Boat boys - you either love them or hate them
Endure them, ignore them
Humour them or hide from them
Lie to them or buy from them.
Despite their perseverance - they are the charm of the Caribbean.
On entering a bay they will make their way towards you,
In brightly coloured row boat
On old fashioned white surf board
In red shallow short canoe
On narrow one-oared skiff
In round shell with white sheet as sail.
Whatever their style of boat they will cheerfully greet you!
You want lobster today, tuna or king fish - you buy?
How much - we say.
Fifty US dollar -you pay?
......No not today!
'Garfield the Cat' scoots up on his board and grabs side of boat.
'I have fresh grapefruit, plantain and limes for you.'
I decline with apologies. I have plenty.
'Well, you have sweets, spaghetti, rice?
Some old clothes would be nice.
My family is large and I have many children to feed.'
I feel guilty. I am soft hearted. I realise his need.
But there are six boat boys on call.
And I must be fair to them all.
'Speedy' is next with his beaming smile.
He welcomes us to St Vincent isle..
'I am not like the others - I make all my jewelry. You buy?
Bracelets from shells and volcanoes - you try?
I have de necklace for your man
He'd look good wid dis fine blue stone one!'
I look at a few. I am tempted..
He grins and encourages me. He senses financial gain.
And once more I buy from de boat man.
'Humble African' will moor you,
'Phat Shag' will bring you water.
Plain 'Ken' will sell you black ice,
'Kamakaze' does a good banana bread
and 'Lone Fisher's ' tuna is supposedly nice.
'Daffodil' will launder your clothes,
'Black Prince' has fresh moist croissant.
Their names are a study and reveal their characters
Adding flavour to a peaceful anchorage.
We have, however, been warned.
Some make false mooring bouy charges.
Others make bad knots and untie you!
Many return and thieve your dinghy.
So, we take care in every new bay
As boat boys can make or
.............break your stay.
600 Miles from the Cape Verde Islands
Listening to the Brass Alliance on our ipod in the cockpit tonight I realise
how different our Christmas will be this year. It is 8.30pm, Pete is in bed
and I am propped up on a pillow dressed in foul weather gear, life jacket,
harness and head torch. I am on the port side of the boat as a slight drizzle
is prevailing the other side. We are sailing in a light breeze of 12knots
and in the darkness our boat's wake is disturbing the plankton beneath the
surface creating an amazing display of phosphorescence. This is the only thing
that I can see all around me. No moon. No stars. No pale clouds. Nothing.
It is pitch black. 700 miles behind us is Africa. 1500 miles ahead - the Caribbean.
North and south? Well - just the Arctic and Antarctic! We are very alone.
....Where on earth can one be so remote from civilisation? We are unlikely
to see another boat until we reach Barbados.
This brings me back to the brass band to which I am listening. I first saw them - four Russian brass students - playing outside the now mourned for Woolies in Minehead High Street. It was 5 days before Christmas and the sound of their gentle, smooth playing resonated around the town adding the much needed cheer to this special time of year. How different our 20th December is today. I have the luxury of being able to contemplate for hours on end the vastness of this ocean - it is ponderously difficult to come to terms with it. For now we are at peace with the sea and let us hope that this will continue for the whole of the journey.
Brass band music, phosphorescence fireworks, a rolling sea, solitude .......does this sound wonderful to you? Well, we are coming to terms slowly with this vast empty ocean and its loneliness, and it is sometimes very scary!
For those celebrating Christmas traditionally - enjoy your day, we shall be thinking of you with longing hearts and wistful minds. Christmas day will remind us that we are such a tiny, tiny dot on this earth and that we should cherish every dot which is joined together to make our universe and life.
MY, you are wondering! Has she found some special spirituality on the ocean passage? Who knows. But with a brass band playing the odd carol in the background, who wouldn't want to philosophise.
Would I be Me
If I were not now at sea
Would I be me?
If I were not here on this vast blue Atlantic Sea
Would I still be me?
The me I have come to know faces a challenge head on.
This me knows that with a positive attitude fear will be overcome.
This me will work quite selflessly.
For this me at sea realises that this way our life will flow more easily.
Things I do... and
Things I say.
What I give..... and
What I don't say.
These are different when I am at sea
Everyone's relying on me to be a better me!
Me at sea is probably better than me elsewhere.
Me confined to just this small vessel
Will make me share.....and think.......and care.
When I am at sea......
.............I am the new me!
Fishermen foraging the frothy seas.
Fighting back the fog and freshning breeze.
They've forgotten their families for days times four
So their fishing nets can feed them forever more.
Flat pharoah fish, flying gunard fish, feisty stripped mullett fish by the score.
All have been found on the ocean floor.
Fussy fingers fumble their catch finding firm mussels and fried egg jelly fish
To make more hard earned cash.
Facing their final port the fishing boats finish their foray.
Their moorings fixed fast to the floating quay.
Filthy old garments with a fragrance of fish fill the floating hull's wires
Fluttering freely for hours and hours.
These fearless Moroccan fishermen face another night.
Fending off frightening fiery storms.
Their frugal pay reflects not their hard furvent labours.
Fish, fresh, flat, fragrant, fancy are savoured
For foreigners, famous,and fettishly fat.
What will the future hold for the ocean's furtile floor.
When they've been scoured fiercly by the fishing fleets?
Foggy banks may forever endure
But within them the fishermen may finally face defeat.
Time with Brother Mike
Brother Mike from France is with us - adding a little 'je ne sais quoi'
He amuses us with his adventurous tales.
He learns the ropes, plots courses, hoists sails,
Trying not to make any faux pas.
We leave our port in a stiff force seven.
With Mike looking as green as hell.
I am sure he'd rather be in heaven
Than in this long Atlantic swell.
A large pod of small dolphin join us, gracefully.
Diving and arching in the white frothy sea.
They don't stare at us, they don't play.
They just swim on by eagerly.
At long last our land is in sight.
The seas abate, the winds more light.
We dropour anchor in a sandy bay
And make the boat safe for another day.
What will tomorrow's weather bring?
Will the winds be too light or too strong to sail?
Will Mike recover his malady enough to sing?
Whatever the answer be, we must hail
And thank Mike for his generosity!
Another Day in Paradise
The turgid, dull clanging of the bell in the Iglesia de Nuesta Senora de la Conception (phew!)
The morning ferry traffic at the port terminal is another indication that we
The thick dark clouds cling high to the pointed Anage mountains
The wind in the rigging whistles its song
It's another day for Pete and I in paradise!
But not for long ....
The day unfolds bringing doom and gloom.
Seals and bearings worn too soon.
Jabsco pump now obsolete
Searching chandlers is challenging Pete.
Phone calls to England.
Text messages to friends.
Departure deadlines to amend.
Paradise is lost
Relaxing days are put on hold
Coffees grabbed to stave off worry
And solutions slowly unfold.
The moon rises unnoticed over the tall masted ships.
The city lights glow amongst the sculptures of Henry Moore.
The bells toll but not for me.
And the day ends in harmony.
It's A Little Bit Scary
It's a little bit scary doing the night watch.
On the 8-11 slot it is very dark.
The moon is not yet up - an odd star or two blink from behind a cloud.
I am supposed to be on the look out for the lights of merchant ships,
But I haven't seen one for hours and hours.....
It's a little bit eery doing a night watch.
It's a little lonely here doing the night watch.
I am sitting on the captain's seat with my legs curled up.
Gazing out into the darkest black sky possible.
I turn my back on the distant lightning storm taking place in the northern sky.
I'd rather not know what was happening ahead of time!
It's a little bit strange doing the night watch.
I try to distract myself from the empty nights.
I have already completed 'The Codeword'.
I have read two magazine articles -( I never knew so many people made miniature dolls houses!)
I wander around the tiny cockpit faintlessly trying to do my exercises.
I look out aft, stern, port and starboard - there is nothing there.
It's a little bit odd doing the night watch.
I look forward to my next watch from 2-5am.
I might eat a chocolate bar.
I might feast on biscuits.
I might even put up a sail on my own.
I might dream about sleeping
I might dream.......dream.......dream......dream.....
It's very important to stay awake on a night watch
...........and a little bit scary ...as well.
A Black Shadow
A long black shadow remained just below the surface
Slowly, slowly, slowly ..
- its leathery skin pushes aside the sea and briefly emerges with a tall flume of water.
A small inappropriately sized fin for such a large body
Followed the arching movement of the mammal.
Gracefully it melted below into the deep, blue water before once again catching its breath of life.
Then just as it appeared,
the black leathery shadow sunk to the great ocean depths.
The fin whale of 40 feet in length was the jewel of my day.........
Here with Me
Were you with me ..when the star shot from the sky?
Were you with me ..when I asked you why?
Were you here when the sunset orange over the ink blue sea?
Were you here when the moon crested high over me?
Were you suffering when the ocean frothed its anger?
Were you suffering when I sought your comfort from danger?
I was far away when I asked you why -
I was here when your beauty caught my eye -
I was suffering when you consoled me.
............Now I know the answer.
You - - the tamer of the sea!