Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Wow! The Tobago Cays

Our GPS has gone on the blink but we arrived safely through the reefs after an overnight sail into pretty Clifton Harbour on Union Island for a check in. In the afternoon we headed off to Horseshoe Reef in the Tobago Cays and remained anchored there for a few days. Coincidentally we anchored next to good friends on Scorch of Wessex and were later joined by other friends on Eiland.
The colours and crystal-clear water here is breathtakingly beautiful and the snorkelling is incredible; it's like swimming in a giant aquarium. There is a turtle sanctuary where one can swim with literally dozens of turtles in shallow water. We also sighted barracuda and sharks. We are wondering why we have managed to sail past this area so many times!
Too soon it was time to leave. On Tuesday morning we sailed up to Bequia to check out and have a late lunch. Then another night sail up to Vieux Fort in St Lucia and a sad farewell on Wednesday to our guest, Anna who had joined us for the last couple of weeks.
Wednesday evening we sailed up to Rodney Bay and will be here until Sunday. Then it's up to Martinique to see if we can get our GPS fixed.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Canival Continues

The revelry continued for another 3 days. On Sunday we went in to Dimanche Gras, a big sellout event in the stadium. It was somewhat disappointing after an enormous effort to get tickets. There was a fantastic costumed depiction of the rainforest which was breathtaking but it was followed by hours of calypso performers, not our cup of tea (nor of most of the audience judging by their faces!). We got back to the boat for a couple of hours sleep before getting up at 4am to go into Port of Spain for J’Ouvert, dressed in our oldest clothes. From the French “jour ouvert” it’s a celebration of the darker elements of Trinidad’s folklore and history. The participants dress as devils or demons and bathe in mud and paint and throw away their inhibitions until daylight.

Unable to get a local bus we hitched and were picked up by the coastguard in a minibus. Sweetly they dropped us right in the centre of things. Along the way we saw crowds of revellers, covered in paint. In town we arrived just in time for the start of the parade. We stayed on well into the morning enjoying the friendly atmosphere and some really good steel bands.

Needing a break from Carnival we took the boat around to beautiful Scotland Bay where we could have a swim and relax for the night. On Tuesday we went back into Port of Spain for the last day’s big Parade of the Bands. The costumes were spectacular but there were few vantage points along the parade route where one could see the big groups in action. Once they had performed at the judging points the masqueraders seemed to give up performing.

We spent Wednesday re-provisioning and filling up with cheap fuel at $0.25/litre. Checking out on Thursday morning we had a brunch stop in Scotland Bay and then a very fast overnight sail to Union Island.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Carnival begins

We had a very fast night sail to Trinidad arriving at dawn into Chaguaramas. After a long tedious check in we set off for Port of Spain to see the Junior Parade of the Bands (kiddie carnival!). It was incredible to see how young they were, some were being wheeled around in prams. The costumes were fantastic and the atmosphere very gentle, a good introduction to Carnival celebrations. In the evening we watched the beginning of the Steel Band Finals and managed to walk around the bands as they were warming up before they went into the big stadium. Sadly Anna had her rucksack sliced open with a knife and wallet stoled, a dampner on an otherwise good day. Short of sleep, we ducked out early and went back to Irony passing the start of huge parties (one with 20,000 people) on the way. More on Sunday!

Friday, 12 February 2010

On the move again

I flew back into St Lucia with Anna on Wednesday, in the meantime Nic sailed the boat down to Vieux Fort on the southern tip of the island to be closer to the airport. We touched down just after 3pm and by 10pm we'd upped anchor and set off for Union Island in the Grenadines.
We arrived in Chatham Bay by lunchtime on Thursday and had a lovely day of snorkelling and a good night's sleep before setting off at noon on Friday for Trinidad.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Nostalgic Visit to Williamsburg

This is an unusual post because I am not writing it from Irony. I am visiting my university town of Williamsburg, Virginia in the USA and a very good friend here, Anna. We both studied art history but she has made her career in that world. As a consequence, I've had a very cultural time, attending the opening of a Michelangelo exhibition at William & Mary's Muscarelle Museum of Art and even helping to hang an show in a local gallery.
We also had a wonderful dinner at A Chef's Kitchen, a very novel restaurant where one eats a delicious 5-course gourmet dinner while the chefs demonstrate the recipes.
It has been a nostalgic experience wandering around the historic town, originally the colonial capital of the United States. Always beautiful, it has been enhanced by the snowy weather we are having.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Passage to St Lucia

After a few days stocking up and socialising with frends in St Martin we set off for St Lucia on Friday 29th. Winds were predicted to be northeasterly 15-20 knots, perfect for our 275 mile passage. What we encountered was rather different - an easterly to southeasterly direction meant we were sailing at 52 degrees to the wind the entire way. Just to make it more wet and uncomfortable we had winds gusting Force 8 and 3 metre waves. We nearly lost the dinghy from the davits and very sadly, Nic lost a watch he has owned since he was 21 to the sea. It was a wonderful relief to anchor back in familiar Rodney Bay on Sunday morning.