This post was written over a week ago and I will forever regret the fact that I failed to get around to posting it in time for Laurens to read. Just remember, life is short and you’ll only regret the things you don’t do.
Me and sailing. Not a likely match. Like bacon and maple syrup. Or Nigel Farage and his German wife. Not what you’d expect. But somehow, it just happened. And somehow, it worked.
I’ve always harboured (sorry) dreams of learning to sail. In my head it’s a glamorous hobby. I envisaged swanning around Croatia in nautical-inspired attire or island hopping in Greece aboard a luxurious, gleaming vessel complete with a hunky skipper to do all the technical stuff like pull ropes and faff about with winches. What I didn’t envisage was the opportunity that presented itself – sailing in St Vincent and The Grenadines on SY Wildevaart with a group of Dutch people I had met just a few weeks before. With no access to a fresh-water shower, no fridge and only the most basic of toilet facilities. After all, I started this blog for ‘travellers who don’t like to rough it’. But this trip, that’s exactly what I ended up doing. And I loved it.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was scared. Scared I wouldn’t find my sea legs. Scared I would struggle living in a confined space with 3 other people. And scared that I’d miss my privacy and having a space to call my own. My first, but hopefully not last, sailing experience took me completely and utterly out of my comfort zone. To my great surprise, I discovered not only that I didn’t really miss wearing make-up, blow-drying my hair or sleeping in a bed but also that I was much less attached to material things, home comforts and mod cons than I had come to believe.
Being without a fridge for example. It makes you truly savour that cold beer or chilled bottle of water. A toilet… we had one, but it was basic at best, and only accessible during the day when people weren’t sleeping in the cabin. Doing your business in the sea or in a bucket probably took the most adjusting to but felt like a huge achievement! Washing in the sea was another new experience… Obviously not at the same time as doing the aforementioned bodily function. Jumping into the Caribbean waters to wash replaced my morning ritual of a hot shower. After a quick dip, it was straight back onboard to shampoo my hair, wash my body and then dive back in to rinse off. Again, I was surprised how clean you could actually feel from washing in salt water but I adapted quickly to the simplicity of boat life and learn to really appreciate the uncomplicated nature of life at sea.
Days were spent snorkelling, hiking and spear fishing. A limited daily budget meant that mealtimes were a sociable affair when we all took it in turns to cook or wash up. The lack of TV was a welcome reprise from my day job and the balmy evenings meant conversations under the stars instead of down the pub. I hope my 9 days on Wildevaart will be just the start of more sailing adventures and although I only really dipped my toe in, I was quite taken aback by just how relaxed, liberated and ‘myself’ I felt sharing a tiny space with Laurens, Fred and Paul. Maybe it was the company. Maybe it was chilled Caribbean vibes. Or maybe I was seduced by the idyllic lifestyle so far removed from my own.
Highlights St Vincent & The Grenadines:
– Hiking to the top of La Soufrière volcano via maruijana plantations, a bat-inhabited cave and panoramic views of the island.
– Buying fresh produce off Bequia’s friendly locals, be it a couple of lobsters from the fishermen or unusual fruit from a stall-holder on the shore.
– Having a Hairoun with locals in a road-side pub, dotted along the island’s winding roads.
– Snorkelling to the secluded summit of Fort Duvernette
– Watching the sunset from the fishmarket on a Sunday when every respectable St Vincien is at church or with their family. You can buy a beer out a cooler or drink the potent ‘extra strong white rum’ neat out a plastic cup like the locals do.
– check your e-mail and relax over a cuppa at the the newly developed blue lagoon marina
– Making like Elizabeth Swan and Captain Jack Sparrow at the The Pirates of the Caribbean film set in Wallilabou bay.
– Haggling with locals at the Saturday market in Kingstown
– Navigating the island aboard the local busses disguised as mobile dance halls.
– Getting caught in a tropical shower. Fresh water bathing at its best.
– Exploring the island on foot.