We’ve loved South Africa but it’s time to move on. In this last third of the year we’re heading for Namibia, St Helena, Brazil, Suriname (wherever that is) and the Caribbean. Come along for the ride. YouTube: SV Time Bandit
This video is dangerously like the time my dad’s pal asked us all round to see their latest family holiday pics. On 8mm. Oh how we laughed……. and all but slit our wrists.
There’s not been a busting lot happening out here but if you’re sat at home in the midst of winter and you feel like going for a wee sail in the sun - well, mostly in the sun, perhaps this might help.
However, we’ve been so busy lounging around doing nothing, production ended up as a bit of a rush largely because we’d had another great idea at the time to swop lobster lunches on the beach for something which involves flights, small children and snow. It’s not my greatest effort but here you go…… hope you like it. Click right here for a quick run up through the Caribbean.
After recovering from the festivities at the end of the ARC transatlantic back in 2011 we found ourselves frolicking in the water at the end of the long beach outside Rodney Bay marina. In between swimming ashore for more beers we happened across a red haired, fair skinned and somewhat lobster pink bodied tourist also enjoying the cooling waters of the Caribbean. In fact, if he stepped into the sunshine for much longer he’d be risking third degree burns. Or at least a basting with some lemon infused, garlic butter.
After determining that our new best friend was from a nearby but out of sight cruise ship we got to chatting. Interesting but not too personal points of interest were exchanged. The weather was quite nice. The locals were friendly. We were from Scotland. He was from Manchester. That kind of thing.
At one point yer man asks, “Where am I by the way?”
“What? We’re swimming here off the beach in Rodney Bay ”.
“Rodney what? Where exactly is that? You see, we sail around in this big cruise ship, have our dinner, maybe take in a show, sleep, wake up, get breakfast, climb down off the ship, get in another taxi, drive for a while then get dumped on a beach - somewhere. After a few days of lying around various beaches I’ve no idea where I am.” Not that slugging cocktails like they’re going out of fashion had anything to do with it.
And so, we informed our new pal he was on St Lucia.
“ Oh. That’s nice” he said.
Today we’re in a bit of a similar situation, wandering around the green, verdant island hills of…….. “where are we?”
All I know for sure is that’s it’s to windward. Twenty to thirty hard, flogging miles to windward of the last green, verdant island we were on. Since Grenada, we’ve been beating our brains out plugging to windward in twenty five to thirty knots in three to four metre seas. When we’re not doing that, we’re in the lee of the islands swirling around in the gusts and eddies that come off those same green, verdant mountains.
However, hopefully that’s the end of our ungentlemanly upwind thrashing, all three hundred miles of it and, oddly, we’ve ended up in the Leeward Islands. Just not sure which one.
I think it’s finally proven. The Caribbean is full. At least as far as cruisers go. We’ve never seen so many boats. In the anchorages you count boats by the hundred. In Martinique, we’ve heard of two thousand in the main Marin and St Anne’s bays. It’s like Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow on a Saturday afternoon.
Yesterday we arrived in Dominica. We were last here back in 2015 and, while our memories are a bit shot these days we think there was us, Purrrfect and maybe one or two other boats. Today, there’s somewhere over a hundred boats; 50/50 independent cruisers and charters.
It’s easy to tell the charter boats - they’re the ones with pink crews.
The unfortunate thing for us fixed pension cruisers is that these folk pile ashore from their one week, £10,000 - £14,000 charter with bulging wallets and are happy to pay ludicrous amounts of money for chicken and chips, curried goat, beers and anything that reduces the size of their bulging wallets and adds to their bulging waistlines. As for tours and taxis. Name your price. Just ensure it’s in the region of a black or yellow cab into town from the likes of Heathrow or JFK.
I’m off ashore shortly to give a lecture on the price elasticity of demand.
The elk migrate. The wildebeest migrate. The North Americans migrate; mostly to Florida and the Caribbean to avoid the crippling freezes of the far north. (In Scotland we just put on a wee jumper over our T-shirts).
So, no sooner are we in the Caribbean than we hot foot it to Canada, passing all the Canadian and American “snowbirds” heading south.
Back at boat we haul, antifoul and make a crucial decision to replace the big bits of rubber around the saildrives that stop us from sinking. A close call!
This season we’re heading up the Caribbean island chain then over to the USA. When the sun is back out.
What is it with Europeans and nakedness? I mean, there weren't that many solid reasons (as it turns out - the politicians' lies finally exposed) to vote for Brexit, but this alone would swing it for me.
I still have the image in my memory, I mean SEARED in my memory of a fat European chap walking into the pool area of a ski hotel we were staying at in the alps once. It was just us, Anne and I enjoying the jacuzzi after a hard day on the slopes and in walks "yer man". All belly, hairy legs, boobs a porn star would be proud of, even pay for, and, heaven forbid, his winky. In he waddles, fortunately doesn't do any warm up stretches, then plunges in beside us.
Being from Glasgow and having spent many years working with an ex regimental sergeant major, I at least mentally suggested he f&@k off. In most places I've lived you'd get locked up for less.
This horror story is oft repeated in anchorages around the Mediterranean. You can get boatloads of guys, out on a charter, waltzing into a crowded anchorage, not a stitch between them. Horrified mothers hustle their children below. Males, even Europeans strangely, avert their eyes before they too get their memories SEARED.
Fortunately, having now spent many years on the clothed side of the world the scars in my mind have been slowly healing. Almost healed actually. Right up 'till now.
I said in previous blog the Caribbean is busy. Busy with all nationalities but why, why out of all these worldly travellers do we seem to always be anchored beside or behind a flasher boat?
So, if by any chance you're reading this having Google'd our boat name, and earlier today, or this week were strutting your stuff around the deck. Consider this a RED CARD.
13 January 2023 | L’esterre, Carriacou, Grenadines
It was our first summer in Boston, Massachusetts, when my office door was pushed open and Tom said, “You going on holiday?”
“Yes, we fly on Saturday.”
“Where are you going?”
Tom looked at me, a confused expression on his face. “Stuart. You go to the Caribbean in winter”.
Now, I know Americans can be quirky but what’s not to like about going on a Moorings yacht charter for your summer holidays? Well, firstly, as the average American gets fewer holidays than sweat shop workers in Bangladesh and secondly, USA weather can be extreme; summer is really quite lovely while conversely winter weather can be arctic. It is therefore normal practice to keep a few of their precious Dickensian workhouse days off for some winter Caribbean sun when it’s minus twenty in Nebraska.
It was also apparently hurricane season in the Caribbean although I didn’t recall seeing that in the brochure when we booked.
Anyway, off we went, maw, paw, the weans, teddy bears and multiple copies of the newest Harry Potter - all of the studious little buggers wanting to read it first, none prepared to wait on a sibling to finish. Or trust them not to tell them the ending.
And that was the first of our four “summer” charters in the Caribbean and we lived to tell the tale. What we didn’t appreciate until now was that while we were cruising to the alleged and oddly quiet hotspots of the Caribbean, enjoying peaceful, uncrowded anchorages, ashore in the many, many boatyards were several thousand boats of all shapes and sizes, laid up waiting for a December launch and for Time Bandit to arrive for our first “normal” cruising season.
It’s mobbed out here and I’m beginning to think the Caribbean is getting like the Lake District or Yellowstone at peak holiday - FULL!
Cunningly, like many anchorages from Scotland to The Med and now here, in many places anchoring is now banned and it is mandatory you pick up one of the dodgy, weed and shellfish encrusted bits of old rope tied to goodness knows what. And no, they’re not insured. If your boat ends up on the rocks, “nothing to do with us mate.”
I’ve already been a hero and anchored one boat that went drifting past in the dark towing its old mooring rope and shells, complete with ball. Another hundred yards and it would have become just another wreck on the beach. (Still waiting for a word of thanks from the owner).
Nonetheless, after a week in the now deserted boatyard the antifouling and saildrive diaphragms have been replaced and we’re finally off “up island”.
With luck and some commitment on my part you might even get a video……. although Suriname to Grenada is still long overdue.
At this time of year, if only to recognise and reward Anne for maintaining the log - her admin skills know no bounds - here's the data from 2022.
- 17,000 kilometres on the motorbike round Southern Africa
- 6077 miles at sea over two oceans
- 36 days and nights at sea
This time last year we were in Cape Town, most of it touring. We left in August for the Caribbean via Namibia, St Helena, Ascension, Brazil and Suriname and either we're feeling our age or it was a very long way. We thought we were "done" when we got to Cape Town. We were certainly done when we got to Grenada which is where we closed our circumnavigation.
It all kicked off in 2011 - and the following is an extract from and hopefully a teaser for my forthcoming book - which has been forthcoming for some years right enough so dont hold your breath.
"One night, way back in early 2011, our son called up his mum to ask if her carelessly thrown away remark, made during one of his flying weekend visits from deep down in the depths of England, was serious. Anne had said that if he wanted to abandon his thankless, corporate grind and take over running our business and that as a bonus, he could have our car and our house then he just had to say the word and we'd go sailing. Ha Ha. How she laughed. It took all of the drive south, or, more likely, the end of the driveway to make up his mind and so, here he was, on the phone, less than twenty four hours later, "Remember what you said about me, work and running the business? Well, thank you." says he. "I'll take you up on the offer"........"but, one thing, I couldn't work with dad". Like unsuspecting baby sparrows, before we could say, "Ready about", our cuckoo had us out the nest, out the business, out the house and sat on the boat wondering what the hell just happened. I don't think he even drove us to the marina....in our car. Fortunately, earlier in the year we'd made a provisional booking on the 2011 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers; the ARC."
Since then, eleven years and three months on, we've......
- sailed 74,572 miles from 69 degrees north to 43 degrees south
- put 4,397 hours on various engines and
- visited 62 countries
Some of it we quite enjoyed.
And the business has gone from strength to strength.
And so, lastly dear reader, thank you very much for following; reading my nonsense and for your welcome comments and feedback. It makes it all seem less pointless.
If you've waded through one or two of the YouTube videos (SV Time Bandit), well done. We don't have the mass following or unfortunately for some viewers, the exposed flesh factor of Vagabond or Delos but it keeps me amused. We hope it lightens your day. If you make it to the final scenes, give yourself a clap on the back.
So, with that, thanks again from us two and Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, even Joyeux Noel - whatever floats your boat.
We are back again in the New Year when we head north up the island chain, Bahamas then either east coast USA or perhaps a jaunt to Nova Scotia.
One of the risks of engaging in the social media sphere is one of inadvertently causing offence. Look at what’s happened to Elon. In my last post I carelessly omitted Sky Blue Eyes; Karl and Julie from our list of medics out cruising.
Odd really as my take on having a nearby medic whose specialisation is geriatric care was tongue-in-cheek.
On the other hand, Karl and Julie have particularly relevant medical skills.