Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Treading water in Martinique

So in a frenzy of arriving & boat maintenance Chris left for Europe last week. So now we are 3 for a while. Fortunately our good friends on Nomadica are anchored just in front of us & cuddles with 8 week old Gael are pretty special. Lily has declared as she has a baby to play with she has no need to seek out kidboats which is just as well as there are very few in evidence right now!! So we’re adapting & hit the skatepark up in le Marin with some success. The kids happily made attempts to speak some French with local kids (there is usually big time resistance to this from our Anglophiles).

In terms of adapting I’ve realised boat-life has caused us to adapt. For sure we are more aware of the finite supply of energy and water we have onboard, so we naturally adapt to accommodate that. Showers are definitely thin on the ground in relative terms! My new definition of getting up is having put a bikini on. Our evening film culture has been replaced by books that we don’t need to charge when the invertor is switched on and hours of old school card/board games. Eating in is most definitely the new eating out to keep cruising budget vaguely on point. We also actually empty the fridge and concoct odd meals out of nothing until we really really need to restock so we waste a tiny proportion of food relative to our land lives. Fortunately for my fussy eater pasta rarely runs out!

What is frustrating me on the Islands is the amount of plastic that we still get sold at every shop we find & the seeming lack of awareness of the damage single-use plastics are doing on these islands as highlighted by so many campaigns in the UK including a friend’s “final straw Solent” project in the UK. I get the irony that we live on a plastic boat and appreciate its highly likely a cost implication in many places to find/use alternatives but please don’t offer me plastic everywhere we go!! One of Harry’s long term projects has been to get a leaflet printed up so we can hand it out to each bar we go to. Until that happens I have to guiltily admit that saying no to plastic isn’t always on the tip of my tongue with every order in a new place. I’m only then annoyed with myself and the merchant who hands a plastic water bottle or straw etc! I’d love to arrive in a marina or cruising area one day where you can only refill your bottles & not be served plastic at every turn. Since we all seem to have phones on us I’m thinking a phone cover or sticker with a “no plastic” message might remind me to flash the message….going to get the kids on a design.

Spontaneity and flexibility of plans is another sign of our adaptations. Stuff changes all the time for all manner of reasons. What we decide now may be different tomorrow. This is put into sharp focus recently by people who clearly think we’ve lost our minds! Yes we go up and down the Eastern Caribbean like it’s the M27 but that’s how it rolls right now. Also yes generally there is no plan on a daily basis…. If we achieve the laundry in one 24hour period that is a bonus.

Our slowed pace takes me back to having a newborn when achieving any 1 thing in a day is a massive achievement. This approach often does not apply to boat maintenance though. Every cruiser knows that the reality of cruising is boat bimbling in nice places.

The big news this week has been Harry turning 8. We were hoping to find him a cheap oppie to allow him to sail around the anchorages and go all “Swallows & Amazon”, but it seems cheap knackered oppies are tricky to come by in the Caribbean!! He was pretty excited with a mini multi-tool instead as well as the chance to go on his first scuba-dive. As a budding marine biologist this has been a dream we thought would have to wait until he was 10+ but in both Antigua & the French islands it seems 8 is fair game.

Nathalie of Kalinago plongee, who a friend remarked looked like an original baywatch cast member, was his instructor. A warm enthusiastic lady, she promised to guard him with her life! He had basic mask and equalising skills to learn on the beach before he took a boat trip out to a shallow reef. Having thoroughly enjoyed it, I feel like I’ve now opened Pandora’s box!!

Socialising the kids, like new puppies, was part 2 of the birthday. We’d managed to connect with seemingly the only other boat cruising with kids in the anchorage via a marginally named group called “Kids4sail”. A useful source of all things kidboat related, we’d not actually meant anyone via the page before.

Richard and Rafaella are a UK/Italian couple who’d been living in the US with 2 boys 8/11 until they set off cruising from Canada last year. Better than just being in the same anchorage they are a great couple & we had a great time hanging out on the beach followed by homemade Italian pizza & cake (Harry heaven). The kids were delighted to have new friends to wrestle with on the beach and show around. Harry’s first words every morning since have been when can we see Matthew & Sebastian!

It would seem utterly alien these days to knock on a door in our neighbourhood in the UK invite the family out for the afternoon & then back to ours for the evening, then see them everyday for the next week!

The other great thing that we’ve been making use of is “People beach” just by the laundry dock. A chilled area that is rarely busy, we can do school here, play and dip in the plunge pools.

Also at the weekends a water park has opened right by the anchorage which even caters for those of tiny stature- Lily was thrilled after being denied entry in St.Lucia!

We’ve kicked back into school -after 2months of visitors we desperately needed to get back on track, having done the bare minimum with people here. When we had planned a 18month trip I was slightly more blasé about the curriculum, but now that seems to rapidly be turning into 3 years….. Time to up the game & start planning for next year.

We headed to a local botanical garden, I’d say it was more like a nursery but nether the less a very kind worker gave us a guided tour and we tried to keep up…

This morning the kids started their first French lesson with the lovely Marianne!! If nothing else they will be having to pay attention to another adult for 5 hours a week. As you can see Harry was delighted, while Lily had prepped her bag and lunch by 7am….


St. Barths

We had very happy Easter with family & friends as 4 very excited kids went scampering around a little beach in Deshais, Guadeloupe in search of Easter treats!

We then took our new crew of family Ward in search of volcanoes in Montserrat. Where not 1 but 3 volcanoes awaited us. We pulled up & anchored off Rendesvous bay after a 5 hour sail downwind. A poorly 2 year old didn’t stop family Ward enjoying the first cruise & their eldest Jack (5) fell quickly in with Lily, though they aren’t in love apparently.

A jump in to snorkel and explore the busy reef before sunset was the perfect end to a busy day. Slightly worried Lily would knock off her respiratory drive I had to keep reminding our part mermaid to breath…always useful.

Despite the bank holiday we were stunned to meet the Caribbean’s friendliest port authority & immigration team! Montserrat quite literally rocked.

Levels of organisation were high for team Ward & we’d even pre arranged a island tour with Joe Phillips. A local legend, who is obviously very passionate about his Island & the history of the world renowned volcano that wiped out 2/3 of the island and busy thriving communities during our lifetime. We made a trip into the exclusion zone and now deserted capital city of Plymouth which has been buried under a mountain of ash following successive eruptions over 20+ years. 4 story buildings, hotels, businesses, churches and the capital Plymouth have been engulfed since 1997. A whole golf course, roads and bridges were buried and swept into the ocean in a mudslide in 1997. Parts of the island have been extended hundreds of metres by the flow of material into the sea.

Joe’s before and after shots help set the scene & highlight the devastation & full force of nature. Scientists initially believed the dome formation & collapse cycles which see 2 container loads of lava produced every second would stop after 5 years. 20+ years later none of the criteria for rendering the volcano inactive have been met. The magma chamber is still growing despite no recent dome growth. The observatory was a particularly exciting visit for me. It reminded me that as a teenager I wanted to be a volcanologist! The last major dome callapse and eruption of the cauliflower shaped plumes of pyroclastic flow occurred in 2010. Travelling a 100km/hr the gases, rocks and firey hot debris destroyed everything in their path.

It was a surreal experience and great geography lesson when we could get Harry away from having his nose in his kindle. Pretty tricky to appreciate the sometimes subtle changes to the landscape if you’re a kid. Particularly hunting for glimpses of houses. Jack remained amazingly attentive as-long as he could but for the 2-5 year olds it was a big day!

A beach bar trip was a welcome end to the day before a quick wakeboard to burn off some energy. Just before sunset we decided to make the night sail downwind to St Barths. This approach seemed a lot fairer on the kids, especially as poor Jack was coming down with his brothers bug.

Pulling into Isle de Fortune for breakfast we were pretty happy with our night crossing call & so we’re the kids when they could bomb in for a snorkel with an array of fish, stingray, turtles and a reported nurse shark sighting. Poorly kids had a chilled day & made attempts to bounce back with a lot of hydration & calpol. A good night sleep for all was just what the doctor ordered.

Exploration of St Barths then commenced.

The kids have wandered around the streets of Gustavia with all its finery, they danced on tables over lunch in Nikki’s like any self respecting under 7s and chilled out at Shell beach, which is some feat as it seems to have its own climate 5degrees C above elsewhere on the Island. I may have used 1 of my self allowed 10 alcohol tickets for the year after nearly 3 months off the booze. But the couple of cocktails were worth it with great friends.

Whilst St Barths is mostly in full swing evidence of last year’s devastating hurricane season are still evident in corners of the island. As it is such a wealthy island the bounce back has been quick but a few hotels are yet to reopen & a walk to Toiny beach or Grande Cul de Sac reminds you that a lot of damage was done.

Captain Chris fitted in Hobie cat tours with the full rabble of kids off St Jean beach. Many a screech of delight was had. Wardy met up with “Serial divers” and passed the diving mantle onto Katie & myself promising us sights of spotted eagle rays, sharks and barracudas. We both got our dive back on after many years hiatus. Emmanuel was a fab instructor. An hours dive around the rocks off Gustavia gave us plenty to see and time to get our skills back up. The first of many more dives on this trip I hope.

Wardy had very kindly taken charge of the 4 kids for the morning as Chris was racing in Les Voiles St Barths. Whilst Katie & I did our dive, the kids spotted nurse sharks off the dock, skate boarded and caused mischief. None gave Ward the runaround as much as Theo -captain Chaos himself. My new favourite 2 year old. Wanting to fish gaze a bit more gravity got the better of him & he took a full dive off the dock quickly followed by Ward! Cheers came from the other 3 for great dives! The morning continued in a similar vein with a trip to the race village. The kids returned with dog poop on their flip flops due to some irresponsible dog owner….or was it?! Turns out Theo’s morning was epic! Wardy then continued Hasslehoff style rescue missions most of the afternoon as he dived in for various paraphernalia.

Flamingo float delights, croissants and ice creams sealed off a banging 10 days. The Wards will be well pleased with a shower,beds to themselves and escaping “Frau Brown” and her boat rules!! We’ve loved having you, miss you already & see you in Panama….


Antigua bound again

In preparation for Chris coming back after 2weeks away, Tom & I moved the good ship north to Rodney Bay from Marigot bay St.Lucia. The captain returned for a surf just off Pigeon Island while the kids & I did a small hike around the historical fort.

We then left St.Lucia behind and skipped 4 hours north across to Martinique for the night. This gave us an opportunity to stock up on our favourite French treats and hook up with Party of 5 and Nomadica. We wish Cheryl & Morgan all love on the arrival of their baby boy Gael Kai!!

A shitty problem delayed departure. We tried to source a part for our French cat in the French marina surrounded by a whole lot of other French cats. It wasn’t to be, but the loo needs fixing before we stink out next months guests, including Chris’s parents…

In a very cruisy 12-18knts and moderate sea we set off round the south east tip & north up the windward side of Martinique dodging lobster pots as we went. Beating up past Dominica we had to motor some of the way, but we did make 181nm in a little over 25hrs & got the chute up for the last hour and a half as our angle into port freed off. Would you believe we even caught a few fish!! But the Barry barracudas lived to swim another day as we aren’t keen to risk ciguatera.

We headed @ to Port Louis in Guadeloupe. It’s a slow fishing village with a long boardwalk perfectly poised on the beach to see the sand bottomed right hand point breaks which littered the coast. Surfers heaven! A place we’d stay for a month if we had the chance. We squeezed in a run, dawn surf and showers before heading out to Antigua. Chris had a evening flight to catch…

Another glamour sail, we reached across with gennaker in 10-18knts which felt like my idea of proper cruising! Falmouth harbour awaited us & the kids were fizzing to see friends from our hurricane camp and get their fish on!

Harry was over the moon to see his friends after 6 months anticipating his return here. He was rewarded by talking Ollie into taking him dirt biking followed by the best food we’ve eaten in 6 months.

Lily was equally thrilled to see her buddy Cade after a few years, & I his gorgeous Mum. Not forgetting cruising friends on Pierina who we outsourced maths homework to & generally keep mini- Draper’s highly entertained.

Having never visited Antigua in season, it’s a little bit of a culture shock & this is apparently a slow week….But it’s so good to be back here & I can’t tell you how good it is to see familiar faces. Despite a few rolly nights on anchor with an odd westerly, we’re hoping we’ll avoid a hurricane this time.

After a fantastic 10 days Tom headed back to the UK. So now we are 3 again. If you are @ in Antigua we’d love to catch up. For now I’m hoping I might swing a ride for race week somehow or other!


-Someone pee’d the bed which meant full clean & dry of the 2 mattresses on the bed. Whilst re-anchoring 1 mattress flew off resulting in impromptu man-overboard practice…

-Is sharpening pencils some weird skill reserved for 5 yr olds??!

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Back to the voyage

After a fantastic month in Steamboat Springs, Colorado indulging in powder days and a lot of family skiing we are back home & it feels good.

Having arrived back to the boat in Grenada Marine on Wednesday night we had a busy Thursday fixing, polishing, cleaning and getting the boat into the water. It’s testament to Will and this friendly, professional & reasonably priced yard, that we could rock up and haul in within 24hrs. Oh & they had paper straws in the bar-winning against plastic (

We were also blessed that a boat family we’d met before was there fitting our their new boat. After a month with little kid contact (or kids that weren’t in need of new friends) Harry was in his element exploring the yard, the woods and kayaking with Teddy. We also stumbled across the O’Donnell’s with their 2 girls that were bundles of energy just like Lily. A beautiful welcome back to boat-life and we even got a brekkie package from the gorgeous Philippa & Ben!

We then left port on a Friday….not the done thing. Urban legends dictate that this is 100% a bad idea. We’d been backed into a marginal weather window! Chris’s flight to an event was brought forward 24hrs & the weather between now & the 13th looks utterly poop. Sometimes you just have to go…

Our intention was to make it the 13hrs odd to Bequia. But as we headed along we realised we’d be better off pulling an all nighter to St.Lucia rather than risk the worse weather later in the weekend.

Truth be told it totally sucked at times. Still not the southern ocean or racing to NZ in the Volvo, but in family cruising terms it got a tad fresh heading upwind. I emerged semi-naked as we got a hit by one squall & a few expletives were exchanged as we hoved to in 35knts & I froze my butt off. Soon after realising the radar was in fact reliable we did the sensible thing yanked the main down & motored upwind in a rough sea through a few more squalls…limited fun & always feels worse in the dark.

On the upside Harry snuck up on deck at one point (not permitted on a night sail) but he was concerned who would save me if I fell in…his sweet side coming out. He was pretty excited early in the passage that we’d finally caught a whopper fish. Sadly the whopper nearly stopped the boat, pulled his mammoth hook straight & left us for dust. The freezer is still empty.

Chris put in a trojan last shift to complete the 125nm into Marigot Bay, St.Lucia early this morning! The benefit of this place is that if you take a ball at Capella marina you can use the resort facilities-bonus. Today is definitely a lie by the pool kind of day.

We think our friends from Party of 5 just arrived….

We’re also looking forward to meeting up with fellow Essex girl (Charlotte) and family later this weekend. Then we head off to Martinique for a 40th birthday weather permitted. Quite the social we’re on.

This month a few visitors do start arriving, which is going to be great as Chris has a lot of time away sailing. But if anyone can teach, likes kids and wants to come visit the Caribbean in May then get in touch- I have a 5 week stretch solo!!!!

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

The Honest One

So we aren’t sailing this week. We are missing our lovely boat though and we’ve been reflecting on the last 6 months of awesomeness. We are beyond lucky to have spent so much time together. Living the dream hasn’t been without its challenges and I’ve deliberated whether to write about the biggest one but here it is in all its honesty….!

The biggest challenge has been adjusting to our new roles…. I guess on land I was used to running the show while Chris put in big hours with the team on the AC campaign. I’d be doing the usual parenting thing like millions of other people – juggling and yes it was a whole lot less than others but it was juggling for me. Truth is I was super lucky and had a sweet life.

I took up running to fulfil a few of my own goals while Chris spearheaded his. I trained before Chris left the house, there was the 50 minute school run which was impressive on a tiny Island. I had a part time Physio job at an awesome clinic. I ran the over-scheduled kids all over the place to all manner of after school activities (ballet, sailing, CrossFit kids, swimming, Lego club, Aerial skills etc etc) and we had play dates and birthday parties in some stunning corners of Bermuda. I’d then fit in attempts at nourishing the kids souls with something they would eat (Ok that’s mostly anything white for Harry). I’d try in vain to get them to bed at a decent hour and yep I made attempts at studying on top of that.

Life was bursting full and super busy, just the way I like it. It was pretty much a challenge to get to the end of the day in one piece & I was always the hot mess at the school gates. What do they say…it takes a village.

Rocking on our own meant that if we wanted to spontaneously change our plans then we did (or I did on the kids behalf). We lived in frigging paradise with a whole posse of amazing families and badass women from the AC, from Bermuda, from school, work and with legendary neighbours round the corner! If we were super lucky we even got to see Chris!

Fast forward 6 months and suddenly there was no schedule. I hadn’t set myself some crazy arsed goal to achieve and we were all together 24/7, also the tribe of badass friends were gone! There was a new captain quite literally aboard the ship and he even wanted to have input on the food shop….


The struggle of living aboard a stunning 40ft catamaran in the Caribbean was real!! Joking aside, it has been an adjustment. We both wanted to be 100% involved in the boat and not just the sailing. Obviously one of us may be SLIGHTLY more experienced than the other at racing boats, but I’m fairly sure there wasn’t an engine or water maker or an electric toilet on the AC50…

When we moved onboard I was fairly vocal (no surprises there) that we should do 1 for 1 of docking, anchoring, nav etc. We both had to learn new skills & I was adamant I didn’t want to be left behind. Chris wanted us both to get good at our own roles & in reality I know he wanted to feel 100% confident & in control of our life’s investment. So we had a stale-mate for a while & then I backed down and we fell into roles. Similar things happened with maintenance. I’m as happy to decipher a manual as well as the next cruiser. Funnily enough my vagina does not prevent me from processing the written word & getting stuck into problem solving. The two little people, however, have other ideas!!


In reality for two of us to work on boat maintenance or sorting a water maker or whatever issue has arisen means that the kids are being left to their own devices & generally causing havoc. It doesn’t work. The goal driven girl in me, that is desperate to achieve something or learn struggles with this…

As frustrating as I’ve found it to admit I am slightly better equipped in the patience department for dealing with the kids and letting Chris deal with a boat issue without the distraction of the kids and obviously making sure everyone is appropriately fed and watered.

As for boat-schooling. I feel it is super important that our children get an influence from both of us on the education front. Inevitably if stuff is being fixed and there is always boat-work to be done, then school generally falls to me. In reality whilst it is a massive challenge, it is pretty rewarding to help your kids to learn, even if they are writing stories about poo! What an amazing opportunity to get….Because it’s me, my main fear is that I’ll fail at it and the kids will be the ones that pay the price! If Lily rocks back into school one day unable to read, that will be on me- yikes!


Time to have a shift of mindset! We are a team in life and on this boat of ours. The adventure and journey itself are the goal Chris & I dreamed of. If that means I have to be put back in my box every so often, jog on & do the domesticity bit while Chris fixes stuff- so be it. From speaking to other cruisers this adjustment is most definitely not unique to our boat or life. Whatever the hell works for you on your boat and in your life is a-ok.


Let’s face it when Chris is flying off to sailing events next year I better be able to put my money where my mouth is, step up & own the other half of the roles too….ummmmm.

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Happy New year

Amazing to think that this time a year ago we were living in Bermuda in the build up to the America’s cup. Now as we hit the new year we’ve been living on the boat for 6months & the pace is certainly a lot different!

We’ve had a lazy few weeks in Martinique with some great great families. From chalking & skateboarding in St.Anne to hikes and runs via nude beaches, we’ve explored real life “pirate ships” and had various beach parties. It’s been a blast.

We met the self proclaimed Cornish pixie pirates & their beautiful scooner that they bought this year here in Martinique. Chris helped Lee, a triathlon coach, with his rigging change and the kids flung themselves off swings and booms left right & centre. They played at ours, on the beach, but always the “pirate ship” won the hearts. Awesome kids with a lot in common with ours. Hopefully we ll hang out over the coming months.

The beach chalking/ graffitiing in St.Anne went down a storm. Rhonda & the kids from party of 5 continued to be seriously good value. We tried to ply Rhonda with enough booze to loose Mexican train dominoes but failed miserably.

Christmas Eve Potluck on the beach saw the zoo of Cruisers hit the beach. We met many many more great characters and probably ruffled the odd feather. The food was varied and rich and in plentiful supply. I’m not sure my body knew what the hell to make of it & it was not happy. The next while was spent having the most unsavoury swim out to sea. However, I made a speedy recovery and manned up. Not how I saw my day panning out!

With an imminent departure on the cards, we made the most of our time & had party of 5 over for drinks. Not even 1 drink in & I walked full chat into our glass door…Doh!! I’ve had a slight black eye hue and delicate nose ever since!

Christmas was spent sinking our boat with all their presents kindly given them from family in the UK. Suddenly there is no where to put anything and a mass declutter is needed! We headed back to the beach with friends from Nomadica, Marie des Isles & a fab French sky diving couple. Eating a boat Christmas dinner on the beach was a unique experience & it nearly made it there warm. Must admit it wasn’t Elbow beach, Bermuda, but that’s going to be hard to beat. A perfect day was finished off by seeing my first green flash as the sunset- it’s not just some urban legend it turns out!

Boxing Day saw us, ok me, get “flip flopped”; it’s a verb for hanging out with Nix & Haig on Flip Flops. It was their son’s 15th birthday & it was pretty large. Their waterline was certainly a tad low with all the people we crammed onboard the 38ft cat (atleast 35). The sprinkler & lawn mower were out in force atop their tables as well as some other great moves to embarrass the kids with my Mum dancing.

Following a spectacular Beach Olympics with kids from 4-14 to celebrate Sol’s 10th birthday (Marie des Isles) the check out cafe was now open and we prised ourselves away from Martinique.

After a windy week we squeezed ourselves into a weather window. It was pretty breezy and bumpy start until we got into the Lee of St.Lucia. With upto 30 Kts we had 2 reefs, some sea sick tabs to pre-empt kids feeling ill & a good bit of surf downwind. We had a bit of compression between the islands as we came down and things got interesting off St Vincent with a tiny leak from the escape hatch to add to the gusts of 30knts which always seem worse in the dark. But let’s face it…it’s not the Southern ocean! Serious respect to our Volvo ocean race friends and heal quick to those off this next leg because the Southern Ocean flung them around.

Harry sneaking up on the night watch
Sunrise in the Grenadines

We made it to Grenada in a little over 24 hours, we pulled back into Prickly Bay in very little breeze. It was a grey old day and the heavens opened, but the water tanks were happy.

The early part of New Year’s Eve was spent celebrating with friends we first met in the cup world with Prada. Adam & Sarah are taking the long way home to New Zealand via boat, having bought “Sailing Latitude” in France. Our plan was to join the party at Port Louis marina, the relative ritz of the cruising world. Subbing in didn’t exactly go to plan, but the fireworks were pretty cool! So good and slightly surreal to see these 2 diamonds & the 5 friends staying with them.

So the New Year sees us haul out next week for a month. We’re getting some work done on the boat while we take a pretty extravagant trip to the snow in Steamboat Springs Colorado. Secretly I’m not keen to leave our floating home and cannot wait for more adventures on Fille de Joie.

Happy New Year-May you make your dreams a reality for 2018.

The last misadventures of 2017:

-I accidentally dyed my roots ginger & now look like a crap Lindsay Lohan.

-Chris fell down a hatch.

-Harry fell down a hatch.

-I walked into a glass door (only 1 drink).

-I fell off another dinghy (only 2 drinks).

-Thinking 2018 should be the year of no drinks….


Dive in


Its been a while! My comms weren’t helped by sending my phone on a mission to the ocean floor and quite frankly I’ve been all out of chat for a while. Changing situations at home and within our cruising community here in Grenada have rocked us a little. Having your plans/goals or even life cut short by things out of your control seems so unfair. All the goings on have made us realise that truly the time is now and that tomorrow isn’t promised. Its time to bounce back from this survivors guilt and blog on….


Unlike in any other kind of sailing rainy days have curbed play here in Grenada! We’re anchored in Prickly Bay with wave access when the surf is on.  The good news is that the water monitor (Lily) is pretty pleased with how much rainwater she has got in the tank. Our plans to trickle back up to Carriacou, and the Grenadines for the rest of the hurricane season have been slightly delayed by crappy weather. Now we’re tinkering around and upping out battery bank in this down time.

Chris was recently away in Europe again and my Mum made a last minute decision to come and join the kids and I for a week! It flew by and we were all delighted to see her and show her our new home. As usual she came armed with plenty for the kids to do. Despite over 30 years experience as a science teacher, she admitted she’d rather teach a class of 32 kids over our 2 any day…. Nevertheless the kids loved the experiments, bread-making and art. Hopefully next time my Dad will join us too.


Definitely its time for some half-term fun next week and a week away from the dry books that Harry is working through. I was thinking about our previous life and thinking how bazaar that the time the kids spend on “school”  is about equal to how much time they used to spend in the car each day. Without the car journeys there is a whole lot of time for reading, lego, playing, fishing, surfing, skirfing and generally being kids without so much structure. It’s also so nice to have time to say yes a whole lot more. Yes we can play dominoes/cards/chess/life or whatever, yes we can paint at some ridiculous hour of the morning, yes we can get up at 2AM to watch the meteor shower. Yes you can actually have some attention! Don’t worry we haven’t suddenly become the Brady bunch!! I am beginning to worry a little less over the “normal life” things they are missing out on though.


Harry has been delighted that some “bigger” kids have been “knocking” for him and taking him for adventures in the bay in their sailing dinghy. Lily has been beside herself that she can’t go and to add insult to injury the surf has been too big for her too…oh the injustice of being 4! We did let her do some kitesurfing with Daddy and throw herself off at the Annandale waterfalls though.



Other news of the last few weeks is that I fell off the boat at night whilst Chris was away! I don’t suppose the glass of vino or 2 helped my cat like reflexes whilst trying to sort the tender out but everyone survived to tell the tale and Harry is now up-skilled in mayday etiquette and location recording. Feeling left out a few days later, Harry lunged off the dinghy and not quite onto the boat in decent sized swell. Obviously this was entirely my fault and I have not forgotten it, a scare that did everyone good I think!! In general both the kids are doing incredibly well at managing themselves around the tender and boat but its never a bad thing to be reminded of the need to respect our surroundings.

Roll on getting cruising again and back to the Grenadines!!


Home sweet home


Wow has it really been 2 weeks since we arrived in the Caribbean cruisers hurricane hideout of Grenada??

In that time Chris left me flying solo and in charge of the boat baby for a week. In reality it was a soft start as he spent the 1st 2 days hanging out at Grenada airport with cancelled flights as hurricane Maria hurtled up the Caribbean.

The best part of this lush mountainous spice Island for Harry, has been the chance to catch up with Tom & the Garret family that we met in the BVIs. Lily also found a beautiful kindred spirit in Dasha (6), who’d just moved aboard from LA. Secret harbour provided a welcome sanctuary from swell and wind. The pool, volleyball courts and grounds were a great escape for the kids. Harry also went all swallows and amazons hanging out on an island with his buddies for a few hours.



School Draper organised a field trip around the Island with team Garret. The kids carried out some thorough research on what % cocoa they are prepared eat in their chocolate. The big hitter of the day was scaling the waterfalls. Pete did nearly fractured a few vertebrae sliding down the falls under heavy peer pressure of our guide. It was his own fault of course for not pushing off to miss the 4ft horizontal ledge at the bottom….A better H&S assessment needed for our next trip! However, everyone did come home with their shoes!


The local cruising community down in Secret a Harbour is very active. Everything going on can be heard on “The Net” each morning. For me, Janine & Pete were ace. Not sure I really made much headway with the rest of the cruising crowd down there this time, though I did make it out on a hike with the Grenada hashers in Etang national park. My local buddy JJ, swinging his cutlass, kept me entertained and safe from the odd sheer drop. Did I mention that I’m massively missing my running buddies??!!


We’ve also spent some time in Prickly Bay, just to the West. Some cheeky surf sessions a few hundred metres from the boat with perfect waves for the kids made everyone happy! The quiz at the Tiki bar really did up the academic anti- safe to say we weren’t much help this week.

Since Chris arrived back we snuck North to Carriacou. I’d just like to say I nailed my wind prediction that we’d have 35knts! A sneaky storm cell gave us an exhilarating ride, not so conducive to handwriting practice though. We spent 2 nights in Tyrells Bay, had some epic rotis from our bus lady and are looking forward to exploring more. We then nipped upto Union Island in the Grenadines. Despite some anxiety about Union, having read Noonsite, we received a super warm welcome as soon as we hit the shore at Anchorage Yacht Club. I swear you’d never go anywhere if you read every review on the Internet.



IMG_7282The anchorage really does look like the real idyllic deal. A massive ray greeted us as we dived the anchor and there are reefs and stunning islands a plenty. Whilst many places are closed until 1st Nov, the “snack shack” and fruit & veg sellers on the Main Street have us well sorted. The kids have also resisted any dognapping so far, but heaven help the mutts if they don’t have a collar…

This weekend has been a gem. Stoked to have finally got the kiting toys out of the bag in Union and at the stunning Tobago Cays. We explored random deserted islands, in search of whatever natural phenomena we could find and dined on lobster. Sunsets a plenty. Loving our home right now…


Kid stuff these last few weeks-
Molluscum contagiousum
(Time for a few showers???!)

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Uncategorized

Back to the plan with a southern charge

Look at those lovely lazy bones bean bags!

When even the laundry lady at “Sam & Dave’s” is giving you local rates and doesn’t believe you’re ever going to leave…. its time to go. We finally left Antigua on monday afternoon after hauling the boat in at Antigua slipway first thing. We’d been a great source of irritation there as we were last out and in the way, BUT we were pleased they accommodated us for Irma and the threat of Jose.

We were so grateful for 2 nights in the Antigua Marina hotel with Carlo Falcone and it gave the Greensmith’s a break from family Draper after an extended hurricane party of 5 nights (The kids couldn’t believe their luck with that mega sleepover!). Carlo was one of the first to take a private boat to Barbuda to help with the relief effort and subsequent evacuation as hurricane Jose threatened. Chris went to help and the realisation of the situation there and many other islands is sobering, read his thoughts here. Shannon Falcone flew straight in after winning the maxi worlds and took his boat straight to the BVIs, again doing everything to offer some relief and supplies to the people there. There is something very special about these great Islanders and the show of solidarity. These selfless acts restore your faith in our crazy species.

Antigua Yacht Club Hotel

We truly did weather the storm together with some of those families in Antigua and it’s a time we will never forget. We spent days recovering from the adrenalin at Papa’s restaurant with the kids fishing off the dock, swimming, scooting, rip surfing and having too much tech time before returning to “normality” once Jose headed north.

Before we left the kids were also treated to a pottery demo by the very talented Nancy Nicholson ( whose work I love. Visiting the stunning location she works from was enough. The view across Falmouth harbour was panoramic and her creativity is almost catching.

Yesterday morning we arrived in Grenada. It was a 300 mile dash with a pit stop for a stroll on the beach and sleep on anchor in Martinique.



It was a varied trip. Not exactly run of the mill trade winds. Some really lovely sailing but the first night was nasty with a fair old sea between Guadeloupe and Martinique. The next morning we had some lovely breeze and covered some mileage. We were then treated to an unexpected tropical wave and wind on the nose for 12 hours passing St.Vincent. The last 18 hours were stunning with Fille de Joie charging along at 8-9 knots eating up the miles.


The usual shizzle occurred, this time an aerial fell off the mast etc etc. Probably a hangover from Irma (I think it’s best to blame that witch for everything). So we hugged the coast of the Islands as we went down to stay in mobile range.

The trip was quick and no time to explore this Islands as Chris heads to an event in Europe on Sunday and we re keen to be set up before that.

Turns out we’re turning into storm chasers (funny not funny). There are two more systems brewing way out East. Lets be honest no one said we were in the clear down here… If everyone could stop heating up the ocean that would be great!

Any top tips to explore in Grenada most welcome….


We dodged a bullet

hurricaneToday as I sit in our hurricane house kindly provided by the Greensmith family I’m thinking about it a all…like everything. Probably best not to ponder on what ifs. We’ve been seriously lucky. We are delighted to be able to sail another day on our adventure & intend to appreciate every second. We came very close to another reality entirely at the hands of hurricane Irma, the worst atlantic hurricane ever.
The community here have been amazing. Rachel and Ollie took in 4 extra families and 7 extra kids, 2 extra dogs & 2 more cats and us. We were in a new build house on the first floor with storage underneath. Chris and I had made a plan should the roof have come off & were looking at ways to protect our 2 young children who we’d exposed to this risk. The trouble was we would have needed to go outside down an external staircase to reach shelter. The windows were apparently hurricane proof & double thickness with a cat 5 storm with winds sustained of over 185mph heading towards us, we were nervous.
Mild hysteria built across the 2 houses over the day. Part of me was thinking it was going to be nothing but the other half realised we were at risk of loosing everything. We prepped the boat as much as we could and the reality was we needed to keep our family physically safe. We were anticipating devastation.
Some great thoughts from friends at home. Offers of local contacts & tips on chaining ourselves to underground pipes! It shaped up to be a long night and all the while I hoped the worry was for nothing but the media was painting a different picture.
The kids didn’t realise the magnitude of the storm given that they have been through 2 hurricanes in Bermuda. Harry understood the need for prep and the risks of a hurricane but he was definitely more interested in the hurricane party with friends.
The family pretty much slept through the whole thing. Rum definitely helped Chris out! I do wonder how they slept as the rain sounded like a football crowd at Wembley stadium. It was wet, wild and annoyingly dark outside so It was hard to see what was going on. The gusts were big & made you flinch as they hit. The worry was losing the roof, but that happened to a handful of houses in Antigua. Other bits of some properties have flown. The power went out at 2000 but we had a generator from the main house next door. To our knowledge there was minimal flooding on the south of the Island despite storm surges.
So an unprecedented storm in the Atlantic….not sure I signed up for that. We seriously dodged a bullet. The boat was the least of our worries once we realised what a beast Irma was. We were fortunate that despite a mess in the yard & damage to the dock, Fille de Joie looks in one piece at first glance.
We got through & very luckily were a little to the south of Irma. The same cannot be said for Barbuda. The low lying sister island of Antigua is only maximum height of 150m above sea level 90% of the buildings have been utterly destroyed. There was 1 fatality reported- horrendous but we were fearing much higher numbers. St Barts, St Martins and the BVIS are also feeling the full force from the northern wall of the eye. We are thinking of friends there and anyone else in Irma’s path.
St Martin near where we based
Hurricane bolt hole in the BVIs
Normal life will not resume until tropical storm Jose passes Antigua, which should be sometime on Friday or Saturday. The track looks well north but we aren’t going to take any chances and will keep the boat on the hard until after that.
Our world
I might have said it once or twice before but it really is well past the time we should head south towards Grenada. We ll have 5 days before Chris heads to Europe for a regatta, so let’s hope for some decent weather so we can get a shifty on and get down there.
Thank you for all the kind messages of support, we appreciated everyone & are feeling the love. Much love from the Drapers xx