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The Jackson Four on Tour
Operation 'sell Pegasus of Jersey' begins""
Finally, boys!
Catherine
03/09/2011, St Anne, Martinique

After a plethora of girls and an absolute dearth of boys on our trip, Lochy is delighted to have found some friends in the shape of Sam and Luke from Yacht Samba. We first met Samba in Lanzarote and it has been lovely to meet up again here in St Anne, Martinique. The anchorage here is huge so plenty of space, right next to a gorgeous white sandy beach and fairly close to lots of chandlers so Mark is happy too. We were so lucky that Samba were in the boat spotting mode, having been waiting for Eol to arrive from their trans-At. (More about Eol in a minute!) As we arrived at St Anne, I scanned the whole bay with my binoculars. Having declared the bay Samba free, we started of towards Marin, where we thought they would possibly be. Luckily, a couple of minutes later, a dinghy comes zipping after us with Pete and Luke in hot pursuit. Hurrah! Reunited! We dropped anchor. Pulled it up again as an American boat yelled "you're right on our anchor" (we were no where near it!) and relocated, so as not to offend anyone else. Then hopped across to say hi to Mel, Pete, Sam and Luke. It's carnival time in Martinique, which seemed to consist of men in drag, lots of red clothes and loud motor bikes. Samba are well used to the concept of carnival, having lived in France for several years, so came ready with silly string and costumes and we all had fun following the procession round town, followed by a celebratory ti punch on the beach.

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Meeting Samba
Catherine
03/08/2011, St Annes, Martinique

A very pleasant sail from Guadeloupe down to Martinique, passing Isles des Saintes and Dominica without stopping as we wanted to put some miles in and hopefully meet up with the Burch family on Samba who we met in Lanzarote. The Grib files predicted constant Easterly winds of 14-16 knots. We are learning the nuances of Caribbean winds and despite having to motor some of the way, it really was a lovely sail, sunny, no swell, kids happy, clear night. Mark and I had forgotten how hard it was to do nights - I think a one off is harder than a three weeks passage, where you can get into a routine. I had to stand up to take watch so if I nodded off, my legs buckled under me and woke me up!! Perhaps my biggest sailing faux pas so far took form in the shape of the biggest riding turn in history. For landlubbers, the rope got knotted all around the winch big stylee. I was trying to get the genoa out without waking up Mark, but this only resulted in him waking up for his watch with having to rapidly sort out my cock up. I really wish I had a photo to demonstrate, but I was too busy eating humble pie to remember the camera. Arrived in Martinique to the back drop of a gorgeous sunrise only to be met by really miserable diesel operators who seemed irritated by my bad French, and all my insecurities about 'giving it a go' came flooding back. We tried to anchor in Fort de France but it was really busy and I wussed out, choosing a quieter anchorage round the corner in Schoelcher, where we got the opportunity to practise putting both anchors out til we get our new anchor. We had fun negotiating their annual dinghy regatta of 200 plus optimists, windsurfers and hobies to get inshore. Little update 24 hours on..... we are drinking ti punch with Mel and Pete from Samba - so lovely to meet up with fellow sailors. Current location: St Annes, Martinique.

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Leaving Guadeloupe
Catherine
03/06/2011, Deshaies, Guadeloupe

The last couple of days have probably been two of my favourite since leaving Greece. We had no major jobs to do (well, there are, but we don't have the parts yet!) and it was just the Jackson Four and Pegasus having fun. Lochy has cooked us breakfast two days in a row - pancakes and eggy bread! Yesterday, Mia swam over to the boat next to us in the anchorage to say hello. When Isabella swam over to us two weeks ago we thought it was astounding that an 8 year old could do that and yet now Mia and Lochy can jump off the back of the boat into water out of their depth and snorkel. Mark has been teaching Mia to dive. When she asked me to demonstrate, I had to admit that I couldn't actually dive on account of not liking to put my face under water! So at the tender age of 39, I had my first lessons in diving from my husband! Apparently I can dive perfectly, except at the end I bend my knees. I put that down to trying to stop my bikini bottoms from coming off! Once I change my swimming attires I am sure I will score the perfect 10. Mia has been practising her French with Harold, a French lad who comes in the morning to the boat to deliver croissants and baguettes.
Tomorrow we leave for Martinique. The boat is tidy and ready to go. Now, there's a first. We would have left today however I didn't want to miss skyping the Newcastle Uni girls on their reunion weekend.

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Deshaies
Catherine
03/04/2011, Guadeloupe

I must stop worrying about the fact that I am crap at languages and just get on and speak it! Most of the time I can formulate what I want to say in French, even not blush when I say it now, but I have to concentrate so hard on speaking that I can't then possibly understand what has been said in return. Correction. I probably could understand the response but I am just not listening becauase all my focus of attention has gone on speaking! However, I really want to encourage the children to speak French (and in Guadeloupe, all the boat kids are French) and so I have to overcome my own insecurities of speaking languages and show that it's OK to get it wrong. Mia and Lochy kept running back to me to say "how do I ask....?" whilst playing with kids on the beach today. It was soul destroying to see them speak and then get ignored by the other kids, but they kept at it, bless them and I suppose it will come with more exposure. I was watching a video posted on Ellen MacArthur's website about whether schools are killing creativity by Ken Robinson - and Mia asked me why I was laughing and what I was watching. When I explained that this man thinks we should pay as much attention to art/creative subjects as maths and English, she replied "finally, a grown up who agrees with us kids." Classic. Mind, she was drawing at the time.
We visited Steve and Julie Ferreira on their boat. It's always great to listen to others' experiences and compare set ups. I think Mark was quite tempted by their last trip through Panama to head North to Alaska rather than South to NZ, but he can't complain about the heat here - it's been overcast and rainy most of the day. We had a lovely lunch in Deshaies and the kids enjoyed a swim again. Tomorrow after school work we'll head over to the town again and explore a little more as it seems a shame to leave immediately and we could check in and out at the same time online at a cafe, which was the easiest customs check we have ever had. Vive la France!

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Brown Boobies!
Catherine
03/02/2011, Guadeloupe

Finally, after three days of procrastination, we set off for Guadeloupe today. The weather reports said 20 knots of wind and 1 metre swells, so of course it was gusting 35 and peeing with rain. Our new addition to our wish list is a rocna anchor after realising that we pretty much drag wherever we are - we clearly don't have a big enough anchor. So that is our highest priority. Down to number 2 on the list is the water filter which would mean an end to horrible plastic water bottles. I can't call myself green, using solar showers and wind power one minute and buying 20 5 litre water bottles the next. Then, moving down the list to number three is the holding tank, as we are starting to do a very good job of coordinating bowel movements with shore trips (no mean feat with 4 of us!) wonder why we bother with bowel retention however, when the water taxi man suggested the kids didn't paddle in English Harbour yesterday as they had just pumped the town's sewage out into the bay and it had just stopped bubbling black. Mmm. Nice.
So, back to our trip out of Antigua. Peeing down with rain as we take all the mooring lines off the mangroves, Mark takes in the 2nd anchor before we take up the 1st anchor (see, I said our anchor doesn't hold - belts and braces approach!) I said to Mark that we needed to leave at 10.30am at the latest if we are to make Guadeloupe in daylight. We finally leave at 11.30am. Luckily, with the strong winds, we make it JUST as the sun sets and the fog that has covered Guadeloupe for the whole trip lifts. Mia very excited to see a Jersey registered boat that actually looks like it might be from Jersey (i.e. not 100 foot super yacht tax dodge) so we row over to meet Steve and Julie Ferreira on Dos Tintos who ARE from Jersey - yippee - invited for coffee tomorrow morning.
The trip itself was wet, swelly. Mia felt sick and Lochy read Harry Potter for 4 hours before feeling sick himself. So, glad that one is over. Lochy excited to add Brown Boobies onto his tick list from his Caribbean Bird Book. We have decided to stay at least tomorrow to explore and make the boat more ship shape, before leaving for Martinique.
Cath x

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03/07/2011 | Jason
I remeber seeing Dos Tintos in the Marina over here! Glad you had a safe passage.
It's difficult to leave Antigua!
Catherine
02/26/2011, Antigua - still!

When we arrived in Antigua, we said to a 9 year old boat kid that we thought we'd be here for a week. He replied "thats what YOU think. We've been here for two and a half years." And I have to admit, it's quite hard to leave! We enjoyed sailing round to Jolly Harbour, getting more experienced with dropping our anchor, and then coming back to English Harbour. Mark and I are in agreement that we are abit lazy when it comes to sailing. If we are going to sail then we want to GO somewhere - like another country. It's all abit of a faff pulling up the anchor, stowing everything away, just for a couple of hour jaunt around the coast and then spending a couple of hours wondering if our anchor is holding before venturing ashore! The kids' swimming has really improved just with them jumping off the back of the boat. Lochy is in twitching heaven, with all the different species of bird there is to see, both on the coast and in the rainforest. And finally, we have met loads of boat kids, which has been great for the kids and for us - lots of beach excursions, a birthday party and exposure to French.
We said goodbye to Alan who went off on the RORC 600 race with the big boys and then said hello to him again when he came back 4 days later, but he is no longer on our boat and we are back to being just the Jackson Four - we shall miss his moans and groans in the morning "I'm not a morning person" and I shall miss thrashing him at Backgammon!!
We have found our routine with school again after a weeks holiday and the kids have enjoyed going to the Nelson Dockyard museum and learning about how he was shipped home in a barrel of French Brandy!
We are going to be heading down South soon - once our trampoline is back on having been repaired - maybe Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Lucia etc. So if anyone wants to visit, just name their island.....!

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Jackson Four on Tour
Who: Mark, Catherine, Mia and Lachlan
Port: Lefkas, Greece
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