Update #6 - January 2000

Martinique, West Indies

Distance run to date : 5828 nm
(6708 Statute miles, 10,800km)

Everything went to plan and we had a superbly memorable festive season and ushering in of the Millennium with Jim and Liz Gill, our sailing friends from Southampton. We cruised south to St Vincent and Bequia where we stayed for Chistmas. Here's a picture of Amoenitas storming toward Admiralty Bay, Bequia taken by a guy hanging out off the point in an inflatable :-

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Off Devil's Table reef, approaching Bequia on 21st December

We all loved the peaceful atmosphere on Bequia with it's waterside walkways and many shops and restaurants. On Christmas Eve there was a magic, beach BBQ with three other boat crews from the Si-Oui Net, on a white sandy beach with overhanging coconut palms. On Christmas Day we went swimming and snorkel diving, having our celebration meal ashore at the Gingerbread restaurant. Next morning we sailed on south past Mustique and Canouan to Tobago Cays, anchoring at Saltwhistle Bay on Mayreux. From there it is a short hop to Union Island and it's reef sheltered harbour at Clifton. We had a good night of West Indian revelry there at Lambi's place, complete with brass band and several acts of daring involving stilt dancing, fire eating, limbo dancing and incredible balancing acts. Here is the outer part of the anchorage with Palm Island in the background and the protective Newlands reef between :-

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Clifton Harbour, within Newlands Reef, Union Island, Grenadines

At this point we needed to get our guests back toward the airport, so it was north through sometimes heavy seas, back to St Lucia. We spent New Year around the Anse de Pitons, between the two huge, fairy tale, pointed peaks that rise from the sea at the SW of the island. There is a sweet little restaurant there owned by Lord Glenconner, a celebrity around these parts who did much to develop 'select' areas on Mustique and other islands. We went there for our New Year's Eve bash which was notable for the heavy rain showers and the glitteraty from the fashionable set that we used to read about in the Sunday Times. The Lord was very amiable wandering from table to table engaging with anyone wanting to chat. New Years day started with a superb dive off the Petit Piton, on reefs covered with hundreds of species of resplendent fish and coral. The other news was that we appear to be Y2K bug free. Even our ten year old Koden GPS that was supposed to give up the ghost for two months is functioning OK. Just February 29th to go now!?!

After Jim and Liz left we returned to Rodney Bay to spend a couple of weeks setting about the list of jobs that had arisen since we left the Canaries. We did take some time off though to walk extensively across to the windswept east coast and also to visit the Friday night jump-up at Gros Islet. That is a rich session of West Indian music and culture held in the street in a very poor area. It says a lot about how we have adjusted to the situation here that we could walk the couple of miles to and from that event. A month earlier we would probably of died of fright.

Now we have moved up to Marin on the SW of Martinique. This is a very French island with shops full of the brands we were used to across the Channel. In fact, apart from the heat, it's difficult to believe that we aren't back in Brittany on holiday. There are some superb beaches here. We swam from this one a couple of days ago, had a cocktail at the bar at the end then walked back along the beach at sunset. MAGIC!

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The Flame Tree blossoms contrast superbly with the azure seas

Two other personal stories :-

We came to Marin to see Mike Harrison, the yachtsman who had the heart attack, 800nM off shore on the way in. We had been involved on the comms/coordination side of the rescue, so it was a moving reunion. He looked OK but has a serious heart problem that they are going to tackle in a major and risky operation next week. All of us from the Si-Oui net will be holding our breaths and hoping. It was lovely to see Mike and Jen again as we had been responsible for introducing them to the net.

The other is truly a small world story. Friends, John and Jan Middleton, from Romsey had let us know in an e-mail that one of their old friends, Mike, who we had met at their place, was crewing on a boat called 'Small World'. Much to our surprise we saw the boat in Rodney Bay marina and wandered over to say hello. Mike had gone back to the UK but Dave realised that the owner was Brian Bell who he had sat next to in the Radiation Lab at EMI, Feltham when he first graduated in 1965. That sparked several days of social reminiscing with Brian and wife Vi.

Where to next:

We move on from Martinique to Dominica and then to Guadeloupe. Our plan is to be in Antigua in good time for the arrival of the boys. Paul, Emma and her medical colleague who goes on to Tobago with her for her Elective, arrive on 27th Feb. They leave two weeks later to be replaced by Bruce and Tracey. That will be a superb time of re-union and catching up on all their news. For our part, we look forward to impressing them with our newly acquired (and growing) West Indian Street Cred. It will be a ball.

Meanwhile John and Jan Middleton from Romsey are trying to fix up a way to join us, ideally on the way up to Antigua.

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