Cooking this one-pot stew packed chock full of plantain, breadfruit, salted meat, chicken or fish, spices and coconut is an all-day community affair.
Families gather on the beach and start preparing. It is a lot of work. When I asked if I could take a picture, mama replied “Sure, no problem” and stepped aside. I said I would like her on the picture preparing the meal, but she refused. This is what I encountered several times. Maybe a religious thing?
So I took this picture, They were all busy scraping coconuts and carrots.
The food smells delicious though. I still struggle to prepare a nice Caribbean dish. There are lots of spices and sauces available, but hard to choose which ones I need.
So I just take a pick and at home see how it smells.
Fresh vegetables and fruit is hard to come by. That is, some is available, like bananas and pineapple, but the quality is disputable.
Often the fruit is not ripe at all and I could not manage to get it right.
Or it is ripe already and then you have to eat it the same day.
Laying on anchor in a large bay surrounded by lots of other boats is interesting. People are not the regular sailors I encountered in the Meds. Most of the guys did long trips, even around the world. So nice to visit and exchange experiences.
For instance I met Percy. An American guy who lives on his boat for 5 years now. Lost his wife and was disoriented. But on his boat found some comfort. A nice Canadian couple I met earlier in Guadeloupe. So we share some history.
A Dutch couple from Rotterdam on a nice classical boat. And there is a British lady who bought this old ship.
An American who is rebuilding this beautiful classical yacht.
My neighbor is an American couple who sailed around the world. Just arrived here and now on their way back to the US to pickup their old jobs. We shared some beer and wine.
Everyone with their own stories and plans. For me very meaningful and nice encounters.
On the scooter
Since I did not have the chance to discover the island, I heard of a guy who rents out scooters. He had one for rent for a week and available the next day. But I needed to purchase a temporary driver license. He brought me to the nearest police station. And then the Caribbean way. Four people trying to fill in a small form. So, being the only customer I only had to wait for an hour or so.
I discovered beautiful beaches and lots of waterfalls.
And to give you an impression how it is on a scooter going around the island
It is a small island though and it is an independent country even. Without tourism it will be hard to come by I suppose. I mean with just a 100.000 inhabitants how can you take care of financing roads, hospitals, police, healthcare, etc?
Taxes are quite high. For instance selling your house means the seller and buyer have to pay 10% Property Tax.
Cars are cheap and so is the fuel. So everyone is driving a car on narrow roads. Lots of sailors were warning me about the dangerous traffic, but that is not what I encountered. I met lots of nice people willing to show directions or just curious about me. No nice terraces though, just a dark cabin where you can grab a beer in loud Rasta Music.
The water is apparently quite fruitful. But the rest of the boat stayed clean thanks to my nice coating.
So as you do understand, I did not succeed in getting to NL. That is, I cancelled it after the airline cancelled it three times. Not sure why, but I suspect there were not enough passengers. To leave the boat here and not sure how and when to return was a bit too risky. And as my wise sister said: “This boat is your home. It is all you have. You should be careful with it!”.
A friend asked me to write something about communications at sea.
Well near the coast I need a local sim card and use my phone as a hot spot. That works reasonably well. So during my quarantine I was very happy they offered me one upfront. I can do all with this connection. Even this blog!
Offshore this is of no use of course. There are two options left. You can install a long range radio. With this you can have some internet connection. Not enough to browse the net, but to receive weather forecasts and short email, it will do. Installing and working with these devices is a pain in the ass though. But the subscription costs are extremely low.
The second option is using satellite. Also this is not a comfortable internet connection, but as above.
I choose the latter. So I could receive weather information and send small messages to Ellen including a link to a website that showed her my current position.
The weather is send by means of a small text file for the area I’m in, or to my choosing, called a grib file. My laptop can make a connection with this device. And a special program creates a graphical weather map from this grib file, with forecasts for two days. Pure luxury!
You could have a good internet connection by satellite, but that is extremely costly. Mostly used by commercial vessels.
Besides that, I have a NAVTEX system. This gives me weather and traffic warnings, like upcoming gales, or near Gibraltar I received lots of messages about boats adrift. That is all about immigrants. The range is about a 1000km offshore.
And there is radar. I can see upcoming thunderstorms with it.
So communication is very limited, but for me the weather reports were good and the most important thing.