Mal’s sister and niece are now back in Australia but sent through the following comments on their recent Caribbean experience! They arrived in Antigua and departed from Sint Maarten, sailing to St Barts and Ile Fourchue with us on Kool Kat.
We finally arrived after a long trip the afternoon of my birthday, so corks were popping as soon as we were aboard – lovely.
Mal and Sue helped us adapt to life on board quickly, although the toilet (head) instructions given on arrival, had to be repeated after some catch-up sleep when it made alot more sense.
Imagine my surprise when I looked into the night sky, expecting to see a whole new array of stars and there was the saucepan and our own beloved Southern Cross! Lower, but there it was (I thought it just belonged to us at the bottom of the World. It was my first time crossing the Equator!) How wonderful to be warm 99.9% of the time and laying in bed with the hatch open and a gentle breeze (mostly) wafting in and the stars visible – this is paradise.
Lots of photographic opportunities were included as the itinerary carefully planned by Mal and Sue took us to so many beautiful places. I was quite nervous to try snorkeling as it’s been a very long time, but I jumped in with encouragement from Mal promising to rescue his sister in the dinghy if I couldn’t make the distance to the beach. I did make it, and that meant when we were in the marine parks I had the confidence to go much further for much longer and even on my own. I’m very grateful for that as swimming with and photographing the turtles and myriad of fish (thanks so much Mal and Sue for graciously lending me the underwater camera) was such a highlight.
Memorable Happy Hours and, of course, French pastries and cheese and tasting local delights were wonderful experiences.
So much fun having the planes almost landing on our head at Sint Maarten’s Sunset Beach at the end of the runway.
Thanks are not enough to Mal and Sue for their generosity in catering for our needs and hospitality for our three week time with them.
6 things I learned about cruiser life:
- The usual hours on the boat are 6.30am – 9pm. Anything later than 9 is a very late night. My friends and family know I am not a morning person, so imagine everyone’s surprise when I spent over a month up and about before 7am!
- The early start to the day usually means that happy hour starts pretty early too. And you must drink at least one beer a day to make up for the nutrients you miss out on drinking water. Don’t worry if beer isn’t your thing. The barman has options!
- Before I got on the boat I was interested in what cruisers do with their rubbish. The answer is pretty boring, you just drop it off on shore in skips at dinghy docks.
- Expect a bit of nudity (not on Kool Kat, but the neighbours). But don’t think of hot young things. Think of middle to much later-aged overweight men that you don’t want to see.
- Provisioning is important. Lists are made. For everything. It’s not simple or quick to pop back to the shops, so if you want something for another day to eat or drink get it on the list.
- There is different language on the boat. Things you might expect: port, starboard, etc. However, when Sue is cold, ie a fresh 24 degrees in the morning, she will wear a ‘long sleeve top’. This is a t-shirt.
On board it took me a while to get my sea-legs. Which meant that whilst I was watching the horizon I could spot turtles. Our first week was in Antigua and I was desperate to swim with turtles. After a busy day and a lot of snorkeling we were resting back on the boat. I spotted a turtle a way off the back of the boat so I gathered snorkel, flippers and jumped in, but I took too long and lost him. After snorkeling around, I eventually gave up and swam back to the boat to freshen up for dinner. When I was rinsing off I saw a different turtle eating grass. I got Mal to confirm my sighting before I jumped in. I got in so quick my goggles were fogged. It was pretty funny when the turtle wasn’t moving much, because it was actually a round rock. Never fear, I saw and swam with so many turtles; they are majestic creatures and absolutely a trip highlight for me.
By then end of our stay I think I had somewhat adapted to boat life. I was good at using coasters for my drinks, remembering to close my port-lights and even took showers after a swim with my bathers on out in the open. As a vacation it was fabulous. I am rapt with all of the additions to my passport and I’m grateful for the swimming to burn off the calories from the pastries.
Thanks again to Sue, Mal and Mum for accommodating my seasickness and for creating so many memories. It was great to have experienced the lifestyle of the cruiser. It was a pretty awesome insight into retirement!
I’d also like to claim Kool Kat rummy tile champion February 2015.
Postscript from Sue & Mal: It was such a pleasure to share our journey with Jan and Bri and it’s true, Bri is Kool Kat Rummy Tile Champion but not without some hot competition! We look forward to having them visit again to explore some new islands.
Cheers, Sue & Mal xx