After one of our scariest sailing experiences - getting caught in a storm packing 50kt winds with extremely poor visibility on leaving North Sound, which resulted in us having to take shelter in Spanish Town - we made it to Trellis Bay, where our “crew” arrived as scheduled, but short of a couple of suitcases, not to mention, soaked with the torrential rain. This didn’t dampen spirits as we got to spend a very enjoyable Mother’s Day at De Loose Mongoose serenaded by a Steel Band, while we awaited the arrival of the luggage. The next few days were spent frequenting everyone’s favourite spot, as well as giving everyone the opportunity to get their sea legs and practice some basic sailing drills like MOB. With watch schedules agreed, provisioning completed and “Team Paw Paw” ready for the adventure, we set sail for Bonaire just before sunset on 15th May.
From a weather perspective, the sail included everything from strong winds to no wind, rough seas to calm seas and rain to sunshine, but a good time was had by all. It was a blessing though that we weren’t reliant on our fishermen for dinner, although there was one catch that got away. Other highlights included seeing the Southern Cross amongst a beautiful starlit sky before the full moon peeped out, wonderful sunsets and sunrises and a chance to “rock” our way across the Caribbean Sea – compliments of Roy’s music collection – as we cruised into Bonaire around noon on Sunday, 18th May.
Our first impression of the island left much to be desired, but we hadn’t realised, being a Sunday, everywhere was closed. On Monday, however, this most unusual little island sprang into life. We hired a car for two days and explored the island, which offers the usual water sports of diving, snorkeling, windsurf, kite surfing, etc, but what makes this island unique are the beautiful beaches and rugged coastlines which spill on to the desert landscape, the abundance of sea life and healthy coral no matter when or where you decide to stick your head under the water, the flocks of pink flamingoes that wade in the inland lakes, the sound of the wild parrots that wake you in the morning, the sunsets, where you feel like you’re in a kaleidoscope, as the sea is so clear it takes on the colours of the evening sky, the friendly, generous and interesting people and the huge iguanas that decide to sunbath on your dingy. Aside from the natural beauty, the island is very well organised and offers top notch supermarkets, stores, etc, but if you take a stroll off the beaten track you’ll discover great restaurants offering local food, as well as bars, bakeries, ice-cream shops, coffee shops, etc tucked away. This is truly a jewel of the Caribbean.
With everything packed up, stored, shipped, rented out or sold we left our home of 15 years and headed for St Martin at the end of March for the final stage of our 6 year plan - Final inspection and acceptance of Paw Paw. We also got the opportunity to spruce her up with new sails, stackpack, dingy, outboard, colours, logos and upgraded electronics.
Our shipping arrived as planned with only a pair of swimming goggles and a coat hanger broken - surprising, considering the distance the goods travelled. After unloading, unpacking and vacating the apartment we had rented, we became permanent liveaboards on the 14th April. The following day, after completing provisioning and collecting our laundry, we set sail for Simpson Bay, in preparation for our early morning crossing to the BVI. The day started with a beautiful full moonlit sail and good winds, shortly followed with a wonderful sunrise. We decided this was the ideal time to toast Neptune with rum for safe travels. Although the wind direction (SE) was not ideal to get to the BVI, we were making good progress until mid morning when the winds became really light. This forced us to turn on the motors and motorsail the remaining distance in order to make our North Sound anchorage before sunset. No complaints though, as it was a beautiful, clear, sunny day and land was spotted a little after noon. We both managed to catch a nap on the new "dog beds" I made - in lieu of cockpit cushions that will be made once we're in Bonaire. We arrived safe and sound around 1730, with Keenan there to greet us. All in all, the perfect ending to a perfect day!
The past few weeks in the BVI have been hectic to say the least. Besides a few bumps in the road in settling into our new life as well as accommodating visitors, we did manage to get the new solar panels, the solar controllers and a bigger battery charger / inverter fitted. At the writing of this article we were anchored in North Sound awaiting the arrival of our "crew" (friends - Justine, Paul, Karen and Dave) on Saturday, 10th May, following which we set sail for Bonaire for hurricane season, as well as to complete the offshore outfitting of Paw Paw.