We can never deny the fact that we have an awesome life being able to fulfill a dream of sailing our own boat to all of these exotic places. We’re sure you’ve all seen the Facebook posts, read the blog, ordered the book, and are anxiously waiting for the movie (right?) so we won’t “bore” you with another post on how gorgeous the Caribbean is.
Instead, we’d like to let you know how much we miss you — all of our family and friends. And, show what a wonderful Holiday Season we had spending time with some of our family and friends.
The season began in St. John, USVI in November where we celebrated a “special” birthday for our Toronto-based friend Sharon. In a move that may never be topped (certainly not by me), her husband Graeme planned and hosted a birthday trip of a lifetime for Sharon that was “crashed” by 8 of her best friends — Matt, Madalin, Meg, Alex, Bill, Jackie, Audrey and me — in one of the most spectacular villas we have ever seen.
The trip was all about spending time with good friends and we all had a great time enjoying wonderful meals, good wine, hanging by the pool, hiking and going to the beach. We even had a private chef prepare a sumptuous (and very filling) meal on Sharon’s birthday.
But, I gotta say Graeme made major points that he will be able to cash in for years to come for that villa. It had 5 bedrooms, 3 kitchens, an infinity pool, flat screen TV’s everywhere (including one by the pool and a 60+ inch 3-D one in the recreation room), and wrap around balconies with spectacular views of the ocean.
To top off the celebration and give them some much needed relaxation, Sharon and Graeme spent a few extra days with us on our boat where, after a panicked day of repairing an overheating engine, we sailed from St. Thomas to Christmas Cove on Great St. James Island where we spent the night. The next morning we sailed to St. John, where we hung out in St. Francis Bay before heading back to St. Thomas the next day so they could catch their flight back to Toronto.
The icing on the cake, for Audrey and I, was being able to spend so much quality time with so many of our really good friends — not only for Sharon’s birthday but also because it was so close to U.S. Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas/Holiday Season.
After the partying was over and Audrey and I had a day or so to recover, we hauled up the anchor and made our way from St. Thomas to Cooper Island in the BVI, where we stayed for one night, before heading off to St. Kitts, where we promised our families we would be for Christmas.
It was another upwind 120+ mile sail but, compared to the previous sagas, this was only one night at sea and aside from a small “run-in” with a cruise ship between Saba and Statia Islands, it was rather uneventful. We were docked at Port Zante Marina by noon and completely checked-in with customs, immigration and the marina office with plenty of time to give a surprise call to my mother and have her come and pick us up so we could stay at Casa James for the holidays…:-)
And, what a great holiday season we had. My brother Colin arrived just a few days after we did and between drinks at Reggae Beach, Carambola Beach Club and Mr. X’s Shiggedy Shack or hanging out on Celebration, we spent most of the week doing jobs around the house, including chopping down coconuts in my mother’s back garden.
On Christmas Eve we got dressed up (yes, I wore long pants, a dress shirt, socks and dress shoes!!!) and attended midnight mass at the beautifully decorated church where my mother sings in the choir. The next day we had a wonderful family Christmas dinner of turkey and ham with all the fixings prepared by chefs Audrey and Alma. Then, on December 26, after his last swim in the Caribbean, Colin jumped on an Air Canada flight and headed back to the Great White North.
However, that was not the end of family time as Audrey’s brother Jerry, his wife Mary and their daughter Carolyn arrived at the same time as Colin was leaving so the holiday festivities started all over again.
First, we delivered them to their villa, which was at the opposite end of the island in Dieppe Bay. It was a long drive from “town” and the beaches but it was a little oasis for them as it overlooked the Caribbean and had its own pool.
After letting them relax for the first night, we took them to get their rental car (an old piece of crap Ford Focus that was the last car on the lot) so they could enjoy their vacation without having to rely on Uber Richard, and so they could go to all the places that Audrey and I had already seen, for example the historic Brimstone Hill fortress.
But, we couldn’t let them have all the fun without us so throughout the week we took them to some of our favorite haunts like Reggae Beach, Carambola Beach Club and Sprat Net Seafood Restaurant (where I had to wait an hour for my pizza while everyone else enjoyed their fish and shrimp — my bad) between their self-drive tours of the island.
For New Year’s Eve we looked into attending some of the big parties or galas on the island but even in little St. Kitts they were beyond our cruising budget so we hosted Mary, Jerry and Carolyn for dinner and drinks on Celebration while my mother sang at the church during a special New Year’s Eve mass.
The next day, Kittitians rang in the new year with even more gusto than New Year’s Eve as New Year’s Day is also the day of the Sugar Mas Carnival’s Grand Parade. For anyone who has never been to a Caribbean carnival, they are a spectacle of color, music, dancing and fun that are the highlight of the year for many residents. The floats and Mas bands also tend to be very “unique” because they are competing for cash and, more importantly, prestige. The pics don’t do it justice but here’s a few that will give you an idea of what it was like.
Well, carnival not only marked the end of the year, it also marked the end of Jerry, Mary and Carolyn’s vacation in St. Kitts. The next day, after a final swim in the Caribbean (a departure day tradition?), a beer at the Shiggedy Shack and lunch at the Sunset Cafe, we dropped them at the airport for their flight back to Toronto.
With their departure, the vacations and celebrations of the holiday season were over and we were quite sad, after a month or so with family and friends, to see everyone go. On the other hand, we are so glad that we were able to spend such a wonderful birthday and holiday season with everyone.
We are also very happy to be spending another couple of weeks with mom in St. Kitts before going “cold turkey” without friends or family to our next destination.