We are living in a sort of gentle, warm blur – which is rather lovely. The Caribbean temperature and lush surroundings are very soporific. We stayed days in the picture perfect bay of Anse D’Arlet. Some days were pretty rolly and splashy on Magic with the wind funneling down through the hills towards us and some were gentler. We have heard stories of the yachts that sailed south and they have had a lot of wind. It is the ‘Christmas Winds’ apparently and it will settle later in January and into February. We are not going to rush – we are going to see if we can spend New Year in Marigot Bay in Saint Lucia and then after Gareth leaves we are meeting friends – Sara and John Templeton who are coming to Saint Lucia. We might see if we can leave magic in Rodney Bay Marina and join them in their resort for a few days on land.
We are really enjoying Martinique. What could be better than snorkeling with turtles in crystal clear, warm water, a cobalt blue sky overhead and green hills and palm trees fringing the white beach just ahead? Well actually there is something better than that… it is being in that situation with family and friends. Somehow friends from the ARC and the ARC+ surrounded us – well I say ‘somehow’ but we know how really.. Lovely Liz and Liam are here and they have been telling everyone to come and join in the fun.. That is what some magical people do – they are like magnets for fun. Liz and Liam have become great friends – they have welcomed us into four ports – Gibraltar, Las Palmas, Rodney Bay and D’Anse Darlet. How extraordinary to see friendly faces in strange places. Thanks to them there were 57 of us for Christmas lunch!
On Christmas Eve most of us gathered on the beach for a BBQ – everyone brought food and drink and it was a lot of fun – we all beached our dinghy’s and helped each other unload. It was fantastic fun and there was a lot of Christmas hats and stories of Atlantic Crossings exchanged. The subject of conversation is typically – where are you from and where are you going next…peppered with – what broke and where are you getting that fixed! Sometimes I notice how natural the conversations are about exotic places – then I pinch myself – wait! We just said “we are going to stay in Martinique for a while and then we are sailing to Saint Lucia and on to Bequai, Tobago Cays” – that, is a very normal sentence in this group of friends but a really out of this world conversation in any more ‘normal’ context. I remind myself often that we are so fortunate to be living this way. And, as we plan towards booking our fights home in early May we will appreciate the time even more.
I have to admit to being a total lightweight on Christmas Eve – Mark brought me home to Magic in the Dingy and then he returned to the Party. I think I have just let the whole ARC and Crew thing hit me at once and I have ended up with a very bad cold sore on my bottom lip which hurts like hell and I am feeling quite a bit under par. Sleep is what is needed – batteries need a re-charge.
Christmas Day and Gareth, Mark and I are up and sharing Bucks Fizz and gifts. Gareth has brought us the most fantastic gifts – a captains hat for Mark and an inflatable chair for me – perfect for floating in the ocean (tied on to Magic!) We gave Gareth some Marks and Spencer Brandy Snaps – which we know he loves – we got them in M&S Las Palmas. It feels Christmassier than we all thought it would.
The Christmas supper with 57 yachties was a hoot – Lobster and Rum – the perfect Caribbean treat. One of the highlights was Father Christmas. Liam and Liz had asked a wonderful bearded sailor to be Santa and for his crew member to be the elf – a sail bag was filled with secret Santa gifts that everyone had brought – it was really special – everyone came up one by one and sat on Santa’s knee! The Elf pulled out a gift and gave it to Santa who handed the gift to the person on his lap – laughter everywhere – of course there were some actual children too and they were not allowed to sit on Santa’s knee!! – The modern world rather sadly creeping into our fun. We sang Christmas songs, ate Lobster and drank Rum – a perfect Caribbean Christmas.
On Boxing Day we were going to leave for Marin for repairs – but having checked the weather we decided it was too windy so we stayed for one more day. We have learned to view a delay day with joy and not frustration we see it as a bonus and look for something special to do. Sailing changes the way you think about planning.
We had a relaxed morning and then decided we would walk to the near by town to get some exercise and cash. Just as we were leaving the bay I saw what looked like a potentially lovely restaurant. So…being naughty, I suggested that instead of setting off at a pace for our walk – that we go for cocktails and lunch instead!!
What a surprise – it was the most perfect place. Gentle swaying palms, white washed washboard roof and a delicious home made fully French menu. The place is called Restaurant L’Escale and if you are ever fortunate enough to find yourself in D’Anse Darlet then please do not miss this special place – the décor, the service and the elegant freshly prepared French food all divine – the three of us could not resist having 3 courses with cocktails and wine and the bill – 100 Euro Amazing – it was one of those meals that stays in your memory and you have foodie flash backs – bliss
The following morning we set off to Marin early – with the repairs we needed doing we decided to motor around the corner. Gareth took the helm and it was great fun to see him enjoying Magic. The wind was on our nose the whole way so it was a bit splashy but it was a very short trip. We moored up to the fuel dock and filled up – I still get anxious and had ignored my own ‘ shoes on deck’ thing.. I saw the bow of Magic round up to the pontoon on a spot that had no fender so I moved to fast forward and ‘bash’ the little toe on my right foot crunched into something really hard on the deck – oh I hate that feeling – it jangles through your body and the pain reverberates for hours. Ouch! With the mooring up, as always – I need not have been concerned as Mark is really great at parking… he is – really he is!!
Today – while Magic was at the riggers hospital we went to Saint Ann on the local bus – it was a sleepy seaside town and we had lunch by the beach – then we tried to get back – no bus…..well not for 3 hours! When we got back we had no forestay – oh … not sure we are going anywhere tomorrow! Some friends have arrived in to Marin so that is good and we will meet them for drinks tonight. The rigger who’s name is actually Mr Rivet ( no really it is ) says that he will have four guys on Magic from 8am as he needs us to leave at noon. We are having
Our third reef put back in – following Mark cutting it when he was stuck up the mast
Our Vang (kicker) repaired
Our forestay replaced and the foil repaired
Our furler repaired
Wonder what that bill will be
Ouch – a different ouch from the toe
Oh yes and the Banana colada? – when we arrived in Marin we had a lovely meal and Gareth spied the cocktail menu – Banana Colada made with ice cream – just had to be done!!