Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel

Final Countdown

So in preparation for our boat survey we pimped the boat over 7 days. We fixed minor foibles-which anyone that has ever owned a boat know constantly exist. We packed up as much of our stuff as we could. We cleaned parts of our beloved boat that we never knew existed, washed, polished & used more vinegar spray than I ever want to see again.

Obviously a few days before our list grew. After a year on anchor our windlass connection decided to be dodgey & literally hours pre-survey when Chris was polishing the starboard push pit it broke! Law of sods & all.

We banished the kids from coming anywhere near the boat post clean. After a v sleepless pre survey night in the unusual surroundings of a marina, we were up at 445am finishing the last preening before the renowned surveyor arrived. If you are buying a boat this is the guy you want. Search & rescue dogs have nothing on what this guy can find! Needless to say we had a new list to get fixed pre-sale.

We headed up to Tobago Cays for Elvira’s birthday & a final hurrah before we step back onto land 11 days later. We took Gaia from “Entelechy” with us for the ride. Our first stop was a overnight catch up in Tyrell Bay with the pixie pirates of “Marie des Isles”. The kids were thrilled to discover Sol’s beloved boat base hidden in the mangroves.

Then we ventured onward through some current to Tobago Cays. That place never disappoints with its crystal clear waters. Fish & turtles are the only things littering the underwater scene. Our Spanish friends put on a feast to celebrate Elvira’s birthday before she ships out to the US of A.

Our old haunt of Frigate Island was where we moved onto next with Pablo and the Merlady Elvira of the deep. The anchorage was empty & so was the kite spot. Perfect day spent with a Harry body dragging, Gaia getting up & me finally making it back to where I wanted to go.

After some sad goodbyes to our Elvira & Pablo we caught back up with the Cornish Pixie pirates after dark in Ile Ronde. Early the next morning we shipped out with them & down for their first trip to Grenada and into relative safety for the rest of hurricane season.

Pulling up in st George’s some of us were ready to get our whine on for carnival. Another eye opening and slightly deafening afternoon for the kids. What I loved about carnival was every size/ shape of women giving it everything as they chipped and grinded through the streets. Whilst both kids saw a whole lot of butts & graphic dancing I hope that this underlying message wasn’t lost on them?!

Monday night mass was a whole lot of fun with Sam, Erin & Dave from Roam. Special thanks to our 15 and 10 year old local chaperones for helping us find our groove & showing us how it’s done! We & all of St. George’s was lit up for another heart pumping, bass driven dance off.

Suddenly it was time for our final sail as we prepared to sell the boat. Another pack up was upon us.

So the day of final clean passed & Chris & I slept in a walk around bed onboard a beautiful 52 ft cat. The kids were at another farewell sleepover with friends and we missed them a tonne. Out of the kids Harry was definitely found things hardest & was all of a funk as he anticipated the transition.

Anyone that’s moved frequently knows what a pain in the ass the last few days are. You think you’re done & another load of random seemingly insignificant items arrive & amount to another 23kg. It’s infuriating & slow but it does all happen in the end. I thought I’d be better at it by now, but I’m not!

Once again the boat has been cleaned & I was happy to eat off any surface of it. I reached the point you arrive at in every move…the one where you just need to go. I reached reset & had moved onto all the things that need to be organised in the Uk. There was little time for emotion in the frenetic last few days…..That was until some very dear cruising friends made the 21st c equivalent of a mix tape!! Cue balling from us all.

The boat sale with our US buyer definitely wasn’t as simple and quick as our broker purchase but thanks to two great lawyer we got there in the end. Hannah at Yachting lawyers & Sarah at Bentley’s we couldn’t have got through this private sale without you! Would I sell this way again- 100% if we are with the boat. I think the main pain has been the pack up & boat prep for survey- all things you’d have to do with a broker anyhow. Plus the 10% saving is pretty major for the relocation. Also the open dialogue with the buyer was great.

We took Kathleen on a test sail and showed her all the systems, nooks and crannies before handover. We wish her all the best on her new adventures on the newly named “My Grace”.

Final farewells were hard. There was a lot of rum involved in the last 2 months. We were very touched that around 30 people gathered at the dock to see us off.

We wrapped up this unforgettable chapter & we can’t wait to get stuck into the next one.

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel

Juiced up in the Grenadines

Having dropped the hook in the dark on the Saturday before last we wandered along the picturesque boardwalk of Bequia & stocked up from the locals on veg. We then spent the afternoon at the reading clinic, where I took a group of 10yr olds & the kids joined in. Sheryl has been running the group with passion, smiles and an ability to engage kids for 12years. Local kids and cruiser kids meet and learn. Not only does Sheryl see it as a learning opportunity but also a chance for cultures to mix. She’s a diamond.

The evening saw us head back to “Lennox the Lions den” for a BBQ rasta style on the beach with a handful of our cruising friends. Despite a minor head injury it was another top evening where the kids roamed the beach, caves and dens.

Father’s Day saw us head out early to Union Island. We anchored behind Frigate Island. After we moved a starfish who narrowly avoided being squished by our chain, oppie sailing and kiting commenced for the perfect family day. We were reminded what this trip is all about as the kids explored the anchorage by themselves in their boat.

We had wander through Clifton and bumbled through the local stalls. We had a bit of rain squall dodging before we set off for Grenada. A great sail on the gennacker to the west coast of Grenada (25miles ish) until we were met by a glass off and a need for the motor. A big pod of dolphins, presumably hanging out , playing and feeding like teens on the street made our afternoon. We pulled up in Prickly Bay at sunset.

Chris headed off on the Tuesday to an event in the states for the week leaving us to get reacquainted with Grenada. We reconnected with locally based friends on Sv“SAGO” and met another great new family over in secret harbour. With the chance to see turtles laying eggs on the cards we made a road trip with Luuck, Darcey & their 2 boys. A trip to Etang crater lake never disappoints, but for us no amount of Mona monkey calling brought them out to play. We moved on to the bustling town of Grenville for a quick gander and chance to buy ribs before heading north.

Next stop was Pearls airport- a former airstrip now home to the odd drag race and a heap of cows/bulls. This is where we found where those penguins downed the Madagascar plane!!

In actual fact the kids new playground were an old crop duster and a old Cuban plane. The Cuban plane hailed from (the previous) Cold War in 1983 when the US briefly invaded Grenada to see off Cuba. The kids appreciated the eerie feel and stomp through the planes.

With “hanger” on the horizon we stumbled across “By the Sea” a restaurant run by a German/Greek couple with a relaxed family feel and great garden/beach for roaming. Bloody love finding these gems dotted around the Caribbean.

We made the turtle watching on Levera beach for a 730pm call. In true Caribbean style we waited an hour for the rest of our party to arrive but we got there eventually & then we were told to hurry up & wait for action! Naps in the car by all were rudely awoken by turtle action. A hurried walk to the far end of the beach hustling sleepy kids at 10pm was tricky but our efforts were rewarded. It was pretty magical to see 2 huge leatherbacks laying their eggs and covering their tracks with a lot of effort before shimmying back into the rough sea. Nuts to think they would have hatched on that beach & may have returned to lay their own eggs from cold water areas as far a field as Alaska or Europe! The kids were suitably impressed and they demonstrated their turtle know how, barely letting the poor guide get a word in as they gave facts and asked tonnes of questions.

An hour and a half trip back to Prickly Bay was a sleepy affair. But I made it back to the dinghy and boat unscathed thanks to Luuck & hoped the kids wouldn’t dob me into Daddy for not hoisting the dinghy up for the night!

A good few nights socialising with our friends from secret harbour were had with a few too many mojitos. Possibly the most memorable was the drugs bust and prompt closing down of the make shift bar we were drinking at on Grande Anse beach! Definitely providing the kids with some kind of education. It was awesome to see Stormer and the other kids doing their own hustling on the beach selling his skin-ups for $2ec for 8!

We also celebrated Lily’s favourite person, Gaia’s, 15th birthday at the stunning Calabash resort for a leisurely lunch. So great to have Sv Entelechy here in Grenada too. Sharing these experiences with great friends is what it’s all about.

Chris arrived back home on Monday afternoon in time to make the most of a tiny pulse of swell with the kids on the reef. It’s a great wave except on the inside where it’s bloody shallow, with a lot of reef & urchins. Everyone was prepped to practice the starfish fall. I’d say we had the best family surfs so far on our own and with friends from Sv Laskair and Sv Pura Vida. 9 year old Chloe was nailing it after just a few weeks of surfing.

With another week before he’s off again we nipped up last night to Ile de Rhone a small island off Carriacou, where a quiet anchorage awaited. We were met by a figure demonstrating the international sign for “Do not anchor near me”. It involves standing as tall as you can, puffing your chest out & you must have your hands in fists resting on your hips. It’s a shame crap neighbours don’t do this when you look around a house- I swear it would prevent most neighbours from hell moments.

We’ve taken on 2 minging 35knt squalls and beat upwind to get to one of our favourite places this morning. Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau is a special place & where we were for our 10th wedding anniversary.

We have a kid-boat hook up planned and some kiting to fit in. I also had a random call on Tuesday from my parents who are making a last minute trip between my Dads hospital appointments so we’ll dive back down to Grenada to pick them up on Saturday.

Cannot believe we got onboard a year ago. It feels like yesterday and that our journey is just beginning. We all feel so at home on this stunning boat of ours and privileged to be spending this time together. Magic memories are being made everyday & we don’t ever forget it.


Over the rainbow

It’s been a busy month of extensively not sailing anywhere but there has been plenty to keep us on our toes! With Chris in Europe for 2 months there have been periods with a serious lack of adult company. Being back on board by 6pm with 2 energetic kids chatting Pokemon and diffusing sibling tiffs can be pretty lonely and wearing at times with no one to chew the cud with or vent to! A visit from an old school friend Jules and her family nicely broke the spell.

We threw ourselves into island exploration in Martinique. We saw salt petrifications, botanical gardens, banana plantations, rhum factories, they went on dolphin hunts, we fished, oppie sailed, swam, jumped, swam some more & snorkelled on reefs all whilst trying not to delay the healing of a fractured arm for Lucas (5) and not loose anyone overboard. The kids took to boat-life really well & save for the communicable disease we left them with & the general pain in the arse this continues to cause we hope they enjoyed their holiday as much as we loved having them!!

We also tried to hunt out a waterfalls in Didier with 2 other kid boats and it pretty much summed up our life as cruisers! We went searching for an area of natural beauty with tit bits of information on direction, challenges we’d face and stories of what awaited us.

The not insurmountable route took us in a different direction than planned, we clambered with young kids through the riverbed over boulders and down slippery paths, we took risks that some of the group found questionable & the weather didn’t tow the line. Everyone ended up soaked and we didn’t find exactly what we thought we would but the journey with a great group of friends chalked up a great experience. In true goal-orientated fashion we returned for another crack of the whip the following week with “Party of 5” to find the elusive falls! This time a stunning nearly 10km hike through dense foliage & past sheer drops awaited & the kids pushed each other on without a murmur of complaint. This time we found a waterfalls but still not “the one”…did it matter? Not a scrap. We loved the journey with both its frustrations, it’s ups & downs & general ability to make us sweat & feel alive. Everyone was equally as pleased to get out of my hire car!

We’ve then unexpectedly been in kid-boat heaven, seeing old friends & meeting new great families, who may have questionable DJ skills but are a lot of fun. Having 5 other kidboats in close proximity is pretty much like kid crack, but unlike crack it keeps everyone happy and with positive mental health. From renaming ceromonies and 90s disco on “Roam” to hikes to Salinas and days in the waterpark everyone has been kept thoroughly entertained.

S/v “Roam” was officially renamed this week in St.Anne. I was mildly concerned that a key feature of renaming a boat had been missed. It’s commonly known that someone should pee in the bilges upon renaming. Fortunately a small blonde child was slightly too short to reach the heads quickly so kindly obliged & wee’d in the bilges…”Roam”will be forever grateful I’m sure.

Daddy is now back onboard which caused squeals of excitement from us all! We are back to family boatlife and what we signed up for. Our trip is now back underway.

We suddenly jumped into a frenzy of boat-work to get the boat ready for a 3-day (500nm) sail to the ABCs. We were shoehorning this much anticipated trip into a weather window whilst Chris was back for 7 days. The day before departure, I was out for a run with a bit of time to think/take advice, then Chris & I actually had 5 mins for a conversation! After 7 weeks of not sailing the boat or checking the systems we were pedal to metal to get things sorted, right the wrongs I’d been left in charge of! A much more chilled option was a leisurely sail through the grenadines where we knew there will be a highway of kid boats fleeing the hurricane belt to the relative safety of Grenada and some chance to do a bit of kitesurfing.

So not too many goodbyes needed. We did have to say goodbye one particular boat of stars who I’m going to miss anchoring right next to after 8 months. I’m positive they will enjoy the peace and quiet without me bothering them every 5 minutes like an over-excited puppy who hasn’t had human contact. So long “Nomadica” we’ll miss you lots.

This morning we got up with the sparrows and had left Martinique by 530am. Friends on “Entelechy” are on our starboard hip. Technically we’re just ghosting them as we only have a AIS receiver & they can’t see us. We’re running the stinky sargasso seaweed gauntlet and after 5 back downs to clear weed and a sneaky squall that woke us up we’re on the move.

We’re heading past St.Lucia and St.Vincent to Bequia in 15-20knts of breeze. The gennaker has been out for half of the day but progress has been slowed by a tonne of head on current. We hope to throw down the hook into Bequia this evening.