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Caribbean Intermezzo

Thank you to many of you who responded to my vivid description of our episode across the Atlantic. Here is our next instalment. We arrived in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada just a few days ago. It is cold but magically beautiful and peaceful. If you wonder why North (and not South), our sailing route is defined by visiting friends and family. Unfortunately when we set off from the UK Croatia was ‘off the limits’ due to 90 days in / 90 days out EU visa for Pete. These additional 2450 miles since Tobago have not been exactly plain sailing. Luckily there is nothing to scare you (or more importantly - me!) with this time.

We sailed in very strong winds and rough seas, some powerful currents, often to windward (1000 miles) and frequently in Force 5/6 (17-27 knots = 34 - 54 km per hour). It’s not surprising that I found it hard going and wished the wind would ease off and the seas would calm down. I could not believe my ears, when off Grenada on our way towards Carriacou in extremely uncomfortable seas Neptune said: “This is too much we are turning back!” On rare occasions it was gentle sailing, when we could take our safety harness off.. The rest was just rough seas. I am not in love with them any more nor do I enjoy it! However this hardship continues to be worth putting up with as it provides me with an escape from the troubled world, and adds a sense of adventure to my life, not to mention the places it takes me. There is one picture and video that captures our Caribbean sailing well. It was taken off Martinique when in sheer amazement I stood up in the cockpit to fully absorb the scenery, admiring the game that Kokachin was taking part in. What a sight.

Kokachin continues to be a very comfortable and fast cruising boat. For those interested in knowing more about her sailing, see what Pete wrote in the Sailing section.

Neptune did a lot of work on Kokachin; repaired the broken batten, installed a new hoop, repaired the wind vane, modified rudder, sand the copper coat (not working well in tropical waters) and applied new antifouling. It was not fun to be stuck in a dusty and hot boatyard in lovely Carriacou for his birthday, due to the broken travel lift (the re-launch was delayed by 5 days). Instead of partying with friends on board in Martinique we crashed into the local beach hammock. A delicious meal in a delightful little garden shack cum restaurant followed, the boatyard was forgotten. We sailed to the Caribbean to warm up, to rest and to wait out winter months before heading to Canada. As such neither of us had expectations of sailing to paradise - just as well. Tobago’s Charlotsville was a soothing tonic for my tired body and soul. I feasted on its unspoiled peace. A sense of remoteness and simplicity overwhelmed me. With only a few visiting yachts in the bay and hardly any tourists, the place was left to its local life unphased. I really wanted to stay there.

I observed the local fisherman, who made quick dashes in their funky boats to the open seas. Having unloaded their big catch they would resume the languid way of life under the trees, hanging around the beach, with a beer in their hand, chatting, rhythms of local music for entertainment. Their boat names were quite unique: Humble Soul, Good Life, No Worries, Striker, Expect the Unexpected! We feasted on delicious local fish - the counter next to the beach was open most hours.

A frequent torrential rain swept through, nourishing a lush rainforest that encircled the bay, towering high over the hills above the village. We took long steep walks along empty roads, birds spotting on the way. Along the coast, or anywhere else much (except the villages), there was not a sight of a house let alone resorts / villa ‘developments’.

Our row to the beach was always a little adventure as the swell was occasionally too big for landing and could overturn the dinghy. The most memorable of these remains imprinted in our memories. We followed Karl and Mikki (from Fai Tira - Nicholson 32), to a remote inaccessible beach just about sunset to see a waterfall they discovered in a rainforest. The wind picked up and the little cove beach suddenly disappeared under the swell. Our overturned dinghy tipped me first then Neptune into the wash. That was sort of fun, but much more scary was how to get back off the beach as the wind was increasing and the night was falling. All ended up well. The following day they invited us for a lobster dinner, freshly caught by Karl. A strong bond was created with them, but they got us into so many scrapes over the months to come that we started running a tally, asking for compensation. The bill was running high and we were counting our blessings while they were getting increasingly worried of ever suggesting anything else to us. All was forgiven when Karl rescued us in one of our SIM card muddles! We spent many wonderful days together walking, cruising, talking and just being happy in the Caribbean. They are the best ‘thing’ that happened to us. As it always is, the people you meet and the friends you make form the best memories. There were others too (as some pictures will show), who we looked forward to meeting up with in the next port of call or next country, next year, next continent.

We liked Marie Galante, Port Louis (Guadeloupe), and Barbuda but nothing matched Tobago’s charm for us. What to say about congested and insane road traffic, overcrowded bays and anchorages (100s and even 1000 boats - Le Marin), commercial shopping ‘choices’ (+100 types of bread!) except that it was stressful. I ponder, how humans made this leap and why do we need it? Is this compulsive drive to self destruction inevitable…?

With woody and cool Canadian regards! Linda & Neptune

PS: All of you asked for the pictures. I cannot afford StarLink and local SIMs (with their limited, intermittent data) are a real pain. Generally using local libraries, cafes etc. which logistically are another challenge. But here are some pictures. I created a Kokachin YouTube ‘channel’ but I still need to work out on the playlist and links. If you search for Kokachin on YouTube hopefully you will get it.

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