I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Thursday, October 17, 2013


It's an absolutely gorgeous morning here in the Tobago Cays.

I am standing out back, soaking in the sun and the view, when a boat appears from around an island and it looks like it's making a straight line for our boat. I watch, curious, and sure enough, the driver pulls up beside me and asks if I want to buy any t-shirts or cigarettes. I grin; this fellow is one of the 'boat boys' I have read about on a friend's blog. These guys have bright coloured wooden boats, bigger than a row boat, that they use to sell fish, freshly baked goods, t-shirts apparently, and also will scrub the hull of your boat for a small fee, help if you run aground... and any other number of ways they can make a living.

A couple of boat boys setting out early

This fellow has numerous battered suitcases in the bottom of his boat and numerous huge fenders hanging off the side. Once I tell him that I would like to buy some t-shirts, he ties alongside our boat, tossing me the line. He proceeds to open up his suitcases and show me what he has. I love the shirts with original island artwork on them and quickly choose two tank tops for myself (one has a cartoon drawing of 3 boat boys on the front) and then select a small one of colourful turtles swimming for Malia.  He doesn't have my size in the boat-boy shirt but says he will come later with the right size. I tell him that we will probably have moved by then but he says not a problem, he will find us. I tell him we will most likely be at Mayreau but he cuts me off before I can say where with "no problem, I will find you". I toss him the line and he takes off, cutting a swash of frothy white foam in the crystal azure water as he leaves.

Alessandra makes mango smoothies for breakfast with the mangos I bought yesterday.  It's delicious!

We move the boat around to the other side of the island we are at, between Petit Bateau (Middle Cay) and Petit Rameau (North Cay) so we can go snorkeling in the protected area off of a beach on Petit Rameau. We take the dinghy to the beach and pass 8 or 9 turtles. I get my snorkel gear on and swim out into the reserve. I am out there for half an hour and I don't see a single turtle! I give up and take the gear off and go around the corner to a gorgeous patch of water that is like a swimming pool and just float under the sun for an hour.  Bliss!!!!

Turtles to the right, swimming pool to the left

Beautiful spot to float for an hour or so


Panorama of both sides (click on it to enlarge)

We see another 8 or so turtles on the dinghy ride back to the boat! I so would have loved to swim with them! Alessandra keeps telling me that there was one right in front of me at one point, but I never saw it. That is frustrating!

We take the dinghy through the reefs to Petit Tabac. This is the island where the scene from Pirates of the Caribbean was shot where Jack Sparrow asks "Why is all the rum gone?"  It is a small deserted island and I am really excited to go see it. It will be my very first time on a deserted island.

Petit Tabac in the distance - there are reefs galore between here and there

It's really shallow going through the reef and there is coral on both sides with just a narrow path between them. Alessandra stands in the front of the dinghy, spotting and pointing the way for Rick. We go really slowly and its a bit nerve wracking so I try not to look down into the water.  Not very successfully. 

 As we set out - just look at that water!!!!!

Alessandra keeping watch

Getting close!

When we get close, I can see we aren't alone. Drat. I really wanted to be the only ones on a deserted island.

Not alone

There's another couple and their boat driver here, but they leave almost as soon as we arrive so that makes me happy! Normally I love to meet new people but I really want to be alone on a deserted island!!

Even before we get out of the dinghy, I see a faded small conch shell under the palm trees. As soon as I am on the beach, I claim it and put it in the boat. 

Rick and Alessandra both need haircuts and I brought my scissors just in case (I used to be a hair stylist in another life, back before I was married). So I set about cutting both of their hair. We decided to do it on land rather than the boat to avoid a mess of hair to clean up.  

Once that is done, they head into the water and I go explore. Pictures can show more than I could ever describe so here is a whole bunch that I took on the island...

Rick and Alessandra swimming

The area where Kiera Knightly burned the rum

Looking down the beach from the palm trees in above pic

On the windward side of the island

The surf on the windward side

Heading back to the lee side

Very reluctantly I climb back into the dinghy when it is time to leave. I never want to leave this island. If I thought I would survive, I'd have them go get my stuff and bring it back and leave me here forever.

Alessandra makes avecado spaghetti and we eat it as we get underway to Mayreau - a very short hop from where we were anchored.

Saltwhistle Bay on Mayreau is a gorgeous beach and we drop anchor in a soft sand bottom.  There isn't a rock or coral head in sight, just pure white sand as far as one can see. I jump in off the boat and float about for an hour or so, swim to the beach and walk it for a bit, and then swim back.

I see a boat approaching and it's the boat boy from the morning with my tank top. People here are so trustworthy. I paid for this shirt with all of the others this morning and I had no doubt that he would return as he promised.

A couple of boat boys from Mayreau approach and they know Rick. They offer to scrub the bottom of the boat for a small fee. Rick had attempted to do it when we first anchored here and didn't get far. He agrees to their price and they get to work. When they are done, one asks me if I would like to order a loaf of freshly baked coconut sweet bread for the morning. I ask how much and he says $3 EC a loaf. I tell him I will take two and he tells me he will have them here first thing in the morning. I ask him to wait till at least 8am. 

Jomo and Ricardo, two hard-working boat boys

It feels very decadent to be laying on the deck reading while two young boys, barely out of their teens if that, scrape away at the bottom of the boat. It makes me uncomfortable, actually, and I have to tell myself that they want to do it, that this is how they make a living. But it doesn't help much.

Once the boys are done, I get changed and we take the dinghy ashore for a drink at a bar at the end of the beach called 'Last Bar Before the Jungle'.  Which it is and it is very rustic, as are most bars on the beaches of tiny Caribbean islands. 

At the end of the dock that we tied up on, as soon as you step off on to the beach, there is a small stand where a woman has jewelry and shells for sale. She also has conch shells of various sizes and there is one that is huge. I ask how much, fearing that it will be well out of my reach. She quotes $15 EC!! What a bargain. I tell her I will take it along with a shell necklace for my youngest daughter and a black coral bracelet for my other daughter. I wear both for the rest of the trip because I love them so much. Little do I know how handy they will come in for the latter part of my trip on Grand Anse Beach in a week.

Just as we order drinks at the bar, it starts to rain and I realize, with horror, that I have committed a major no-no when living on a boat; I have left my hatches open!!! This means my bunk will be soaking by the time we get back if this drizzle turns to a deluge as it usually does.  With a little trepidation, I tell Rick but to my relief he just laughs and says he hopes I like sleeping in a wet bed.

There is a delicious aroma coming from the back of the bar area, which I assume is a kitchen. I ask what it is and the lady tells me that its chicken. I am dying to order some but Rick and Alessandra don't want to eat here - Rick says something about it being expensive to eat out all of the time - not that we have. I am longing for some protein. But I am not going to eat alone so I ignore my growling tummy.

View from the deck of The Last Bar out to the anchorage

It is dark by the time we head back and the dock is super rickety and I cling onto Rick for dear life as I stumble my way along it and try to avoid the gaping holes in the planks. 

Checking my bunk, it is just damp as it didn't rain heavy.  Thank goodness!

Not long after getting back, there is a shift in wind direction and not long after that I feel a big 'bump'. Alessandra pokes her head out of her bunk and asks what that was. Rick does not seem too concerned but I look over the side. I can't see anything in the dark. Suddenly there's a shudder and a grinding noise. Oh-oh, we've swung around in the wind into the shallows and we are aground in the sand. We are in trouble but at least its not rocks we are grinding on!

We are deep into the sand though and Rick tries to get us off using the dinghy but we aren't budging an inch.

It takes half an hour and help from a boat boy named 'Mr. Fabulous' to get us out of the sand. And it costs Rick $60 EC for the help and he is not happy about that.

We have risotto and christophene for dinner and I am in bed by 9:30.  

I lie in my bunk and go over the day in my head. It was a fabulous day!!!

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