Snapshot – week 36 onboard (New Year!)

January 2, 2022

Reading time: 27 minutes

It’s a rare double feature for us, I couldn’t resist recording our New Year week as well as Christmas.

We’re starting in Grand Case after an excellent Christmas, not really knowing at all what the week will bring.

We need to get to BVI with at least a week to spare before Mark and Livio arrive on 10th January. It’s an overnight crossing, so we want to get our dodgy starboard engine fixed. We need to pick up a replacement stand for our helm seat from a welder. Our navigation lights are also not working, so need to be looked at. We’re also hopeful that we may be able to get a Covid Booster. Finally, we want to do a little final provisioning.

That leaves us unsure as to whether we can get everything done and head to BVI before New Year. We may well be spending it in Grand Case with our sailing family…

Sunday 26 December

It’s Boxing Day. Except, it’s not.

For our non-British friends, Boxing Day would traditionally have been the day presents were given. This tradition is long gone. It’s now a day where Brits lie around in a food coma, watching movies, recovering from family and festivities, and working up the will to eat turkey curry. It’s a national holiday in the UK. The actual bank holidays will fall on Monday and Tuesday this year in lieu of the weekend. I’m not aware of it being observed elsewhere.

I start it in the traditional way – sleeping until 11am and not getting out of bed until 12. Colin has been more active, and by the time I get up, he’s tidied up a bit and had an attempt at tracing the cable for the broken navigation light. Cables on board are fascinating things, running through cupboards, under floors, under headlining (the ceiling panels).

We’re considering going out for lunch when it starts to drizzle so instead Colin makes scrambled eggs to eat with salsa verde. We eat watching The Queen’s Speech, which feels like a more honest and personal speech than in past years.

The annual Boxing Day walk

The water today is so still, almost like in summer when a tropical front is on the way. We want to make the most of being in Grand Case and honour the tradition of a Boxing Day walk, so we head ashore. Of course, it starts to rain again as we arrive. It’s perfect, a walk in inclement weather feels just right. We shelter for a couple of minutes until it becomes clear it’s not stopping soon. In the end, we resign ourselves to getting wet and enjoy a walk up and down the main street. Most of the shops and many bars are closed but it’s nice to stretch our legs.

We shower and dry off once we’re back onboard, then settle down to watch A Castle for Christmas on Netflix. The combination of Scotland and Cary Elwes is perfect, and it’s surprisingly bearable and even a touch believable. Afterwards, we drink a Punk IPA with the sunset, and Colin makes dinner while I write.

Sunset Punk

Movie night

Dinner is reheated leftovers from last night, mostly mac and cheese. We supplement this very classy meal with a bottle of Laurent Perrier – this is our “just us” Christmas celebration. We watch Don’t Look Up, which is excellent. Rain patters on the roof on and off as we watch. When we’re done, it’s not long past 9pm, so we watch a Final Space in bed before an early night.

Monday 27 December

Another slow start in the morning but once we’re up we’re moving. Colin calls the mechanic to see if we have any chance of work on our engine today. No news, so we start tidying and cleaning. He tries again shortly before noon and gets a clear “not today”, so we know we don’t need to go back to Marigot today.

It’s my big Brother Richard’s birthday today, so I make sure to be in touch with him. Even when we don’t see each other for Christmas we often do for his birthday so I’m sad I can’t be with him.

We hear from Debby who is around at Tintamarre, where we were considering going for a day visit. She lets us know that it’s usually busy in the day and quieter overnight, so we decide to wait until later in the afternoon to go. With no rush to leave, we have a lunch of canned dolmades and watch the Death in Paradise Christmas special. Colin finally gets word that the mechanic can visit on Wednesday morning in Marigot, so this is our best opportunity to visit Tintamarre, a beautiful uninhabited island in a nature reserve.

It’s around 14:30 when we set off, and I’m still in tidying mode so I continue to hoover as much as I can bear to underway. Colin takes a course that overshoots towards Anguilla, the neighbouring island, so that he can make the most of the wind coming towards Tintamarre. It means that we get a peaceful, slow sail. We arrive at around 4pm, and very easily pick up a mooring ball near Everlong.

An impromptu social evening

After a final bust of cleaning and showers, Debby and Fraser come over for sundowners. It’s the first time they’ve seen a Catamaran as old as ours, with a very different design to theirs. The sun sets prettily behind St Martin as we drink our cocktails. After a couple of hours on Mirounga, we all pile into their dinghy and go to Everlong for dinner. Debby makes some delicious blackened Mahi to have in burger buns, and a salad and we provide the remainder of our mac and cheese as the side. It’s washed down with Aperol Spritz which I’m introducing Debby to. It’s a totally unplanned and very fun evening and close to 10pm when Fraser drives us back to Mirounga.

Tuesday 28 December

We’re amazingly up before 9am, having expected to hear from Debby about a walk onshore. She’s decided to have a lazy morning, so we slow our pace for breakfast.

We’re approaching ready to go ashore when a charter catamaran, a Bali 5.4 from Dream Yacht, comes in to moor. What follows is quite a performance. They catch the mooring ball and get a line through it on the first attempt, then the helmsman inexplicably accelerates and they lose it. This happens over and over, a good 7-8 times. We’re wary of leaving the boat because with a driver who can’t seem to understand when to accelerate and when to reverse we’re rightly wary. He eventually gives up and anchors, and event that’s a messy process. We’re not the only spectators – a family kayak past and ask if we’ve been enjoying the entertainment, and Debby messages me about it.

Exploring Tintamarre

When we’re satisfied we’re not going to get T-boned by a charter cat, we go ashore kneeling on the paddleboards so our clothes stay dry. We stop ashore and talk to the family with the kayak, pleasant cruisers who I think are probably from New Zealand. We’ve just walked to the end of the beach when we get a message from Greta and Michael on SV For Tuna. We met them a few weeks ago when we brought some mail from Guadeloupe to St Martin for them. They’ve seen we’re anchored near them and are suggesting we explore the island together.

As it’s clear we’ll need shoes to explore, Colin goes back to the boat to pick up shoes and hats for us both, and we enjoy sitting on the boards on the beach waiting for our friends. Eventually, they swim over, with Michael’s family in tow. They stow their snorkelling gear with our boards and we set off to explore together.

A taste of home

It’s an easy and short walk over to the beach on the windward side, which is stunning. It’s very dramatic and reminds us so much of Iona. We walk along the long beach strewn with dead coral, all the way to the wreck of a monohull. Ir’s been spraypainted beautifully, but it’s always sad for us to see wrecks. When a boat is your home it’s hard to see other people’s boats lost.

We scramble inland, trying to find the wreck of an aeroplane on what was once a runway. There are some buildings and a well, and some surprised iguanas, but no plane. We get a little lost finding our way back, and we’re all tired and hot even though we’ve only explored for an hour, so we’re relieved when we make it back to the anchorage. We say goodbye and paddle back home.

Back to Marigot

By the time we’ve got the boards stowed it’s well after 1pm so we decide we’re best getting underway. We quickly raise the anchor and start our journey back around to Marigot. I make us instant noodles in pots for lunch, and Colin gets the sails up. It’s a slow sail but pleasant, though we’re feeling like we had a little too much sun in the morning.

Once the anchor is set I decide I need a post-sun rest and, after a shower, curl up to watch a few episodes of Sex and the City. Colin heads ashore to find dinghy fuel, food and our new seat pedestal. If you read last week’s blog you’ll know the pedestal for our helm seat snapped rather dramatically, so we’re having a new one fabricated by a welder. In the end, what Colin returns with is far stronger than the original, and it’s only cost €140 for parts and labour. The added bonus is that we added a little extra height to make it more suitable for us (we are short, 5’3″ and 5’7.5″).

I emerge from my TV cave to the delicious smell of Colin frying onions and mushrooms. He’s bought some very tasty bread rolls and makes up Beyond Burgers with the fried veg, fresh tomato, gruyere and bacon bits. I love Beyond Burgers, far more than the meat equivalent. Even though they were very expensive we were delighted to find them in Market Garden last week. After dinner, we start watching the Dexter reboot, and an episode of Dear White People. We’re exhausted so watch Start Trek: Lower Decks in bed then have an early night.

Wednesday 29 December

Colin gets up with his alarm at 7:30, in preparation for the mechanic possibly arriving at 8am. He’s not quite that early, but it’s meant that Colin could get breakfast and be ready. I struggle to wake up, I’m half awake and still dreaming, but eventually, I rouse myself a little after 8am. The mechanic arrives soon after, and I leave Colin to it while I eat breakfast and write. I’m horrified to find flour moth larvae in the bag of the granola I’ve just poured. I go to have bran flakes instead and find one in there too. Er, I ate bran flakes yesterday… I opt for some newly purchased, unopened cereal…

Our clogged carbon elbow

The source of our engine troubles is part of the exhaust which has become completely blocked by the build-up from fumes, so need to be replaced along with a hose. We’re also due to replace filters etc, so we ask the mechanic to provide these so Colin can fit them himself. Finally, we can get a proper replacement at last for the jury-rigged water muffler we had installed back in May. The mechanic goes back to retrieve some parts, and I help Colin install the new seat pedestal. We can now see properly from the helm without standing up!

We’ve decided at this point that we’re definitely staying for New Year. We could leave tomorrow or even on NYE, but that would seem an insult to our friends. They had booked a fancy restaurant in Grand Case but after some chat, it looks like we’d all just prefer to be onboard. We revise plans so we can celebrate on Everlong in Friar’s Bay, which we’re yet to visit. Then we’ll leave on Sunday or Monday depending on when we can get pre-travel Covid tests and clear out.

So many errands it needs a plan!

The mechanic comes back to fit the new parts, and I set to planning out our tasks for the day. It’s less than 2 weeks until Mark and Livio join us and I’ve still not caught up on laundry from Ali and Rose’s visit. We’ll give in and get some laundry done at Shrimpy’s. After being laughed at for masking up and given an anti-vaccine rant on our first visit, we’re not really that keen on going back. But, our water maker just isn’t going to keep pace with laundry AND filling the tanks ready for guests.

We need to provision more thoroughly, so we’ll need to hire a car or use a taxi. We also want to see if we can get a booster vaccination, so we’re going to go to the French hospital and ask. Finally, we need to check the opening hours of the pharmacy to get our pre-departure Covid tests, and Island Water World so we can clear out. Since we want to be at Friar’s Bay tomorrow afternoon at the latest, we need to get moving!

An afternoon in Marigot

After a quick lunch, we dinghy ashore at around 12:30. We drop two bags of laundry at Shrimpy’s, then head into the lagoon to Island Water World. There we check that they will be open on Monday for us to clear out. Two tasks down.

We need to be at the town dinghy dock, so leave the lagoon and move around to the dock by the market. Debby has told us to find a man called Norris to talk to about a hire car. We do, and arrange to get a Kia Rio at 8:30 tomorrow. Then we start walking. The pharmacy isn’t too far, and again we check that it will be open on Monday. The walk to the hospital from there is 1.5 miles, so we grab a bottle of water and set off.

Good luck at the hospital

When we get to the hospital it’s quarter to two, where a vaccine centre has been set up in containers in the car park. We ask about getting a booster, and the nurses ask if we’re residents. We’re honest and say no, and they say we’ll have to wait until the doctor gets back after 2pm to see if we can get one. We wait and then wait in line when the time comes as those with appointments take priority. A nurse takes our details and registers us, so it seems we’ll be seen. We’re told to go to the next container. Once again we make it clear we’re not residents. It looks briefly like our having been vaccinated elsewhere will be an issue – the nurse goes to check.

It turns out that the French system can’t record our dose today as a third dose as we were vaccinated in St Vincent, but we can still get the booster. We breathe a huge sigh of relief – we don’t mind carrying extra paperwork. We’re both given the Pfizer booster, which should work well with the Astrazeneca we had in spring. The paperwork we get shows it as dose 1 of 1, and gives us a complete Passé Sanitaire, the French certificate, which is ideal. Afterwards, we sit for a few minutes as instructed, then start the long walk back.

Later, Debby gets the news that we should be able to convert our original certificates and combine them all at the pharmacy for €36 each, so we’ll try that on Monday.

Stocking up

Our last errand is shopping. We don’t want to get much, but we know the supermarket in town has the long life Bonne Mamman madeleines we like. They’ll make a great breakfast substitute when we’re in the BVI. We can also get our favourite Bret’s crisps and little cheesy biscuits. We basically spend €90 on aperitivo snacks and breakfast cakes.

The dinghy back to the boat is long and tiring as the swell and wind have both increased. Just getting back onboard with the shopping is difficult. Colin goes out to pay the mechanic and collect the laundry and I crash and watch some TV. The mechanic can’t be paid yet and we’ve been charged for 3 bags of laundry, so it’s a bit of a let down after the high of being boosted. I manage to get all the laundry away and the bed made, but otherwise we’re starting to feel wiped out from the busy day. My arm is starting to ache from the injection too. We eat a mush of frozen party food snacks and watch Dexter and the oddly names new show, The Sex Lives of College Girls. It’s before ten when we go to bed.

Thursday 30th December

Our alarm goes off at 7:30. We’ve had one of those sleeps where we’ve maybe not slept soundly all night, but we were cosy and comfortable on the freshly washed sheets with the blanket blocking a cool breeze. I love those nights. We would have been very happy to sleep for longer though…

We dress in a daze and have fresh bread, butter and jam for breakfast, then take the bouncy, windy dinghy ride into the dock. Debby and Fraser have already collected the hire car when we arrive, and we’re soon on our way.

We drive to Philipsburg first, where they have some parcels to collect. While we’re there, they pop into the clinic where they had their original vaccines last year to ask about boosters. It looks like they can have it done if they come back later or next week.

What follows is a lesson in extreme grocery shopping. We hit three large cash and carry/bulk stores. We possibly terrify our friends when, at the first, Colin pulls out 8 cases of Coke Zero. Our trolleys are full and it’s only the first shop! Miraculously it all goes into the Kia with room to spare. We don’t but a great deal at the next two, but find something we want in each. The highlight is the giant tub of peanut butter-filled pretzels – we usually get these when we’re in Denver and it;s not Christmas without them. We manage to save a lot of money on good sailing food like nut bars.

The final stop is Carrefour, where we can buy fresh foods and anything we missed. After this shop, we feel like aside from the occasional fresh bread and dinner items we probably won’t need to shop until we’re leaving Martinique in February.

Taking Dog to the limit

On the drive back to the dinghy dock the car is as full as it can be, with bags on our laps, but it’s been a very satisfying shop. Fraser manages to park as close as possible to the dock, and we form a relay team. I guard the car, the boys carry everything from the car to the dock, and Debby guards the shopping. Then, much to the amusement of onlookers, we load up our respective dinghies. We’re not quite sure how we’ll fit, but we do! You know you’re creating a spectacle when strangers take photos…

Thankfully it’s slack tide and the wind isn’t too bad. I sit on the bow of the dinghy to try to help the weight distribution. As we trundle along, Deb and Fraser with their much bigger outboard pass us easily. I have to laugh when I realise Fraser is kneeling on the dinghy wall because his legs won’t fit around the shopping. Even with the reduced swell, it’s a big task unloading all the cans, and we’re both starting to feel a little vaccine fluey. We rest, and eat some bread and crab pate, then start to stow.


Colin has to go out at 2pm to pay the mechanic so I lie down. I’m almost ready for a nap but don’t want to have to shake myself out of sleep so instead, I get up and make everything on the boat ready for a move. When I’ve done as much as possible and Colin still isn’t back I lie down to watch TV. A few minutes later, at around 3pm, he returns, and within minutes we’ve raised the anchor and are motoring to Friar’s Bay.

It’s a very short journey, and it feels like we’re anchoring beside Bluewater within minutes. We set on the second attempt, and then I go back to watching TV and Colin to playing phone games. We’re slightly perturbed when a charter boat anchors in the space between us and Bluewater – it’s a little snug to be polite. Overall, it’s a very lazy afternoon and an equally lazy evening. We have Nems for dinner, watch TV, and get a relatively early night.

Friday 31 December

We’d planned to lie in but are both awake before 8am, but at least it’s been a good sleep. The ache in my arm from the vaccine is gone and both of us feel totally over the vaccine. When Debby messages at around 10am to ask if we want to go for a walk we’re happy to. They’ve moved Everlong to sit between us and Bluewater in the space of the now-departed charter boat as they were getting a lot of roll where they were.

For once, I put the ‘real’ camera into a dry bag, as there’s likely to be some iguanas to spot ashore. We throw the paddleboards in the water and paddle over at the same time as Debby and Fraser. Luckily we remember shoes at the last minute. It’s a really pleasant walk over a gentle trail to Happy Bay. As we walk, we can see iguanas sunning themselves in the trees, and we get a lovely view of our three boats. Happy Bay is beautiful, a classic Caribbean scene.

Back at Friar’s Bay, we stop and have a beer together and enjoy the shade. Then we all paddle back home to get on with preparing for the evening. After lunch, I inflate Daphne the duck, since we’ll be here for a couple of days. Then I bake a chocolate cake. I had bought the mixture for Bear then realised she hates using her oven and would be much happier with the completed cake! Typically, the baking time is far longer than the box suggests because of our gas oven.

Runaway duck!

I wash my hair and decide to sit out on Daphne to let it dry in the sun and breeze. Once I’m aboard her, I want to turn around to face the sea instead of the land. I carefully unclip the tether to reposition it, only to have it ping out of my hand! I’m floating away from Mirounga quickly and although common sense tells me to jump in the after I don’t want to get my hair wet or lose the duck! I should for Colin and he jumps onto a paddleboard in his underwear to rescue me – my hero! I’m moving surprisingly fast… When he reaches me I attach the paddleboard leash to my ankle and he paddles us back against the wind.

Fraser has been watching and needs to take his dinghy down anyway so we know he could get us if needed, but Colin makes it back. The whole scene is absurd and it’s a shame we don’t get any footage of it! Daphne originally came from the BVI so I just assume she was in a hurry to return…

Mad dash preparations!

After recovering and reading for a while I suddenly have to rush to get things ready for the evening. I’m making a deconstructed salad, so I prepare all the vegetables and make up two dressings. In all of this, I find a few minutes to sit on the sugar scoop and trim my hair a little. One side has been longer than the other for months and I’m sick of it! Colin gathers alcohol and snacks, and I just have time to shower and throw some sparkle on my face before we’re due on Everlong. In all the kerfuffle, I missed the last sunset of 2021 but the sky is still pretty when we dinghy over.

New Year’s Eve

The evening is a calm and pleasant one. We eat slowly, spreading out the meal we’ve all prepared together. The dinner is an excellent joint effort of steaks and sauce prepared by Deb and Fraser, veg and mashed potato by Bear, and the salad I’ve made. As we move around the kitchen preparing food together it’s hard to believe we’ve only known Bear and Ray for 6 months and Debby and Fraser for 3 weeks. I make time to wish family and friend’s at home a Happy New Year when it happens for them, and to commiserate over the death of legendary actress Betty White.

After eating, the girls end up sitting out on the nets and the boys in the cockpit, and time slips away. We gather back in the cockpit and watch some fireworks displays from around the world on Fraser’s projector. Randomly, we end up watching some Eurotrash as Colin and I are convinced there was a good New Year episode, but we must be misremembering. When it comes to midnight, we drink prosecco and stand on the chilly deck to watch the fireworks. We can see multiple displays over on very flat Anguilla, and one in Simpson Bay on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. We find out the next day that the latter ended in disaster with a barge on fire!

It’s after 1pm when we head back to Mirounga. I’m not often a fan of New Year as it’s often anti-climactic. Because we didn’t build this one up to be more than just hanging out and sharing food, it’s been a good one, and we’re all very glad of our choice not to go out.

Saturday 1 January

I wish I could sleep longer, but with no breeze and the sun rising high it’s just not happening. I rouse myself sometime before 10am and make us ham and egg baps for breakfast. Thankfully I was quite moderate with alcohol so no fuzzy head, just a lack of sleep.

We had planned to go for a walk and have lunch ashore with the others but it sounds like everyone is a little fuzzier than we are. We’re also very aware that we need to take a covid test on Monday to travel so should stay away from bars and restaurants. We decide instead to meet up for a walk later in the day.

I’m usually weirdly energetic on New Year’s Day, and this year is no exception. With the walk delayed, I take out a paddleboard for a kayaking session. It’s a little choppy so I don’t spend too long out but it’s nice to be moving. Back on board I lie on the nets and read for a while until it seems best to escape the sun. We have pot noodles for lunch as we’re feeling lazy. I write for a bit, then lie down to watch some TV. The lack of sleep is catching up with me.


I go outside to read again, and it’s starting to get chilly. I wish we’d run the engine for some hot water when it comes to showering. It looks like we won’t go for a walk, but I’m fine with that. I watch the sunset, and we eat potato dauphinoise and salad. We watch TV until it’s time to throw on a jumper and sit outside to catch the Marigot fireworks display at 9pm. At first, we’re not sure we’ll see them – we can hear them and see a faint glow over the hill. The display eventually ramps up enough for us to get a decent show, albeit only the top half!

I’m amazed, but we have enough energy to watch more TV and it’s after 22:30 when we go to sleep.

The week ahead…

I suspect I’m only going to have one diary free week… and I’ll still do some kind of blog.

Tomorrow we’re going to make our first fully overnight crossing, over to the BVI. I think I’ll do something which covers the prep and the experience. And the following week we’ll hopefully have Mark and Livio on board and be throwing ourselves into exploring the BVI!

After that, we’re delving deeper into the world of overnighters as we head south back towards Bequia…