So it took us twenty days to cross the Atlantic, we beat Christopher Columbus but we are in such a shit situation now, what do we do? James is just gutted he left the boat and is determined to find it but how do we do that? We have no home, no stuff, nothing for Christmas and it’s Christmas Eve. Again the crew of Tilly Mint astounded us with their kindness, they’d wrapped presents for each of us in tinfoil! Tilly Mint tshirts for James, Tony and myself and the kids opened a 24 ft octopus kite!!!! I cried, this appears to be my coping mechanism for kindness at the moment, but in my defence these guys just hadn’t stopped giving and well without sounding dramatic they’d saved our lives. Jim went off to hire a car and find us somewhere to stay in Martinique on Christmas Eve, we were like Mary and Joseph! It was very tricky but he ended up finding a room in a very expensive hotel for the night. There were a lot of hugs and then we left the Tilly Mint, we walked out of the marina and sat on a curb while we waited for James, how life had changed, we had gone from being a family on a beautiful yacht to a family sat on a curb with four rucksacks full of teddy bears! Yes, I hadn’t mentioned this act of complete stupidity before, so here it is. When we were rescued we were told that we could each bring a small rucksack or bag with us, so what do you take when you have to choose from all your worldly possessions? Well normal, sane people would grab the things that were important, the things you loved and couldn’t live without, this is great unless you have two small children who had managed to persuade us to take on their adventure 25 cuddly toys! They wouldn’t be parted with one, they all had to come, as above these were the things they loved, their little faces as we tryed to get them to pick out a few each…. well they broke us and in the end we took them all filling up their rucksacks and mine.
It was really hard saying goodbye to the Tilly Mint and her crew but we knew that we would see them again, they had promised to come to Cornwall! We drove up the coast and checked into the hotel, James was all consumed with finding the boat and so spent the rest of the day stuck in a room with wifi, Tony was busy sorting out a flight home so I took the kids to the pool and let hem have some fun. I tried to sort out insurance but it’s Christmas so England is closed and I start to panic, it’s Christmas, it’s bloody Christmas Eve, my whole Christmas is on our boat, santa, he’s got to come, it will push my kids over the edge if they wake up tomorrow and he’s not been, it would be worse than being rescued at sea. Right, mission, we look through the care package Arwyn had given us when she’d found out our hotel room had a kitchen, love her, only a selection of gorgeous goodies, Waitrose topside roast beef, right we can do something with that, we look at our little balcony kitchen two hob rings and a sink, bugger, we’ll slice it into steaks, fry some onions and have steak sandwiches, that’s a quality Christmas Eve dinner. We look deeper into the care package, sausages, pate, so we need loads of baguettes. Ok, James and I leave Tony with the kids and hurtle off in the hire car, it’s the evening of Christmas Eve but we’ve got to find some presents and some baguettes, we turn right and head down the coast until we see a couple of beach shops, OPEN, yes. We literally lucked out, freshly baked, warm baguettes, well Martinique is French. We weren’t so lucky with presents and end up having to grab a handful of souvenir items from a tourist shop which was our only option. Every present from santa has Martinique written on it! If they’re ever going to realise, this is going to be the year. We head back to the hotel, fry up the steaks and onions and enjoy our Christmas Eve sandwiches in Martinique.
We are woken by two small children holding there paper bag stockings, filled with souvenirs wrapped in tourist maps, amazing he’d been! I’m glad he’d been but it felt awful watching them unwrap Martinique fridge magnets and key rings. Especially when all their gifts were hidden under my bed, floating around in the Atlantic somewhere, bollocks, what can you do? Now they are good kids and were happy but I felt terrible and fortunately that was when my back up plan kicked into action. That night I’d sent an emergency text. All of a sudden we had my brother and mum ringing on FaceTime, it was incredible santa had been to grandmas as well, my brother held up these two stockings bulging with presents to Heath and Isla, there was also a little message, santa had been unsure of our exact position and so had placed stockings at all our recent locations, the boat, the hotel and grandmas. Well the grins split the kids faces and James and I could smile, santa had done bloody well.
Now it wasn’t the Christmas we’d planned but we were in paradise so let’s go out and enjoy it, I fried up the sausages, filled some more baguettes and we headed to the beach, Tony needed to just be and stayed in the room, we understood. So we tried, we walked to the beach and it was beautiful, we swam, the kids made surfboards out of coconuts and played for hours surfing these coconuts into waves, but you could see the strain on jims face he wanted to be back where the wifi was, hunting for the boat. It was barely midday but we packed up and headed back to the hotel, we couldn’t afford to stay here and to be honest even though there was wifi we couldn’t really do anything. We checked out, jumped in the car and drove north up to Fort de France.
On the drive there I received a message from my brother, there was a guy in St Lucia who Duncan had worked for 10 years ago who had offered to help us. The message read ‘fran I have free accommodation for you in St Lucia, you’ve just got to get there. It’s courtesy of Mark Grebby, he runs a couple of hotels and has said you can have a room and in his words “good people help good people , merry Christmas ” he made me cry, such a nice guy, go relax by a pool’.
Wow, I rang Mark immediately, I explained that it would be me and the children, how we didn’t know how long we’d be waiting and how grateful I was of his offer to help us. He was so kind on the phone, told me not to worry, we were welcome, to come as soon as we could and that he had somewhere warm and cuddly for us. Again just wow, these people, these people we didn’t know, all helping us, all giving so much, the kindness of strangers again. If I’ve learnt anything from this trip it’s that people are beautiful.