called Manx Goose, and together our reward was to swim in the cooling waterfall before we climbed a little higher to Honeymoon Falls. The journey there was mostly through the falls themselves where we had to heave ourselves over rocks and through gullies as the water fell upon us. It was great.
I managed to get a seat on the way back and had a great view of the smoke coming off the brakes as they overheated due to the weight of us all as we headed down the mountains.
The following week we opted for two buses for our hike to Annandale Falls. In the bus were Pete, Anna and their son Sam, whom we had met in Marina di Ragusa several years ago. They had already travelled to the USA on their boat, something that we are planning too, so it was a good opportunity to catch up and pick their brains. The hike was much gentler than the previous one but nonetheless stunning as we passed areas of nutmeg, cocoa bean, avocado and mango trees. Colourful pink heliconia flowers hung from the trees near to the 30ft waterfalls, where we enjoyed a dip to cool off before the journey back.
Grenada has some beautiful rainforest and waterfalls and we are looking forward to exploring it more.
31 July 2016
Our time in Grenada has coincided with the annual leatherback turtle egg-laying season and so we joined a group of cruisers to make the journey across the island to Bathway Beach in the NE corner.
‘Shademan’ AKA Patrick, a local bus/taxi operator, provided the transport in a couple of his old minivans. We had been fore-warned that he was a bit of a ‘boy-racer’ driver and so opted for the van he wasn’t driving! The 2-hour journey took us through areas of lush rainforest, small towns, and plantations and provided a great insight into the island.
It was dark by the time we got there, around 8pm, and we listed to a short talk by our guide from the turtle sanctuary before heading down to the beach area. The turtles had stared laying back in March and, as we were now in July, it was coming to the end of the season which meant fewer turtles and therefore longer waiting around for one to arrive on the beach – you can’t hurry nature.
After a couple of hours, we got the call that we could make our way onto the beach as a turtle had arrived. In single file, behind our guide, we walked about 1 mile to the furthest point of the beach to be greeted by the sight of a leatherback turtle preparing her nesting spot. It was full moon during our visit which made visibility perfect as torchlight could have frightened her. We were amazed at how large the turtle was; around 2m long and over 1m wide. We can’t even guess at what she weighed but there she was carefully and delicately digging a deep hole behind her using her rear flippers just like hands. After an hour of digging she abandoned because she had come across a large rock under the sand. She simply moved around a little and started all over again. While this was going on, students from the turtle sanctuary were busy measuring and taking notes, and tagging the turtles if they needed it. As the turtle digs, she goes into a trance just before she lays, and at this point the students noticed that there was water in the bottom of the nest which meant that the eggs would not survive if left there. They took the decision to collect the eggs as they were laid and re-bury them in a better position on the beach. We were mesmerised as we stood right next to this huge turtle and watched the eggs appear and drop into the next. They were all white and very round, like golf balls and we were told that the shells are quite firm. Before she came out of her trance, we were able to touch her and her shell really did feel like thick, cool leather. She had no idea that the 50+ eggs that she had laid were not in the nest and we left her to cover and camouflage it as we made our way back down the beach.
We had to walk in single file behind the guide because some of the earlier turtle eggs were now hatching and we couldn’t afford to tread on one as a little hatchling was making its way to the sea. Our guide stopped walking and we waited in great anticipation as to the reason why. In front of her was a newly-hatched turtle taking its first steps seawards as fast as its little flippers could take it. She picked it up to show us and we were all able to hold it before releasing it onto the moonlit sand to continue its journey.
We felt very privileged to have seen both the eggs being laid and a new hatchling beginning its life-journey on the same night. If that turtle makes it, and it could travel as far as Canada and beyond, it will return to that same beach to lay its eggs and therefore continue the cycle in years to come.
It turned out to be a long night as we got back around 3am but it was a wonderful experience and one we shall remember forever.
Hello from Grenada
01 July 2016
The arrival of the hurricane season (June 1st - November 30th) means it's time for us to head a little further south to Grenada, which is actually made up of the main island of Grenada and the smaller islands of Petit Martinique and Carriacou. Grenada is considered by most boat insurance companies to be out of the main hurricane area and so they are happy for their customers to be here (so are we!).
We'd already visited Petit Martinique for their regatta and so headed just a few miles south of Union Island to Carriacou to check into the country and then we continued on to St. George, the capital of Grenada.
After the recent events in the Tobago Cays, we've decided to chill out and relax, as well as catch up on some overdue boats jobs, in Port Louis Marina and it is here that we will be spending the next month. The swimming pool looks very inviting, the spa even more so, just what we need to re-charge our batteries.
04 June 2016
The Tobago Cays Marine Park is made up of five uninhabited islands sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by the appropriately named, Horseshoe Reef. No trip to this part of the Caribbean would be complete without visiting this beautiful place.
In many respects, the Cays are best view from above, which is what we did a few days earlier during a stay on the nearby island of Mayreau. The view of the Cays from the church at the top of the hill was amazing. We waited for the winds to drop a little before we headed over.
As we approached Petit Rameau, the water changed colour from dark blue to deep green to turquoise with the gold and brown of the reefs all around. We dropped anchor and dinghies over to Petit Bateau where we climbed to the top of the hill for a close-up view of the Atlantic Ocean breaking over Horseshoe Reef. Back at sea level, we watched the official beach barbecues getting ready for the evening trade as we lay under a palm tree on the icing sugar sand taking it all in. A stroll along the shoreline and we saw rays, a baby shark, balloon fish and an iguana perched high in a tree. All this and we hadn't even been snorkelling yet.
With a forecast of a few days of windy weather, we decided to head back to Mayreau for better shelter and return once it had passed over. For our return to the Cays, we anchored over white sand which gave the impression that we were suspended above the water. Even though we are now in the quiet season, there were still quite a few boats there, all experiencing paradise together. Local boat vendors plied the anchorage selling ice, t-shirts, fish and taking bakery orders for the next day.
We were looking forward to snorkelling with the turtles around Baradel Island and taking the dinghy over to the reef to see what treasures were there. How lucky were we.
As it turned out, very unlucky, because that night, soon after we had gone to bed, our boat was boarded by two intruders who attacked us and stole money and mobile phones. Luckily, we were not seriously hurt but our dream destination had turned into a nightmare. The response from the Coast Guard and Police was quick and efficient and for the past week, we have been on Union Island dealing with the various authorities in charge of the incident. The staff of the Anchorage Yacht Club has made us feel like family and the local community has been very supportive and kind.
We feel as if we still have unfinished business at the Tobago Cays, after all we've still got turtles to swim with, but that will have to wait until next year as we begin the hurricane season and we need to be heading south.
For a full report of the incident, please click here...
Marine Park charge EC$10 pppd
Mooring buoys are available
Party Time in Petite Martinique
20 May 2016
Most islands hold an annual Regatta; a few days of boat racing, music, food and fun. On the larger islands they have become world-renowned affairs with big prize money and prestige luring some of the world’s largest and fastest racing boats to cross oceans just to take part. Others are much smaller but none the less important to the local communities and, it was at one of these being held over the long Whitsuntide weekend at Petite Martinique, that we had our first experience of what it is all about.
Not only could we hear, but we could feel the music pulsing in our bones about 2 miles from the anchorage. ‘It’s only for a couple of days’, we told ourselves as we dropped the hook off the beach and away from the many resident fishing boats there. We had a good vantage spot to watch the racing from the boat and with MC’s mega-speaker system, with added extra bass, we felt as though we were in the thick of it. No sooner had we arrived and the skippers were being asked to get their boats into the water. We felt that we didn’t have time to dinghy ashore to see the start up close and sat, expectantly, waiting for the imminent start. Again, the MC asked the skippers to get their boats into the water – it was all about to start. There were three categories of boats; small lasers, double & stern-enders and larger, traditional boats which required a crew of 8. Teams had travelled from Bequia and Carriacou to take part.
It was an hour later when the MC moaned ‘Come one guys, we do this every year, you know the format so why are you not ready with your boats in the water. You’ve got one more minute and then we start without you’. With that there was a lot of commotion and the boats were pushed off the sand and finally into the water awaiting the starters signal. Then the heavens opened and the start was postponed while the rain passed over. Team Bequia Pride chose this moment to announce that they had a problem and needed some gaffers tape urgently. The rain stopped just as the tape was applied and the start actually happened! It was a busy anchorage with all the fishing boats and the local kids swimming in the water, so the competitors had to negotiate a few obstacles to get on their course, and they disappeared into the distance.
Meanwhile, back on the beach, the land activities were in full swing with beer-drinking and arm-wrestling competitions being fought out. How the contestants could concentrate with the vibration of the music all around was amazing.
The boats returned and we headed over to see what was happening and get some food. There must have been 200 local people there and us – the only white visitors! We did feel a little out of place but just got on with it. We went to have a look at the racing boats lined up on the beach. One of the larger ones from Bequia was on its side having the mast hammered it. We looked on and recognised our lobster fisherman from Bequia amongst the competitors. It was good to see him again and find out a little more about the racing as the rules seemed a little different to what Chris remembered back in the UK.
That night there was a live music event but our ears were ringing enough from the afternoon so we headed back to the boat. Fortunately, we couldn’t hear a thing from there as it was held around the headland from the anchorage. Phew!
The next day was more of the same only this time we were there at the start along with a few more visiting spectators. The MC was on full form again and, while the racing was happening, he announced another beer-drinking competition, a Maypole dancing display, an Eat Your Criks (crackers) & Drink Your Coke competition for the kids where they had to do both as quickly as possible and a wet t-shirt competition with 300EC prize money. Each event was accompanied by a song that everyone knew and which was belted out on the bank of speakers ‘Champion, Champion, Champion’ they all chanted.
The bar and BBQ were doing a fine business but we were shocked that a lot of people just dropped their used bottled and empty food containers on the ground where they stood when they could have taken 10 steps and put them in the rubbish bags. We couldn’t understand it at all.
By late afternoon, the races and competitions were over thought the wet t-shirt competition did not take place as only one person had entered (it wasn’t me). The MC was still in full-swing after 48 hours with his non-stop commentaries and music as he announced another party-night that was going on all night and would culminate in J’Ouvert the following morning. We weren’t up for that and so left everyone on the beach to their chants of ‘Champion, Champion’.
Again, we didn’t hear any of the late-night revelries but at 6am the next morning we could hear the voice of the MC again. Through the binoculars we could see a long procession of people doing J’Ouvert, which is a kind of seeing the day in procession where everyone dresses up in costume. I think the previous two days was beginning to take its toll on the locals as most people walking along looked a bit tired and worse for wear, though I did see a half-Spiderman; a guy had painted his torso, head and arms bright red!
The final day was a quieter affair – the MC had almost lost his voice, the BBQ was running low on stock and the bar was almost dry and as we sailed away, the chant of ‘Champion, Champion’ followed us and we had to agree that our first Caribbean Regatta experience had indeed been Champion!