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Bumps and Bruises - All Part of Life Aboard

Nick Ward

Ty Dewi
Young Sun 43 Pilothouse
April 5th, 2016

Having thoroughly enjoyed St Lucia, the Ty Dewi crew get ready to turn round and start to head north again. But when you’re cruising, goodbyes are rarely that easy…

On our last day on the Island, we needed to pick up a Fedex package. This should have been easy, people we know got stuff from England sent direct to the marina via FedEx and just collected it after a few days. If only. The call centre in the UK told my parents that they didn’t deliver to Rodney Bay (patently wrong), but it would be held at the Castries office. OK, that’s a fifteen minute bus ride and we haven’t seen Castries, the capital, before. So we look up the office on the FedEx website and head into town. It goes pretty well at first, bus is fun and cheap, but it’s a hot day and tempers are a little short all round. We get across town to the office listed, to find that it’s for sending only; collections are from an out of town office that the bus went past two miles back. Grrrr.

We complete some other errands; sending postcards, buying fruit, but the place is uninspiring to say the least, and full of cruise ship passengers and taxi drivers trying to win their business. We are constantly harassed to take a tour of the Island. We get fed up after an hour, and get the bus out to the place where the FedEx office is. We are there by midday. Yes, they have our package, but Customs is holding it for clearance. We need to come back between 2:30 and 3:30 when a Customs officer is there. Grrr and double grrr. We all head back to the boat empty handed, I’ll come back in later.

Later is much easier. Max and I treat it as a jolly adventure and he loves riding the bus. We go, wait in line for thirty minutes, the Customs officer waves us in, looks in the package and says fine, you can go, all without breaking his mobile phone conversation. So we now have our new bank cards and a few other goodies from England.

The next morning we clear out with Customs and irritation (Immigration), and go to fill up with water. After the main tank is full, we fill the spare canisters. Gesa lifted some floorboards and extracted a couple of the empty, twenty litre canisters. The kids were playing elsewhere, and are pretty savvy to open floorboards, so she left them like that. Somehow, messing around, Max managed to fall through, down into the depths of the boat about three feet, grazing his leg on the way. Much tears and distress, quick First Aid and a lot of feeling sorry for himself.

We leave for Martinique and have a lovely, six hour sail in near perfect conditions, arriving at Fort de France just in time to clear in with Customs there and get some shopping. Martinique is excellent for provisions. We stocked up very thoroughly at the Fort de France supermarket, at decent prices too. Early next morning, Max and I visit the fish market and buy some Mahi-Mahi for dinner, sometime this week. Whilst there, we see piles of flying fish, which fascinate Max, so we buy a few for lunch. After that, and a breakfast of nice bread and the good old pain chocolat, we lifted the anchor again and took an hour’s trip across the bay to a beautiful little anchorage called Anse Noir; a small cove with steep cliffs either side, a lovely black sand beach and apparently, great snorkeling around the edge.

Local Fishing Boats in Martinique

Local Fishing Boats in Martinique

When we arrive, I get to work on lunch. First clean your fish. The kids love to watch as I cut the fins from the fish, descale and gut them. They take the leftover tails, heads, everything and examine it in detail. Not for the squeamish, but they have no such inhibitions. They are less interested in eating them, but we find flying fish to be delicious, fried in a little olive oil and served with brown bread and salad. Three of the fish had roe, so we have flying fish caviar!

After Max’s tumble into the bilge, today was Issie’s turn. We went snorkeling, one of her favourite things. At one point, I am with Max and notice a creature floating in the water in front of us. I stop and look – it’s a ribbon like jelly, about an inch in diameter and perhaps three feet long, twisted on itself a bit, and with a purple red centre. Having never seen this before, I call Gesa and Issie over. Issie arrives, her usual “bull in china shop” self, and doesn’t listen to me telling her to wait. She swims right into it. Immediate yelps of pain – “I felt electricity, Mummy” – and we can’t quieten her down. Not really realizing exactly what has happened, we try to calm her, but she screams all the way back to the boat, a ten-minute swim. Max and I follow behind them, and she is still crying a lot as we get out of the water. Her arms are covered in bumps, and in many of them are tiny little hairlike spines, almost like nettle stings. We take stock and reach for the first aid book, which does list some things, but nothing very clear. I remember that lemon juice is good for sea urchin spines (it dissolves them) and we try it on Issie. It must sting like heck, as she screams even more, but the spines disappear in front of our eyes. Five minutes later, all is calm and the bumps have gone down a lot. We still don’t really know what it was, but it gave her a real fright. Hopefully she’ll be back in the water tomorrow, but maybe a little more sensible about barging around.

First Aid for Issie after she met a stinging water critter

First Aid for Issie after she met a stinging water critter

Issie and Gesa stay on board to watch a movie, whilst Max and I go ashore in search of ice cream and beer. The beach is popular with locals and tourists alike, and we walk up some steep steps to the road above. This instantly goes down steeply again into a tiny fishing village on the other side. We follow more steps and come to a gorgeous white sand beach, with traditional fishing boats pulled up above the high water mark. Here, there are a couple of bars, so we find our ice cream and beer. On the beach, there are two groups of people: one group at each end, pulling on a rope that goes off into the water. It soon becomes clear that they are hauling in a net. This has been cast out across the bay and is being pulled in, enclosing anything in it’s path. It takes about half an hour of heavy work and finally, the net tumbled into a little boat bouncing in the surf on the beach. A couple of turtles are picked out right away and released, as are some puffer fish, one of them puffed up to well over a foot across. The remainder of the catch is sardine-like; small fish between a few inches and a foot long, and not that many of them, given the significant effort put into hauling this in. But that’s fishing, I guess. Max is fascinated and spends most of the time on my shoulders, so he can see what’s going on. Afterwards, we walk back over to the boat. We’d been gone an hour, having said we were just going ashore for ice cream, but we’ve not been missed – oh well!

A few more casts before the sun goes down

A few more casts before the sun goes down

Back on board, the sunset is beautiful, setting just offshore of the little cape that divides the two bays. On the rocky shore, a man is casting for fish with rod and line, silhouetted by the setting sun. We all sit on deck and relax. The kids are playing on the foredeck, Issie swinging on the jib sheet, as she likes to do. Max gets involved and it gets a bit boisterous, so we tell them to stop. A moment later, I’m trying to take a photo of Issie as she sits there, when through the viewfinder I see Max trying to swing, letting go, taking two steps back and plummeting down the forehatch onto their bunk. Fortunately it’s soft mattress below, but he’s clunked his ear pretty hard on the way down. More tears and some sympathy, but not as much as he wanted, given that he had been warned not a minute earlier.

Max swings from the jib sheet. It's going to end in tears.

Max swings from the jib sheet. It’s going to end in tears.

I guess it’s the nautical equivalent of tripping on the front step, getting stung by nettles and so on, but the kids have certainly been a bit in the wars these past couple of days!

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