The UK, Costa Rica and Ecuador
21 July 2019
Well well well...shit loads has gone on in the last 6 weeks resulting in my procrastination of this blog but I'm now settled on me sweaty leather seat so ere goes..
Luckily we didn't get hit by a mighty strike in Las Perlas and left the next day motoring on a glassy sea...peering at dolphins some way off to port. Back anchored in Panama City we stocked up in Albrook mall for Bens 2 weeks alone while I toddle off back to Essex...wahoooooooo! I'm crazily excited...didn't mention it in me other blogs as I didn't want me mate Jack catching a sniff of it whom I was planning to surprise. We attempted to go to the cinema as our boaty friends had said they'd watched a film there in English. Paid for the tiks and had our bags put in storage before being told that it was in Spanish...bum chuckles! Went and munched out at a Lebanese restaurant near the boat instead😋 The next day I got 2 buses to the airport 1.20 hours away..very easy and cheap. I'll split the next part into our 2 separate stories while trying to keep in brief!
9/6/19 - 23/6/19....MANNING
Can't keep the smile off me mush, my gut creating that excited feeling u normally get before xmas as a kid 🤗 11 hour plane to Frankfurt next to a rather wide man who's elbow encroached into ma space but the plentiful grub and films made gunty happy 🐷1 Hour wait at Frankfurt before a short flight to London city, overland train then mainline to Witham to meet mummykins...brilliantly easy! It's amazing how easy and simple everything seems after sailing and dingying!
Spent a couple of nights at mums stopping off at Aldi on way back from train station and marveling at the variety and low prices. Mums pull out bed was like heaven with a soft, squishy pillow...defo need to upgrade the boat pillows. Had a lie in as had only slept for a couple of hours in the previous 30. Walked around Maldon and bumped into me mate Nat....soooo spiffing to just bump into ppl you bloody love. Mum then drove us to see Lila-her mum in law who wanted to see pics of my handsome boyfriend..lolz! Back in mums beautiful, cosy house we got our cook on producing a fantabulous roast dinner and orange and lemon cheesecake...get in maaaaa belllllyyy! All da family came over, had a brilliant time catching up...me and mum keeping off the booze and still feeling grand.
Mum drove moi to Brightlingsea the next day as I keep getting this constant need to wee thing and ache under right hand ribs. Doctor ordered tests for the coming days...(had to shove me shit in a tiny tube-gag worthy I tell ye!) these came back all clear so I can put me mind at rest and attempt to not be such a hypercondriact. Ant showed me his new house before me n Dee went for walkies around B.sea in the rain..my new waterproof jacket I bought in Maldon from a chazza shop not living up to it's main aim but feeling truly happy. Knock on me old neighbours house as Dee heads home and have a good ol catch up with Rose n George. Bus to Colchy and have a mega evening with Jess, Sam and Livvy. Feel very privileged as they'd saved jess's mums homemade lasgana to share with me...very delish! Apparently Livvy hadn't been sleeping recently...However she slept well that night due to constant anxiety of me not so cute face crowding up her living room! mehehehhe . Bit of colchy time meeting jess for lunch before heading for the grand reveal in Ipswich.
Met Jess (Milner) off the train and I put on her coat, hat and sunnies looking uncannily similar and holding her dog on lead...lolz. Sooooo excited...feel like im gunna wee meself...had been thinking of this moment for ages and getting excitedness in me gut. Waited round the corner for jack to come home from work...knocked on his door and put on a Milner type voice in greeting. He looked very confused as we had a big ol hug and he patted my face...then he got very excited and made us a delish dinner. His planned shopping trip got junked in favor of getting pissed-My first drink in 2 months and 3 weeks...first wine spritzer gave me a headache but I soon got into the swing...was great to have jack all to meself at the pub for a catch up before heading home to meet Simon, Jess and Jim for more sillys. I felt alright in the morn as had a couple of waters in-between the wines...jack rang saying he had an awful hangover at work. Woopsy doopsy. Bit of shopping back in colch heading to meet jess, nao and their kids for a walk along the river to Rowhedge chugging down a cider at the local pub sitting on fresh green grass...bus back and a night out at Coda seeing lots of wonderful friends. Kelly driving from an hour away to meet us...feel soooo lucky to have such mega peeps in me life. King driscolls cancelled their gig which annoyed me greatly but there was so many people to speak too I had a fucking mega time anyways.🤪 Dee drove us back to the yard in St Osyth and I managed to do some exercise in the morn...this has NEVER happened after a drinking sesh! Fab party at Rum n tings the next day partying with Dee, Hayley, Aidan, Dan and many other legends! Kip in Dee's van and she drives us back at 6am and we slept in the house till 12am...day of films, grub and a walk into the fields...fuck-England is bloody beautiful..Dee made us a massive bowl of vege spag bol to end the day...yummerz!
Steph kindly treks from London to chum see me and we have a long walk around the estuary in Brightlingsea....sooooo great to catch up even though he was doing me in with some shaky egg (musical instruments) things😜 Gave me some great advice as I'd been saying I wanted to learn summink...he recommended the penny whistle. He knows me very well and understands I need summink simple, so as this has only 7 notes it sounded perfect. It's also small and cheap so perfect for the boat. Poor ol bens ears gunna be avin a sorry ol time thou ...mwhahahahahha. Time whizzed by meeting me brother and Tash on the beach after sending Ant some sexy (womanly) pics of steph which I knew would get running stephs way ❤ Floz also made her way down from the big city and we had an epic time laughing our way through the evening, burning veg on the bbq. We both stayed at Dee's for the night coz dee was shitting her pants (lolz) as a possible ghost had knocked down 2 different stacks of dvds while we were at the yard the night before.
Back in B.sea for 10am to join the beach school and meet up with Nao, Lil and lots of bens family. Floz talked me into avin a dip in the freeeeezing sea and we had some grub with Jane and Andy (bens parents) and bens cousins/auntys etc. Met Josh and Emma in the pub garden with their little-un and jane and andy before fully gut stuffing with a Chinese back at me bro's. Woke up with a Chinese hangover. Went for lunch with mum the next day in colchester...twas raining and no-one about in the arvo so got meself cwumfy in the cinema to watch Aladdin. Climbing time....met the 'Darps' and had a climb with hayley. Aidan sat out and munched pizza as he had done his back in trying to do a trick on his bmx 😂😂 Bens bro gave me a lift back to b.sea and spent the rest of the night having a good ol chat with Ant. Went to meet lil, kids and her mum the next day letting the twins play where they're not supposed to. Jolly fun...then met jess in b.sea before a bit of time playing Sonic back at Ants. His girlfriend Tash is exceptionally thoughtful. I mentioned my 'food wish list for the uk' and as she came back with dinner ingredients she had a pack of quavers and strawberries with her. (off me list) Hope I'm that thoughtful one day 🤩 Watched peepshow back at Dee's int night (she'd never seen it!!!)
Dee gave us a lift to Ippo for 8am as she went to work. Met jack and Simon while I thoroughly enjoyed helping with their last wedding preparations. I'll try and post a vid on here of the ceremony as it was epic!
Couldn't feel any happier seeing Donna, Josh, the 'Darps' ,jess n jim, kate (jacks mum) etc and watching me dearest jack get hitched to the wondeblah simon! They're soooo good together....I love how funny simon finds jack...they totes get each other. Managed to not get as done in as I could of ...extremely happy to sing n dance along to Josh's music...makes up for the Driscolls cancelling 🤗 Taxi back to Hayley and Aidans to snore. After some toast and a smoothie I actually feel alright AGAIN in the morn...very surprised at meself. Dan very kindly gives me a lift to Rowhedge as Hayleys too done in to walk there. Another truly brilliant day with lots of me faves. Mum comes to join and I get a good helping of Kens curry....gunt=happy. Hoof playing their shizzle makes for a very happy but heart wrenching send off as I have to say me goodbyes after. The hardest goodbye I've ever had to make in all the times I'v gone travelling. Watching the beauts English countryside roll by as mum drives us back to Maldon and smelling the sweet, fragrant air I have an awful knot in me stomach and feel like a wanna ball it every time I speak. Mum thoughtfully puts the music up so I don't have to. Dinner, pack and shower ready for early doors the next day. Easy 4am run to Heathrow the next day (Thanks mum), bit of trouble getting checked in as they wanted proof of an outward flight from panama...Neil (mum's husband) sorted me out having to buy another plane ticket from Panama to Columbia as they wouldn't believe the boat story! Jokes (Thanks Neil) Arrive in Panama at 4.30pm...get meself to a hostel for a much needed eyelid droop.
9/6/19 - 23/6/19..... HARMAN
...ben narrating this to me..i'll try and make it more exciting 😜
Back on the boat he spent 3-4 days at anchor by Panama city doing some boaty jobs and speaking to people () Leaving early one morning heading west he got stuck waiting for the shipping channel to clear. Lovely sail to Bona(Lolz) island....stayed there for a couple of days doing a few more jobs and generally resting in the humid 30 degree heat. As the weather turned for the better he tried to leave at 6pm in the evening heading towards Costa Rica. A big thunderstorm to the North sent him running back. Trying again at 10pm for the 90mile trip north the sail was grand, dolphins appearing beside babs in the dark. Lightening started around 2am, wind dying as the sea built up. Benny boi took the sails down as gusty wind from all directions forced him to motor spending till sunrise trying to avoid the forked lightening and overhead thunder roars...raining like he's never seen it before (poor ol benneth) Decided he wasn't making any headway south with a strong headwind and continuous lightening all around. Turned back and had 2 more big lightning storms on his way to the island. The rain eventually stopped and the sun came out as he arrived back at the Bona.
Relaxed for a couple more days at the island with a fellow fishing boat who treated him to a fish and some bait. Managed to cook up the fish all by himself 😜with rice n peas. Then headed over one morning to the mouth of the river Chame enjoying the sailing using google earth to get around the sand banks as the charts were pretty inaccurate. Found a nice bay to anchor in on the north shore and explored inland on a walkies. A family of a big ol house let him leave the dinghy on their beach and he went on an unsuccessful trek for fresh veg..luckily he did find his favourite ...BREAD! Few more jobs-servicing the engines and walks on the nearby islands before setting sail to pick my happy lil arse up in Vista mar marina 5 hours up the coast through lots of fishing boats/nets.
Back togeths and ready for ben to have a lil holiday away from our biiig holiday!
I am awoken by a school group in the communal kitchen of the hostel around 7am but lay in for a little longer listening to the snores and farts of me other roommates but enjoying the air-con. Up at 8am to get a 1.5 hour bus to Vista Mar Marina to meet the Harms. They drop me off at the entrance and I plod on with a 18.5kg bag on me back and little-un on front down a hot dusty road for 30mins or so before collapsing in a bar and ordering a passionfruit smoothie...ker-ching! An hour or so later I glimpse benny boi sailing Babs into the Marina and we reunite.💚💙 He's been extremely cute baking some brownies (maybe the best brownie ever!) and writing 'Love ya' on it...gahhhhh he then shows me a friendship bracelet he's plaited (he's made me one every birthday but missed it this year).. catch up over a few gins before meeting perigee, leela and Brian for dins in a restaurant.
Leaving the Boat in the marina for a few days we head back to panama city to get the bus to Costa Rica...Leaves at 11pm and we manage to get a bit of kip on there as it wasn't completely full so we can stretch out despite the stinky footed, sweaty gringo in his suit behind us. Wrapped up in socks and crocs, raincoat and sarong over me legs shivering in the air con. Arrived at border control and had various things stamped...off at San Jose after a 14 hour bus ride to get another 4 hour bus to Liberia. Bens Aunty and Uncle (Nic and Daniel) were waiting and drove us 1 hour back to their house down the monkey trail. Lovely bbq'd beef and salad (aint eaten beef in yonkers but thoroughly enjoyed it!) Totally knackered so hit the comfy, air conned bed (such a treat) as over 30 degrees outside. Spent the next 3.5 days being shown around by the family, Went to at least 4 different beaches...dark and light coloured sands, spying spotted rays on the shoreline gliding along. Swims in the sea and the pool outside their apartment. Walked up a hill with Tom (bens cousin)...proper interesting chap with a shared love for books () Homemade bread, papaya and ginger jam with local fresh fruit at brekki times. Wandered around Tamarindo-a surf town for a day ending it with a couple of drinks at the sailing club near to Nic and Daniels house. I cooked a Vege Lasagna for the last night while Nic made an amazing Papaya, mango and pineapple crumble! I've got the recipes for that and the jam..wup wup! Found some red, hairy ball fruits (similar to lychees) that I bloody loved and all.
Heard there were strikes in the capital-San Jose causing big traffic so we took the 4 hour bus there the day before our ride back to Panama, getting a hostel for the night. Went for a late dinner, before a lovely sleep in a 10 bed mixed dorm.
Our bus the next day was an hour late arriving at 1pm....our 14 hour bus journey turned out to be 30 hours due to all the strike induced traffic before the border. We had 5 American teenage/early 20's? loud annoying girls plus a mum in front of us...id lost my earplugs in England and was raging inside...all I could see in my mind was my fist slamming into one of the girls annoying laughing mouth or bitch slapping her from the side or slamming down on her head whack-a-mole style. So I tried to be more positive and think of happier things...next image in my mind was one of the girls heads in a glass cube with flowers all around....and then I punched her in the mouth shattering the glass.🙈 Luckily not long after this vision they feel into a silent sleep....yes ma son! Funnily enough about 20 hours in to our freezing bus ride we were swapping stories (in a quieter voice thank god!) and sharing fruit...lolz. As morning came and we were still in a que we stood outside as locals came out of their houses with fruit and sticky, sweet, fried bread for sale which we shared with a Turkish bloke off a coach up the road. We had bought plane tickets to Ecuador as proof to the border we had onward travel. You can cancel within 24 hours so after downloading the ticket we managed to get in touch with Jane (bens mum) and she cancelled it for us as we didn't have enough internet out there. Got us through the border easily and was a quick drive back through Panama. Finally arrived back at Babs and after a busy eve of chores we conked out.
Took a bus to the city again to check out of the country, stocked up on some goods, ben loading his bag with three 6 packs of beers coz they were cheap...he regretted this on the 25min walk back down the marina and I was whingeing coz I was knackered but then we spotted an Owl in the dusk that kept flying to posts in front of us...proper magical. A bloke who gave us a lift to the bus station the day before came to check out the ongoing engine noise...not good news so we have to decide whether to stay here and sort it, getting babs out the water again or risk the engine to Ecuador so we are in cooler climbs with cheaper moorings and labor. Basically the same problem as in St Maartin- possible bent shaft and fucked gear box even though its new! Feeling bit depressed as defo don't wanna stay in this yard as it's so hot, aint much to do around and it'd be eating into me work-away time in Ecuador.... So this is my excuse for getting rather wasted with a fun Scottish gal (Sally) and a liverpudlian bloke (Dennis the Menis) who we met in the Arvo. () It was the 4th of July so the American boatys were having a bbq in the marina. So after a swim and couple of gins Denis kindly bought me we attended the bbq with a couple of side dishes to add to the feast. Great night singing into plastic forks and dancing along to Dolly Parton and Jonny Cash when I asked if it was alright to put my music on 😁...least they're American artists. Few of us back on the boat where it turned a bit ugly as Dennis was pretty done in but all went to bed safe n sound and had a lazy hungover day int morn.
Ben finished cleaning the water tanks with bleach the next day...got provisions off a roadside stall and the supermarket..said our goodbyes after an argument concerning our berth charges...soon had our way, filled up with diesel and motor-sailed into strong head wind. Arrived 4 hours later in the dark, Harms skillfully leading us into the bay to anchor and to beddy byes. Tonnes of Frigates and Pelicans nesting and soaring on this uninhabited island...Ben makes some more brownies for our passage to Ecuador I finished Tash's (brothers g/f is an author) book which was very good...will try post a link on me Facebook page or here....
Started Raining with wind blowing into the bay around 8.45pm, waves picking up ...calmed a little so we got some sleep motoring out of the bay at daybreak to find a sheltered spot. Sailed back to Chame River mouth where Ben had been hangin' out, prepared the boat for passage, cooking up meals, cleaning etc. Tis really friking delightful round here with lots of green little islands and calm waters.
Left at 7am the next morning but our course was overhung by a massive dark cloud stretching out across the horizon with lightening forking into the sea and constant rain. After some deliberation as ben just wanted to get under way but common sense and watching enough survival shows we knew it was stoooooopid to head into a raging storm if we had the chance to turn back to safety, so turn back we did, watching films hiding from the rain for the rest of the day.
Todays the day-left at 6.30am just as a couple of fisherman rode past offering us some weed...we declined () Lovely sun and cloud filled day seeing a couple of dolphins glide slowly by just after dinner. Had a play of me whistle and managed to exercise as was a calm sea and motor sailing. Me first 3 hour night shift was good being able to read me book by red torch light. At the end of my 01.00-04.00 shift the rain clouds crept in forming a horseshoe around our port, stern and starboard sides eventually dropping their loads...so I cowered inside for the last half hour checking out every 10 mins. Still wet by the morn but really happy to see no lightening coming in close. I spotted some whales very far off on the horizon breaching causing almighty splashes underneath a foreboding sky. On the same shift on our starboard side around 40 dolphins were swimming swiftly in the other direction to Babs. Made Papaya and Ginger jam and Dahl for tomorrows din as the aubergine was going off. It's always a bit of a race to use up the veg quick enough in the right order of it going off since we've been in the tropics. Got me whistle on-bens a fooking trooper letting me make some terrible noises on that thing. I'm LLLLOOOOOOOOVVVVVIIINNNG it though...Big thanks to Steph for suggesting it...changing me world! Nice, calm eve until 4am when the wind and waves begun to build and we put a tack in.
Tacking and motor-sailing into headwind the next day, reading, cooking and whistling me way through the calm-ish day at 4-5 knts. Feel pretty bored by the evening as the motion of the ocean aint allowing much human movement. Cloudy night, pitch black when the moon went down around 2am. Engine spluttered into dead mode around 3.30am. Ben jumped up to have a look and concluded its probably just ran out of fuel as we've been on the lean with the sails up trying to make the best speed to get us out of the lightening zone. Ben gets it going in the morning adding more fuel. Fisher boat turns up 100 miles offshore pointing us to go in the other direction as he has nets out. We tack away..lots of rain and not heading on a good angle on either tacks- one taking us the way we came and the other to the Columbian coast which is not that safe. Easy pasta for dinner as boat moving violently slamming down the waves at the bow. Worst night at sea yet! Reefs in main and mizzon (back sail) and genoa (front sail) heading into choppy seas with too much wind. Calmed down a bit in the middle of the night, 2-3 birds joining us and dropping their dark, fishy shit on both sails. Having a cuddle in the cockpit with ben when a squid lands squechily onto me foot dousing bens leg with a bit of ink on its way through. At around 10cm long he's breathing hard and looking at me with his big ol' eye so I quickly chuck him back into his home. Few flying fish land on board aswell so we throw their squirming bodies back in. Easy food all day as movement is rough! Seas calmed on ben's 10-1am shift leading to bit of cat-napping on watch and podcasts, tacking between shifts. Nice, calm day still tacking at 4-5knts. Get me cooking on and used the engine to motor sail for 6/7 hours. After a nap to me meditation I came up as the sun was going down to be greeted by a bunch of bottlenose dolphino's! Annoying, choppy seas bashing babs around, feeling bored as we cross the EQUATOR! Bens very excited! Windy night and have to keep a good look out for fishermen as less than 50miles to shore. On my sleep shift I feel the boat tack and wonder what's going on, then it tacks again and ben calls me up.....the rudder is caught in a fisher net! Fwuuuuuckkk! Feeling pretty windy with waves bashing into bab's side ben try's to unhook the net using a boat hook. He's yells at me to take down the mainsail which I fail at as too much wind going into it. Next minute he decides to jump overboard (tis 11pm) and try to go under to unhook it. I'm trying to shine the torch under the boat hanging over the back rail, me arm going underwater as babs stern crashes down...fucking terrifying seeing ben barely hanging onto a rope and suddenly sharks cross me mind. It's too dangerous for him to go under the boat with the massive swell so I tell him to cut it and grab a knife. Boat starts forward as soon as the rope's cut and ben clambers back onboard! Shit me! I have 1 hour left of my off shift but can't sleep worrying if the fishermen will come after us with machetes for cutting their lines. Daybreak comes and no fishermen so all's good..wrapped up in 3 layers it's the coldest we've been for months (I'm enjoying it-ben not so much..lolz) wind drops a bit so we pull out more sail. 2 prangas approach requesting water and to sell fish...smiley ppl () Ben spots a whale breaching in front of us on the horizon and as we get closer to land we see many humpback whales at different distances breaching, blowing and showing their elegant tails-fucking magical...a dream come true!! Had to wait for high tide to get into our chosen river so stopped the boat by heaving to and munch some lunch. We meet the pilot at a waypoint and he guides us through the narrow channel, surfing down waves...sketch! He spoke no English but guided us with his hands grinning his wikid smile.
We anchored up in Bab's new home for the next few months while we adventure inland volunteering with Workaway. Meet the American owner and he shows us around. Quick beer for ben while using the Wi-Fi....dinner and much awaited sleepy time. Went ashore to explore Bahia de Caraquez. The town was devastated by an earthquake in 2016 and is still recovering, the signs are very visible. As we walk along, people are friendly without being pushy and we look around the supermarket and fresh produce market...hell yeah..this is what I've been waiting for-the most variety of crazy looking fruit and vegetables, fresh ground peanuts into peanut butter, fresh mozzeralla type cheese and cheaper than any place we've been yet...it will be a fab place to stock up for our big crossing over to the Marquesas. Green smoothie in the morn and starting to clean the cupboards with vinegar to stop the mould getting in. Navy and health inspector come on board to check our food is in date and other random stuff to check us into the country. We use the marina as an agent so it's $180! And will be the same amount to check out. Facetimed our mums and bens dad to show we safe etc.
Walk along the rive
r bank the next day which is a Saturday so a lot of the locals are off work. Football is being played on the beach with a crowd of onlookers and little fruit and ice cream stalls tending the peoples munchies. A family playing beach golf and others splashing in the waves. Rickshaw type bikes peddle people from place to place whilst others peddle their snacks to customers on the beach. In the eve we get invited for some sun-downers on our neighbor's boat-a French and New Zealand couple with 2 teenage daughters on a boat similar size to Babs. Interesting, fun people who treat us to lots of yummy snacks and fresh squeezed juice (for me, ben was on beer)
So now we'll spend a few more days eating through our frozen food and getting the boat ready to leave on double moorings while we go on workaways and hikes throughout Ecuador coming back to check on her every few weeks. Very excited!!!
Big love to all you bum munchers back home or wherever you may be...xxxx
Panama canal transit
07 June 2019 | Panama
Found ourselves a wee boat to ‘practice’ (I’m notoriously crap at getting our lines in place when coming into dock etc….according to ben..i think I do alright but not so fancy when it comes to throwing dem dere lines🙈 ) line-handling on before we go through with Babs. I do wonder if it’s a good idea to maybe fuck up on someone else’s boat but ben says it’ll be better because he can be there to shout orders😜 at me instead of behind the wheel. Spent the 4 days at shelter bay before our line-handling experience, exercising, socialising in the evening with actual ppl (Fuck yeah!!), I went ashore for brekki on me own one day when ben was grumpily maintenance-ing the engine with the floor all up so I couldn’t get to the kitchen for gut fillage-felt great to do summink independently spesh as ben never wants to eat out…mwhahaha (I did bring him some leftovers), washing done at the laundrette and sim card bought for internet, loads of books swapped at the book swap, walkies into the forest along old barrack paths, Had just finished reading ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari’, amazing life tips in there and so following the advice I was droning on outloud ‘I really, really, really wanna see a howler monkey’ over and over mantra style. 5 mins later I hear a noise in the trees and there they are, Mummykins got a wee baby clinging to her gut-pretty mega! Oh and Ben finished making the cockpit table which is fucking marvellous! Well done Benny boi! Xx
So the day arrives and at about 2pm we jump aboard Leela…beautiful boat, couple of feet shorter than Babs but feels wider and more open downstairs-luxurious bathroom! Solid wood floors and varnished woodwork all around. Get chatting with the owners Janaki and Graham and their 3rd line-handler James. James has been through the canal 9 times as a paid line-handler so knows da drill and lots of fun facts, so is like our personal tour guide. Wup wup! Had an advisor and a pilot in training come on board around 4.30pm. Tie up to another yacht which is tied onto a small river cruise ship which was laying on the wall so no need to pay attention to lines on our first 3 locks that night. Yummy, healthy dins cooked by Janaki who also did ALL the steering which is pretty ballsy through them churning lock waters. Tied up to a massive buoy in Gatun Lake for the night, James on one side of the saloon and me n ben on a VERY comfy pull out double on the other side.
Advisor arrived the next day at 7am!! 4 hour motor across the man-made lake, Used Grahams wikid, image stabilising binoc’s and spotted a croc’s dinosaur esk back. Just us and another boat called Elska with a family of 4 on board tying together in the locks so time to learn line-handling. Just as we were waiting to go through Elska has an engine problem and Graham refuses to pull them through as their boat is much bigger and be danger-mouse in da locks! Luckily the man of many skills (harm-dawg) gets on board and sorts it out for them and we motor through together. They are proper grateful! Get through the 3 locks and motor into the Pacific Ocean! Anchor outside Playita marina where G&J’s ozzy mates come on-board for drinks n dins. As we still have the radio on we hear a distress call for a boat who has hit a rock and are taking on water-realise it’s Elska! Feel so bad for them and keep in touch over radio but they eventually find help and their pumps can keep up with the incoming water. We stay the night so can travel back home in the light. Took a bus to Allbrook mall in Panama city then another bus to Colon which was full (to uk standards) so we were given little stools and plonked in the isle over a the engine-sweaty bum manning! Spent $200 getting food for our canal transit to feed the 6-7 people who will be onboard. A Ragged, hunched old man helped us get a taxi back after I gave him a few coins on request. Colon is a pretty dangerous place so twas pleasing to get inside with the friendly taxi driver and his lil’ grandson. Found a colorful bloke called hurricane jim (I think) who gave me a lift to babs to pick up the dinghy and get ourselves and provisions on board.
Busy day collecting fuel and water, pre-cooking meals and CAKE 🐷and getting boat ready, cleaned. As we were at the fuel dock Brian (friend who had kept an eye on Babs while we were away) dingoed up to pick up his g/f Noustha. He had a Random dog with him and the story was he had seen it stranded on a reef near the anchored boats. It seemed very agitated and wouldn’t let him near it so he went back to his boat. The dog then tried swimming and looked like it wasn’t doing well in the choppy waters. Brian managed to drag it into his dinghy and brought it to the marina. On land we saw it had 2 massive fish hook in its paw. Me and Noustha went looking for the owners who we quickly found. All is well they got the hook out and doggeth is back with its pal on their catamaran.
Jane (bens mum), Josh (bens cousin) and girlfriend Aimee arrive laden with all our ebay purchases and MARMITE! Munch at the restaurant and catch up before getting comfy on the boat. In the morn Josh and ben got winched up the mast’s to take down some softening, lil mooch into the forest and saw some Racoon type things. Advisors joined us at 4.30pm 3 easy locks tied to boats in a raft of 3, us on the right outer edge. Jane and Aimee on the stern line connected to shore and me and Josh on the bow line. 2 great advisors, the pilot in training being only one of 4 women in thousands of men who work the canal. Anchored in the lake and had a lush sleep.
Up at 6.30am, the advisers soon on board. Made us all brekki (I’d been stressing bout cooking for all these people that I dont know but everything seemed to go down alright) Got hot around 10am with lots of sun. As we rafted up with another boat a massive wake caused by one of the pilot boats made us jolt around causing damage to both boats. We got off lightest with a bent staunching ripped out of the deck. Game plan changed and we both rafted up to a tug next to the wall. Last lock we had to do a very tight 360’ with s ship bearing down on us as the current was pushing us too quickly into the lock gate, tug and other yacht before the boat was ready for us to raft up. OUT into the pacific! Both Advisers got off and we took a mooring at balboa yacht club and handed over our rented fenders and lines. Port Captain arrived to look at the damage on Babs but basically said it was a non-case. Cheers mate! Motored in the dark and anchored in flamenco bay around the tip of land.
Woke to a bang and everyone rushed up…luckily Josh and Aimee had slept in the cockpit to cool their steaming bodies and were awake to fender off our roaming neighbor boat. Walk and ice ‘cream along the shoreline once re-anchored. Bus to Allbrook mall where we finally figured out through google maps and asking people in Spanglish how to get to the old town. Town alive with fruit sellers. Had lunch at the oldest café in central America and wandered into the prettier, Spanish feeling area with plants tumbling from balconies and cobbled squares. Beautiful crafts and jewelry in the shops had me dashing into every one. Came across live music at an African celebration.... fun-filled, happy atmosphere. Someone told us there’d be more entertainment tomozza luckily right near where babs was parked. Found more music in the square of a different kind, mojitos (coconut lemonade for me-extreeeemely sweet) and a cab ride back-4 of us squashed in the back.
Walked to possible sloth hang out the next day and a kind security man pointed one out right near our heads…too bloody cute! Took an uber which is the cheapest and safest way to travel in Panama to the old town where Josh and Aimee dumped their bags, we saw an open market selling veg so wandered in. 2 people in there warned us in English that it wasn’t safe so we quickly filled some bags and scarpered. Met the owner of the hotel who was greek, tall with hair in a ponytail, 67years old, he took us to his mates shop on the side of town we’d also just been warned about. Ben bought himself a decent phone that he’s been banging on about for ages and will be necessary when looking up weather near to the coast and on the sat phone. Bought a few more supplies ready for our trip with Jane to Taboga. An elderly man stopped us with a smile introducing himself and telling us how happy he was to see tourists in Panama city. We’d literally seen probably only 2-3 other white people in the 2 days we roamed the old town. Uber to Figilo hall-epic concert for African celebration, big set up on stage with different artists. African foods and crafts around the edges. Danced to a fun, energetic band. Again we were pretty much the only white people which feels more like proper travelling than all the touristic Caribbean places we’ve visited so far. I like! Said Ta-ra to Josh n Aimee and went for snoozes on Babs.
Finally made a decision the next day to sail to taboga, I’m feeling lazy so Ben and Jane steered the couple of hours past the canal entrance to the island. Very noisy anchorage with different varieties of gross music coming from 4 motor boats. Boats left before dark but the hotel was still ramming shit into the nights sky..thank god for earplugs🤪 I got up before anyone else (generally unheard off) exercised and breakfasted before a wikid walk on land. Got direction from some labourers who were building a house for an English bloke and used 'The rough guide to panama' book to find our way. Very hot hill to climb with tonnes of bright green, large/fat headed lizards and huge blue butterflies. Picked a few mangoes off the side of the road. Amazing sounds we could hear turned out to be Pelican chicks nesting in the trees when we reached the top. Vultures had also made an old army building their home. Took a different route through the forest on the way back –Loadsa Black and green poison dart frogs and a TARANTULAR! Holy shrines dotting the island and a grave of 3 wayward buccaneers. The smell of mangoes leads us to tree’s that had dropped tonnes on the ground so we fill da bags and jane starts munching em as she had just felt it was luncheon time. Quick dip in the sea where ben got jellyfished.🙃 As I pulled the starter cord on the dingo it hit me right on the cheekbone on its way back…left me with a right old golf ball and an even chubbier cheek for a week or so! Lolz. Jane made a delish vegan meatballz dinner as I iced me fatty cheek. The house flies on the boat are totes out of control, landing on you as soon as the sun come up and all over the boat constant swarms of em! Gross!
Lazy morn, went on land after lunch, jane finding some wifi while me and the Harms walked the other side of the island through a wooded vehicle track coming across peoples homes and at the end a quiet beach filled with pelicans and vultures grabbing the fish guts a man was chucking them while his family played in the water. Found an amazing vine covered tree on the way to an overgrown zipline, birds pecking up fallen mangoes. Decent lil island.
As we sailed back to Flamenco the next day a high speed boat approached and told us it was against regulations to sail in this area so stuck the motor on and weaved our way around the massive tankers waiting to go through the canal. Anchored up and made our way to the Metropolitan park just behind the Mall. Got caught trying to sneak in so paid the $4 pp and walked along some proper neat trails. Not far in there was a swampy pool full of terrapins. An American couple pointed out the sloth they had spotted who was climbing down a tree. Vezza exciting! Saw loads of Agouti’s (kinda large guinea pig type rodent things), a few howlers, monstrous millipedes, leaf cutter ants and an impressive view across Panama City at the top.
Time to say toodily-pip to Jane as she gets a taxi to the airport. Been real great having her and josh n Aimee on board sharing the excitement and fun activities of panama. Will defo miss having ppl on-board…anyone who wants to fly out and join-get yo white arses over ere!! Looking forward to a day in the air conditioned mall but as it had been raining it didn’t have the same appeal and quickly became bore o’clock. Provisioned up and had a lazy arvo watching films and munching sweets! Laziness continued into morn before I got baking for some sun-downers we’d been invited to. Exercised before we left to get me-self going and had a social night on board Perigee with owners John and Lenny and all round friends Graham and Janaki. Real cool boat with loadsa space at 53ft. They had stocked up and had a wall full of post-it to do and done lists as they were soon to head across the pacific to the Marquesas’ in French Polynesia. Good night on me cranberry juice, appalled faces at stories of how much I used to drink 🤢😂
Woke after dreaming I was plopping one out on the loo…..day of diarrhea and stomach cramps followed even following through slightly at one point into my bikini-Ben telling me he really didn’t want to know as I told him what happened👍 . This delayed our sail so got on with some hand washing and took Babs into flamenco marina for water and petrol. Just got back to anchor as the rain started coming down, hearing a whistle from another boar we saw the boat that had been in front of us was dragging anchor in the strong winds. Ben super-heroed over there dragging me with him and we let out some more of their chain. They’d left their main hatch open with all electronics and stuff in the cockpit and key in ignition as they’d gone to shore- nutters! Ben later went to chat to them and found Brian and Noustha so I could chill in peace getting over me shit filled day💩.
Up at 7am, cool, calm start to our 8 hour sail. Breeze came in and we had our first proper sail in the pacific. Anchored in a tidal channel in between 2 islands. Only one motor boat to keep us company around the other side of island. Jumped off the bow and was clinging to a rope off the stern in about 2 seconds-proper strong tide ere whereas the Caribbean had no tide at all! Watched Ray Mears ‘wild food’ which is fab is anyone aint seen it, while ben dozed. Very hot night and disturbed sleep as the boat was laying to tide instead of wind so we were getting nada wind through the hatches. I was also shitting meself (not literally this time) at every noise in the fast flowing tide. Not used to anchoring alone with hatches open-piracy filled me mind! Spent the next 3 days exploring the beaches and wooded inlands of las Perlas although a lot of it is impenetrable and I had to run away from the xtra large mozzys. Found some patterned pink shells I collected to make some kinda decoration later on. Feel really glum one day and have a chat with ben figuring out its’s mostly because I don’t wanna be away from home for 3 plus years which is what it’s looking like-my original plan was 2 so I’m not too elderly to pop out some lil nutters when we are back. Also already missing friends and fam soooo much! Compromise on a plan to rush after we get to ozzy so hopefully be no more than 3 years and feel quite a bit better. Spy loads of Rays hiding underneath the sand while standing up in the dingo. Others surfing the small waves on a large deserted beach. Get a bit of pre-school style painting on and feel pretty happy with me-self. Loads of no-see-um’s biting me in the night- itchy lil bastards! On the 4th night as we get to bed a fuck loada rain hits the boat bringing lightening and eventually thunder. Around 12am we are both up in the saloon, the port hole lit up by constant lightening, blinding to look at. Soon it is directly above us with thunder cracking deafeningly! Suddenly the boat starts veering off sharply to the side, we leap up and ben looks out to see it is just a strong gust of mighty ol’ viiiiind! I get a weird tingly feeling in between me toes and ben feels it on his tongue with an iron kind of taste. As it fades I fall sleepy byes and so does ben …eventually. 😋 Get on with jobs the next day, ben scrubbing off the bottom of weed and fixing shit while I bake a cake with rotting bananas, prepare Bosh lasagna, hand washing and blogging. I liked Lenny’s comparison of a 50’s housewife. It totes is women work and men work around here, ben will say he’d love me to help him with his ‘man’ work but I know I wont be getting any help with my ‘woman’ work so we might as well just stick to what we good at innit!
Anyways it’s 5pm and the storms blowing in again here, better get on the women work and put the lasagna together and repeat mantra’s wishing we don’t get struck by lightening! 🧙♂️
BVI'S to Panama
15 May 2019
Amy Manning | Rainy season!
So ol’ Babsy (shouldn’t say old coz she same age as me 🙈) was craned back into da water looking all spanky fresh n blue. Anchored back in Simpson bay…dingoed past Rajak-a cool, black piratey boat housing a French and Dutch family we keep coming across and swapped numbers. Picked up Propeller which had been with the welder. Electrolysis had caused it to decay so he had to weld a new bit back on. Still a rattle going on in the engine area but we’ve tried everything so just gunna have to live with it. Poor ol ben having mini breakdown he’s so frustrated. Piddled on down to the flea market and talked to a French couple who are sailing to Polynesia around the same time as us on a wooden boat they’ve just bought in the Caribbean. Had a lil barby on the cruisers island. Guy there called Pete was burning the roots of an invasive spiky bush to make way for fruit trees…..papaya seedlings being planted in lil pots. Fun, friendly time sharing Marshmallows with an eccentric Bulgarian carver who aint ever munched ‘em before!
After many a bad hangover in Sint marten I’ve decided after a bit of inspiration from Oneyearnobeer on Facebook to boot the booze for a year or try anyways…After me birthday I realised I’ve been binge-drinking every weekend (minus 3-4 months) for nearly 20 years- similar to many of my friends but my body has never taken it as well as them- always being sick or going Asian. Really noticed my lethargy and lack of motivation lately and have tried lots of detox’s, supplements etc over the last few years to try and make meself feel better-nuffins worked really so thinking giving up booze will be a good experiment.
Nearly got out of sint Maarten but was held up by the anchor winch not working properly...Took it to a bloke to get fixed but much da same when we got it back…bens breakdown swiftly approaching! Motor through the bridge into Marigot bay. Last bit of provisioning, a delish swim in turquoise sea’s-aint swum in a month apart from b-day as the lagoon was so scuzzy. Made a cake and chilli for the upcoming night shift so no need to cook on night shift tomoz.
Finally we leave at 16.45 on the 11/04/19…44 days after we arrived in the lagoon-feels fwwuccckin great! Rolley swell comin on the starboard (right) side makes me feel a wee bit queezy. First night shift just the 2 of us…hard as feel sick but after two 3 hour shifts each and a 2 hour shared shift we arrive in Anegada in the BVI’s at 7.30am. Beauts, deserted beach with lush water and turtles popping up to say cooey. I go back to bed for a few hours while ben naps/reads (yep ben reaaaading!) Had a walk on the beach and into a lil village-flat scrubby island…such a relaxed island, well needed change from sint maarten. Swim back to babs as benny boi rows Radda.
Take bikes and trot along the empty, main road. Great until we turn the corner into strong headwind, the road soon changing to a sandy track. Guy on a digger attempting to flatten/remove sand lolling at us! Found the Kite beach and had lil chat to local instructors….massive bay protected by reef but still pretty choppy. Ben went for a gusty kite back on our beach. Got a fire going later on and had baked tatties, baked ‘nana’s and marshys. Proper treat as our oven aint hot enough for baked tats. Barefoot run along the beach next morn before sailing past Necker (Richard bransons) island. Looking for kite spots but pretty gusty-best one in front of Richards island but don’t reckon we’re allowed there. Saw a couple of dolphins very briefly on way across. Loadsa charter boats anchored around the back of prickly pear island…totes amazeballs coloured waters.
Didn’t get up till 10am-felt fab! while ben got on with boaty jobs 😜👍 Flat, windy sail over to Tortola-cooked banana bread on the way- checked in, a long wait while a cruise boat came in made more interesting by chatting to an American bloke who captains charter boats. After a few different windows and $16.50 we were out of there. Used wifi at a bar and went for a food shop in the notoriously expensive BVI’s. No prices on the products so just went for things we hoped were cheap. After looking at the receipt we realised a bunch of bananas had cost $13! …in bloody banana land! Wtf! so it was extraordinarily good luck that some mega kind ppl stopped us on the way back to the boat offering us the remains of their stores from their week chartering a boat. Met Rick and his friends on their boat the next morn avin a chat about each other’s adventures. Lovely bloke, very enthusiastic asking questions about our journey. They gave us about 5 bags of grub and toiletries then came to look at Babs... I gave Ricks friend Brenda a book ‘Sarah Outen-taking on the world’ in which Sarah bikes through their homeland Canada and is a bloody great adventure to feast da mind. Pulled Ben up the mast which much moaning and swearing (literally dunno how he puts up with me 🤣) so he could change the anchor light. Flat sail over to Norman island- Quick snork spying lots of spiky black urchins but not much else. Only 5 other boats here... peaceful, magical feeling to the anchorage with steep cliffs and a stony beach. Had a run (mostly walking) along a rocky, grassy path to one end of the island-loadsa orange butterflies and lil lizards. Quick snork and I saw me first turtle under water on the trip so far. ‘Quick sail to ‘the Indians’ where we took a mooring ball and snorkelled around the rocks-few fish but seen better in other places. Sailed onto sandy spit- small area in-between boats to kite so had a little go but nearly stuck me kite in their masts twice one time having to release the safety so I didn’t tangle kite in mast. Ben found some waves and we had a rolley nights sleep. 4-5 hour upwind sail to Spanish town smarming ourselves through the reefs. Spoke to a bloke snorkeling with his kids…he told us they were all proficient kiters and often kite from island to island. Small provisioning, podcast downloading and weather update from restaurant in town. Sailed back to the magical anchorage at Norman and prepared boat for the passage to Panama. Boat is swinging 360 degrees in wind and we’re nearly on the beach so move to the outta bay. Couple of Angle fish on me snorkel.
Nest day we run to the other side of the island, Quick dip and shower- underway by 12pm Feeling in proper good mood and feeling lucky to be out here with da Harms. Had a feeling we’d see wildlife today-soon after a pod of pink bellied dolphinos show ‘emselves flipping and jumping about babsy. Am a bit on edge for me first night shift as had a yacht to slip past and dark clouds bringing in the winds. As I was relaxing pondering whether mermaids are good/evil/exist I nervously look over me shoulder into the depths and see phosphorescence glittering alongside-cheery moment! 🙌 Poor ol Harms weren’t getting much sleep in his time off but was "dozing" when I checked the time and saw it was my time to be on shift..lolz. 12-3am pretty easy devouring me book. Spent the next 7 days reading a LOT, listening to podcasts, baking and sleeping. Had a dip when we were about half way with no wind in 4000mtrs depth of water…very quick dip holding onto a rope trailing off bab’s stern. Calm seas for the first few days, spinnaker up going 4.5/5knts. Went through a massive blanket of weed and had to de’weed tezza’s rudder using the boat hook. De-frosted the freezer as the fridge weren’t working too well and stuff kept going off. Waking from a sweaty, dribbly nap I had me first shower on day 6---truly amazing feeling da cold-ish, refreshing water. Big waves coming up behind us, sailing fast throughout the day, put a reef in for the night but still going 6.5knts. Spotted grey dolphins visited us on the 8th day for 10-15mins…sooo clear in the deep blue waters. My last night watch was a bit bladder-dribbly as had 2 ships to avoid and we saw our first lightening over the Panamanian mainland. Ben got up and we gybed to avoid the 1st ship…me wee chicken legs were a trembling as the waves were knocking us sideways as I steered on the new gybe in da dark. Ben woke me up at 6.30am-looked out to see proper jungle covered hilly mainland and island greet us out of the mist. Immediately LOVE IT! Lots of people chilling on their decks already, as we look for a place to anchor the air is filled with sooooo much birdsong. Spot a small fin break the surface as well but not sure what it twas. Ben downs a beer to help him sleep and we have a long, glorious kipparoo till bout 2pm. Quiche for brekki!
Very humid here with cloud cover-hottest we’v been yet-constant drip from me mustache ben finds hillair! Talk to neighbors before an explore on land. Only a main road to walk along guarded by steep jungley hills and the sea. Best road walk evvvvvver though. First we spot leaf cutter ants soldiering across the earth. Massive, beautiful, varied trees everywhere-I’m literally in heaven! Hear loadsa birds chattering, coming across them in a mango tree and realise they are little green and yellow parrots-literally hundreds of ‘em! Sooooooo beautiful! Notice an avocado tree further on and pick one hanging low. Ben exclaims ‘no way-it’s Benji!’ (Fellow friend going by the name of Benguin who has sloth like features) There's only a bloody SLOTH curled up in a tree nearby! 2nd sloth I’ve seen in the wild, the first was in Guyana on a survival trip. Feeliiiing verrrrrry lucky! Different colored birds all around, one black with a bright yellow chest. On the way back we hear loud squawking and out of a tree flies 2 massive, original colored parrots. I’m literally hopping up and down in excitement for the whole walk with a mahooooosive grin and a sense of wholeness- this is ma place! Hear the impressive Howler monkeys from in the undergrowth-it just don’t get any better.
After a sweaty sleep I’m up at 7am-before ben for the first time ever- exercise sesh done in the cockpit before we go check in at the marina, leading onto a bus into Portobello for immigration. Bus is plastered with posters and large pics of who I’m guessing is the drivers baby. Get pizza and chips from a restaurant on the water front. The German owners parent to tonnes of once stray dogs, proper cute puppy with some sorta skin issue that they found in a shoe box. Few supplies and taxi back with a couple of random fellow boaters. Took babs to fuel point to fill up with water and petrol. Luckily 2 fruit n veggie trucks came by as there was nothing fresh/decent in Portobello. Bought looooads ready for our trip to San-blas. Used the free wifi from the marina and left for san-blas at 6.30 the next morn. Head wind but managed to fetch most of it. Nice n calm waters for 2nd half of the sail anchoring around 16.30. Lots of other boats surrounded by the 5 little islands and people bathing in the shallow, turquoise waters
Been sailing around the sandy, palm filled islands for 9 days, very chilled. Doing me exercises in the morn, supping around the islands and over some bright colored reefs and occasional spotted ray. Best sup was on a shallow reef where a lil turtle popped up his head and a puffa fish swam nearby. Found some green coconuts on a lil beach -As we got round the other side of the island to the mangrove lined cove we found loadsa orange and yellow starfish twinkling in the emerald waters. Defo felt like crocodile territory (which we late found out it was), saw a little stingray and a bird of prey screeching and flying around the lagoon. Proper decent like! Been searching for internet as need to check an email concerning the timing that we need to be in shelter bay for our passage through the Panama canal. Finally have luck at Povinir island-a local waving wildly at us paddles over in his dug out. Very friendly and speaks English. Ben does the talking and gives him the doller to go and get us a sim card, credit and bread from his neighbouring home island while I buy a handmade Mola from a couple of women and a kid in their dugout. Luckily he comes back with the goods…lush, still warm bread off his neighbour. Gave him a couple of beers and nuts as we try to understand the Spanish credit card-didn’t work so he paddled me over to the nearest island and interrupted his mate during lunch to work it for us. Very grateful-requested $5 for his troubles which I thought was a right ol’ deal. Proper happy, friendly, energetic bloke with 7 kids-apparently all from da same lady.🙃 Ben opens up the 3 green coconuts which have a lot of flesh inside- gunna avta freeze it there’s so much. Sail over to an island with a lot of backpackers and after a hot morning suppin and swimming we get our first real tropical rain storm with thunder and lightning- feeling very exposed on our little boat with TALL mast—eek! Have a rinse off in the rain and scrub the cockpit, then sit it out sweating inside with hatches closed.
Another day waiting out the rain before setting off to Linton bay- 3 dolphins lazing around the anchorage before we left around 7am, diving showing off their impressive tail fins. Motored most of 8 hour journey in mill pond flat waters. At least 3 large shoals of fish breaking the water with dolphins feeding on the final lot giving us a quick look over showing us their pink bellies n spotted sides. Sense of wholeness returns as we arrive at the beautiful Linton bay. Gotta say it’s predictably difficult spending all this time with just 1 other person-doing me in bit and arguments or silence are flowing after 2 months since our last vagabond (mumsky) left Babs. Longing for some friends and social contact, dancing to LIVE, decent music etc. Spose everything can’t be sandy beaches and mega wildlife though🦎🤔 . Gunna make an effort to make some friendys.
Used the Wifi at the marina to make contact with our agent and arrange the transit through Panama Canal. All sorted so go for another walk along the road seeing lots of birds, insects, mahoooosive bird-like butterflies and a dragon like epic iguana (ben saw it while I was happy snapping some ants 🐜 ) Tonnes of birdy life. Met a threesome who are also transiting the canal….social contact…wahhoooooo! Picked up some more fruit, veg n eggs from the truck and left the next morn, 6 hour motor towards the canal passing loadsa anchored ships waiting for their slot through the canal. Anchored up and took up the invite from our neighbors for happy hour. Brilliant night laughing and SPEAKING to different people….proper got me on a level again. Talkative ozzy couple who are very good at befriending everyone which is very helpful! I stayed sober coming back to babs for a late dinner and a perkier happiness
Simple procedure talking to our agent over whattsap, got the inspector onboard- originally from hong-kong he started out in panama working in the Chinese food stores that are all over the Caribbean leading onto agent work and now working for the canal authorities…seemed a right kind ol soul sweating in his uniform and rushing through the paperwork in a nervous kind of manner. All good inspection wise-just hope we can keep up 5knts motoring🤩 . Dinghy into the marina to meet with a couple who need line handlers on Saturday to help them through. Be good practice for us so sign our wee bum-holes up for da task. Another fun filled eve taking a walkies into the forest- MONKEYS jumping around, chomping on mangos and sending branches crashing to the ground. Hearing an amazing sound we carry on and ben spots (he’s very good at spotting!) tear drop shaped, grass bird nests hanging from the palms like Christmas decorations! The black birds with yellow tails are making this spectacular sound-can’t even describe it- ben has announced them as his best bird ever! Met up with the a big group again in the eve, more people joining all the time thanks to brads (ozzy) very welcoming, chatty nature. 4 friends sailing together- Irish, English and 2 ozzys were particularly funny and we spent most of the night talking to the Irish guy- very funny…..as 2 young kids got out their harp and violin playing titanic and game of thrones it was such a fucking great atmosphere, Irish guy (I’m shit with names) getting on the spoons and singing a fab Irish ditty. Me and the kids the only sober one but I defo enjoyed meself but dunno how many more nights I can do as feeling a nice lil gin would do me wonders! 🙈😁. Left at 10.30pm for a very late dins! Proper muggy and humid with rainclouds rolling in as it’s the rainy season but all is swell with new mates and family coming out soon to help us into the pacific to meet the sharks, krakens and pacific islanders!
Enjoy the summer my fellow favorite peoples…big love! xx
Kiting and Gear box says no!
02 April 2019 | Guadaloupe, Antigua, Barbuda, Sint Maarten
Filled up the water with Alberts help form a buoy with a hose brought out from shore attached to it. 3 hour sail on the beam (side of boat) at 7knts to an island below Guadeloupe called Terre-de-haut. Wifi working here as French islands so immersed ourselves all afternoon in the www! Checked out the town the next day. Different style-a french cottagy feel but still the bright Caribbean colours. Spying at least 2 older gay couples it definitely had the feel of a chilled, artistic, gay retirement village. Walked up to another fort to gander at the views. Saw a ginger cat up a tree, when zooming in on my camera I saw it was horrifically injured around the mouth. Lots of dried blood and teeth showing. Made me feel incredibly sad as I don’t reckon it will last long.
3 hour sail to the north-as we motor in we hear fast paced drumming coming from the shore. Excitedly get the dinghy ready and find a massive carnival with the best dressed people I’ve ever seen. A group of girls and occasional boy dancing in front of a band of mostly males drumming in a African kinda style. At least 15 separate groups with different styles. Amazing to watch and brought water to me eyes thinking back to the fun filled days with Balakulanya (me old drum group) locals and a few tourists lined the roads on deck chairs, standing or dancing. Food and souvenir stalls on the beach side. Woke up to the anchor alarm warning of the stony sea bed. Luckily we were just swinging wildly as very windy, gusting off the hills. Had my first run in ageeees, short but sweet congratulating ourselves with croissants and baguette! Mwahhahah. Spent the rest of the day blogging as we had a leaney sail to Deshaies at the top of Guadaloupe. Checked in and out ashore before talking ben through how the make a vege cottage pie. Came out very good! Attempting to plan the route through pacific to avoid hurricanes and cyclones. Quite a lot to take in but think we’re getting somewhere. Basically got about 4 weeks to get through a few more carribean islands before heading west for a 5-6 day sail to the San Blas islands which look ammmmaaazing. Getting through the Panama Canal before the end of march.
Up at 6am sailing 8 hours to fetch the island in one tack. Few large grey dolphins swam under Babs ..pretty friking mega! Kiters out in the bay as we round Green Island and anchor. Little explore on kite beach, trying to gee meself up to get back out there and attempt ‘The jump’ Feeling pretty nervous the next day but all’s good when I eventually get out there. Choppy but flatter water than a lot of places. Ozone (kite brand) central here as that’s what the local school use. Ben also loves them. Improving slightly but lower back ache brings me in. Talk to a gal who has a seat harness which I’m dying to try and she gives advice to hire one from the kite school. Long, wet dinghy ride but worth is as I set up the loan of a bigger board and seat harness for tomoz morn. Ben getting a free try of a new 12mtr Alpha kite as he’s thinking about buying one of their used kites.
Grannys sleep oils came in handy again as I was too nervous/excited thinking of the rentals and possibly, finally getting me arse in da air. Met the guys on the beach and got into me nappy …perfect non-gusty wind and I only went and fucking DID IT! I CAN JUUUUMPPPPP! Obvs felt AMAAAZING and good to know it was the harness position that’s been holding me back….meeheheheh After lunch we motored across the bay and anchored in our first deserted anchorage amonst the mangroves called Emerald cove. Put Radda on a fishermans dock and caught a lift with a friendly rasta to the bus stop in the next village. Very helpful Lady helped showed us to a supermarket in the in town and we stopped for a fat arsed pizza. Bussed back in the dark paying the driver a a little extra to take us to the end of our lane.
After much indecision from ben (surprise surprise) we went and bought the kite and me new harness! Took Babs round to a small anchorage on the other side of green island. Ben played on his new kite while I snorkelled eyeing up a zebra patterned fish and another sea dweller about 15cm long swimming very close to the surface with sword noses as long as their bodies. In the morning ben went to sort out a leak in the bladder of his new kite with the school. We spoke to a woman snorkelling from Ramsgate who raved about French Polynesia making us as excited as a fruit fly in a sloppy mango.
Left around 11am. Windy with big waves. Couple of tacks then a beamy 6 hour sail at 6-7knts. Caught a Barracuda on the way and saw a Dorado jump high out of the water like a dolphin! Amazing as we pulled up to Barbuda with dark stormy rain clouds combined with a pink sunset over the white sands and turquois waters. Met a local on the beach as we were setting up our kites the next day. Telling us how he hates the system and lives alone in a beach shack. When asked how he got his food and water, he replied –‘mostly from the boat ppl’ Have a lil go on the kites but not really windy enough. I head back to the boat and ben joins me by kite telling me ol’ mateys request of ‘some Barracuda, onions, seasoning, herbs, water…lolz! Ben duely took em back hoping we wont avta see him again as he didn’t have a good energy.
Sailed back to coco point- me on the bow trying to look for reefs we may crash babsy’s belly into. Tried a lil bit of fish for dins to see if it made us ill-ben shat throughout the night with mine coming about 8 hours later (metabolism issues-lolz) Sailed to Low-bay spotting the wrecked hotel we’d been warned about as a pack of dogs sheltering there had attacked a few people. Bit of kiting with only one other (big, posh kite boat) boat at anchor. Ben attempted to warn a lady near the hotel about the dawwwgs but apparently she looks after them and they get locked up during the day due to the attacks. Ben found some waves and I manged a few more little jumps.
Alarm at 4.30am-leaving by 5.20am. I attempted to look out for coral reefs but without any sun it was pretty impossible so had to trust in the plotter. Quick sail and arrived just before the last bridge opening at 5pm. Sint Maarten is a crazy arsed place-they call it the vegas of the Caribbean! Defo the most built up and busy place we’ve been to in the Carib. Cars queuing and lots of tourists. Nightlife whenever you want it and lots of different restaurants-big fat bonus in manning land! As we came through the bridge with the tanoy man shouting at us to hurry da fuck up our gearbox died. Shitbums!
So instead of spending a couple of days here, ben now has the long task of getting and fitting a new gearbox. The next month is pretty boring intertiwined with a few nights out and lil explorations so I’ll keep in brief-ish.
Ben jobs- Take off gear box, find and order new one, put back on, change couplings, re-align the engine…lots of work to the engine and steering
Both of us take the boat for a motor around the lagoon (a few times) going up and down the same path to test for a rattling sound in the engine…Every time it’s still there so ben investigates something else getting Dr diesel to try and work out the rattle issue-still no luck. Atlantic divers got their scuba gear on and took off the propeller so ben could but on the old 2 blade and check the current one….Still rattling! After much sweat and frustration for da Harm-dawg he decided its gotta be a bent shaft so we were craned out the water and plonked ourselfs in Toby’s yard for a week.
Amy jobs- While Ben was having a grand (mheheheh) time in the lagoon deciphering the problem I researched a way to get weather on-board for the pacific crossing settling on an Iridium Go. Sorted boat and personal insurance …only 1 company out of hundreds would insure us coz Babs was too old and not worth enough…Dick-wads! Researched weather and routes for the next year realising we weren’t gunna make it through to the pacific as the engine took longer than expected. Happily settled on spending the Hurricane season in Ecuador. Cooking, provisioning, washing, occasional cleaning, jet washed the underneath, sanded and cleaned off the white painted line. Obvs made it sound like I’v done more here but ben was defo working more hours. I fitted in some yoga, facebook and book time to keep meself at a decent level ()
So now we are out of the water-the shaft has been straightened, propeller which had a lil’ dink in it went to the welder who had to cut loads off and weld a wedge on as electrolysis had eaten away at it.
HIGHLIGHTS at sint maarten have been:
* meeting up with bens mate Josh and his g/f Tay getting off our tits in the bars…I’v had horrible hangovers so gunna kick the booze-more on that laterz
*Walk up to the highest point we could see-started off easy peasy before going straight up along an old river bed climbing over boulders then hauling our (my) fat bumholes up the ropes handily placed on some dusty, slippy ground. Felt wikid to get me heart pumping although me face said otherwise.
*Saw a huge spotted ray in the lagoon as we were dinghy-ing from the French side to the dutch side
*Went along to 2 talks –one on the pacific islands by a bloke who’s been there 4 times and 101 sailing tips…free beer , snackettes, beer coolers and t’shirts were there to grab and all!
*Me birthday-cake from mummykins, getting bus’s to the beach and eating out for brekki and dinner-not that I remember dinner but josh kindly stowed the uneaten pizza in me bag which was a pleasing treat in the morn!
*guy gave us a great tip to get off the white salt stains off the top sides of babs as were about to polish the whole thing—wash with vinegar…3 washes later it was back to pure blue!
*Yoga on the lil island the cruisers have made into a chillout zone with shade covers and old seats etc.
*Got a whole loada series and films off a Russian couple. As I spent most of the day on their boat with their huuuuge dawgs (a giant snauzer) they fed me, watered and vino’d me…extremely hospitable!
*Managed to get radda on the plane which was necessary as the lagoon is mahoosive so long dinghy rides if ya cant get on z plane…pretty happy with meself.
*Got the bikes out on the very busy roads but felt brilliant to be riding again.
*Met a cool woman in the yard who has fire coloured hair- 67ears old but she don’t look or act like it. Had a fun, interesting convo about mutual interests for about 3 hours…sober! Good to talk n laugh as does get bore o’clock with just me n ben on ere!
So tomorrow we should be going in the water..ben gotta do a couple more things, test it, provision up and get OUTTA here sailing onto the BVI’S …wup a dee wup wup!
Laterz ploppys-love n miss ya’ll looooads!
Maammmmaaa comes to stay...
02 March 2019 | St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica
When we anchored in Marigot bay, St Lucia we didn’t realise its where the loaded (money not narcotics) gents n gentesses hang out. Picturesque restaurant and mangrove lined bay with green waters. Finally found a decent taxi deal and I went to pick mum up from the airport while Ben slaved through the chores.🙈 Found mum with red vino down her top happily able to drink again after a dry January! Her seat companion who was chatty and friendly got a taxi with us to meet his mates for a sail round the Grenadines. After a meal out in Marigot as we had no fresh supplies we sailed to Rodney bay in the morniiinnngg. Rodney and St Lucia in general is warned for its crime and dinghies etc being stolen. Lock it and lift out of water is the general rule and we aint had no problms so far practicing this. Done some chores in rodders, buying 3 green coconuts from the roadside. We drank the juice before they machetted them open and scooped out the jelly-like coconut from the inside and bagged it for us. We used this for a smoothie the next morn.
After a pancake sesh we sailed in head wind. (just for a change🙃) Kept reeling the fishing line in as soooo much weed about. Enjoying a little argument with ben about the length the line needs to be put out as I reckon shorter is fine (and I’m too lazy to keep winding shit tonnes of line back in every 10 mins)- the next second we catch the only fish of the day on me very own SHORT line. I cackled hard for a long time as ben pulled on-board a nice size tuna with a weird hole in its gut. (read later in our fishing book that it was made by a cookie cutter shark who bites a hole out of its prey as a little supplement to his diet) Fuck it feels good to be right (occasional when you live with da Harman 👏) Mum got hold of steering easily which overcame her queasiness. 4.5 hours later we anchored in a lovely flat bay with a beauts beach. The most boats we've seen anchored anywhere! Had a walkies and sun-down G and T’s watching in horror as a mahoosive dog nearly mauled a little girl as he ran from dinghy to shore. Poor owners tripped over running to lead up the dog. Girl soon stopped wailing so all good. Drumming could be heard in the distance and we found out there was a carnival on in St Annes town a short dinghy ride away. Unfortunately when we arrived there was just drinking, confetti and awful music left. Beddy byes it is….
Sailed down to st Marin the next day to do a big shop (we’d been told Martinique was the cheapest place to re-stock) and filled the boat tanks with water. My back had started aching in the day and a temperature soon followed with a cough and sore throat. Very annoyed as I never get ill (cystitis not inc) but hope it clears up so can enjoy mummy time. Used Grannys sleep oils she’d sent me which helped me to dreamland soothing me aches. Cheers Granny! Xx Harms went for a run and laundretted the washing while mum made delish eggy bread! New one for the Babs menu! Sailed north to Les Anses-d’Arlet where mum kindly made me a healing soup with 52 cloves of garlic! I also ate it for breeki the next day which was a bit too far🤢 Watched a fisherman heave in a net from his dinghy pulling up loadsa little, silver fish. Mum and Ben snorkeled as I lay in me pit. Just the sore throat by morning so after a quick snorkel and attempted spear fish we sailed into Dufour to snorkel with turtles. Ben and mum saw 3 between them. It hurt me throat so I didn’t stay in for long.
Unfortunately Ben caught the sicky suzie bug but managed to get us up the coast to St Pierre before succumbing too bad. St Pierre is the capitol of Martinique and is over shadowed by a huge, outstandingly beautiful volcano. This erupted in 1909 killing 30000 inhabitants. The only survivor a prisoner in an underground cell. Me n mum went to explore ashore even now seeing singed buildings. We got chatting to a friendly shop owner who gave us directions in English luckily as Martinique is french speaking. Walked across a bridge and uphill to a church with tonnes of the biggest mango trees! Nicked 3 fruits but think they are a bit too small (found out later when they’d softened they were as very sour) Found the ruins of a theater and bought some French baguette…defo up points to a French island!
Following morn we checked out and had a real nice sail to Roseau, Dominica. Mum's loving the sailing and it’s been bloody great having her excited, happy energy on board as Ben don’t do excitement!😁 Marcus, the security for Roseau met us on his boat and we paid the 40EC (£12) for the mooring ball as no anchoring allowed. Had a swim and mum chopped some of me dried up straw hair off…..freeessh! I walked through the village to check in the next morn. Lots of locals hanging around the streets and on their doorsteps cheerily saying hi. Customs people weren’t there yet as a Saturday so I went back and picked up mum for a jaunt around town. Found a massive fruit and veg market…the best I’ve seen on any of the islands and the cheapest. Booked ourselves a tour of the sights for tomorrow with a local taxi driver. Dominica was in the eye of hurricane Maria in 2017 which proper devastated the whole island. Many peoples homes were ripped apart, especially the ones made of wood. The lush fruit trees were left bare, just poles. Trails and rivers full with destroyed island. A smiley shop owner told us what it was like during Maria, how she had sheltered in the wardrobe with her husband as it raged outside all night. When they came out in the morning they couldn’t believe the state that Dominica had been left in. Her shop is still on the waiting list for the government to repair the leaking roof. Arriving in Feb 2019 'the island of nature and water’ is green again, leaves growing back on the bare stumps but it will be many years until the rain forest is back to its full glory.
Up early to do a bit of hand washing in our buckets. Ben's feeling better so we snazzied into Eddies taxi. Posh car and he was dressed to impress stinking of man perfume. Walked the 3 hour round trail to Middleham falls. Mum did very well as some long inclines and not da best footing. Feels soooo good to be in the trees and a refresh in the pool. Saw little black and white snake on the way back up passing the ‘comfortable hikers group’ Hungry after the walk and only a banana for brekki but as we were soon to find out Sundays were a day off for everyone. A little packet of crisps filled a hole at the fresh water lake. Up high in the mountains we were enveloped in a freezing, windy fog. Quickly left and had a paddle in a hot pool up the road which spued from the mountain side. Tutu gorge was fucking spectacular! Swimming through high sided cliffs for 5 mins in the most delish coloured indigo water to a small fall that you climb up to be pounded by the bigger one. Warming yaself up as you swim out in a hot, sulphur spring. Bought some vanilla essence that had been steeped in rum from a street stall. Onto Trafalgar falls which you can see from the roadside lower down in the valley. They call them the mother and the father as the 2 waterfalls are divided by a small outcrop of rock. The mother is wider and cold while the father streams warm water and is tall and slim (twas a bloke telling us this!) Sulfur springs were last on the tour around 3.30pm and we were ravenous! Quick look before we could stuff our faces back on babs and an early night at 7.15pm! Rock and fucckinnnn role! 🤣
Mum was cooking on route to Portsmouth up north. Strapped in defying the lean and doing the self proclaimed ‘mum dancing’ to cut capers and formidable vegetable sound system. Ben weathered the rain for us 😜💖 until Albert welcomed us into the bay. Booked an Indian River tour with him for the next day, checked in and had a rum punch at a moody French man’s bar. Passionfruit, peanut and guava flavour! Albert is a gappy toothed ledge with one leg. His outboard catch broke so he had to row us 3 heavys upwind in his large boat with the engine dragging in the water. This got stuck on the river bed a few times, one time benny boi had to get out and manoeuvre us off. Felt proper sorry for Albert as he is a proud man, telling us a story of a tour that had gone wrong years before in his old wooden boat and he had cried in shame. He was however a brilliant guide knowing shit tonnes about the flower and fauna and history of Dominica. Stopped at a river bar 1 mile up for a walk around the flower garden breeding lots of ginger lilies. Rasta lady serving us more rum punch. Albert telling us Dominica is the land of rainbows as every time its rains which is a lot in rainy season there is a rainbow. We saw 2 on our way up river. Heading down as the sun started to set Albert pointed out 2 night herons which were magical and a flock of egrets perched in a tree for some sleepy time.
Walk to Fort Shirley the next day which we could see up the hill from Babs. A dog met us on the beach and walked all the way with us stopping when we did and waiting if we weren’t all walking together. Local tour guide shouted shoo and attempted to throw a stone at him even though I told her he was fine Pissed me off but he didn’t go too far and we was friends again. Walked past the fort to see more ruins and the other side of the rock from a view point up top. Pretty excited about the bbq tonight at the PAYS (local business to provide security for yachties, Albert was part of PAYS) shack. £15 for grub and as much rum punch as you can drink. Defo the cheapest island we’ve been on yet for eating and drinking out. Mum got chatted up by a Rasta guy and was on the dance floor before us skanking her tang! We soon got involved and I bombarded the dj with Buju Banton requests. Thankfully he listened and everyone seemed to enjoy a night of mainly Buju Banton 😁Harms got totally fucked up and hilariously fell off the dinghy as we were all getting back in it. The security PAYS guy was laughing soooo hard. I drove back to Babs where ben fell out of dinghy again trying to get on babs …spued everywhere and had to be helped out of wet clothes before he crashed on sofa with the washing up bowl next to him. (sorry benny boi but too funny not to tell)
Woke at 6am feeling very ruff but had to make it to a tour of the northern attractions at 9am. Got meself together after a brekki of bananas and crisps and got picked up by Albert. His passenger putting his hand on bens crusty puke as he grabbed the rail to keep Alberts boat alongside Babs. Very shameful! Ben stayed at home while me and mum tried to keep it together in the car with Alberts mate ‘Shadow’. He was equally great knowing the answer to every one of our questions and lots more. Dominica has 365 rivers and we drove past quite a few bouldery streams, still seeing the back log of the hurricane. Stopped off at the moon-like scape of Red Rock where a Rasta showed us round, his little dog in tow. Man dug cave and a tight gorge passageway to squeeze through. Red rock plain looking out at the windward side of the Atlantic. Bought some frikin fabulous lemongrass flavoured choc at the choccy factory-sorted out our hangovers with the tasters 🐷 Shadow stopped along the roadside to pick some lemon grass and I took some home for me Thai noodles. The lemon grass was everywhere once he’d pointed it out looking just like grass at in the fields, smelling wondrous as the strimmers cut away at it. Locals were planting brightly colored plants along the roadside. Shadow told us the government had employed young people to beautify the island after the hurricane. As we passed a banana plantation he taught us that a banana plant only bears one bunch of bananas, maybe 2 but both at the same time. This takes about a year and after that they are cut down and the sprout around the bottom will grow up for the next cycle. Apparently a lot of the coconut tree’s had survived the hurricane as they are so bendy they can lay quite flat hiding from the winds. Mum bought a souvenir from the Carib Indian territory and we had a wikid 3 course lunch and drink for £15 each. Shadow is a full blood Carib Indian. His granny is 103 years and still looking after herself well! Apparently they have quite a few people over the age of 100 on the island. I asked the secret and he said fresh, real food and keeping active. I reckon this is pretty easy as Dominica grows a variety of food, has fresh water streams and many mountains to climb. Ended the tour with a dip in the Emerald pool which was truly magical. Me n mum had it to ourselves invigorating and relaxing us…so much so I fell asleep on the 1.5 hour journey back through the lush interior and up the drier, west coastal road. Another amazing tour! Big thanks to mum who treated us to them.😍
Walked El mummykins to the bus station to take her to the airport. Will definitely miss her. Was mega having her on board and exploring the islands and showing her how we are living. Also great to have a brilliant cook on board who loves food and cooking as much as I do🍰. Got some grub from a street stall on the way back and spoke to a loud American who had just finished munching. He loudly announced that he didn’t think much of the island. What a prick! The stall holders looked over and I cringed while telling him how FAB I thought Dominica was. I’ve proper banged on about this island coz I think its fan-fucking-tastic! If peops are into nature and hiking, fresh grub, friendly locals and quite a cool government (shadow was telling us) get ya arses over there😊. It also doesn’t have too many tourists as it don’t sprout the best beaches but still a few black sand ones that are decent.
Sounds like spring is entering England ….enjoy me fellow bumholes xx
Grenada and the grenadines
18 February 2019
So it’s beeeeen a loooooooong time since me last blog…soz! Been lazy brained (and bodied) enjoying exploring the Caribbean with family n benny boi. So ere’s 2 writings to catch you allz up.
…woke up after our first night in the bar with predictable gut ache and period in sync with the full moon-makes me happy🤣 Did a HIT exercise routine with was very hard after 21 days stationary! Feel like the luckiest person ever looking around at this beautiful green island and green water. Lil turtle poking its head up for a gander at us uglys. Cleaned up the boat and took a note of how much fuel and water we’d used during the crossing- only used 290 ltrs for 4 ppl over 21 days! Pretty impressive considering we done the whole 640 ltr tank in 2 weeks later on in our trip! Showering had upped its game by then 👌
We got to explore quite a bit of Grenada as Ben and Droids families were there for 2 weeks. Had an epic Christmas day after a mahoosive food shop in an expensive supermarket. Even the local fruit and veg aint very cheap…Do better off with a Bennisons farm bag and a trip to Aldi. Met everyone for a swim in da turquoise sea at Grand Anse beach …droid made a fucking spiffing fry-up with a couple of rums at lunch time before splashing down the beach again. Some people played ball while I supped my 80% rum off the local rasta bar…was totes ‘scustin but did the job! Rasta barman was incredibly stoned and shoving biscuits in his mouth while talking …crumbs going everywhere🤢
Wandered back to the hotel cum hostel and Jane and droid got on the bbq and oven producing a wondeblah Christmas dinner. Don’t wanna forget to mention lucy’s washing up as she’s not into cooking but luckily she’s a perfectionist at the dishes and just keeps on going after 10 peoples munching. Felt very lucky to have prezzis and cards from home thanks to mummykins and Jane for bringing them over. Ring of fire and a moonlit dip rounded off the eve.
Ben left the next night to meet his fam for dins while I relished an alone night- well I should of relished it but I was shitting myself as had read loads of reports about boats being boarded day and night even when humans on-board. Pretty happy when he came back and I could put me wimpish self to bed.
Soon after Christmas a urine infection set in making me pretty miserable morning and night. Tried to clear it with natural remedy’s which eventually worked. During this time we explored Grenville town by bus which is a busy fishing town with a very yummy buffet style restaurant visited by locals overlooking the sea. Munched to the choccy shop in St Georges and had the best ice-cream ever (even Ben agreed) Nutmeg flavour!! I went back for it twice more during our stay…mwahhahaha! Rosie (Bens sister) had a falling out with a very rude overly priced fruit stall seller when she tried to bargain. Safe to say no-one bought anything from her after that. Most Grenadians however were extremely friendly and helpful. Vehicles stopping to let us cross the road and beeping buses or tax’s seeing if we need a ride.
All 10 of us had a tour with Lucy’s contact starting at 8.30am. Visited the chocolate factory. Dreamy garden homing cocoa trees, nutmeg, paupau, (papaya) French cashew and annatto. Onto leapers edge (sad bit of history) but friendly, happy woman showing us around and telling us about the turtle project she helps with. A look round the muddy, copper coloured sulphur pools stinking of rotten egg but apparently very good for ya skin. Lunch on the windward side of the island before driving up into the rain forest. Fed a lone monkey from a wild troop that hang around the roadside when they fancy a treat off locals and visitors. Walked to a massive lake and delish waterfall that was surrounded by edible plants and trees. Grenada is literally a garden. It seems every 3rd plant grows something edible- breadfruit, mango, avocado, coconut and tonnes of other tropical pleasures! Taxi guy gave us homemade citrus juice and had a green coconut off the side of the road. Real great tour!
MORE FOOD TALK… 🐷
Ben cut his finger open one day sharpening and de-rusting me machete, later opening a brown coconut with it. Fried up the last of our Dorado we had frozen so everyone could try it. Had this with some breadfruit dumplings Lucy experimented with. Good reactions all around. THE ROTI-cwooooor basically chicken/fish or veg curry wrapped into a large chapatti like wrap-addicted! Really enjoyed the French cashews with their white, refreshing flesh.
On new year’s day eve we visited a perfect white beach cove rimmed by trees and found whole urchin shells up the far end nestled in the weed and roots. Tom fished in a little river running onto the beach and caught 2 fish on his first casts! Face timed the mummatron as it turned new year in England and saw the fireworks from her balcony. Danced outside a posh hotel on the beach before dingoe-ing everyone to babs to have drinks and watch the fireworks being set off from the water. Found 2 kayakers creeping around the boat so invited them on-board for the fireworks and they shared their champagne and stories with us. Bonus!
If a cruise ship is in, Grand Anse beach is always extremely busy with 3 rows of deckchairs for half a mile of the 2 mile stretch. 20 us dollars for the pleasure of 2 deckchairs and an umbrella. Lots of people pay this rather than sit on the soft, white sand. Good way for the locals to make money with fruit sellers, musicians and hair-braiders roaming for business. Me and ben got a bus to to the seven sisters waterfall on one of these days. Steep downhill climb to 2 waterfalls and a bit of off-trailing to find a secluded fall where we had a lush dip! Desmond (our taxi driver from the tour) made a huge pot of Oil-down, their local dish. We hoped to eat it at the hotel but he insisted we come and get it as the pan from the fire was too hot and big. Jane and Andy went with him and chomped stew in the half dark in a tiny corridor of his sisters house sharing rum with desmonds friend. They returned excited from the adventure and we all tucked in being slightly put off by the pigs tails, Luckily lots of veg in there as well. Went out for pudding at a beachside restaurant as it was the Balfes last night.
Farewells n toodle-pips to the Balfes the next day before ferrying Andy, Jane and Rosie to babs for a week on-board. UTI has appeared again (don’t think I’ve kept hydrated enough with all the rum and sun sucking me dry) Sailed North to Cariacou and anchored by torchlight in Tyrell bay. Amazed to see bats attracted to the torchlight fishing for the bright blue little beings surrounding the boat! Went into town to find a tour of the island the next morning. A kind eyed lady tooted so we went over and she offered to take us around the island for half price 100EC (about 30 quid) as she was driving around anyways selling her Roti. Her morbidly obese son was passing out drinks as unemployed due to weight. He was extremely jolly and a great tour guide as his 2 kids played around in the back. Island seems to have more fields and less trees with goats tied up everywhere. (Well they look like goats but we were told they are sheep) Decided to go docs for me wee issue but being a sat they were shut. A kind local took us up to the hospital on top of the hill and they told us it was 300EC as they were in the middle of treating me. As they didn’t have a card machine we agreed to come back as only had half the cash in American dollars. On the 30min walk down the hill into town we rabbited on about whether we should go back but when our cards didn’t work at the cash point it made our decision easier as we wanted to sail away that arvo. Used the card for prescription and got the antibiotics and felt very guilty coupled with the dread of bad karma! Soon got into the spirit of Sandy Island which is a tiny but has great snorkelling and a couple of nurse sharks in a pool with lobsters that the locals show to tourists before releasing them at the end of the season. Sailed over to Union Island the next day in a wikid bay that we later returned to for kitesurfing. Loadsa pelicans and turtles popping up their wee heads to cast an eye. Had a cup of tea and had best flat water sesh ever fuelled by the unusual caffeine.
Andy loved sailing around Tobago cays which is a national park. Very crowded in anchorage so went ashore to Baradal. Easy to walk around the island in 10 mins which we did and were frikin amazed at the wildlife- Iguanas, Brown and orange coloured Tortoises, Grenadian doves, a lil snake and turtles swimming in the turquoise ocean. Proper sanctuary bustling with life! I LOVE IT!!
Anchor for the night at petit st Vincent Island and woke to do yoga on a deserted beach with Rosie, Jane and Andy. Made me feel brill! Left Anchorage by 8.30am on our way to hog island, the wind pushing us along. Caught 2 barracuda, one we lost and the other one sent me into a huff because I thought it might be toxic so didn’t wanna kill it if its gunna make us ill anyways. Sulked downstairs for a bit before getting over meself and had a walk around hog island with da Harm-dawg (ben). Reminded me of England with meadows and cows. Hog is popular with cruisers especially those with children as calm, safe, pretty and has a yachting community. Tried yoga on hog in the morn but the cows had other ideas. One big mamma shook her big head at us right by me mat-didn’t seem friendly so we scarpered. Took a dinghy ride to the mainland and saw the locals had caught loads of parrot fish which are friking stunning! Sad but guess we can’t just eat ugly fish. Cooked the barracuda we’d caught on a free standing Rasta colored bbq. I had a bit of an argument with the tour companys chef as he basically said they run this show and we should spend money on coals instead of using their trees. As we were finding dead wood on ground and there was nowhere to buy coals I made my point and we went our separate ways. His friend/colleague later sat at our bench making friendly chit chat. His company also gave us a free bottle of COLD wine leftover from the lobster meal they’d put on for their clients.
Back at Grand Anse Rosie booked into hotel for early flight the next day and A+J helped take boat to st George to fill up with water. Our boat neighbor was still there who we’d got talking to when we first arrived in Grenada. Looks proper like Robinson Crusoe and bought his 20-ish foot boat for a very small amount. He’s lived on it for months in the same anchorage healing from his divorce. Getting healthy in body and mind by eating raw, meditating and fixing his boat up. Great smile and animated chatter. We invited him out on Christmas day and new year but the food and drink was too much of a temptation for him. Andy and Jane staying in the hotel for a couple of nights and after a google search I found I can drink on antibiotics…WAHOOOO!..which made for a few fun eves. Unfortunately on day 6 of my 7 day course of antibiotics the thrush came on! BIG FUCKING GROAN! I’d been taking pro-biotics to counteract it but reckon the drinking didn’t help in the end. The thrush meds caused extreme stinging and itching and was awake most of night with ice packs, even sitting in a sink full of water at one point in our veeerrrry small bathroom sink. Harms was very supportive and I eventually fell asleep on the sofa calmed by ice and meditation. Quick stopover at Carriacou before heading to Clifton in Union Island. Walked to the airport to check in with customs. Talked to South African skipper of a local kite boat and he gave us some good kiting locations to adventure to.
Sailed around the corner to spend a week anchored in Ashton lagoon, Union island. Fellow kiter wrapped his kite around a mast of the boat in front of us as we came into anchor. Instructors shimmied up the pole to release it. Walk into town across newly built, rickety wooden rope bridge. Lots of lizards and bird house as part of the islands eco project. Quiet town with 1 bar and unsmiling locals. Found an ice-cream shop with free wifi which delighted our guts in the upcoming week. Had a few good and a few frustrating sessions attempting to jump in the lovely flat water. Mostly on the water by 8am before anyone else which is pretty good for my lazy arse. Ben would help and instruct me as offshore winds blew me away concluding a few dinghy rescues. When I got tired he’d go out on the wavy side while I stretched and watched all dem bloody people easily mastering ‘the jump!’ Walked up frigate hill one evening, piles of conch shell in drifts along the shore line. Made friends with 2 American couples who were there kiting and a young English couple who were out teaching for the season.
Had a minor accident owing to the fact I hadn’t attached my kite to my harness properly heaving me forwards when launching and rag-dolling me onto the stony beach. Came off lightly with grazes. Another wee accident of the arse ripping kind happened when ben dinghoed me back to shore and I slid off the side catching my swimsuite completely ripping it to pieces! Luckily no-one on beach so slid my harness down on bens advice and tried to land my kite () After a very frustrating kite session I knew the only way through was a booze sesh—a few hours of rum, cards and backgammon and me smile had returned () lazy day followed while ben supped to other side of bay. Later the Americans and English invited us on beach for a party as to celebrate the full moon. Twas fun night as local kiters cooked sea urchins and fish on the barby and lots of rum flowed.
Decided to check out the other islands for a change in scene and I wanted some more provisions or to eat out as Ashton only had icecream. Sailed to Chatham bay around the corner. Beauts white beach surrounded by green hills. Restaurants were too expensive so Ben agreed to make a dahl following a recipe while I made chapattis. Walked through bush up to the top of hill in the morning. Soft prairie like grass blowing in the wind with cows and goats wandering free or tied up to trees. Met the self named ‘bushman’ who looks after the animals for a French couple who own a villa.
Easy 2 hour sail to Mayreau to an idyllic, palm line beach. Very crowded with Americans but Ben had a kite on the other side of the spit in some waves. Found some brown and green coconuts lying around..free grub! Sailed half way down the island to anchor to find me belly a nice meal. Walked up the steep hill and found ourselves in a crazy, jabbering Rasta mans bar. Graffiti and pictures drawn over every available space. Left to find dinner somewhere else as I wasn’t sure whether to believe his announcement he was a great chef. Luckily had the best dinner of my trip so far- Red snapper seasoned and fried with cubed potatoes and salad …a massive garlic flat bread on da side! Got chatting to 2 drunk French girls who were a laugh and gave one of them a lift back to her boat after she had argued in a very French fashion with her mate. Had a walk passing baby goats to the other side of the island to see if it was kite-able. No space to launch but our first deserted beach so had a refreshing skinny dip. Paid £25 for 1 bag of shopping, £5 for a block of butter! Sailed back to Ashton bay hoping to get 1 more day of flat water having checked other places and realizing its pretty spesh! Unknown Fish risotto that we’d caught in the day. (Thanks to Droid and Jane for helping me like risotto with ya grand cooking) Used bens kite the next day fuelled by tea and went all day long! Managed to do a bit of a pop or at least leave the water a tad but jumping still gives me the V sign. Morgan and Amber (English couple) joined us in the arvo for kite before saying Ta-ra. Tacked 1 hour back into Clifton for some wifi and a Roti...Love this town-colourful and chilled.
Left Union island for the last time and fetched for 2 hours for a quick night stop in canoun before sailing 4 hours on the wind to Bequia. Real nice feeling to this island-lots of rastas selling fruit and souvenirs. Walked over the hill to friendship bay for a walk along the beach, steel drums tinkling from an expensive restaurant. Made Breadfruit salad (basically potato salad) as the stall holder told me the recipe when I bought it from her. Pwettty good! Was planning on a run the next morn but remembering the free yoga sesh was on in local restaurant my lazy arse chose this instead. Walked over to the Firefly plantation which is owned by an English couple who live on a neighboring island frequented by the rich n famous. Lovely, gentle guide showed us around the garden describing different trees and their usages. Bought some homemade mango chutney from their mango trees and trundled down to a weedy, smelly beach surrounded filled with coconut palms. The owner of the fig tree restaurant and her granddaughter joined us as we were playing cards but then mugged us off money at the end when we paid for our drinks….karma right there!
Left Bequia and anchored in Cumberland bay, St Vincent. I finished me book ‘Gypsy boy’ that mum had given me for xmas. Proper harrowing but interesting life of a Romany gypsy living in the uk. Boat boy (man in wooden rowing boat) helped us into anchorage tying our stern to a tree onshore as no swinging room in the strong gusts coming down the hills. More boats boys who we bought some fruit off both of them giving us something for free after we’d purchased. River mouth flowing into the bay led to a colder swim but muchly refreshing. Spent all of next day using someones unlocked wifi to naturally cure my reoccurring uti and drinking tonnes of water. Ben went for a sup and a spearfish and came home with dinner! Just enough fish for 2 pp..perfectol! Also done some washing in the river before we dingoed 1.3miles to the southern bay to check in. Wallilabou bay-set of pirates of the Caribbean. Cool to see the old film set and buildings. Incredible rainbows over our bay as we motored out. Wee feeling good the next morn. Motored away at 8am and found wind once past the north of the island. Felt queasy with head winds and big waves so had a nap downstairs while the long suffering benny boi done all the work 😜 Nearly caught 2 fish but one was so big it bent the hook straight! Anchored in Marigot bay, St Lucia to pick up mum the next day from the airport. Will start a new blog asap for Mummatron adventures… laterz hobos xx