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St Margaret's Hospice Yacht in the Caribbean

Royal Mail�s Christmas Gift � The New Bigger Small Parcel Size

The Yacht is now sailing through the Caribbean on the fourth leg of its journey. Read the crew's daily blog posts here.

Thursday 18th December 2014

Well, we arrived at the 24 hr marina at Rodney Bay St Lucia but they were out, and so we anchored outside under two pitons (big pointy hills)  which brought Jean-Paul Gaultier and his most famous underwear model to mind.  7 very sticky ladies who had been promised a shower whimpered pathetically, and Kev was heard to weep silently into his towel,  but we bedded down in our bunks and at 8.30 the next morning the 24 hr marina opened and we motored into our berth in the super yacht basin because we are too big to go with the other yotties.  While ours was undoubtedly the most beautiful boat, as a crew we didn’t half let the side down. For some unaccountable reason the super yachts seem to be manned by leggy blondes and bronzed hunks – and we can only muster two of those on Challenger  2.( Kev and Darren, need you ask.)

This being Challenger, not our neighbour Tosca  –a giant sleek catamaran with undoubtedly a crew of hundreds – our next task was to deep clean, which was done with incredible teamwork and skill until we gleamed.    And then we could get to the showers , O hooray!. The crew then accepted various challenges for the rest of the day, including sourcing a tour of the island from the lady at the the charity stall’s brother-in law’s best friend and his mate (Ronny and Lucius), mastering the eating of cassava bread with raisins, or salt fish.  You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.  The tour visited the sulphur springs, went to a funeral, and did some quality checks at a Rum distillery.  Hard work but someone……….. A set of cultural encounters of true international relevance and importance.  Honestly.
Those left behind managed the laundry –either done in house, hung on the guard rails with undies covered decorously by a towel (St Lucia’s superyacht clientele possibly not ready for the sight of our smalls we thought) or managed by the Marina laundry – Suds – which delivers directly back to the boat, baked a cake, found a binnacle and polished it.  Could not find a barnacle to remove otherwise would have done.
So imagine 5am, awaking on your superyacht between the Egyptian cotton sheets, perhaps sidling to your self contained ensuite, and what do you espy twinkling past your porthole.  The sturdy, and to be honest at this stage fairly hairy, legs of the Challenger Crew, walking the ¼ mile back from the shower to set sail and leave port at 6am.  en route to Guadeloupe. And not one of us would change places.  White tailed tropicbirds accompany our passage.
Alison and Anne – mothers for the day

Wednesday 17th December 2014

Having thought I had retired from long distance sailing I find myself on this exciting event for St Margaret's Hospice. I have to admit to being a little apprehensive before the trip having recently had knee surgery and being a little wary of sailing since this. however I was very reassured when I saw the size and strength of this wonderful Challenger yacht . It was an impressive sight when we saw it lying at its mooring in Port St Charles when we first embarked. However the size of the ropes, sails and equipment bring their own challenges to those of us on the wrong side of 60! a few more sessions at the gym might have helped!

Now we are 3 full days in to our trip and have departed from Bequia after a morning exploring the small township.We set sail with an encouraging wind and are now passing the North end of St Vincent with the peaks of St Lucia in sight on the horizon.... the sea is a wonderful blue and we have sighted more Dolphins and 2 turtles and some wonderful views of the islands of the Grenadines. What more could one wish for on a December day! Tomorrow will bring another adventure as we explore St Lucia .... And the Windward islands beckon! And I must not forget that I and Kevin are on Mother Duty.....!
So this is a real opportunity to escape the tedium of cold wet weather and join in a great adventure and to support a very worthy cause and I would encourage others to try this!

Tuesday 16th December 2014

Yesterday was very challenging, a long hard day, disorienting and tiring, and some of us may have wondered why we came. Waking at anchor on Union Island, we all felt better. The heat was more manageable and there was less pressure, so we were able to slip into Caribbean Time and rhythm, helped along by friendly islanders and two cool dips in clear water. To everyone wondering how we are getting along, this truly is breath-taking - an experience like no other. New experiences today: snorkelling, getting on and off via tender, being kissed by a ray, Happy Island, my first ever piña colada. Every time we wonder whether to try something new, one of us says when will we ever have this opportunity again. Think about it as we set off again into big seas with a beautiful sunset, why would anyone not want to do this - and it's great to know we are supporting such a good cause.

Monday 15th December 2014

After a good night’s sleep, Ann and Penny were on mother watch.  They (we) did all their duties at record speed, preparing fresh fruit salad, egg and bacon baps, fruit juice, cereal and hot drinks, before cleaning below decks.  We drew the line at checking behind people’s ears!

After applying copious volumes of suntan cream and Off! Insect repellent, we motored round to the front of the island to clear customs, taking the opportunity to explore, buy fresh fruit and meet the really friendly locals.  The team walked along Main street, marvelling at the art, graffiti and policemen dressed in full black uniforms including bovver boots.

On the way back out to our anchorage, we stopped at Happy Island – and we were!  Then, all aboard again to what could only be described as paradise.  Tobago Cays.  It epitomises everything you could expect from the Caribbean brochures.  White sand, palm trees, turquoise water and incredible wildlife.  New challenge for some members today were learning to snorkel and tread water.

Ann was kissed by a stingray and headed for the beach at record speed, thinking it could be a shark attack. Then a kind and friendly local explained that the rays come in to the shore because they feed the waste from the fresh lobsters to them.  We spotted puffer fish, groupers and stingrays, sea urchin, crabs and a number of reef fish varieties.

Now safely back on board, we are en-route for Bequia, eta 8.30 local time.

The great Penny and Ann mother watch is over! Eating out tonight, under the stars

Sunday 14th December 2014

The morning started with a fabulous swim in the infinity pool which was a refreshing start to what was apparently the hottest day to date on this challenge.  All tired and a little the worse for wear after our long journey, most of us spent the day trying to hide from the sun and escape the heat.

After lunch we flew the spinnaker for 6 hours, until the wind dropped, when we were forced to motor the rest of the journey to Union Island.  During this lovely sail, a large pod of dolphins raced alongside us and under our keel as if welcoming us to the Caribbean. Alison Ryan, nature enthusiast extraordinaire, was able to introduce the entire crew to cloud spotter’s guide and informed us that the birds we saw were brown boobies, gannets and regular gulls.

After anchoring, lights were out by midnight and the light breeze helped to cool our steel sardine tin, so we all slept better.

Saturday 13th December 2014

Here we all are on Leg 4. After a good flight, we all landed in Barbados, where a slow clearance through customs meant that we didn’t arrive at challenger 2 until after dark.
We were welcomed aboard to a magnificent supper on the open deck. We shared stories about our sailing experiences (or lack of them) and how we had found ourselves on this incredible adventure.
Of course we also benefitted from an intro to the bar and facilities of the yacht club at Port St Charles…