13 November 2022
"Where from?" cried the chap in the official looking skippers hat, yelling to be heard above the sound of horns blaring and crowds cheering from the armada of small boats, many dressed overall, out to welcome and congratulate us as we tied the knot on the completion of our circumnavigation of the globe by small boat. Well, OK. Not that small. My dad had small boats. "Hell Ships" mother called them. Let's just call it "comfy".
"Where from?" I called back. "Grenada", echoing Sir Robin Knox-Johnson as he finished and won the Golden Globe single handed round the world race in 1969, bringing another round of cheers from our crowd.
Nah. Not really. Nobody gave a toss. A fourteen year old girl did it singlehanded not so long ago.
Anyway, with the timing that has typified our trip from Cape Town, all six thousand miles of it we arrived once again in the dark. Buggered if we were going to spend a thirty seventh night at sea, out of a total of seventy six since we left South Africa - Anne likes her numbers - thirty six had been just plenty. And so, reluctantly, we prepared to break our cardinal rule of not entering an unknown anchorage in the dark. Prickly Bay was our initial target but as it was somewhat unknown to us, at least as far as approaching by boat was concerned, we'd done it by car a few times but as that didn't really qualify, after having a bit of a peer into the dark, we decided to be a bit more prudent and head around to St George's. We left from there nearly seven years ago so that really worked in the strict sense of "tying the knot".
However, no armada, no cheering crowds, just my vivid imagination and what looked like an empty bay. We'd been told that like many islands in the Caribbean, the bay had been turned into a mooring field so as to force cruisers into the marina and/or extort a few more dollars from them. One can anchor at ones' leisure, just be prepared for the alleged £5,000 fine.
Slowly we crept into the bay, heading for approximately where we'd lifted anchor all those many years, miles and great friendships ago. We were being very careful, not wanting to do what friend, he-who-shall-remain-nameless did and T-bone something hard, within the last hour of completing their trans ocean trip. (Hi Nameless. Hope you're mending.)
Now you see, one of the benefits, or possibly the only benefit of being on a government mooring, as no doubt there's a clause denying any responsibility for your yacht if it takes its own mini cruise to Guatemala while you're ashore, is that you can save the batteries as theoretically, you don't have to show any navigation lights.
And so, against a backdrop of a million shore lights, only our past vague recollections and fortunately, four AIS signals helped us nose our way in through the pitch black. Once we got to the boats showing AIS we cast around for a while looking for a mooring but in the end, to hell with the expense, we dropped anchor and collapsed into bed.
Right now as I look around, there are twenty one boats on the moorings which have magically appeared, one of which is a huge, rusting fifty metre, three masted steel hulled would be cruise ship - I'm afraid, we saw none of them.
And so, if you happen to be on a mooring in St George's and reading this - PUT SOME FLAMING LIGHTS ON you Muppets.
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