RTW October 2015

1st – 3rd October

Can’t believe October is already with us!   We marked the end of September with an amazing trip to the Space Station at Kourou and watched Ariane 5 launched into the stratosphere with two satellites on board.  The first to be released was Sky Muster which will provide internet to remote areas of the Australian outback.   The second one was ARSAT-2 and this was a real nail biter as it’s only the second one launched by the Argentinians.  Their team were ecstatic when everything went according to plan but we could see on the video screen (beamed in from launch control) that they were not relaxed (unlike the Oz team!).   We all returned home very happy little chappies and were even more delighted to find that the tide was slack so we didn’t have to fight our way against the current.

Thursday was a slow start but then we all weighed anchor and moved upstream to Crique Coswine for a night at anchor without the fierce current.  We then all gathered in Duplicat for a ‘Pot Luck Supper’.  Such a lovely evening.  We have made some good friends on this Rally.    On Friday we weighed anchor in the afternoon again and made our way up to Crique Vache in anticipation of our arrival in St Laurent.   The noises of the forest are amazing and once again we had the howler monkeys to accompany our chatter!    It would be wonderful to have more time to explore the Criques off the Maroni River – the rainforest is almost within touching distance as Crique Vache is very deep at the edges.    So amazing to be in the Amazon basin.

Saturday morning was the grand arrival in St Laurent with all the fanfare the town could muster.  We were greeted by dancers and drummers in a pirogue, the local kayak club came out in force to say ‘Hi’ and then we had an official welcome with an individual announcement for each boat before we were presented with flowers and gifts.  It was a really lovely way to mark our arrival at our final destination.

The afternoon was spent socialising with the locals and press and then we were given an amazing tour of the ‘Transportation Camp’ – a prison by any other name.   Man’s inhumanity to man never ceases to amaze us and having just seen the film Papillon the horror of the regime was all the more acute.

We have to say that after all the activity we retired to Ocean Rainbow to recover!    We spent a little while reflecting on what we had been doing these last 5 weeks.   Hard to realise that we had actually made it to St Laurent du Maroni but, after all the planning, folk saying we were batty to sail against the current and prevailing wind (you’re right, by the way!), the trials of broken fridge (still broken!) and the additional nuisance of a non-charging wind generator (Whizz is on strike), we feel an immense sense of achievement and we have enjoyed the challenge and had a whole lot of fun and laughs.  It’s been well worth the trip.

Sunday dawned bright and early.   We got Ocean Rainbow ready for visitors.   It was fun showing folk around our home but nobody wanted to swap places with us!    We then had Nicky from Baloo over  for sundowners and Jean also joined us.     A lovely end to another lovely day in La Guyane.

Monday 5th October was the official end of the Nereid Rally and David Matelicani returned to his everyday job – creating a marina in St Laurent du Maroni.   We, on the other hand, will continue to enjoy ourselves here but we did have a supper on Duplicat again to mark the occasion.  This time there was a french theme which was extremely popular and we made the most of the evening playing games – sensible ones as you can see from Claire’s face!    This is Film Crew Claire who is making a documentary of the Rally with Adrien (whose picture is sadly missing and it was his last night which is why we had the supper!).   Our official dinner is at the end of the week.  We also played the cornflake packet game and we are pleased to report that Granny can still pick up a postage stamp sized piece of paper from the floor without using her hands!!

7th – 8th October

Paramaribo 108

Charbonnier home

Last year the Nereid’s Rally had a bit of bother getting ashore in Paramaribo and sorting out customs formalities so this year David made the decision to mount the visit from the French Guianan side.   On Tuesday we obtained our Visitor Card from the Suriname Consul in St Laurent so we were ready to set off on Wednesday morning for our adventure across the river.   We took a water taxi from the port, which is located in the Charbonnier area, across to Albina where we were met by Deepak and his ‘reliable’ car.    We had a very entertaining and informative trip with him but we were a little later arriving in Paramaribo than the other car as we had an unexpected stop on route to ‘stick’ the car back together!  We’d heard an awful graunching sound and when inspected it turned out that the plastic radiator guard was coming loose.   Sailors are notoriously resourceful so it wasn’t a surprise to find that Jean was carrying first aid plaster in her rucksack and this was used to stick the grill back in place!

Presidential Palace

Presidential Palace

Palmentiun

Palmentiun

We arrived at the Hotel, dropped off our bags and headed out to lunch at ‘T VAT’ – a great little restaurant just around the corner from the Presidential Palace.    Pom is the national dish so we duly tried it and were not disappointed.   It’s made from tajer, known locally as elephant leaf, which is baked with chicken, lime juice, cinnamon and garlic until golden.  Reinforced by food, we set off to investigate the surrounding area.  We called in at the Hotel Torarica where we had a look at the dock used by last year’s rally.   Access was via some steps which could only reached by dinghy at high tide – a bit of a challenge – but it would have been fine if the Hotel hadn’t been so difficult about having yachties walking through their grounds.  One day, perhaps, Paramaribo will sort things out but in the meantime we were grateful to be visiting without Ocean Rainbow.   Paramaribo is full of casinos and David had recommended the view from one so we duly took the lift to the top but that’s the closest we got to the ‘tables’!   Then we continued our walk, passing the Presidential Palace, numerous statues of various ‘personages’ until we came to the Palmentuin where we met Joseph who talked non-stop and managed to hand over some ‘good wishes’ lollipop sticks in exchange for a little money for food!  A real rascal!    The Palmentuin is the only public garden in the City and it backs onto the Presidential Palace … as you can see, we could have easily slipped inside to have a wander around!   Apparently Suriname’s Presidents don’t live in the building, preferring to rent much larger and grander mansions on the banks of the Suriname river.

We did try and have a look at the various churches in the City but they were all shut for the afternoon.  The Dutch Reformed one is shut for renovations, the Catholic one shuts at 1pm and the Lutheran was just shut.  The Synagogue also looked well and truly locked up but there was sign of life at the Mosque.   Deepak, our driver, was especially proud to point out the Synagogue and Mosque sitting alongside each other as evidence that religion has not brought any conflict in Suriname.    It certainly was a very unusual sight.    We also went to Zeelandia, the oldest monumental building in Paramaribo, dating back to 1613 and the site of the December Massacres in 1982 when 15 people were executed in what is now the restaurant.    After a refreshing ice cream we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

 

The Garden of Eden is a real treat.  We’ve never been to such an amazing place and thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening.  No idea where it was as we went by taxi, but anyone wishing for a special night out in Paramaribo won’t go far wrong but would need to book a table .. that’s if you enjoy Thai cooking!   We returned to our hotel for a well-earned sleep!   On Thursday morning we had a leisurely start and went off to see the Cathedral – a bit of an upset there as James wasn’t allowed into the church wearing shorts although I was!   Reverse discrimination if ever we’ve come across it!   Still, he could see the amazing interior from the entrance way.

Paramaribo 091The Cathedral is, apparently, the tallest wooden building in the world.   (Georgetown, in Guyana, has the largest wooden building.)      After that we went and explored the streets and markets of the City.   There is a real mixture of old and new and an awful lot of dilapidated as well.  The markets were fascinating with lots of new fruits and herbs, the most amazing of which was the ‘clay’.   This is sold in various sized balls for a few Surinamese dollars and tastes pretty odd – we think it is made from the residue of cassava – it reminded us of milk of magnesia, pretty medicinal!

 

Soon it was time to make our way back to St Laurent.   We’d had a fascinating taste of Suriname and were very glad to have made the trip but quite happy to be anchored on the French side of the Maroni River!  To top off our great visit and a chance to review all we had seen, we had sundowners with Rick, Mandy and Jean.

9th – 16th October

James doing his Entertainment Officer bit!

James doing his Entertainment Officer bit!

With our stay in French Guiana coming to an end we went through the formalities of checking out, buying provisions for the sea passage and making sure Ocean Rainbow was fit for the trip before going ashore for our final Nereid’s Rally Dinner.   David had booked a table at the back of one of St Laurent’s popular restaurants where we could indulge in huge bowls of moules with side dishes of frites.  We were in our element, our favourite French dish of all time!   As a way of making the evening memorable we came up with the idea of the Noscar Awards – Not Only Super Capable Also Resilient – for all the Rally participants.   Claire made little medals for each boat and James prepared a suitable Award Title, some of which are a little ‘in house’ but for posterity they are recorded here:

Noscars 011Award for the most Artistic Boat in the fleet:   SILENT ANNIE … for having “Great Graphics”.

The Continental Award for visiting the most Continents:   GAIA …  “for sailing almost to Africa before heading to South America”.  (Gaia’s route took them virtually to Africa before they headed south to Guyana)

The Fishing Boat Award:   N’OUBLIEZ JAMAIS …  “for catching the most fish with line, nets and dynamite”

The Award for the prettiest boat in the fleet:   PIANO … “goes to the crew as well, of course!”

The Pied Piper Award for being the most Illustrious Leader Boat:   Kim Il David and EILEEN OF AVOCA …. “we followed Eileen here, we follow her there, we followed her everywhere”

The Encyclopedia Award for the most knowledgeable boat:   DUPLICAT …“far better than Google”.

The Sandpiper Award goes, in absentia, to:   BALLERINA GIRL …. “for services to updating the location of sandbars in the Essequibo River”.

(Ballerina Girl had to leave the Rally early to go back to work but managed to run aground on the way out of the River.)

The Devolution Award goes to:   FREYA  … “who sadly devoluted prematurely to Trini …. But we have missed you masses”

(Freya’s autohelm broke and they were unable to fix it, despite all their spares, so had to return to Trini from Guyana.   The trip to and from French Guiana was just too long to hand steer.)

Noscars 015The SAGA/Mount Gay Rum Award for drinking the most rum:   OCEAN RAINBOW … “probably now also the best rum punches in South America”

Noscars 016The Tortoise Award for Perseverance:   DELLA MYRA … “last but never the least”

(This was Jo’s 3rd attempt to join the Rally and this time, despite a lot of trouble with his boat, he made it all the way to St Laurent, albeit a week later than everyone else.)

 

We then had a presentation for David to give him a little reminder of this year’s Nereid’s Rally participants.   David has stated on a number of occasions that he likes ladies with long, luxuriant, dark hair so we organised a special guest to present his present a white Polo-shirt signed and decorated by all Rally participants!!   It was a really, really enjoyable evening and such a great way for us to finish our time with the Rally.

 

Noscars 028Noscars 024On Saturday morning we awoke early, Claire went off to the market (which was stuffed full of wonderful vegetables and lovely people willing to explain how to cook everything) and bought enough fresh fruit and veg for the passage and then it was back to the boat, load up the bike, pack up the dinghy and head off down river to Crique Coswine on the outgoing tide.   James decided to have a last look at the propeller before our trip and was horrified to find that the sacrificial cone anode had fallen off!    We carry spares but it’s not an easy job to fix an anode while the boat is in the water and in the Maroni it’s even more difficult as the water is muddily opaque and so it was a ‘braille’ operation!   James managed to put in two of the screws but the third wouldn’t go and by then the tidal rip was so strong it was no longer safe to be working under the boat so he had to wait for slack tide in the afternoon.   All was successful and that’s another first for us – we normally put the anodes on when OR is out of the water and on the hard.    Later in the afternoon N’Oubliez Jamais joined us in the Crique for the evening and, very kindly, Jean came across in her dinghy and ferried us to her boat for sundowners (Puddle was deflated and packed away).    Then it was an early night ready for the start of our passage back to Trinidad.

Noscars 033We left Crique Coswine in the dawn mist and motored to Yalimapo where we hoisted our sails and left the Maroni river with the tide.   It was a strange 580nm passage, the sea was rather lumpy, the wind was fickle and the current, which was our bugbear on the way down, seemed to disappear quite a lot on the way back!     We did manage to hoist the parasailor but we couldn’t get it to fly well with the light winds and lumpy sea.  We did, however, manage to fly the cruising chute for some hours which was fun, but generally speaking we had the stronger winds at night and we weren’t prepared to use either of the light sails then in case of squalls which, in the dark, we wouldn’t have noticed approaching.   Claire did a bit of whipping on the spinnaker halyard one afternoon and we also played scrabble (James is still King!) but otherwise we read and slept, until our last night when we had a real SNAFU.   With absolutely no warning flag to be seen we heard a clunking and graunching sound and found ourselves wrapped in a fishing net.   Oh joy!   Pitch black, bouncy seas and we’re tied in knots and should we need to use the engine we can’t because the net would wrap itself around the prop.

One of the obstacles we did manage to avoid

One of the obstacles we did manage to avoid

James went over the side with a sharp knife and managed to cut away the majority of the net but we decided to leave the final bits until it was light and we could see what we were doing.   Well, that was the plan.   An hour later there was a blinding white light shining at us and some fishermen gesticulating.   It was too late, we were already over their net.  Again, no flag or warning light; we were retracing the route we had taken on the trip to Guyana so we really hadn’t expected any trouble.   This time the fishermen tried to remove their nets but after half an hour they gave up and cut themselves loose leaving us floundering in the sea.    Why on earth the fishermen didn’t have a permanent light on their boat is beyond us as we would have seen it and avoided it.    Anyway, James once again jumped into the sea armed with a knife and snorkel.

The net was caught around the self-steering rudder and in between Ocean Rainbow’s rudder mounting post and the rudder but luckily nothing around the propeller.   It was a real effort for James to clear everything but it had to be done otherwise we wouldn’t be able to make the approaches to Trinidad where the current on the corner is quite fierce.   Suffice to say, all the struggles paid off and the net was cast adrift.   James even managed to clear the remnants of the first net we had picked up.   We managed to avoid any other obstacles (oil rigs, tankers, ferries) and made it into Scotland Bay at dawn where we stopped and checked everything out again – and even tightened the screws on the anode!

Now we are at anchor, once again, in Chaguaramas and have a list of jobs to do before we can head off again on our travels.   James, as you can see has already started on the masthead lights …..

And there’s also a picture of Dragon Fruit …. simply delicious.  If you think of melon and then add a touch of blackberries with the some double cream you’ve got the flavour!

17th – 24th October

Exbury and Lynn Rival 001Well, we have achieved an enormous amount in the last week.  James’ iPad is now fixed – visiting the Apple store, we discovered that it just required a bang on each side to restore the pixels and colour!!   Guess we know for another time but it wasn’t something we would have dared do without supervision!!   Molly the Mop has joined the crew to relieve Violetta of her chores and Claire has ordered and received new specs to replace the ones lost overboard in the Essequibo river (expensive little accident!).    We invited Exbury (Josie and Albert) and Lynn Rival (Rachel and Paul) for farewell sundowners on Ocean Rainbow as we are all heading in different directions for this sailing season.

Pontoon at Power Boats 001On Monday we headed into Power Boats Marina, Dock C, Berth 7 ….. not the easiest of medi-moorings but our neighbours very kindly helped with the lines.   We then spent our time in the berth gingerly negotiating our way on and off the boat!    We should have gone in stern to but we wanted a bit more privacy and any wind that might flow through the marina.    Dennis, from Goodwood Marine, came on board and dismantled Silent Wind for us.   What a disaster.   Not only have the brushes failed and the ‘coils’ burnt out but, after only 18 months, the head is delaminating.   Hopefully this is a ‘one-off’ occurrence and the manufacturers will provide a new head as the machine is still under warranty.   The only problem is the time involved – Silent Wind is manufactured in Portugal!    We shall keep our fingers crossed.   Dennis is doing his very best for us.

On a far more cheerful note, Keate has fixed our fridge.   We have replaced the compressor, the ASU and the thermocouple and we now have a very efficient fridge.   We should have just bitten the bullet 3 months ago and had a new compressor, electronic unit and thermocouple but Keate didn’t want to put us to extra expense.   Trying to get the thermocouple delivered by DHL was a bit of a mission.  It took 2 days for the package to arrive in Trinidad from Florida and then a further 7 days for the parcel to clear customs.   The joys of the sailing life!

It’s not all been gloom and doom though.  We have had the odd ‘party’ and social.   Our first day in Power Boats we met up with Honey Ryder and Moody Mistress (Robert and Carla) in the Roti Hut for a delicious chicken roti.  That certainly broke the day up a bit.   In the evening we went across to Coral Cove for the jam session (the last one with Persephone) which was lovely with a large group of players and supporters.

Tuesday night we went out to an amazing Indian restaurant for dinner to present the Nereid NOSCAR awards to Ballerina Girl (Don) and Freya of Clyde (Anne and Alan), both of whom had travelled to Guyana with us but hadn’t made it to French Guiana.   It was a great evening and fun to share the experiences of our last night with Nereid Rally in St Laurent with Don, Anne and Alan.  What’s more, Don, very kindly treated us all to dinner and then topped everything off by taking us to a Haagen Dazs café for a superb ice cream.     Very spoiling.

On Wednesday we moved back out to a buoy in the anchorage.   Such a relief as the marina was airless and with the temperature reaching 36 degrees – we were melting.    It took all day to get the boat back in order but we are now looking fairly tidy again and not tripping over ourselves.

On Thursday we had a totally amazing day thanks to Jesse James.   We joined Honey Ryder, Moody Mistress and Bruce from Wild Matilda to go on a tour to La Brea Pitch Lake in the south of Trinidad.    Who would have thought it would be so interesting to see a lake of tarmac!!?   Ameena was our guide across the lake and we were grateful for her advice on the route as it would have been very easy to have ended up with oily, tarry shoes and clothes.   As it was, James managed to get bitumen on his ‘borrowed’ flip flops and spread quite a bit of it around as he walked along swinging his stick after he’d been playing in the bitumen puddles.      The surface of the lake was like a children’s modern play park, all squishy and bouncy.  There were little bubbles on the surface caused by trapped methane which you could pop and pull back to expose the soft bitumen, and there were lots of bubbles in the water where the methane gas was escaping.   Probably a good thing that no one had a lighter so we couldn’t ‘play with fire’!    We waded through water and across fault lines to reach the far side of the lake where the bitumen was regenerating and that is where we were allowed to play.   We watched from afar the actual process of stripping the bitumen, putting it in buckets and transporting it on rails to the vats for boiling and reduction to asphalt.    We returned to the car park thoroughly educated and really glad that we had visited.

It would be impossible to go on a Jesse tour without sampling some of the local food and we were not disappointed.   On route to the Pitch Lake, Jesse stopped off at Singhs Doubles and we were treated to Sahina (callaloo wrapped around split peas and deep fried in batter), Aloo pie (potato pie with sweet spicy sauce) and ??? (need to check!) plus a delicious sweet made from condensed milk, milk powder and ginger.   At lunch time we all had a roti – again delicious and quite different to the one we had had on Monday in Chaguaramas.

We then continued the tour, heading back north towards the Carina swamp.   It was a long drive but Jesse kept us all entertained with local history and information.  We passed the homes of his relatives, he updated us on the political situation, we discussed the yachtie industry … the time flew and before we knew it we were visiting Hindu Temples.   It hadn’t been on the original agenda but Jesse made time for us.    There are more than 360 Hindu temples in Trinidad but two of the most famous are the Temple in the Sea and the Dattatrey Mandir.

Siewdass Sadhu spent 25 years building the Temple in the Sea but died before it was completed.  The Trinidadian government actually finished the project in 1944 and commemorated it on the 150th Anniversary of Indian Arrival Day.    It is open to the public but we visited outside opening hours, however we did have a good walk around and look.   We all found it rather strange that such a famous temple should be surrounded by so many broken murtis, pots and what looked like rubbish.    It gives the whole area a rather ‘unloved’ feel but we understand that it is part of the Hindu culture.    Then we moved on to Dattatrey Mandir which is an enormous pink building covered in small statues and filigree ornaments with two life sized elephants at the entrance to the meditation centre.  The building is dedicated to Dattatreya, the Hindu Trinity and the structure took two years to complete with stonemasons flown in from India who then worked alongside local artists.      In the grounds is the largest Hanuman Murti (85ft) – Monkey God – that has been built outside India.

From there we headed off to the Caroni swamp where we all decamped into a boat and were driven gently down the river through the mangroves.   There were blue herons and egrets by the dozen but the most spectacular sight was the freshwater caiman.  Our guide spotted it in shallow water and, unable to sink back down into the water to hide, the caiman climbed out onto the bank and we were able to have an amazing close up view of him and his white tipped tail.     We also saw a very sleepy boa constrictor …. We’re now wondering if it was stuffed as it looks remarkably similar to the one in our guide book which was written 3 years ago!!!

We continued on through the swamp until we came to a large open area with an island in the middle covered in mangroves and that is when we saw scarlet ibis in their hundreds.  We’d seen a few flights going overhead as we approached the open area but nothing had prepared us for this sight.   Truly magnificent, the colour just has to be seen to be believed and the numbers were astonishing.   We really wished we’d got a better camera to capture the vivid colour but our photos will remind us.   And, as you will note, Jesse made sure we didn’t go hungry – he made pineapple chow en route, left it to marinate while we watched the birds and then we all munched our way back to the van.  A truly great trip.

After that we needed a rest!   Friday was a slow start but it ended with a bang as we went to another jam session and this time Claire’s guitar was ‘wired for sound’ and she had her own mike too!!    A very different kind of music to the Monday jam session but just as much fun.  On Saturday we were up early and headed into Port of Spain to the fruit and vegetable markets.   An excellent place to pick up really fresh produce at a fraction of the cost of the local stores.  We came home laden with supplies for the next week.

25th – 31st October

What a storm!  Thunder, lightning, wind, driving rain and waves – we felt we were doing about 7 knots through the water but in reality we were tied to a buoy and theoretically stationery.   We had quite a night and were very glad our buoy held firm, unlike some in the anchorage.   One yacht spent the storm circling around waiting for the seas to calm down so that they could anchor.   The yacht next to us also dragged its mooring buoy but they were oblivious and it wasn’t until they actually hit us and damaged our bow light that they moved.   Really tedious as the replacement light we bought (our expense, not theirs!) is not quite the right fitting so we either have to drill more holes or source another light.   Boats …. Always something to fix!

Talk about fixing, it looks as though we might have a result in our quest to get a new head for Silent Wind generator – under warranty.   Claire gave up waiting for a result via the normal channels and went direct to the MD in Portugal, sent photos and referred to the testimonial that we gave initially about Silent Wind’s efficiency.   By return email we had confirmation that a new head was being sent by TNT to New York, on to Miami and then via DHL to Trinidad.   Let’s hope the agent here in Trinidad is right and that by using DHL for the last part of the ‘trip’ he can get the part cleared through customs rapidly.  (We had to wait a week for the thermocouple for the ‘fridge.)   The pictures below just show the state of Silent Wind once we’d dismounted the head.   Not a pretty sight.

So what else, we have finally managed to sew Puddle’s ‘Licence Plate’ in place on the dinghy chaps.   Sabrina has a SailRite sewing machine and she very kindly set everything up for Claire to use the machine on board Honey Ryder.  Truly a great friend – as their boat is ‘in the marina’ they have had an air conditioning unit fitted so Claire stitched in total luxury!     They joined us for sundowners that evening but we had such a laugh that, as usual, we forgot to take a photo!   The next night we joined them ashore for the first game in the World Series Baseball Final, to support their home team Kansas City Royals against the New York Mets.    We dressed in blue, made a crown as befitting the Royals, took along our baseball bat and gloves and sank a couple of beers while cheering on their side.   It was a great game and we are now avid Royal supporters.

 

Our chores ashore were completed with the final version of our security grill – thanks to Mitch from West Coast, Tardieu Marine.  Now we can have some fresh air through the boat and still lock her up.   It won’t stop a determined thief but a casual opportunist should be put off enough to try another boat!   No sooner had we picked up the grill than we went back to Ocean Rainbow, slipped our mooring buoy and headed for the peace and tranquillity of Monos.

Only one other yacht (Jade) at anchor, so total bliss as we finally found ourselves in clear, calm waters where we could swim at any time and where our drinks didn’t fly off the table as a speeding pirogue rushed past with following anti-social wake.   Thursday morning we were entertained by a sea survival course – it brought back vivid memories of our own course in Portishead Leisure Centre swimming pool.  We reckoned this lot got off lightly as, once in the liferaft, they were not subjected to ‘lock down’ and a vigorous shaking!     With their departure we were back to two in the bay.   On Friday, Freya of Clyde arrived.   Once their anchor was set they came over and, while Anne and Claire chatted, Alan and James fitted the electronic bilge pump alarm.   Brilliant.   We have now completed all the tasks required by our insurance inspection.  Many thanks to Alan for his advice, supervision and electrical wire!     With the work completed, it was definitely time for a sundowner!

Saturday was a hoot.  Felix (who had arrived in the bay on Friday afternoon in his Sport boat and introduced himself as he swam past the end of Ocean Rainbow in his birthday suit) then swam past at 6.30am clearly in need of a break; when offered a cup of tea, he accepted and came on board!   His life had involved as many moves as ours and he was full of stories from all the different countries in which he’d worked in the oil industry.   He disappeared off after finishing his cuppa only to return a couple of hours later to invite us – and Freya of Clyde – for a tour of the islands in his very fast motor boat.   It was a great opportunity to see all the luxury houses along the shoreline and find out who owned them.   Quite a few are rarely used, which is a shame as they really do look beautifully appointed.   Our tour took us back to Chacachacare where we spotted the Coast Guard in heavy discussion with a Venezuelan fishing boat (!) before tucking ourselves up in a bay for a lovely swim.   Then it was back to Monos at ‘full chat’ (40 knots!) for lunch.   We invited Felix on board Ocean Rainbow so he rafted alongside and hopped over the guard rail with wine, cheese, crackers and ice cubes!  And we thought we were giving him lunch!   We had a very jolly afternoon thinking that we had nothing else planned (Colin and Kay had cancelled tea and a swim as the weather was supposed to be miserable) only to hear a text message coming in at 3pm … change of plans, weather was much brighter, Colin and Kay were on their way!      It wasn’t long before we spied their red motor-boat on the horizon.   Felix decided he’d better head home to his family so he motored off and made some space for ‘Flat Out’ to raft alongside Ocean Rainbow.    We had a lovely time with them, James and Colin played some backgammon which brought back distant memories for James, whilst Kay and Claire discussed mosquito netting!!  We swam, drank tea and ate flapjacks (Claire’s) and banana bread (donated by Kay).    Sadly they couldn’t stay for sundowners as they wanted to get back home before dark.   But, to end a really great day in the Caribbean, we played backgammon whilst supping our sundowners.   Claire won!   Definitely beginner’s luck and an accomplishment never to be repeated.  A bit like her success rate at Mexican Train Dominoes!     A really memorable day in Monos.

And so ends another month!