My husband worked in a brothel in Barbados. It was just for a few weeks. He was eventually asked to leave. The threats and the rather large, naked ladies that were hosed down daily, convinced him that it really was time to leave.
The ‘body-guards’ in the brothel in Barbados
This bizarre story goes hand-in-hand with almost nine years of my life on the high seas on a ten metre boat. We had close-calls with pirates, muggers, and man-eating crocodiles, which was enough to keep the adrenaline buzzing. Boat crashes, storms, almost sinking and a whale collision filled the gaps, if ever we became complacent.
The storm – you HAD to just get on with it!
A near ‘agreed’ abduction by a beautiful French Gigolo, who lifted me up from the road after I was run-over in France, didn’t alter the incredible bond between my new husband and I – a bond that I’ve only witnessed in movies. But, I still carried the mixed emotions of losing one man, while falling head over heels with another.
But, I have learned to live my life, and I have finally figured out who I am.
Picking our way through reefs to the anchorage in Mayaguana
Van Morrison sang about it and I could relate to those words today.
“When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit Then I must remember there’ll be days like this”
Noel and I have been quite anti-social lately, what with trying to get the outside of Rouge Corsair painted prior to winter setting in.
So, a shopping day with our friends, Kim and Lorna from MV Sunflower, was just what we needed to re-connect with civilisation again.
Aiguillon is a little over seven kilometres away. So, after a shaky start, (bike tyres….grrrr), we set off on four bikes of differing vintage, wrapped in hats and scarves, blowing fogging breaths.
On arrival, to get our bearings we sipped a delicious coffee watching the French-way unfold around us. The barman serving wine at 10 am with a cigarette in his hand. The impassioned shouting was just part of everyday conversation, and welcoming smiles.
Noel and I had several items to find, which of course, meant the hardware. But, this time was different. I’ve never had so much fun in a hardware shop.
We needed some L-shaped doohdads. Basically, metal hooks to hold up timber rods. Our curtains are going to tuck into these rods, at the bottom.
We could buy four in a packet for 5.55 (Euros) per packet. As we needed twenty-four we started to think of other solutions.
With Kim, Noel and I, scratching our heads, things started to improve. We found a packet with more hooks in them. They were a different metal, but useable, for 3.55 Euros. But then we spotted the pick ‘n’ mix.
The items were in baskets, loose, individual. I found a guy to help, as there were no visible prices, and he explained. There were three sized bags and each bag had its own price – the smallest bag was 2.55 Euros. We could put anything we liked in the bag, as long as it seals, all contents would be 2.55.
At this point we all grinned, rubbed our hands together, and said, ‘They have no idea what we are capable of!’
“As long as the bag shuts – it will cost 2.55 (Euros)”
We packed the bag with enough hooks and spares, to do several boats.
What was going to cost us around 35 Euros, ended up costing 2.55 Euros! (Plus extras!)
With fresh baguettes, ham and cheese we lunched in the town square. The smoking cafe owner offered us a table and chairs; everyone who passed-by smiled, ‘Bon Appetite.’
Loaded up! Great fun!
With a cheap supermarket, a charity shop and a hardware, all visited (some twice!) with loaded bikes, and big grins we cycled back to our boats. The cooling afternoon and falling winter leaves accompanied us home. The sweet smell from the apple orchards and the sounds of humming tractors was carried along the breeze to round off a perfect day.
When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this
When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like thisWhen you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they f it
Then I must remember there’ll be days like thisWhen everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you want to live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like thisWhen no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
We are loving Buzet sur Baise. We’ve perfect autumn weather, a safe and quiet port, nice friends just down the road, all within a wonderful quaint village.
With one week of good weather forecast, Noel and I are busily painting the top sides of Rouge Corsair. It’s so easy to forget how hard painting is, this morning every part of my body aches, including my fingers!
Sunday morning we took a break and cycled 5 kilometres (uphill) to a vide-greniers (garage sale). Although it was more like a huge market with just about everything you could ever want – good stuff too.
Image courtesy of federico stevanin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Within the bustling, friendly market we met, an Australian, an Irishman and an Englishman, who have invited Noel to play cricket, tennis and go cycling. Noel thought this was rather nice, but did wonder, ‘can’t we just sit under the shade of a tree and drink beer?’
Chestnuts! Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
While Noel tried to convince the locals that beer, shade and trees, really was the way to go, I had great fun searching for rugs to insulate our floor for the coming winter, some blankets and bits and pieces. We had great fun with Lorna and Kim from MV Sunflower and a great giggle coming home – thankfully it was downhill!
3 rugs on the back of Noel’s bike, our work-mate bench in Kim’s basket (as well as their stuff) – I had a full back-pack and panniers (as did Noel!)
To find out about the calendar of garage sales, flea markets and flea markets of France, Switzerland and Belgium, dial up: http://vide-greniers.org/
And if ‘coins’ are your thing, look up Richard Lytton. He is a numistatist (and a rather nice chap), www.gascogne-monnaie.com (Australian and world coins).
As we approach our winter mooring, we’re starting to focus on the next part of our adventure, and look back at what we’ve achieved so far. The journey has been a pleasure and, conversely, a bit like a Carry-On film too. After the ‘challenges’ of buying a boat in a country where we don’t speak the language, we are now reaping the rewards.
First: The challenges Hauling-out, survey and work in a foreign place, with an angry broker (the sellers’ broker) as the sellers had accepted our low offer (our fault?) – AND, secret ‘meetings’ between the yard and previous owners, where we could never figure out what was going on and always felt like we were being led up the garden path to rip-off-land – made a rather stressful time. But, it all worked out in the end – and rather well!
After we’d traversed the buying process, in order to get going Noel spent two-and-a-half days bent over like a crone in the engine room, he fixed umpteen leaks in the wheelhouse windows and we painted a 18.5 metre boat (“why’d you buy something so big?”) – hanging up-side-down to reach the hull or balancing in the leaking dinghy.
Jackie painting (cutting in – NOT fun!)
Meanwhile, a cat adopted us, which was nice until we found out she had at least one other home. We tried to convince the cat to go home and stopped feeding her, but there was a bountiful supply of field mice. The cat stayed and continued to leave a trail of gall bladders on the carpet and mats to denote her preferred nocturnal eating spots.
When we set off, we tackled low bridges that caused palpitations. We fudged the drawing of the bridge curves, guessing the water height (after flood rains), and we considered several alternate suggestions from other nomadic-brained cruising folk, such as ourselves:
Load up the boat with passers-by at the feared bridges, offer free beer as an enticement.
Get close to the bridge and ‘GUN-IT-MATE’, which would indeed lower the roof height, as these barges do sink considerably at speed in shallow water (about 3″- 4″)
The problem with these ideas was:
How do I overcome Noel’s inherited Scottish antipathy to providing ‘free beer’?
We didn’t think we had the bottle to approach the offending 200 year old stone arches with 25 tonnes at 6 knots. “What could go wrong?”
We took a day off prior to tackling the low bridges, we had flood rain that night that really ensured the adrenaline reached peak levels…. with clenched teeth and other body parts…we made it – just.
We made good time south and Noel swam in The Med, he said, “It was very nice, no surf, dead flat and I managed to avoid impaling my feet on the broken glass and syringes.” (I have trouble swimming in the sea, since my shark encounter…another story for another day!)
More recently, we have sacked the planning staff on board that we used on the current co-ordination of events. (Fancy coming so far south for warmer climes to head north again!) There are vacancies in the afore mentioned position. So far, no takers.
Now: The Rewards Each day we trickle along, accompanied by the ripple from our bow. Otters ruffle the silky surface, my favourites, the Kingfishers, flash bright blue and vivid orange within the canal’s banks.
The rewards! Pommevic put on a marvellous display of pink and yellow this morning – (see map below).
It’s a real feast for our eyes, as we putter through villages, rolling hills, and resplendent trees where horses frolic. The relaxed way of travel heightens our senses, the breeze picks up the tangy perfume of autumn, and in the evenings iridescent dragonflies flit in the fading light.
We hear the throaty calls of the dawn chorus, eerily hidden by heavy mist. We are enjoying the cool nights where we feel the pleasure of wearing warm clothes.
Puttering through pretty villages – Moissac.
We’re no longer sailing but we’re still weather watching. Wind is still to be respected and, now, rain too.
The journey is becoming etched on our skin, by way of smiles; created by new friends, passing acquaintances, helpful locals and friendly waves.
It’s been an honour to do this journey and we’re having the time of our lives. It’s all there for the taking, just waiting for us and anyone with a sense of adventure.
The next part of the adventure We plan to renovate below decks and enjoy living in a small, friendly village, Buzet sur Baise. It’s here we’ll re-acquaint with friends that we’ve made along the way, and hopefully make new friends (while creating a nice home too).
Pommevic is gorgeous – free, safe mooring with electric and water (48 hrs maximum) – so nice, we stayed today!
I didn’t talk to my husband for two days when his peculiar answers to my naïve nautical questions reached my bewildered ears. Back then, as a mere fledgling to sailing, my raw researching met brutal honesty. Seeking a sailboat and home, to travel the planet, I tried to grasp the financials and what, exactly, was I letting myself in for.
“How much does it cost to buy and then maintain a boat?” Coming from the corporate world I was gearing up to write in-depth project and budget plans, but abruptly shook those thoughts from my organised head when Noel replied.
“It’ll take every penny we have.”
“Oh right, well, what’s so great about sailing?” Expecting to be assailed with vivid pictures of slicing, splendidly through clear, flat water, with handsome palm trees and white sandy beaches supplying a dreamlike backdrop, the image shattered as Noel’s ruthless reply tore through my reverie,
“Getting to port,” he said, “and the local bar”.
Seven years later and over 40,000 miles clocked, I can see the wisdom in his answers.
Getting into port is one of the best bits! Daniel’s Bay, Marquesas.
Enduring the Escapade
Long term cruising is an incredible adventure and hard work. Arriving in a new country or town, our thoughts steer to, how do we check in? Where do we get fuel and potable water? How much is it?
The men talk amps and engines the girls talk laundry and supermarkets. Noel, Mariah and I are on our last leg in the superb south Pacific Ocean. Aside from reflecting on our magnificent voyage so far, a few ludicrous “learning’s” deserve a mention.
Cleaning cupboards reality – it is not your ‘average’ kitchen.
First, let’s be positive. Our escapade divorces and insulates us from the world’s day-to-day problems. We are not ashamed to bury our heads in the sand and enjoy the “ignorance is bliss” scenario, while we can. News never changes; it is sad and depressing today and tomorrow.
Frequently we meet like-minded people, of all nationalities, where age is no friendship barrier. Hooking up with similar sized boats and sharing the ocean brings the comfort of companionship and the joy in sharing the dolphins that play on our bow during those perfect sailing days.
Mostly, for us, it is the freedom of living simply. We have no letterbox where small bits of paper with large numbers intrude into our sanctuary, sucking dry the bank account to allow landlubber luxuries. And yes, there is the odd G & T (Vodka for me please) while watching spectacular sunsets, doing an anchor pirouette, savouring the sedate, shifting views as we would fine wine.
Secrets of the initiated
Over the year’s advice, hints and tips have deluged our salt saturated minds until our armpits are all but overflowing. We thought we’d heard it all, but here are some unmentionables that we learned along the way:
(1) Constipation – the most fluid of us struggle on long trips. On watch, the comfy cockpit seat will become well acquainted with your behind, causing, what we refer to as – the cork effect.
(2) Seasickness – the toughest of us will become seasick. After corkscrewing for 48 hours solid, your tummy will give up all hope of hanging onto to anything. Most of us unwillingly feed the fish at some point. It is like puberty, you just have to get through it. Despite suicidal thoughts during the worst bouts of seasickness, once you have reached your haven and spent a few days in flat water, going back out into lumpy seas suddenly becomes a good idea again. On the plus side it is a great diet!
(3) Toilet tantrums – at some point most marine toilets will block. If you have not been allocated the repair task, leave the boat while it is being fixed. Build up of pressure while trying to pump it clear will create the most spectacular explosion. Becoming AWOL at this time will help avoid a good dose of (5).
(4) Landlubbers – your farewell from home will be tearful, exciting and filled with unfulfilled promises from friends and family, who assure you that they will keep you up to date on home happenings. After two years you will be grateful for an email once every six months from your bestest buddies, all of which think you spend your entire life sitting on the aft deck sipping G & T.
G&T on the aft deck – after this I’d need one.
(5) Arguments – the closest relationship will suffer at times. Falling out with your spouse is inevitable especially when you are woken three and a half minutes before you are due on watch at 3 am. Learn to talk about it and laugh, it can get damn lonely otherwise and create a yearning for (4).
(6) Moon-fright – the moon is crafty bugger. You know it is due to rise, but as you scan the horizon there is a luminous light that assumes the shape of an approaching aircraft carrier. This will be the moon, strategically cloaked with black cloud to form heart-stopping shapes. However, the moon will become your buddy, especially if dealing with number (5).
(7) Cravings – two days out of a long haul sail you will desperately desire all those things you haven’t got. Roast chicken, ice cream…
(8) Spiders – having abhorrence to the skittering critters my husband assured me that life on board meant no spiders. This seems reasonable, after all we are away from land a lot of the time. Reality is that I am sure we have had a hand inter breeding crawly critters from different countries, probably creating a whole new weird and wonderful breed.
(9) Time – boat maintenance is a full time job in addition to washing, cleaning and sourcing supplies. If you are fortunate enough to momentarily catch up, items (1) or (2) – or both if you are unlucky, will fill the gaps. At the end of each day you’ll just have time to read a page or two of that book you’ve always wanted to read, before sparking out.
(10) Fishing – you will fish once per trip. After you have heaved the huge dolphin fish on board and it has thrashed itself to death, splattering blood over the clean, white cockpit and your battle weary body, the fishing gear will gather salt in the Lazorette for the rest of the journey. By the next trip, you will have forgotten the sticky mess and break out the lines.
(11) Sinking – on your watch, typically in the graveyard hours, you’ll check the bilge for the last time before the welcome warmth of bed and the bilge will be full of water. Instantaneously you are wide-awake and have no problem in screeching at your partner who is obviously having their best ever sleep. Turning the mains off is not an option and two hours later you will find the solution to the problem is something as simple as greasing the stern gland. Finally, you’ll crawl into bed and the stampeding adrenaline will keep you awake until twenty minutes before you are due back on watch.
(12) Plip-plop – you will loose something overboard, deal with it, it is gone.
(13) Fitness – you will not become fit sailing. Although you do become trim, see (2).
(14) Turning back – face facts that the storm you can no longer punch into has beaten you. It is not failure to turn back, it is common sense and above all the boat’s and your safety – also helps relieve item (2).
Fixing a sheared pin in an exotic place (Tahiti).
(15) On a long passage – when the fresh food has all gone (and if you are like us, without fridge) after a week tinned food will taste all the same. It will have that unmistakable metallic flavour (tinny flavouring assists number (2)).
(16) Dust – dust will collect with intensity, especially in those tiny, boat shape, awkward places. Adds to (9).
(17) Company – your partner is only ten feet away sleeping below, at that time you are single-handing. It can be lonely, maybe a good thing if dealing with (1), (2) or (5)!
(18) Plunging – on moonless nights you plunge into thick darkness, with peripheral vision coming to a shocking end at the bow. It’s best not to dwell on this too much.
(19) Meteorites – the dark nights are abundant with “shooting stars”, but watch for the big ones. Out of nowhere, a spot light will beam down on you while you sit quietly in the cockpit minding your own business. A huge, bright meteorite will give you occasion to create a few more grey hairs.
(20) Advice – some will be good and some, well, let’s just say, some will be totally fictitious. You will meet some gold medal winning “know it alls”, for example this article, is it fact or fiction? – best way is to get out there and find out for yourself.
Coming into glorious destinations, like the Bahamas, you can never sit back and relax.
For lots more great tips, tricks, ideas and advice on living on board, see our book Cruisers’ AA.
WOB is a new FB group, which could have been called BOOBS! . . . but we’ll get to that.
I use Facebook for marketing my books Cruisers’ AA and Of Foreign Build, and keeping in touch with friends and family. It is only recently that I’ve been joining groups AND I have become an administrator of one such group. (I use the word administrator lightly as my fellow administrator is being far more, uhm, administrative than I am!)
Noel and Jackie’s Journeys
I do not join groups lightly. I want to be a member of groups that are friendly, contain quality information, are fun and, very importantly, are safe.
One of my favourite groups is WWSA (Women Who Sail Australia), an off-shoot of WWS (Women Who Sail). These are closed groups. In both I find love, respect, friendship, help and a safe haven for any help and support that I may need. These groups also contain a wealth of incredible experience and advice.
Women who sail – that’s me!
I got to know Carole Eardman Grant via WWS a few months ago and we met when we were in the same town. It really is remarkable how these groups (and FB) bring people together. Carole is Canadian and is currently renovating a barge in Kent, (UK), with her husband Barrie. I am from the UK, but live in Australia and was in the UK when we met.
Boats, canals & all that goes with it!
Carole helped me with lots of information while Noel and I were looking for our barge. Our relationship has grown quickly into a marvellous friendship. We chat a lot on FB, mostly about boats! We support each other and we are very open and honest. Carole always has a positive word when I slip into negativity.
Together we have set up Women On Barges (WOB). Our group has, very quickly, become a place of friendship, respect, support and again, a safe place for women to share doubts, fears, accomplishments, hopes and dreams. It’s a marvellous resource of information as well.
If you like boats, live on one or just dream about doing so, WOB is for you (oh yes, you must be a woman too!)
These are my experiences of Facebook and groups. So far I have had not had a negative occurrence. But I’d love to hear how it’s changed your life. With a bit of time management on Facebook, it is always a positive event for me.
And just where does BOOBS fit into all this? Well of course, the group is for women . . . . but a name that has been whispered around decks and between friends (and I’ve stolen this from my mate Carole 🙂 ) is Babes On Old Barges = BOOBS! I, for one, think that is pretty neat! For now we’ll stick with Women On Barges (WOB) – come take a look, you’ll be made very welcome.
Women on Barges! This group is a place for women on every shape and size of barge — or any other type of boat — to come together and connect. Some of us live on barges, some only holiday on barges and some of us want to. Some of us know a LOT about boats in general, some know not much at all. We are single; we are married; we have kids, grandkids, we are working or retired. Some of our barges are in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland or the UK or other countries. We are from a variety of countries which are as diverse as we are. No matter who we are, this is a place for women to share respectful, supportive discourse.