As always it takes longer to get Magic ready to go sailing than we think it is going to. Each time you have taken time out in a marina or anchorage the things you own creep out of the spaces they have been squirreled away to. Glasses for wine, perfume bottles, an ornament or some precious shells in a bowl collected along the way – all find their place again which make Magic feel homely. When it is time to slip the lines again all this becomes detritus as safety and sailing trump homeliness. (Writing that word makes me think of Donald Trump – the news only occasionally creeps through the cracks of our blissful world and it is horrible! What are Americans thinking! – I had to watch some Kevin Spacy interviews to calm myself! – He was at Davos and his thinking is beautiful) anywhere where was I …oh yes, we are getting Magic ready. Rather than the usual two or three hours it took us around six hours – we must have really nested in Saint Lucia!! We had done a passage plan – we had to get to Blue Lagoon in Saint Vincent to clear in and get May’s papers. Pretty important as if a dog without the right papers is identified they say they will shoot it on sight.
We knew the entrance into Blue Lagoon was tricky so we decided to arrive late morning. This meant leaving Rodney Bay at midnight. We love night sailing.
We finished our prep and went to bed at around 7pm – it is hard to sleep that early but it was important to get some rest. At 11.30pm our alarm went off and blurry eyed we began to do the final preparations to sail. By midnight we were ready. It was almost a full moon and it was warm. We slipped the lines and quietly left the dock – bliss. We motored into the bay and then raised our sails. We sailed for several hours before the wind dropped and then we motored sailed for a while. It was one of those perfect nights – good winds and fair seas, millions of stars and a bright almost full moon. Mark and I both stayed up on deck, each taking turns to be on watch. As we neared the Southern tip of Saint Lucia the sun rose and so did the wind. Around the tips of the Islands the wind is stronger. Our sails were reefed so we were fine and we sailed on to Saint Vincent. In the channel between the South of Saint Lucia and the North of Saint Vince it was choppy as there was a strong current running. It was a bit uncomfortable until we were in the Lee of Saint Vincent. We arrived at the South of Saint Vincent at around 11am – perfect! We got out our guidebooks and pilot books and nudged further in to have a look. We were not happy – Magic’s Draft is 2.8M and the cut through the coral reef to the bay was much less – there was no way in. There was another cut but the pilot book says it is not recommended. So, we called the Marina and they said – no problem they would send out a pilot! That was new we hadn’t experienced that before. Out came Ras Mike on his tender – he came along side – tided up his tender and climbed aboard – that is not easy as Magic is very high sided – he introduced him self and said to Mark that he could take the helm and take us over the reef safely – Mark and I looked at each other nervously – that didn’t feel right. Then at that moment I noticed Ras Mike’s tender floating away from Magic – he had not tied it on securely. Mark tried to round Magic up so we could get Ras Mike near his dingy – we lowered our stern door for him to step out – but as we were doing these maneuvers we realized that we were moving more towards the reef – so we had to say we couldn’t do it – then another dingy came along and retrieved Ras Mikes dingy for us – this was NOT what we needed, it really is stressful enough coming into a new place with out this. We looked at each other and said – we are in a strange harbor, we have a pilot on board who cannot tie up his own dingy, he is about to take Magic over a narrow entrance across a reef, it is low tide and it is Springs (meaning v low and v high tide) – what could possibly go wrong! Ras Mike took the helm – reluctantly and nervously we let him take us across the reef. I have never seen anything like it – the cut in the reef was only 1 meter wide and we had to be right in the center – the wind was blowing quite hard and Magic’s high sides mean she can move a lot sideways – I held my breath. Mark looked anxious. Ras Mike looked relaxed and happy. The waves were breaking over the rocky reef on either side of us – it was incredible and terrible at the same time. Within moments we were across and safely into the deep Blue Lagoon – relief is a word that doesn’t sum up how we felt. We were happy to pay Ras Mike his $20 for being our pilot. He then helped us take Magic alongside in the little Marina. We got a huge warm welcome and were given a delicious Rum Punch – how lovely. We like it here! We settled in – went to customs office and cleared in and then got to work finding the vet – we had been emailing them but there was no way of knowing if we had all the right papers or if we would get a permit – we were travelling optimistically as usual. We passed a pleasant day in Blue Lagoon but as time ticked on I was concerned the vet would not come – but in true Caribbean style she turned up at 6pm. She inspected May’s papers and May and then gave us her Permit – what a relief. Today seems to have been filled with tension, trust and relief! We treated ourselves to a delicious lunch and met Nicki – a local lady who was great fun – she was talking about going to the Music Festival in Bequai and we mentioned we were going too – Nicki was going to get the ferry but instead we offered her a lift on Magic! Nicki was delighted and mentioned a friend of hers who was coming too – we said they were both welcome. Bequai is only about an hour and a half from Blue Lagoon so it would be no problem. Later had a few drinks in the local bar and then back to Magic for supper and an early night.
The next morning all the hours of preparing Magic for sea paid off, as we didn’t have to do anything to get ready to leave. We had Mays permit and all was well in the world – well except for the fact that we had to sail over the reef again! Our guests arrived on time and so did Ras Mike – we all set off and crossed the reef without any issues. Ras Mike left Magic and we sailed to Bequai. It was a lovely sail and we were soon anchoring in Admiralty Bay. This is what sailing in the Caribbean is all about – island hopping! Our guests loved the sail too and soon their friends came alongside in a motorboat and collected them. We were excited to be in Bequai as we had heard so much about this special little Island. We made sure Magic was secure and then we got the dingy and the outboard ready to go ashore. We found a perfect place to secure the Dingy and then got a cab to Friendship Bay where the music was that afternoon. At the festival we met lots of people who we had sailed with and it was great fun – we love meeting up with people we know in strange places – its weird and wonderful. The rum punch flowed and the music was good – we were going to make the most of the festival – there was music that afternoon – then again in the evening (Saturday) and then on Sunday there was more – perfect!
I had a magical musical moment listening for the first time to a musician called Martin Harley – he was at the festival to do the Sunday pm slot – he is from the UK and touring. I had never heard anything like him – his slide guitar and delta blues drawl – I was totally transported to Louisiana in the heat – I stood transfixed as I watched him and let his music wrap around me like a hug – I have never experienced a musical moment like it. I bought his Album directly from him as he packed his gear away on stage and I felt like a teenage groupie! It was great.
If you like Blues music then do see if you can find him touring – his website www.martinharley.com has his tour details and more about him – and also some rater yummy photos!!
Since the end of the festival we have just been enjoying beautiful peaceful Bequai – we went to the Firefly Plantation with friends and ate from trees and sipped cocktails whilst looking at the cheesy “this is the Caribbean” view – honestly most days we cannot believe we are here doing this. May is now famous on Bequai and we are often walking about with her and locals will shout out “Hello May” from across the street – it is so lovely.
We feel so happy here – more than safe – we feel welcome and cared for. It is strange as we, like so many people – were afraid of coming to the Caribbean because of the continual security scares. Bad things still happen – there are bad things that happen everywhere. We were at the Music festival on Saturday night – we were at DE Reef where the event was and this was on Princess Margaret’s Beach – while we were there a bag was stolen from a woman getting into her dingy – it was around her neck and the thief took the bag by cutting it off her with a machete – very scary. But that does not mean the whole of the Caribbean is dangerous – we live in London and if you go to the Notting Hill Carnival there will be things stolen and even violent crimes – it doesn’t mean you don’t go. Perhaps it is just being aware or perhaps it is being fortunate but we love love love the Caribbean and feel we should defend it somehow. Nowhere is perfect or 100% safe and 99% of all the people we have met have made us feel welcome and safe.
This morning we are slipping our lines and going on the short 1.5 hour trip from Bequai to Mustique. It is a bit blustery so we will just have small sails. We are looking forward to Mustique – it is supposed to be one of the best-preserved Islands in the Grenadines – because it is a private island. The snorkeling is good and this weekend is the final weekend of their famous Blues Festival held at Basil’s Bar.
Life is Good