I love living on a boat sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes living on a boat is tough. I don’t get hot showers- in fact, if our water tanks are running low, I don’t get any showers at all- clean clothes is a luxury, we’re so far away from our friends and families, internet is intermittent, and we’re slaves to the weather.
But then we get times like this, where all the amazing things we love about cruising come together into one epic weekend.
It all started on the Friday morning. We got up bright and early to wave goodbye to Shiner and then motored over to St John where we completed the refreshingly simple process of checking into the USA. We had a very American breakfast (cornflake covered chicken on a waffle… who thinks of this stuff!?) and then moved the boat to the nearby Francis Bay.
We had spent a couple of nights here before and had been sorry to leave. This unexpected return was a huge bonus, not just because it’s a gorgeous bay but because our friends Bo and Allison from Sailing B+A were coming to meet us!
I had assumed it was just going to be the four of us, but it turned out Allison had invited Allende, Wanderlust and Privilege along as well. Most of us had never met except through the world wide web and despite Nick and I being kind of ready for a bit of space after having a guest onboard for 2 weeks, we found ourselves with a very busy social calendar indeed.
Time to try out our lobster snare!
First activity, which took place the second Bo and Allison arrived, was to try to catch some lobster.
Now. Nick had been anticipating this moment for some time. He had even gone to the effort of making a home-made lobster snare and had been itching to try it out. The BVI’s have strict rules about taking marine life from the water without a permit, but now we were in the USVI’s our moment had come. Bo and Allison had been lobstering before around Francis Bay and had a good idea of where to start looking. Sure enough, after about half an hour of diving, swimming and frantically looking for anything that resembled lobster antennae (they’re really hard to spot underwater!) Bo and Nick finally caught one. The snare worked! Success at last.
We were beyond excited and there was a lot of discussion over how to a) kill the lobster (it wasn’t pretty…) and then b) cook the lobster (BBQ’d half, pan-fried half. Delicious!). But our day wasn’t over yet! We had just enough time for an afternoon nap before our evening dinghy raft-up with our new friends.
Why haven’t we had sundowners like this before!?
I had been sceptical about the prospect of a dinghy raft up. Sitting in our dinghy for drinks just did not sound like fun. Well, occasionally I’ve been proved wrong, and this was one of those times. We all tied onto a buoy, someone bought their wireless speaker so we had some tunes, and we had an unimpeded view of a glorious sunset! It was the perfect way to get to know the three boats we had not yet met.
Privilege is a motorboat owned by Riccardo and Signe, a Portuguese/Latvian couple who were new to living on boats. Although, it turned out that they didn’t have to make a lot of the compromises that the rest of us do; AC, proper bathrooms, dishwasher, microwave oven, washing machine, a cabin the size of our boat, cable TV, fast internet and several large fridges and freezers featured on their boat. As Allison said in regards to their ginormous bathroom, “I feel like I could be glamorous if I also had that bathroom.” They were a very amusing, generous couple and seemed slightly bemused by the compromises the rest of us had to make to live on our boats.
Allende is a Helia, which is the latest 44 foot model of catamaran bought out by Fontaine Pajot. It’s brand new- they took delivery of it last year before crossing the Atlantic in November- and utterly beautiful. It’s like an apartment. Nick and I really like the Helia’s and they’re perfect for chartering or pottering around the Caribbean- which is exactly what its American owners, Kristiann and Graham are doing. They run it as a charter around the BVI’s and I’m sure there guests have the most wonderful time- if you’re interested check them out.
Last but certainly not least is Wanderlust a sub-40 foot sailing boat owned by Quinn and Ben who keep a fantastic blog about their sailing adventures. They’re a young American couple who are absolutely hysterical, especially after a few drinks (and there were many, many drinks…). Ben’s beard is almost other-wordly and he is an awesome musician. Once we had heard him sing with his guitar, we kept on insisting he bought it over with him whenever we met up. Excellent entertainment! Quinn and Ben have had some really bad luck with their boat, including- but not limited to!- a dismasting and, in a separate incident, dragging their mooring buoy in the early hours of the morning in Dominica, and getting smashed up on the rocks which resulted in a hole in their hull. They barely avoided sinking the boat and just managed to limp to Martinique to get hauled out. If I’d had those experiences I probably would have thrown in the towel and moved back to London. They’ve carried on, seemingly unruffled by these near-disasters, which just makes me admire them more.
Okay, so now you know everyone, we can continue! That night, after the dinghy raft-up, Kristiann invited everyone back to Allende for dinner (we were totally hoping for that!). We poked around their boat, suitably impressed at the increased level of luxury they have onboard compared to our boat, and then got stuck into the beer, wine, rum, and whiskey. At some point a Thai curry was served, which was delicious. I’m not sure whether Kristiann and Graham had anticipated the evening taking such a downturn (actually, I don’t think any of us did) but it turned into one of those epic nights that are so much fun at the time, but you almost regret the next day because you’re feeling so rough. It was so worth it though.
The following day we went lobstering again- hangovers and all- and were yet again successful! This time Riccardo and Singe offered to host Lobster Lunch, and Nick volunteered to cook, so we convened on Privilege and, once Allison and I were done poking around their boat, overwhelmed at how luxurious it all was, we sat down for a very civilised meal of lobster and prawn linguine with a rose wine that was so much better than the cheap stuff I can usually afford. Our lives are very strange sometimes.
Next week, dolphins, smoothies, sing-a-longs, oh my! See you then!