…as they say in the Islands…. it means ‘Everything’s alright’. I love that saying because it sums up the attitude of the Caribbean people: cool, unflappable and consummately chilled. The people of the islands won’t be hurried by anyone or anything and I think we could all take a leaf from their books. Living in the present and taking our time, that said when you are trying the clear customs and then have to wait 2 1/2 hours for the one and only customs official to clear through an entire cruiseship of people before us 5 little bods, island time can become frustrating pretty quickly!
Still, it’s a bit like childbirth, in that the pain is quickly forgotten when you realise how beautiful the place is. We have spent the last 3 weeks in idyllic settings. The chain of islands known as the Grenadines lie between St Vincent and Grenada, these outcrops are mostly uninhabited and are protected by reefs. The waters are shallow and the seabed is sand or coral so you get the most wonderful colours in the water.
We walked around a deserted island and reached a windswept beach were the kids paddled in rock pools and chased crabs. Another island offered a pure sand spit, a sea water lagoon and snorkelling with thousands of fish – much to jocie’s delight! It was like swimming in a sea of changing light as the small fish darted to and fro, Jocie beside me pointing and shrieking through her snorkel! We spent a couple of nights near a turtle beach, turtles could be spotted everywhere, they are incredible creatures to swim with, so big and prehistoric looking yet graceful. This inspired us to a bit of biology and creative writing; the life cycle of a turtle, they are fascinating animals, we learnt about their ‘magnetic sense’ and how they swim thousands of miles to return to the same beach they were born on to lay their eggs, we also wrote a creative story which has been a little more taxing for everyone!
On that note, it has not been easy trying to settle the girls down for school when outside there is such a beautiful playground awaiting them. At times it has been hard not to lose my mind: trying to manage the eldest doing multi-digit long division, the middle one learning to simplify fractions and the little one struggling to count up in 10s, safe to say I have a deep respect for those who choose to teach! We have managed 3 mornings most weeks, Jocie is reading well, Isla has finally nailed her fractions to decimals (thanks to Sophie – who decided my teaching wasn’t up to scratch!) and Sophie is doing well with SATS prep. Hopefully they will be at the right level going back in to school.
I have to mention that every single sailing parent I have met who homeschool have the same concerns. Are they doing enough, will their children be behind? How will they hold up against their peers when they re-enter school? These are natural worries but l have come to the conclusion that without exception the ‘sailing’ children I have met are resilient, tenacious, capable and confident and seem in no way impaired through their lack of traditional schooling, hopefully the girls’ teachers will agree when I deposit them back into the system! Thankfully there are areas of the curriculum that we can cover outdoors, the girls have had 3 official kitesurf lessons and are loving it, we learnt to make chocolate from tree to bar and they have loved engaging socially with other children even if they speak a different language, you’d be amazed at how they get by without talking!
A challenge recently has been the wind and finding a suitable spot to see out the weather was becoming increasingly difficult in the relatively exposed islands we were in. One anchorage was so blowy that the wind blew my wetsuit off the boat, after much heroics by yours truly, said wetsuit was rescued and we made the decision to go south to a marina in Grenada.
St. George’s was an excellent choice, the town was vibrant and interesting and the marina had a pool which made for brilliant boatschool bribery (spot the alliteration!) we saw some old and new friends for more that one boozy meal and we climbed to a 90ft waterfall in the rain and mud, scaling big rocks and wading through streams all whilst being attacked by aggressive mosquitoes – character building I’d say, the kids had other ideas:
“Why are we doing this, Dad? It’s raining and horrible!” Sophie states with distain.
“Because God gave us legs.” retorts Dad.
“Yes but he also gave us brains.”
Mmm, guess she had a point there! Yet by the time we made it back down, fresh headed from our swim in the cold waterfall, our legs muddy and tired from the walk I could tell that we’d all had an excellent time despite the conditions.
So Grenadines and Grenada done, we have reached our furthest point south and are beginning to head back up the island chain. Next stop Martinique for some french culture and chic shopping. We have made over 50 stops now on our trip and can’t wait for the next 50! I guess we’re about half way through. How time flies!