Shaken……not stirred

I do like a modern day James Bond film. Not too sure about Roger Moore and his smug quips and glances to camera from yesteryear. I guess that stuff is of an era now. But Daniel Craig has stamped his own interpretation into the character and the scripts and story lines have improved. Big action, great locations with Judy Dench and Ben Wishart giving the cast-list more credibility.

We have found ourselves experiencing James Bond vibes here. The Bond DNA oozes throughout Jamaica. We made landfall in Port Antonio. An lush island sits in the bay which incidentally was once owned by Errol Flynn. Hollywood stars apparently used to party big time there back in the day.

The bay has been ‘booked’ by the production company making the next instalment of James Bond. In fact we just missed the auditions for extras by a few days when we arrived. Although whether middle aged white people dressed in worn out shorts and T-shirt’s were the demographic needed in shot is up for debate. Locals were abuzz with this news and we understood the filming was due to start in the next couple of weeks. Port Antonio is a town which tourism hasn’t really touched. We crews from visiting boats in the marina stood as the anomaly. I hope the community enjoys the Bond interlude.

Ocho Rios was our next stop. A posh resort called Goldeneye sits on the headland. It’s here that Mr Fleming chilled out and wrote 13 Bond novels so I believe. He built the property and named it after a navy operation in World War ll and apparently used to rent it to Noël Coward too. From our selfish perspective, a posh resort has the wherewithal to install good WiFi and we could pick it up on the boat. Always a bonus not to have to go tramping around town for comms. The podcast collection got a boost and we also made use of our Netflix subscription to download some telly.

This morning Dave is making Saturday morning pancakes as we sit in Discovery Bay. We had a brisk sail here yesterday, the wind occasionally touching 30 knots. It was from behind and with just the yankee up (that’s the triangular sail at the front of the boat if you’re not au fait with such boaty terminology) Grace performed just fine taking it all in her stride.

Dave has his pancakes rolled up and lined up on his plate, all lemoned and sugared. “Nice piece of linear work” I said. “You mean I’ve lined them up’ he replied. “Helps with the shovelling” with that he’s disappeared into the cockpit to watch a large boat navigate out of the bay and to commence shovelling.

Old Habits

Old habits die hard. A gang of 11 of us hiked up to the top of Blue Mountain Peak. More later but the headline is it was a two day excursion to just over 7,400 feet, the highest point in Jamaica. Indeed the highest point in the Caribbean.

While demolishing well earned food back on the outskirts of Kingston, I asked Dave if he’d had a good time. Yes he said. It was great, lots of fun, especially watching you get into ‘group organisation mode 😀’ Well, like I said, old habits.

Jamaica is a complete contrast to the Bahamas. A 48 hour sail and we could smell the land and hear the music from far out. Jamaican music is “LOUD” with unforgiving bass meaning your chest vibrates. Volume controls seem to start at 10 and have no upper limit. There’s always a few more decibels to be had.

The country is “GREEN”, the landscape lush, vibrant and parts of it pretty mountainous. The culture is most welcoming, big smiles and fist touches. Nothing is a problem. Especially in the smaller towns and villages. Everyone seems to on the make. A few Jamaican dollars here and there. Whether you’re being charged a fair price when bartering can be hard to tell. It’s generally all done with pretty good humour. The marina however does feel like a bit of a sanctuary from the mad hustle and bustle of the street.

Then there’s the driving, the most useful accessory in the car being the horn. Driving is not for the timid or faint hearted. We hired a couple of 7 seater vehicles as transport for our gang. Dave drove one, I drove the other. Traffic allegedly, but not always, is supposed to stay on the left, so being the two Brits in our multicultural gang, it was more familiar for us than our Americans or Canadian friends.

One day, we took the main road to Kingston to get visas from the Cuban Embassy. It’s a two and a half hour trip across the mountain. We came back in the dark. In hindsight not such a great idea. Getting out of Kingston was, well, mental. Cars, buses and motorbikes piling in from all angles, a cacophony of horns, people hanging out of buses, some random, almost certainly stoned individual directing the traffic made it a full on sensory experience. My passengers occasional screamed, put their arms over their heads, yelled it’s the yellow bus again and winced as cars passed us with molecules between vehicles. This was the A road experience.

So much fun, we took the B road the following day across to the start of our hike. Twists, switchbacks, narrow bridges, over hanging rocks, the road just kept giving. We stopped at a family run coffee plantation on the way which had amazing views across the hills. Then onto the police station in Mavis Bank, the meeting place for the 4×4 which would take us the 5 miles to the start of the hike.

The gang was made up of Dave and I, the family from S/V Piper, Mum, Dad and two kids aged 8 and 10, the family from `S/V Andromede exactly the same makeup as Piper and a lass from a boat called Barefoot Two. Her bloke doesn’t do walking so he stayed home.

A really good time was had by all. We hiked up to the basic hut, cooked food, hung out, chatted then summited the following day, retracing our steps back to the drop off spot. Some slept. Some didn’t. Some were cold. Some worried about bugs. Dave and I were just fine.

There were lilies, fuchsias, wild strawberry plants, red headed woodpeckers, yellow berries, cigar plants, humming birds and inevitably a bit of rain and cloud. Well it is a rainforest. And a hike.