Astra’s Adventure

Patrice is leaving. He’s been our friend since we both arrived in Bonaire a few days apart. Of course, I want to write about his departure with a detached and witty air.

Who am I kidding? I find good-byes stupidly difficult. Great boat-person, me. Urghh.

Though it is time. Not that Patrice hasn’t threatened to leave before. Almost since we met him. First, he was going back to St Vincent. Then he was going to the Venezuelan islands. I remember thinking I’d probably need to hide his boat keys. The whole place was in a sort of no-man’s land. Open-not open: no one could really tell. Definitely no PCR-testing facility. No problem perhaps when you’re there, but this would make it difficult to move on.

So, phew, he decided against the Venezuelan islands. Then, around Christmas his focus turned west. Colombia, Panama, the Pacific. Not a bad idea this one. I thought so. I mean, if you buy a boat and you are off to see the world. Well, duh. The Pacific is the world to see. It sounds completely amazing. From the mixing-rich waters of the Galapagos, the green volcanic Marquesas, to the lagoon-rimmed points of lonely paradise. Who wouldn’t love to go?

So, Patrice was all set, even ready to be hemmed into the tight Covid restrictions currently in the Pacific nations. Alas, it proved too hard. Too tight. The hardy souls who are heading that way now are mostly the ones who have to – in order to get home. New Zealand and Australia with brief stops along the way. Perhaps in a year’s time things will go back to normal, but not now unfortunately.

With this, Patrice pulled out of his westerly-direction plans. There was only one option left. Well, actually two. He could stay in the Caribbean for another hurricane season. Some brave lunatics do.

I’ve remembered I can only do one full hurricane season at a time on a boat. Hot doesnt even come close. Hot on a boat. Hot on a boat trying to do school. Hot on a boat trying to school and fighting mozzies.. ok, ok, I’ll stop! Thank God.

Patrice doesn’t do school, but the feeling is the same. Caribbean hurricane seasons are like childbirth. You’ve got to leave it a little while before you subject yourself to another one. He has decided to cross the Atlantic too. Back east. Back home.

I mean, not exactly home. Not to our Aberystwyth marina home. Still, wouldn’t that be great? As a Frenchman with a British boat, he’d be a natural in Wales. And thanks to Bonaire, he is fully vaccinated.. but seriously. He is going home to his home. I think.

So, in preparation for our crossing, Patrice and his friend Guillaume are heading up north. About four boats are sailing to the Dominican Republic from Bonaire as a weather window opens later this week. The Dominican Republic is open to yachts. He and his yacht, Astra will get a new port under their belt, meet crew for his crossing – and we will see them in the Azores. Ahh, the Azores. And I will not cry. Damn you Hannah. I will not.

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