Saint Lucia (8 – 21 June 2017)
Since returning to the boat after 6 months back in England things have changed somewhat. Long gone are the days of snorkelling around the boat together for hours on end, spending afternoons napping, watching films on the laptop and evenings socialising over copious amounts of rum with other cruisers. In fact life on board is nothing like it was before now we have a baby.
It’s a completely different ball game, a typical day involves getting up at 6am and entertaining the Bean for a couple of hours, then making her breakfast, feeding her, putting her to sleep for nap, brushing & cleaning the saloon and cockpit to minimalize the amount of dog hair, sand & other miscellaneous crap that ends up in Daisy’s mouth & sticking to her clammy little hot body. Hand washing, rinsing, wringing & hanging out pissy shitty reusable nappies. Covering the bubba from head to foot in sun creamed several times a day to prevent her skin melting off in the tropical sun. Dressing her and preparing to leave the boat; packing a bag, shutting windows, packing lots of water, putting on the baby carrier, searching for a dummy, unlocking the dinghy, searching for the outboard kill cord, looking for a pair of flip flops. Finally after locking and unlocking the boat 12 times for various forgotten essential items poor Scrumpy can finally be taken for a morning walk. Then its back to prepare lunch, eat and wash up. More entertaining the Bean, putting her down for another nap, clean the boat for second time as the mornings activities and dog walk along the beach have turned the shoe box into a bombsite again. I actually live in a permanent bomb site, you’d think inhabiting a tiny space would make it easy to tidy up but there’s no where to put anything especially when your carrying all this infant related crap that gets used on a daily basis.
Other activities might include filling up the water tanks as we are out of fresh water, which means puling the anchor & bringing the boat alongside a fuel pontoon or doing the 4-5 day food shop, hand washing bedding, removing the build up of weed and growth from the bottom of dinghy, hand washing the mountain of dirty food encrusted baby clothes which never gets any smaller, sorting out import and export admin relating to transporting Scrumpy between islands, defrosting the fridge element every 5 days, playing real life Tetrus while unpacking food shopping, regularly re-organising food cupboards to deal with the evolving eco system of bugs slowly taking over the boat. I haven’t even got to the make dinner, feed Daisy, Bath Daisy, put Daisy to bed, wash up again bit yet. Admittedly these are not all child related chores, some are boat chores, some are life chores, some are dog chores, some are travelling admin chores, some are general life chores but put them together and what have you got …… well a lot of fucking chores!
Now reading this, it may well sound like bitching, whinging and moaning which I am pretty good at. And I know you are all thinking “GIRL, you live on a BOAT in the CARIBBEAN!” Do you know how I know this, because all my friends back home repeatedly say it to me, but for some reason it really really …. really bugs me. I get that you have to go to work and do a shitty job for somebody elses gain and sit at bus stops in the rain, or lose the will to live during the rush hour commute home. So, just to make this very clear I am not complaining I am merely trying to give you an insight into what baby boat life is like. Cruising and living aboard is not one long holiday and with a baby you tend to get trapped on board working around naps, meal times and keeping the baby out of the sun but yes it beats sitting on the bus at 7am making your way to work in dull dreary grey England watching the rain trickle down the windows as school kids scream around you. However it’s not all rum and sunsets here, talking of sunsets I can’t remember the last time I saw one. I’m usually in a dark cabin breastfeeding the Bean to sleep as part of her bedtime routine.
The arrival of Miss Daisy Rebel has not only dramatically impacted on the day to day stuff but has altered my thoughts and feelings about being so far away from home (England). When it was just me, Simon and the dog the distance wasn’t a big deal, however being a parent has totally flipped this around. Daisy is developing everyday and growing into a little person with her own character and personality. I hate that we are not able to share that with family and friends, particularly our parents. Staying at my Nana’s house for the weekend as a young girl are memories I treasure now she is no longer with us. Getting into her bed in the morning and eating cornflakes with sliced fresh nectarine, laughing as she sang and danced to 1940’s music on her kitchen radio, helping her in the garden. Although Daisy is seeing and experiencing the wonders of the world by sea, she’s missing out on other things and although at 9 months she is still too young to remember, my parents are also losing out and they are fully aware of this ….as am I.
Having Simon’s mum Bev and step dad Barry visit us in Saint Lucia for 10 days was worth its weight in gold. Nope that’s an understatement it was actually priceless, but it reinforced deeper the parent sized void I was currently feeling. Both of them stayed on the boat to maximise the short time we had together and more importantly with Daisy. Four adults on board Tudor Rose was a rather cosy set up and not something I could do for longer than a couple of weeks. Generally someone is always in the way of someone else and when it rains, which is does a lot during ‘rainy season’ you are all huddled inside one tiny room sweating in the tropical humidity with all the windows shut. Not a fun place to be, luckily we sought refuge at Marigot Bay, $20 (US) for a mooring buoy and you get to use the facilities of the 5* Capella Hotel Resort & Marina with an amazing swimming pool, huge double sunbeds, complimentary towels & cold bottled water. Probably the most luxurious leisure facility the Boat hobos have had the privilege of using but more surprising was how they treated us. Normally these places just let you in to encourage you to spend money, here you won’t have know we weren’t hotel guests. The staff were friendly, welcoming and attentive popping around throughout the day with fresh coconut water straight from the husks, canapés and fruit all on the house. It was a great place to just hang out and chill even when it was raining.
Hurricane season is from 1 June to 30 November so Simon is now checking the weather online daily. The main site for storms is the National Hurricane Centre and during Bev and Barry’s visit we got our first potential warning of a Tropical storm. Marigot Bay is a hurricane hole and surrounded by steep forested hills providing the perfect protection, being moored here already was a relief. The day before the storm was due to hit, boat after boat after boat came in to seek shelter, including all the locals (which can only be a good sign) many of them tying into the mangroves. Fortunately the path of destruction changed to further south, so just a false alarm but better to be safe than sorry.
Saying our goodbyes when it was time for our visitors to leave was hard but made slightly easier by having some dates planned to meet up again. There’s nothing worse than being 3000 miles from home wishing each other bon voyage but having no idea when you will see each other next. Although sad I’m not going to lie it was nice to get the boat back to ourselves. Daisy could go back into her front cabin and hopefully start sleeping through the night again, plus I’d get a third of the bed back. Having her in our room had been unsettling for all of us and she’d been waking 3 to 4 times a night. Once in her own space normal slumbering patterns resumed instantaneously, what a relief that was. Thank god I have a child that sleeps (smug smiling face emoji). However you can’t have everything in life ….. because that just wouldn’t be fair. But I’ll save that for the next post!
Special thanks to Bev & Barry for spoiling us rotten & bringing us lots of treats and clothes for Daisy Bean