Happy New Year!

To escape the summer hurricane season, we parked Innisfree in a boatyard in Trinidad, and divided our time between visits home to Canada, and time in Trinidad doing boat upgrades (more on that later, perhaps). We relaunched on November 7th, and are now slowly working our way northward up the Leeward Islands. First a stop in Tobago (part of Trinidad, but requiring it’s own process of clearing in and out of the island!), then Grenada and Cariacou (same country), and finally St. Vincent and the Grenadines – specifically the island of Bequia, and the Tobago Cays.

We have made many sailing friends over the last year, and a good number of us ended up being in Bequia for Christmas and New Years – such a great place to catch up with friends and enjoy the holiday festivities. For all that we did similar things over the summer – parking our boats and then heading home for a time – we all seemed to come back and relaunch on different schedules, so we hadn’t seen much of each other since May.

Our friends Andrew and Brenda of Whispering Winds hosted a Christmas Dinner potluck on their catamaran – 12 people arrived for turkey and ham dinner, complete with cranberry sauce, stuffing, vegetables, homemade pierogies, and fresh baked pumpkin pie (it’s difficult to make pastry in a 30° boat, trust me!). In the surrounding days, we went hiking a few times, spent a group day at the beach, and went to a pig roast dinner for New Year’s Eve, complete with a fireworks-viewing after-party on a new friend’s 72 foot charter boat, Kai.

We have been to Bequia a few times now (our first time was in 2009!), and it is a fantastic island to visit. The town of Port Elizabeth is fun and welcoming to tourists, with lots of restaurants, hotels, and private rental accommodations available (not that we use those last two, but it would be worth a visit here by land!). On New Year’s Day, we joined in the 15th Annual Lilo Regatta, an event created and organized by a British couple who visit every year. ‘Lilo’ is apparently a British word for ‘pool floatie’ – so picture about 50 people on floaties jumping into the water at one end of Bequia’s harbour, and then race-floating all the way down to the other end! Mike and I don’t really have pool floaties on board, so we turned up with a pool noodle (me) and an old kayaking-life-jacket-turned floating sit-upon (Mike). The upside was that we had a great few hours floating down the harbour, but the downside was that we were comparatively too low in the water and had zero-windage, so we quickly fell behind the pack and had to swim to keep up! All good fun though, and it’s not a hardship to spend a day in the ocean, even if we did wear ourselves out in the process (especially as we had already been out for our a New Year’s Day Hike earlier that morning!).

In between Christmas and New Year’s, Mike and I took a quick trip back down to the Tobago Cays, a small group of islands about 25 miles south of Bequia. The islands are part of a marine park, which is also a designated turtle sanctuary (although the surrounding coral reefs are in very sad shape, possibly due to a coral-killing bacteria that has arrived from Florida). We had a beautiful sail down on the 27th, arriving mid-afternoon – more than enough time for the first of several swims with the turtles and stingrays that live throughout the mooring area. We spent two nights here – the day in the middle was packed with swimming, snorkelling on the reef, and watching all the turtles, and then capped off with a BBQ lobster dinner ashore. It’s just a little touristy, sure, but still an enjoyable way to spend the evening.

Despite all the work we did this summer, we keep having things break on us this fall – putting proof to the idea that a big part of Cruising life is doing boat repairs in exotic places. So far, our larger fixes have included replacing the anchor light wire in the mast (to fix what we thought was just a broken anchor light!), replacing the macerator (aka: the pump for emptying the holding tank – ew!), rewiring part of the refrigerator compressor, replacing the outboard engine carburetor, and – just recently, and so not yet fixed – having the alternator for our engine die. this last one was our impetus to leave Bequia a smidge earlier than planned, and head straight up to Martinique, bypassing St. Lucia on the way. So now we are “stuck” in the giant boat anchorage of Le Marin, Martinique, where we will be forced to eat French cheese and pâté while we shop for a new alternator, and hopefully have the old one repaired to serve as a spare. It’s going to be tough, but I think we will just about manage!