All at sea with Richard and Fiona – part one

Late Tuesday afternoon we headed to the Boardwalk in the marina to await Richard and Fiona’s arrival. They arrived, tired but happy after a long trip from the UK at around 6.30 pm, and we celebrated by having a couple of buckets of beers then went on board Morphie for a quick unpacking session and some snacks before retiring early.

On arrival

Wednesday morning we were up early; had breakfast ashore; Richard and Fiona met Morphie properly;  we cleared out of customs and got our Pitons permit; paid our marina bill; and slipped quietly out into the bay around 10.30 for the trip downwind to the Pitons on the bottom coast of St Lucia. We enjoyed a leisurely downwind sail – flat seas with light winds – which was actually a perfect introduction to sailing for Richard and Fiona. Considering he was a complete novice, Richard proved to be a natural on the helm.

Getting aquainted with MorphieFirst go at helming

Nearing the Pitons we made radio contact with both Illusions and Evensong before saying our farewells, picked up a mooring ball – assisted by the usual boat boys – and enjoyed the amazing views of this spectacular and unique anchorage, including looking up at Ladera where we had lunched with Carolyn and Ron the week before.. To celebrate our arrival, we all had a swim and snorkel before having enjoying the final St Lucia sunset, dinner on board followed by an early night, as we were going to be leaving before sunrise in the morning for the long sail down to Bequia.

View from the bow

View from the sternView from Piton anchorage to Ladera Panorama of the Piton anchorage

Morphie enjoying the Pitons anchorage Sunset at the Pitons

Thursday we dropped our mooring and left just before six am into slight winds and mirror flat seas, enjoying our last look at the Pitons.

Leaving the Pitons behind

But the wind picked up and so did the seas as we got into the channel between St Lucia and St Vincent.  Fiona felt pretty ill….  although wasn’t actually sick….  but was definitely a bit green round the gills… We arrived into Bequia after a pretty good sail – for us! – around 1.15pm. Having ensured we were anchored securely we left our friends on board and went into clear customs. While we were out we also managed to get some slabs of full-size beers, hurrah!!!   When we got back to Morphie, Fiona, thankfully, had recovered and wanted to get off the boat for a while although Richard was now suffering. We think he was dehydrated rather than sea sick… so we left him on board for some peace and quiet and took Fiona ashore for her first bobbing session. Had a really nice time….. and were back on board for our pork tenderloin dinner after enjoying a beautiful Bequia sunset.

Bobbing in Bequia

Bequia sunset

While we were relaxing in the cockpit – Richard was still asleep recovering from the long trip – there was a bush fire on land to entertain us, which was pretty dramatic as it was being spread by the wind.  Eventually we retired to bed after a pretty long and tiring day…..

Bush fire!

Friday morning and the two Richards went diving while Fiona and I went shopping. They were delighted to see a number of sea horses and frog fish – fantastic, although sadly no photographs.   In the meantime, we wandered around town enjoying the sights. Fiona bought a new dolphin necklace and I managed to buy some boules for Richard.

Bequia boardwalk Bequia Catholic church New Dolphin necklace

Customs House BequiaAdmiralty Bay, Bequia

In the afternoon having cleaned all the dive gear, we went bobbing on the beach and met Patrick and Lucie (from Illusions) and Linda (from Troubadour). The north swells were kicking in and we ended up surfing some of the time!  We retired to Morphie for sundowners and a fish supper. During the night, the swells continued to come through, so it was pretty rolly…. and wasn’t particular restful for any of us.

Bobbing gangBobbing in Bequia (2)

Saturday morning we decided to move on rather than stay and suffer from the continued rolly conditions. So we left bound for Chatham Bay, Union Island, enjoying the sun coming up over Bequia as we departed.

Sunrise over Bequia

We had a really good sail although the conditions were still a bit rough with the north swells running. But thankfully both Richard and Fiona were feeling much better and actually coped really well with the conditions.  During the passage whenever I spoke to Richard both of them turned around and answered me…. so we decided to nickname our guest Richard for ease of communication LOL.  After chatting through options we decided that Hellfire should be his handle!!!   And so he was officially named. Hellfire helmed for part of the way and did a pretty good job.  During the crossing I felt pretty tired from the previous night’s lack of sleep so lay down in the cockpit – on the high side as it was more comfortable for our friends to sit on the low side – and Richard managed to hit a huge wave and I landed very hard on the floor…. Ouch!!!   So I went down to the saloon and settled down on the low-side settee…. and guess what? Richard managed to catch the next huge rogue wave, and I hit the deck again! Double ouch…. I gave up trying to rest at this point!!!!!

UnderwayUnderway 2 Richard at the helmHaving arrived and anchored in Chatham Bay, Tim (from Bollheads) came by… and warned us that the swells had been pretty bad here too and were forecast to continue through the night….  He advised us that we would be more comfortable in a different spot so we took his expert local advice and re-anchored as suggested.   Having cleaned up after the passage, we enjoyed a swim off the back and then took dink ashore. The surf was now running up the beach again and waves were lapping at all the bars on the beach…. but we managed to get ashore without incident.

Surf up in Chatham Bay Surf up in Chatham Bay2

In exchange for Passion Fruit Rum – which we had bought for Tim from Dominica as a gift – we got some of his fantastic fish fritters again… Yummmmmmm….. After a few beers and a Chatham Bay sunset we retired to Morphie for dinner and so to bed. Tim’s advice was spot on – and, thankfully, we had a pretty calm night.

Chatham Bay sunset

Sunday we visited Aqua resort where we bobbed in the salt water infinity pool – which was clean and sparkling for the first time ever!! – and we also enjoyed internet access.  Richard spent quite some time watching hummingbirds buzzing around and was very patient trying to get their pictures!

View from Aqua Beach at Aqua Hummingbird at Aqua2 Pool's open

Hummingbird at Aqua

After a few hours we headed back to Morphie, had a couple of hours of lazing around and then went ashore again to visit with Mr Pleasure. We enjoyed our own personal concert over a few beers, watching local critters, and then wandered down the beach to Bollheads for dinner. There were quite a few people in, enjoying Tim’s wonderful food, and the alcohol-fuelled and chemically-aided Austrians were quite amusing! There was a lot of dancing, laughter and a good time was had by all…..

Mr Pleasure giving us a personal concert Mr Pleasure's baby goatsEnjoying Mr Pleasures Little critter

Artistic shot!

Mr Pleasure giving us a personal concert.2jpgTim the Chef

Chatham Bay sunset 2

On Monday the wind wasn’t particularly helpful for the short run north to the Tobago Cays, so we ended up motor sailing.  We spotted Cutter Loose coming in as we were leaving Union Island so had a quick radio exchange with them before turning into the transit past Mayreau Island.   Suddenly we had a boat coming fast out of Saltwhistle Bay…. So we gave him plenty of room to get ahead and pushed on round the point towards to the Cays…. This guy then turns behind us and starts heading in too…strange, but perhaps he was nervous about the route through the reefs?  Oh well…. Then a very large charter catamaran – with full sails out but was definitely motor sailing because of his angle to the wind!!! – turns towards us and ends up on a collision course.  I’m on the helm and slow down to give way and then follow him into the narrow channel between the islands. Suddenly he stops dead…. Errrrr… Excuse me????   Why have you stopped in front of me????    Yep he’s going to anchor in the small channel!!!!  So I had to duck inside of him then meander through the other anchored boats before I finally reached the anchorage alongside the turtle sanctuary near Baradel Island.  We dropped the hook in the most beautiful coloured water it is possible to imagine and Hellfire snorkelled our anchor to check the set for us. Pictures really cannot do this amazing place justice….

 Underway (2)

Approaching the cut at the Tobago Cays Beautiful water Tobago Cays anchorageAnchor check

We went ashore in dink, parked him on the small sand spit, and went snorkelling…. with turtles, visiting conch and huge huge starfish. A really special day….  Back on board we had a curry dinner – although I managed to lose the jar of mango chutney which, to this day, remains undiscovered!!!! – and enjoyed a fantastic sunset and star display.

Conch Huge starfish 2Turtle 1

Huge starfish

Turtle 2 Turtle 3 Turtle 4 Turtle5

Tobago Cays sunset

Tuesday morning Richard and Hellfire are off diving. Fiona and I stayed on board, did some domestic duties like changing beds, and then went shopping via boat boy resulting in some amazing fresh bread and a really nice t-shirt!  Romeo also came by and sold us fresh lobster – as arranged by Tim – and finally, chores done, we settled into chair bobbing. During all this we had enjoyed the company of a huge turtle who kept surfacing near us and the attentions of a very large southern stingray who was mopping up all the lobster bits that had been discarded over the side when they had been cleaned out for cooking…. This is such a special place…..

The dive boat returned – with Richard and Hellfire on board – and we listened to their tales of fantastic dives. Unfortunately we also learned that Hellfire had dropped his camera when they went out into the blue to be picked up…. and had left his dive mask on board too. So not a great day for him for sure…. but he made the best of it by enjoying some chair bobbing too…..   To finish the day on a more cheerful note we had fresh lobster on the grill accompanied by champagne… and then had a music fest on board with Richard’s party play list accompanied by some pretty out of tune singing….. Lovely end to an (almost) perfect day!

Fun in the water

Part two to follow very shortly.