Anchor up- Heading to the next island


Almost all of my experience of writing stuff that other people get to read is limited to essays in History and English at school (I assume my teachers read that stuff but who knows!) and this blog. For work, i once went on a one day course about writing press articles run by a hardened and worldweary journalist. She talked about whatever the subject, you need a ‘hook’ that will grab the reader so you can reel them in to keep reading without being formulaic. That bit stuck, the rest of the content is long gone. She really shouldn’t have been in front of an audience, her enthusiasm levels barely registered on any kind of scale. Maybe too many traditional journalist liquid lunches had taken it out of her.

I do think about the hook when I put fingertips to iPad and words spill out onto the screen. I try to write blogs that are quite short and relatively pithy with a tiny sprinkling of humour here and there. Definitely not just a report of we did this, then we did that. Sometimes inspiration comes easily and a story with a clear hook comes tumbling out of my head. Other times there is a definite lull in postings and inspiration is clearly lacking. I have written some lines that have bored me witless so who knows what you’d have thought. Hurrah for the delete button.

Returning to the hook. Tony Hawkes traveled round Ireland with a fridge, pretty pointless it seems, the result of a bet wagered in a pub but he got a book out of it with a ready made hook. When I read it I immediately thought why, then on reflection, why not? Guess that’s the effect he wanted.

I’ve decided my current ‘signature dish hook’ is haircuts. My last ‘magnificent’ haircut was in Mindelo on New Years Eve. That was a top experience. So off I went in the tender to the dinghy dock with cash in my pocket and headed to the Mall in Rodney Bay, St Lucia. If you chose to read the title of this blog, you’ll already know how I look now. Viz, that articulate, informative (I always liked a top tip) and rude northern offering used to have a character called Millie Tant. Yes I know it’s stereotypical and offensive to some, so maybe Viz isn’t on your current reading list, but it’s not too hard to stretch your imagination as to how Millie Tant may look.

My haircut / scalping was created by a hairdresser called Vizy. Is there a subliminal link I ask myself? Does everyone who leaves that premises come out looking like a character from Viz? I hadn’t imagined there’d be a subversive link to the Caribbean but the world is quite mad at the moment.. My hair will grow …… eventually. By the time I get to the UK in June, I should have recovered….I hope!

Before I saw Dave following my new weight loss programme, I called in with friends Andrew and Polly to share my baldness and have a laugh about it. Andrew said…. I want to know what Dave’s first words are when he sees you. In Dave’s inimitable way, he rolled his eyes and said, “did you buy beer?” Enough said.


Bequia feels like an island that has got its act together. This makes life easier for boat based folk. Aka us!  We had a fast sail up only motoring the last couple of miles to windward to get into the bay. Some powerful gusts off the north of Canouan where quick reefing was the required. Dave was a monster with  the winch handle.

The island is pretty small but there are probably 100 boats in the bay. There’s a walkway round from the beach to the village. And several dinghy pontoons. Service boats offer water, diesel, ice and laundry services all delivered to your boat. It’s a little pricy but that’s the price of convenience. We dropped our laundry off ashore this morning and it will be delivered back to the boat, washed dried, folded around 8am tomorrow morning.

Once away from the main strip, it’s pretty quiet and low key. Goats hang out on the grass next to the runway at the airport. The UBD’s  (ubiquitous brown dogs) languish in the heat. Families hang out in the shaded areas at the beach on weekends with a BBQ charring octopus and music pumping from their vehicles.

The sea is a focus of life here. Bequia has dispensation to hunt whales. They do this from small sailing boats. There’s a picture of one here. We chatted to guy near Friendship Bay who told us a couple of whales had been spotted recently but the sea was too rough for any pursuit. When a whale is caught, people turn up from Bequai and other islands and may take several hundred kilos of meat that will last for 3 to 4 years. It’s a big event and part of local tradition.

Nice chats today with a few friends in th UK and Portugal.  Now in bar watching Chelsea v Man Utd. Well I am. Dave is looking at boat stuff on the internet. Old habits die hard.




wind a plenty

No shortage of wind here. Its been a rocky and rolly few days and nights both when sailing or mostly motor sailing between islands and also when trying to find a quiet anchorage out of the swell for the night.

We’ve visited Union Island, Mayreau, Tobago Cays and Canouan in the last few days. All quite different, some massively touristy, some more low key and a bit downtrodden. Dave tells tales of amazing snorkling on the reef at Tobago Cays 12 years ago. The conditions were a bit different this time around with a constant force 6 wind, chop and milky waters. The sun still shone but even getting the outboard onto the dinghy would have proved challenging so we dropped the hook for a two hour lunch stop in the lagoon then headed on to Canouan.

The last few days have emphasised to me that we are definitely living on the boat and it’s our current home. Lots of the ‘honeypot tourist draws’ are crawling with charter boats and inhabited by holiday makers with money in their pockets to burn on over priced meals and rum punches. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with that, it’s just our circumstances don’t easily blend with that culture.

Much more our style, we invited a New Zealand couple round for dinner last night. We’d met them in Grenada and they’ve been boat based since 1994. They have amazing photos including some of sailing to South Georgia and around Cape Horn. (Don’t worry, I’m not feeling tempted!)

Cape Horn has a fearsome reputation in the sailing world. The day Phil and Linda rounded, it was so calm, they anchored the boat, Phil got in his dinghy and rowed off to take photos of their boat in front of the famous cliffs. Whacky. They plan to sail to Ireland then Scotland, Iceland, Greenland and in a couple of years head off to do the Northwest Passage as a way of heading back towards New Zealand. Bloody amazing.

Hopefully the winds will go more easterly in the next few days so we can sail rather than motor sail up to Bequai and St Vincent. And that the swell drops off a bit so making progress north is much much easier.


Our trip so far has seen us establish some great friendships, then as sailing plans diverge, so does the physical contact with friends. Internet magic still keep us in virtual contact beyond that though the pleasure of spending time together has gone.

Hugh and Miranda of Little Coconut are heading off to Panama, the Pacific and ultimately Australia. We met them in Tenerife, spent new year with them in the Cape Verde’s, chased them across the Atlantic (almost caught them up!), relaxed together in Barbados and finally said goodbye in Grenada. We wish you guys all the very best on your travels ……till our paths cross again.

We also said a remote long distant and sadly permanent goodbye to ex flatmate, colleague and friend, Tim Pidsley, who we found out had died unexpectedly at home in New Zealand. On the passage from Grenada to Caricou, Dave and I recalled fond stories of Tim. Dave spent several summers with Tim climbing in Cornwall as part of month long summer trips. I recalled one spectacular adventure when Tim and his hareem, (me, linnit and Biddy) coasteered from Sennen Cove around to Lands End. We swam, scrambled, laughed and scrapped our way to our planned get out where Dave dropped a rope down for us to climb out at Lands End Long Climb.

That summer, Biddy, Tim and I went to The Minack theatre to watch the Madness of King George. It was a stormy night, the sea crashed behind the actors as King George ran wildly around the stage. We all smiled at the end of the performance, the weather and sea state had added to the experience.

We are currently on Caricou working. Yes, it’s true. We are working. Laptop is out things are being typed and emailed as I type this. When we have decent wifi we have to make the most of it.

Yesterday we walked from Tyrell Bay to Paradise Beach and round the mangroves to Hillsborough. Photos attached. Classic Caribbean pics for you to enjoy.