Photo credit: Mattias Hellner, INDIAN SUMMER
8 February: The craziest of ideas started in the most conventional fashion. Barely a week before, a round robin group email circulated about arrangements for the upcoming "safari party" on our street in London. It is a great annual tradition where all our neighbours get together, jumble up and go to different houses for starters, main course and pudding, then all come together again for drinks at the end. Despite the fact that we are travelling, they had kept us in the loop virtually, much appreciated. I replied to all with greetings from the Caribbean, and received a reply straight back from our next door neighbour Philip, with news that he and his wife Karen would be on holiday in Bequia the following week and would be anywhere in the vicinity?
Of course we would be - what's a mere 12 hour sail between friends?! Funny how travelling changes perspective! We were looking forward to seeing our neighbours, who we barely see in London thanks to the relentless pace of life there - which are why nights like the safari party are so important to us all! - but when we do bump into them on the street are always talking about catching up over a drink. The irony of carving out the time now, so utterly out of context, was not lost on any of us! There was something very romantic too about raising our sails as the sun set to race down to Bequia on a whim. We were also overjoyed to hear that our friends INDIAN SUMMER would also be in Bequia. We hadn't thought we would be seeing them again before we left the Caribbean.
The sail down to Bequia went like clockwork. We fed the kids before we left and they were asleep soon after we weighed anchor, so we had a chilled evening to ourselves. When they woke, around 7ish the following morning, it was a joy to see the wonder in their face as they rubbed their eyes and learned the landmass they were looking at was not Martinique but Bequia, about 100 nautical miles due south. By 8.30am, in a surreal case of deja vu, we were anchoring next to INDIAN SUMMER, next to Princess Margaret Beach again, and having coffee, friends reunited. Karen and Philip joined us later that morning, walking down to the beach from their hotel, and Sissi and I picked them up in the dinghy. It was so much fun to welcome them on board and give a guided tour. They know the Grenadines well, and have been several times before, still, as we stood on the bow taking in the view, they were bemoaning the fact they had yet to sea a turtle in the water, when right on cue a wrinkled head surfaced just ahead of us. Perfect timing! Karen and Philip had arranged for us all to have lunch at the stunningly beautiful Bequia Beach Hotel where they were staying, and where they had got engaged, and spend the afternoon at the pool there. It was a real honour, and felt as though we had more quality time with Karen and Philip there than, with the best will in the world, over the past ten years together living next door in London!
We had arranged to have supper together as well at Fernando's Hideaway, a restaurant recommended by Philip just off the beach next door to Princess Margaret. However Xavier had twisted his ankle on the walk to the hotel (I had hopped in a taxi with the younger ones), and by the time lunch was over it had swollen so much he could barely hobble. We rearranged to meet in Jack's Beach Bar that night, but by the time we got back on the boat after the afternoon excursion it was clear even that would be a stretch. So Mattias from INDIAN SUMMER gave me a dinghy ride in and we had a drink with Karen and Philip before leaving them to a romantic evening a deux, and went on to collect some takeaway pizzas from Mac's to have on the boat.
The next day INFINITY turned up as well. This time Sissi insisted I drive the dinghy to nip over to invite them for coffee, and I'm eternally grateful to her, as ever since then I have got over my mental block of driving the damn things! After a lovely afternoon and snorkel with them, we set sail back up to Martinique. As we were leaving we caught sight of an amazing kitesurfer, captured in this photo thanks to Mattias from INDIAN SUMMER, on foil doing tricks. It turned out to be the same kitesurfer, another Mattias, who I had seen in action in Martinique and who Xavier had met, a fellow Swiss on a Nautitech Open 40. In a wonderful moment he was able to slow down enough to say hello again, but obviously he couldn't stop. Despite this good omen, I wasn't totally convinced it was a good idea to leaven then with a crippled Skipper in tow, but we had to make the most of the weather window before the winds increased. As it was, we were fighting headlong winds the whole way home and the journey took six hours longer than it had on the way down, but it was a small price to pay for a surreally magical 24 hours.