Moonlight Adventure

The story of our travels on board Moonlight, our Vancouver 36.


Sunday 2nd January 2011

Posted by yachtmoonlight on January 22, 2011 at 5:27 PM

On Thursday 23rd December we were still anchored off Pigeon Island in Rodney Bay, St Lucia and took the dinghy on the very long trip across the bay into the marina so we could catch a bus to the supermarkets.

There are two very large supermarkets very close to each other and we flitted back and forth between the two to get everything we needed for the next few days, including Christmas dinner.

We couldn’t find everything we wanted (the stock in both supermarkets is rather random at the best of times) and we had to settle for vegetarian sausages for our pigs-in-blankets and couldn’t find any limes or brussel sprouts.

There was a fruit and veg stall next to the bus stop, which we normally avoided as it is much more expensive than the supermarkets (I imagine the prices we are quoted are ‘tourist’ prices!) but we noticed there were bags of limes on the stall, so stopped to ask the price. Thinking that $10EC (about £2.50) was a little steep for four manky-looking limes, we caught a bus back to the marina lime- and sprout-less.

As we dinghied out of the marina into the bay, we noticed straight away that the sea was much more swelly than when we went in a couple of hours earlier and as we motored as fast as our little 2.5hp dinghy would carry us (i.e. not very fast at all), a wave broke a little way ahead of us, which would have tipped our dinghy over had we been in front of it. We headed straight out into the bay a little way, to keep out of the way of the breaking waves, which really were rather scary and were glad to make it back to Moonlight without being tipped in the drink!

We had a swim in the afternoon, but the water was still too cloudy to snorkel so we didn’t stay in the water long and John spent the rest of the afternoon making a soya bake for our friend Annette, who would be joining us for Christmas, while I got the boat tidied up and ready to receive guests!

The following morning was grey and overcast and the rain started in the morning with no sign of stopping for some time, but we didn’t let it stop us having a swim, which was very refreshing in the rain!

We popped ashore to Pigeon Island in the late morning with Charles and Penny and had a coffee and mince pies in the restaurant, which was crowded with cruise ship passengers having a talk about rum and fish cakes (from what we could make out).

The sea was still breaking close to the shore, making it too scary and dangerous to take the dinghy into the marina again, so we had arranged with Annette for her to get a bus to Pigeon Island and met up with her in the restaurant.

The rain stayed with us for the rest of day, Annette settled into her cabin and we watched the QM2 anchor right out at the edge of the bay (apparently the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was also in St Lucia that day, moored in Castries) and Charles and Penny joined us for sundowners aboard Moonlight in the evening.

(The QM2)

On Christmas morning, John, Annette and I opened the Christmas stockings that Santa had filled for us overnight.

(Santa has been!)

John did a remarkably good impression of a clanger with his wooden slide whistle, but was a little alarmed by the packet of ‘Baked Goldfish’.

(John being a Clanger)

(Baked Goldfish???)

(Annette opening her stocking)

After breakfast, we all went for a swim in Santa hats and John showed off by diving in from the side of the boat wearing a Santa hat, which amazingly stayed on!

(Annette swimming in her Santa hat!)

(...and that hat stayed on!)

Charles and Penny came over in their dinghy just before 12pm, looking very festive indeed and we had a lunchtime drink the in the cockpit before heading down into the saloon where John served up a fantastic Christmas dinner, followed by Christmas pudding with custard, all washed down with wine.

(Charles and Penny looking very festive!)

(Christmas dinner)

We had a wonderful time and couldn’t eat another thing for the rest of day!

Feeling the need to exercise off the over-indulgences of the previous day, we went ashore to Pigeon Island on Boxing Day with Annette, Charles and Penny and walked up to both peaks.

(On top of the first peak)

We had walked up to the fort a couple of times before, but it was the first time we climbed up the second (and highest) peak and felt very virtuous for having done so!

At the top of the higher peak, we bumped into an American couple with their teenage daughter. While Charles and John clucked around the impossibly beautiful and young-looking mother, Annette, Penny and I pondered how much ‘work’ she’d had done and what percentage of her head was made from plastic.

We had lunch at the restaurant on the island and headed back to the boat without realising that John and I had left our hats on the table (which we didn’t notice for a couple of days!) Ooooops.

On Tuesday morning we took the boat into the Rodney Bay marina to drop Annette off and re-provision, stopping at the fuel dock on the way in to fill up with diesel.

The fuel pump was being used to fill up a Swedish boat behind us and as one of the chaps from the Swedish boat wandered up and down the dock, he was stopped by an American lady, who wanted to tell him (speaking very slowly and very loudly even though he spoke perfect English) that she knew lots of Swedish people and knew all about Swedish customs, including ‘THE….FESTIVAL….WHERE….YOU….HAVE….ORANGE…..REINDEER’. The Swedish chap had been joined by his wife, who explained to the American lady that this ‘festival’ was called ‘Christmas’.

After we had fuelled up, we tied up in a berth in the marina and said a fond farewell to Annette.

I dropped off all our washing at the laundry, which included most of my clothes, and then caught a bus to the supermarket, attracting rather odd looks in my mismatched shorts, t-shirt several sizes too big for me and clashing bright red floppy hat (this was when we realised our hats were still in the restaurant on Pigeon Island).

Our original plan had been to sail straight the British Virgin Islands after Christmas, but the wind forecast wasn’t making this a viable option, so we had changed our plans and decided to hop up the islands instead, leaving for Martinique on Thursday. But the forecast changed (as it constantly does!) and on Wednesday morning, the forecast showed that that was the best day for a sail north.

Charles and Penny were waiting for a sail repair to be completed, so they agreed to meet us in Martinique the following day and we set off within an hour of making the decision to leave.

As we hasn’t planned to leave that morning, I hadn’t taken any seasickness or Vitiman C tablets the night before (which I usually would do) and in the rush to leave, I didn’t take any until we were well under way, which proved to be a disastrous decision as I spent three of the six hours we were at sea down below with my head in a bucket with one of the worst cases of seasickness I have had on this trip.

John sailed the boat by himself, popping down every few minutes to swap my bucket and posing when a large French boat we hadn’t seen before sailed past, with all the crew waving and a chap taking lots of photos of Moonlight.

I was relieved when we finally reached Martinique and anchored in Grande Anse D’Arlet and felt much better after a swim and a snorkel in the beautiful clear water.

We swam over to the rocks at the south of the bay and then swam into the bay to look for turtles, which lurk on the grassy sea bed. Looking up as we swam across the bay, we spotted Guardian Spirit who had just arrived and anchored nearby.

We had thought we wouldn’t see Dave and Elaine on Guardian Spirit again (as we had planned to head straight to the Virgin Islands) so it was great to see them again and they kindly invited us round for drinks that evening.

We went ashore on Thursday morning to check in, which is very easy on the French islands as you just fill in an online form in a café, which is then printed out and stamped by one of the café workers. There are no reams of paperwork to be completed in triplicate and taken from one elaborately uniformed official to the next like some of the islands!

Wandering along the seafront, a pleasant enough beach spoilt a little by scruffy buildings and cafés, we popped into the small and very expensive supermarket, but they didn’t have much fresh food and we left with just a baguette and some Camembert.

Back on the boat, we saw Charles and Penny arriving and swam over to say hello after they had anchored behind us and spotted a turtle on the way.

In the afternoon, the chap from the French boat that had taken photos of Moonlight sailing up to Martinique popped round with the photos on a USB stick. Although we have lots of photos of Moonlight at anchor, we don’t have many of her sailing and we were chuffed to bits with the fabulous photos the French chap had taken. It was extremely kind of him to bring them round for us and we thanked him with a good bottle of French wine!

(One of the fabulous photos taken by the French chap)

We were joined that evening by Charles and Penny (who made our day by bringing our hats, which they had reclaimed from the restaurant in St Lucia on our behalf!), Dave and Elaine, and Frank and Tini (a lovely Dutch couple who were friends of Dave and Elaine) and we had a great evening chatting over drinks and nibbles aboard Moonlight.

It was the first time Charles and Penny had met Dave and Elaine, although we had spent the last few months talking to each couple about the other, remarking on the similarity of Charles and Dave and teasing them that we knew their long lost brother, so it was fun for them to finally meet!

(Long lost brothers Charles and Dave)

The sea had become very swelly overnight and the boat had rolled from side to side all night, leading to a very poor night’s sleep.

We woke ourselves up with a morning swim and snorkelled into the bay to look for turtles, but instead spotted two very small octopuses chasing/fighting/mating each other on the sandy sea bed. We had seen octopuses before but only ever on coral reefs, never out in the open and never so active!

As it was New Year’s Eve, we had planned a get-together with Charles, Penny, Dave and Elaine on board Frank and Tini’s boat and we had promised to take a ginger cake, so I started making it in the afternoon, spreading all the ingredients out in the galley and measuring them all out.

The swell had got worse throughout the day and we were soon rolling around more than ever and when Charles and Penny decided to re-anchor Rosita on the other side of the bay we opted to join them.

As soon as the anchor was up, the heavens opened and as we motored across the bay, I grabbed a hat to shelter my eyes from the rain and we put on our raincoats for the first time in a very long time.

The seabed at the other side of the bay seemed to be much harder sand and we tried four times to get the anchor in, with no success and when we noticed the boats on this side of the bay were rolling just as much as we had been, we headed back to the south of the bay and re-anchored back where we had been before.

We went back down below feeling defeated and bedraggled and noticed that we had forgotten to shut the galley window and the rain had poured in, all over my cake ingredients creating a horrible gooey mess.

I resigned myself to clearing up the mess and took my hat and coat off to get stuck in and noticed that the bright red colouring of my hat had run into my white jacket and onto my shorts (I had rested the hat in my lap when I took it off). I was furious that such an expensive branded hat (the fact that I had bought it from a car boot sale for 50p was irrelevant) could turn out to be of such rubbish quality. Having said that, we have found all clothes we have bought made by expensive American surfy brands have turned out to be of poor quality and haven’t lasted.

They wind had built up during the day and as we were cleaning up the mess, we heard Penny broadcast a message on the VHF radio that a catamaran was dragging through the anchorage. We popped up into the cockpit and saw the catamaran motoring back in.

A short while later, Penny called us up on the radio and we had both just noticed a boat had dragged back out of the anchorage and out to sea. There were no lights on the boat, so we thought it was likely that the owners had gone ashore. We were discussing what we could do and decided that it was too far out to sea for John or Charles to go out to try and help as we both have very small dinghies with small outboards that are not suitable for going out a long way, especially in the strong winds. Elaine joined in the radio discussion and said that Dave was happy to go out (in their much larger dinghy with a significantly more powerful engine!) and John agreed to go with him.

John got togged up like an RNLI volunteer in his oilskins and lifejacket and I gave him a torch and handheld VHF radio to take with him, but before Dave had reached Moonlight to pick him up, we saw lights appear on the boat out at sea and they began to motor back towards the anchorage. I confess to being rather relieved as I was worried about John and Dave heading out to sea in the dark, with howling winds!

The wind didn’t ease and with the sea swell making the boats roll and the wind howling through the anchorage, we all decided to stay on board our boats rather than get together to see the new year in. It was such a shame but we all felt we needed to make sure the boats were safe from dragging or being dragged into!

The rain came again and we opened a bottle of Cava that Charles and Penny had given us and sat down below to toast in the new year, and as the Cava flowed, we took it in turns to make toasts which by the end of the bottle had included : huskies, cheese-makers, carpenters, The Carpenters, all the little pixies, polar bears, the cast of Prisoner Cell Block H, manatees, Magnus Magnesson, Magnum icecreams, The Wombles, ginger beer, ginger beards, ginger bears, 6.30pm on a Thursday evening, out of work lamplighters, little old ladies and Stig of the Dump.

Not even the amount of wine we drank the night before helped us sleep as we had another rolly night and woke up on Saturday morning feeling rather bleary-eyed and exhausted.

We decided to move round to Trois Islets, a nearby anchorage that would be protected from the wind and swelly seas. It was a two-hour motor into the wind but thankfully the sea wasn’t too choppy and we were cheered up no end when we spotted two turtles along the way.

We arrived at 2pm and dropped the anchor in very calm and peaceful water and had a much needed quiet afternoon and evening on the boat.

After a very good night’s sleep, we had a very relaxing day today. The skies had cleared, the sun came out and the anchorage was calm and peaceful.

John dusted off the hammock and spent most of the day lying in it with a book!

We were joined in the afternoon by Charles and Penny and had drinks and nibbles on board Rosita before heading ashore for a pizza dinner and a belated New Year celebration.


Categories: The Caribbean

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1 Comment

Reply jaegb
1:45 PM on February 3, 2011 
lol you said annette swimming in christmas hat the truth be told it looks just like it was annette holding on for dear life in christmas hat..thanks for a great back form grenada monday evening joan sends her love....liat managed to lose my case they brought it alls well that ends well