One year in…

OMG! We both looked at each other in disbelief as we realised we were approaching our first anniversary of this extraordinary time in our lives. As everyone says, where has the time gone?

SUE’S EXPERIENCE:

Today, the 14th February, marks the day in 2014 when we left Australia to commence this new stage in our lives. My reflections on the past twelve months are easily divided into two areas: our boat and what I have learnt.

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Loving the lifestyle

Kool Kat 1: Mal, having sailed with previous owners Linda and John for five weeks the year before, was a little nervous but basically knew what to expect. I, however, was a tad more anxious! Excited, but anxious. I had only seen Kool Kat once three years earlier. Would she have enough room to house all my worldly possessions I was bringing from home? Could she handle my culinary attempts using a small 3-burner stove top and oven? How could I get in the dinghy at the dock and off the dinghy at the other end without falling into the drink? What would she do when I pushed instead of pulled that lever or button? Did she know that I DIDN’T know much at all.

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Kool Kat with Kitty Kat (dinghy)

The answer is she has been the most patient (outside Mal of course) and forgiving friend I could have asked for. She safely stores everything I ask of her, she teams with me to prepare some fabulous new dishes, I only fell in the water once which wasn’t her fault, and she quickly regrouped after I inadvertently turned off her solar panels. She is a beautiful girl and I love her 🙂 She gives me a freedom I haven’t experienced before, she has helped me overcome my disabling seasickness and, best of all, she’s contributed to my love of sailing.

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Helping raise the mainsail

Things I’ve come to learn (in no particular order):

  • dark nail polish leaves marks
  • haircuts don’t happen every six weeks
  • Family are a long, long, long way away
  • I can paddle board
  • I can scuba dive
  • 15 hours is an awkward time difference
  • I miss my friends
  • Mal isn’t responsible if water gets in my goggles
  • I can prepare a pretty good meal with limited ingredients
  • I can make wonderful new friends and be inspired by so many of them
  • Drinking a G&T with Mal and watching the sun go down is pretty damn good
  • my body serves me well
  • I love being on or underwater
  • I can save my iPhone from drowning when falling in the water
  • I can maneuver Kool Kat in tight situations while Mal hoists the anchor
  • we can live ‘in each other’s pockets’ without killing each other
  • simple things can bring an enormous amount of joy
  • Australia is a bloody long way from The Caribbean especially when flights are delayed or missed!
  • I love living so close to the natural environment
  • That yachties are a unique breed of people – helpful, friendly, adventurous, and, best of all, I’m now one of them!
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Always grab some shade

One thing I already knew, but that living 24/7 together in a confined space has confirmed, is that Mal and I make a great team. Mal has borne most of the initial worry and responsibility of our new lifestyle. He rarely loses his patience with me, he never gets overwhelmed because, as he always says, “there is a solution to every problem” and he just sits down and works it out, sometimes with my help. He has been my best teacher. Happy Valentine’s Day Mal! ❤

It’s been a great year and we are thrilled that a few family and friends have been able to make the journey to share it with us. We hope there will be more.

MAL’S EXPERIENCE:

This first year has been a great learning experience for me as every day I learn something new about the boat. It is usually in the form of a breakdown of some sort. We had the generator overheat, raw water-pump fail on the water maker and bad connections here and there effecting the operation of various components. Every day I do something to the boat whether it is polishing, making water, a repair or just preventive maintenance like changing oil and filters.

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The boat has been as good as I expected and better. We have learnt what makes her sail well and how to anchor her securely for the night.

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Chilling at Hermitage Bay

Sue has been brilliant in her application to how things work and her coolness in some of the very confronting experiences we have endured (dragging the anchor during a violent storm is at the top of the list).

We are a team and have our special jobs. Sue is my backup always reminding me of things I usually forget, like, have you done the topping lift or slackened of the sheet before unfurling the genoa.

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To sum up the first year has been fun every day and spending summer in Grenada was very special as we would not met so many people who have become very good friends. Our data base has over 80 boats who we have met along the way. It is a delight to meet up with them again when we drop anchor in a bay somewhere. We have visited seven countries and twelve islands to date whilst covering almost 700 nautical miles. Not bad for our first year!

Thanks for following our blog, we’ve loved bringing our adventures to you. Sue & Mal xx

 

Adventures on the SS Minnow (aka Kool Kat 1)

Gilligan (Jon) and Ginger (Gail) left an Icy Toronto at -13 Degrees to crew on the wonderful SS Minnow with the Skipper (Mal) and Mary-Ann (Sue). Arriving at the airport, to the driving rain and high humidity, we wondered what we were in for.

Having been met by Skip and Mary–Ann we descended to the bar of the Antigua Yacht Club in Falmouth Harbour, and had an immediate drink to start our 8-day cruise.

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SS Minnow

After our debriefing by Skip, under direction of Mary-Anne, we settled into life on-board. Over the next eight days we were told we will Sail, Snorkel, Swim, Motor, Drink, Sleep, Rest and do as we are told (by Skip).

Spent day one in and around Falmouth and English Harbours getting rid of our land legs and hoping that our sea legs would hold us in good stead.

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After climbing Fort Barrington overlooking Deep Bay

At night we spent a very enjoyable evening with Yachty friends on s/v Purrfect, eating and drinking far too much. Next morning we set sail for Jolly Harbour followed by pouring rain and fluky winds.

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Off Five Islands Harbour

Skip and Mary–Ann are doing their best to make our experience memorable, but no need for that as the experience of being on such a pleasurable yacht with good Company is surreal for us Landlubbers.

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The Skip and Mary-Ann in action.

The beaches are incredible, and we are experiencing as many as we can. Out of this world!! Gilligan is in Heaven!

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Jolly Beach

Having all suffered from internet deprivation, we convinced Skip to move to Hermitage Bay so we could feed our addiction but really so we could again swim off the boat in sparkling blue waters. At night we were treated to the culinary delights of Skip and Mary-Anne. What pleasures came out of the Magma and the Galley!

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Ginger and Gilligan cooling off!

After two days of heaven in Hermitage Bay and Jolly Harbour, our leaders told us we are going to go somewhere they had have never been before. We are off to Great Bird Island.

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SS Minnow moored at Great Bird Island behind Gilligan, Ginger and Skip!

Despite again being without the Skip’s beloved internet for two days we had a fantastic time walking to the top of the island, swimming at North Beach and South Beach…isolated and beautiful beaches that you only remember seeing in travel brochures. It is amazing how you can cut yourself off from the real world and lapse into Paradise. We also saw Skip at his best as he chased a yacht as it was circling its anchor because the unskilled Captain had left the engine in gear. Thank God for our Skip, well done (in future if Skip could learn to whistle he would save himself a lot of energy).

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Ginger on the bow

We awoke the next day and were told we are going to Jumby Bay on Long Island. The island houses a very expensive resort that does not let yachties land ashore..AND, guess what, Good Internet! yippee 200 emails to deal with …welcome back to reality. This was quickly solved by a swim in the azure bright blue waters.

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SS Minnow anchored in Jumby Bay, Long island

What did we learn from our adventure on Minnow. Always place a coaster under any glass, on any surface; do not under any circumstances bring sand onto the boat; only leave dinghy when it is square to boat; always rinse anything that has come into contact with salt water; hot water is not required; don’t slam freezer door but firmly shut fridge door.

You can see why Skip and Mary–Ann have a superb boat that is worthy of their pride.

Thanks Skip and Mary–Ann for a memorable time on the Minnow. We will not forget your warmth, friendship and hospitality for a long time….even better, the Minnow didn’t get lost. Gilligan’s instructions to Skip must have worked.

Skip & Mary-Ann’s postscript: We invite our guests to write a post and this one is a cracker! We had a ball with Ginger and Gilligan and miss their great company. Particularly those deep and meaningful questions that only Gilligan can pose: such as, why is the Boxing Kangaroo flag flying upside down Skip? We loved it that Ginger had some PBs AND finally saw a Green Flash! Miss you guys, love Skip and Mary-Ann xx

Barbuda

Barbuda is an island in the country of Antigua. It is such a contrast to all the volcanic islands we have previously been to; it’s low with the highest point just 125 ft above sea level. It is also very undeveloped and boasts a population of only 2,000. It is surrounded by shoals and reefs with beautiful long beaches, two of which we visited were 11 miles and 16 miles! We travelled with Gwen & Guillaume from Slow Waltz and had a beautiful few days.

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What can I say? Beautiful Barbuda!

The island is about 30 nm from Antigua and we had a lovely sail, averaging 6.5 kts with ENE winds up to 15 kts. We had a reef in as the forecast was for greater winds but we didn’t need it. Gwen took photos of Kool Kat and I took photos of Slow Waltz 🙂

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I’m taking photos of Slow Waltz
Good conditions
Good conditions
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Slow Waltz

On arrival we anchored in Low Bay and soon met the locals.

The next day we hired bikes and rode to Two Foot Bay on the north-east coast of the island.

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Bike owner Johnathon slept through our knocking so we rang him from outside his home and woke him up. Always ring otherwise I may not hear you!
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Easy riding with no hills.

Following our yummy hamburgers for lunch we then went with our guide, Clifford, or Guinness to his mates, to the frigate bird sanctuary. They are currently nesting so there were thousands either sitting on nests, attracting a partner or building a nest. The male can have a wingspan up to 7.5ft and even though they are a sea-bird, they can’t swim so they can’t land in the water. Clifford mentioned that they co-feed with the brown booby bird who plunges deep into the sea, herding a school of fish to the surface where the frigate bird swoops down and picks up dinner. Sounds like a good arrangement for the frigate bird!

To attract a female the male inflates his red-coloured throat pouch and makes a drumming sound with his beak. If that’s all he does she’s not particularly interested. She also requires him to gather twigs for the nest. She only lays one egg per season, both will sit on the nest and gestation lasts 44-51 days. At birth the chicks are naked but they develop a soft white down soon thereafter. It was a great experience to see these magnificent birds breeding.

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After a big day we’ve earned a Wadadli, or two!

The next day we navigated our way around the reefs to the south of the island, Cocoa Point. You definitely need your polarised lenses when coming into these areas. We spent a few days here anchored off the 16-mile beach snorkelling, collecting shells, reading and enjoying sundowners on the beach with other cruisers.

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Hawksbill turtle below sea fan coral
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One of my favourite shells, Bleeding Teeth – can you see the little teeth in bleeding gums?
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Sundowners and frisbee on the beach

During the sail back to Jolly Harbour on Antigua, Mal caught a barracuda, which we threw back, and a wahoo, which we didn’t! This is our first major catch on Kool Kat and he attributes his success to a new system of arranging the lures which Josh from s/v Cavu explained to him (the gorgeous young guy in the green/orange shorts above). Thanks Josh, we owe you!

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Mal with his 3ft+ wahoo. Woohoo!

Whilst in Jolly we caught up with friends we hadn’t seen for a few months, met some new ones and replenished our larder before heading around to investigate the eastern (windward) side of Antigua. But, that’s in the next post!

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Old friends Izzy and Jeff, Gwen and Guillaume, new friends Carol and Paul enjoying 1/2 price pizza night at Al Porto Restaurant.
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Anne and Tony from Pavo Real with Gwen, Guillaume and Mal on board Kool Kat having just finished Wahoo fish tacos! Yummmmm!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as we had living it 🙂 Sue & Mal xx