Reef Rats

We arrived in Antigua in English Harbour but didn’t find a suitable anchorage so went around the corner to Falmouth Harbour where we found a beautiful beach and a harbour full of super yachts. One in particular stood out with it’s strange rigging system. The Maltese Falcon registered in Valletta, Malta. I recommend you google it. beach

Quite a spectacle. The beach was pleasant and on Sunday hosted a 16th birthday party with loud music from the 70s. As we went ashore we walked passed a bathing English couple and the man said to his wife lounging on blow up sofa in the water, “Good god, did you request all this?” It was music from my early disco days and I had a giggle. We had a wander around Fort Nelson and admired the super yachts. Our entire sailing budget would probably run one of these for a week or two with all the staff and other costs.fortnelson

Reaching the archipelago of northern Antigua, The Captain longed to gain experience of meandering through outcrops of reefs and shallow waters. “Practice for the Pacific,” he stated. With his trusty GPS connected pad he lay a course with lots of way points to zigzag through the perilous waters. We both wanted to gain experience in identifying the different depths and bottom structure. The water was quite murky in Jolly Harbour where the bottom was a grey clay and the 2.8m deep channel had a visibility of about 2cm. We only know the structure of the bottom because half of it came up on our anchor. Jolly Harbour was a fake town made up purely for the rich yachties who flew in collect their yachts or stay in their on-site villas. A good supermarket was close to the dock so we managed to stock up on a few necessities. We only stayed one night there as we wanted to get into the islands and have a sense of freedom. We even passed Robinson Crusoe Island on the way north. Hell, I could have swam to shore.r

The Captain did a great job avoiding any hazards along the way to Long Island, which was our planned destination for the night. But the murky waters remained and were uninviting. So we up anchored and headed to a group of islands that are a bird nesting sanctuary. The guide advises us not to throw our food scraps overboard here as they wash up on shore and encourage the rats. The rats then become a pest for the nesting tropic birds and threaten their young. We took a small excursion to shore. The islands have unique foliage with varieties of cacti and small bushes. We walked up to the summit and two large blow holes yawned into the Atlantic. We saw a pair of majestic tropic birds coasting on the wind streams. There were plenty of lizards but we weren’t lucky enough to see the rare and only snake of the area, the Antigua Racer. Day trippers were lunching at picnic tables on the beaches. The view of the reef and the different hues of blue sea were breathtaking. It was a peaceful and happy atmosphere.tropicbirds2

While The Captain was busy with all this I was busy underneath making heart-shaped cookies for him for Valentines Day. Mum has been making vanilla biscuits for us ever since I was a little kid and she still has a cake tin full if she knows she’s getting visitors. I tried this recipe out on the crew during the Atlantic crossing and got the thumbs up so this is what he got. He’s a bit of a cookie muncher and I knew he would appreciate these. With no cookie cutters on board each was a unique heart shape. I popped some cinnamon date scones into the oven too. We need to economise on the gas so it is wise to make the most of the oven use. I also found some Pad Thai noodles and the Captain mentioned that this was his favourite Thai dish, so I made this for him too. I had to ad lib on the tangerine concentrate with some lime concentrate but otherwise it was fairly authentic and he kindly said that he didn’t even miss the shrimps. (I packed it with fried tofu- isn’t he a sweetheart). Lovely to have a Valentines day without the commercialism. Just some lovely romantic music and a quiet evening with my mon.cookies

Well the definition of a Reef Rat that I’m familiar with is that it is ‘a person or persons who live on their boat and travel around the reef with barely enough money to survive little lone maintain their boat.’ Their boat slowly deteriorates around them. This isn’t us but we have certainly changed our spending habits as we get into the full swing of circumnavigating. We want our kitty to last as long as possible. I think my brother, Alec, was a reef rat in his late teens or early twenties when he camped on his 14ft catamaran for a few months in the Whitsundays. (He’s a respectable businessman now so the affect is not long lasting). Keeping track of our spending has opened our eyes to how easy it is just to keep to our normal habits. We’ve both come from jobs with good incomes so we’re accustom to not doing without. Snorkelling instead of diving, limiting the hours of the motor, economising on power so the wind generator loads the batteries instead of the diesel generator, limiting eating out and using free wifi when possible have been cuts we have made. Needless to say that I don’t feel poor or anything, entirely the opposite. I feel very rich and prosperous with our lifestyle. Our plan is to check out of Antigua at Jolly Harbour so we gathering all our read books and heading for the book swap when we get there. Desperately need a good book. We also spent a fair bit on sightseeing last month and now taking local buses and walking are back on the agenda. We couldn’t have reached the Boiling Lake without a guide – well not safely anyway. Think I’d better get to work on my two books that I’ve started so hopefully I can bring in a little bit of an income. Melissa also mentioned a website where I could get paid for putting lesson plans on. I might take a look at that too. Not really necessary at the moment but best to be prepared and not become a reef rat.

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One Response to Reef Rats

  1. Silvie says:

    Hello Gaylyn,

    just a short news: we have heard that you com to Germany with Thomas, this would be great!! Please inform us in time, when you com because wie woud like to spent some time with you and to invite you to a vege-meal (Peter is cooking of course…) In the middle of march wie go to Mallorca again, but we are back befor eastern. Give Thomas a kiss and good times for you both, but I am sure that you will have them!! Here it is still very very cold and everybody is waiting for the spring and the sun 😉

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