Early on Christmas Eve we left Bequia with a succession of squalls battering us. The squalls first appear on the horizon as forbidding dark clouds and as they carry high winds and torrential rain when spotted we leap into action, reefing the sails, clearing the decks and then if possible hiding below. The rain reduces visibility to almost nothing and the winds rattle through the rigging. The high winds, in or out of the squalls are common at this time of year, locally called the Christmas Winds, we have been trying to concentrate on the Christmas rather than the Winds. Alas, the winds and squalls have continued, at times it’s a bit like we are holidaying in Devon, all huddled below reading, writing or playing scrabble. Of course it is still hot and when the sun comes out to play our surroundings are magnificent.
We arrived in the Tobago Cays at midday and Christmas really started when Rachael produced, Mary Poppins like, a five foot tree from her bag, Matt and Robyn brought baubles, Rick and I provided some fairy lights, which Matt strung around the cockpit and we played Chrismas songs on the stereo. The boat was transformed within minutes.
Christmas Day started as normal with scrabbled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast, followed by present opening, at eleven our neighbors came over for a glass of champagne, we ate a large lunch and took a little exercise. However, it was very much a Chrismas with a difference, our few presents were constricted by luggage restrictions, the neighbours came over by dingy from their Oyster yachts and the champagne was the bottle we had won from the ARC. The excercise consisted of snorkelling with turtles and strolling with iguanas and our lunch was of huge BBQ lobsters that we ate at the beach.
When the sun comes out the Tobago Cays are a mass of amazing colours, the small islands, as we have witnessed, get plenty of rain and are a rich green, the coral reefs from above the water are a pale brown and the sea a kaleidoscope of turquoise and blues.
The area is a national park and the snorkelling although challenging in these windy conditions rewarded us with lots of fish and much to our delight a turtle. The islands are uninhabited by humans but home to large, 3ft nose to tail, iguanas, which, use to the tourists stroll past you nonchalantly.
It was difficult to feel too Christmassy with the sun beating down and sand between our toes, we pinch ourselves to realise not just that we are here but that we sailed here, all the way from Southampton.