Visitors Pat and Paul, March 2004
We thought it would be a good idea to put pen to paper (or should we say finger to keyboard) to give those who read Keith and Christine's emails about their journey around the universe, where no man has gone before, an insight into their lives and the experiences we enjoyed with them… none of them sexual you will be relieved to hear!

Who are we? Pat and Paul (or, to those who love tongue twisters, Bat and Ball). Pat is a longstanding friend of Christine's. When the initial plans to travel the universe were discussed we said that we would join them anywhere in the world and, when the time came, oh dear! we had to travel to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. They were really pleased that we had taken the time, expense and trouble to visit them. Our thoughts were yippee! flight only, no accommodation to pay for - and thus, cheaper to visit them than to go to Spain!! We were right. Flight to New York and then onto San Juan, arriving at mid-night-ish. Knowing that they would be in the land of nod (with Christine deep in snoring mode) we felt it better to stay in a hotel for the first night. This not only gave them the chance to have a good night's sleep but allowed us to make passionate love for one more time before sharing the communal space of a 44ft yacht - where all noises from sea, wind, flapping doors and lovemaking can be heard.

The arrangement was to message them on our phone and they would reply with exact details of where they were moored. Technical problem was that they had emailed us after our departure and that Christine's phone was not working - so no way of communicating. We stayed in the hotel until late morning on the off-chance we heard from them - but then made our way by taxi to the marina we believed they were moored at. We discussed with the non-English speaking taxi driver a suitable rate of payment. The taxi would accept live chickens and joints of meat but as we were not entirely au fait with this exchange rate we paid him in dollars - and, to obtain the statuary discount, we did not ask for a receipt.

We arrived at the marina. There were in excess of 1000 yachts and gin palaces. Could one of them be theirs? Pat you start on the left (port) and I'll start on the right (starboard) and we will meet in the middle about 3 hours later - having hopefully found the boat. At that point another local with a battery operated golf buggy offered to help. He took our luggage and drove us to the marina office where the name of the yacht was given to the girl behind the desk. In an instant she told our golf buggy driver the number of the parking space where Poco Andante was moored. Keith had calculated that we would arrive at about 1.00pm. We pulled up at 1.08pm just as they were disembarking to try and phone us. At last we had found them and a wealth of hellos and cuddles ensued. We had made it - and only 8 minutes late!

Six minutes later we were on board, unpacked and up on deck with a drink that is cheaper than a bottle of water, Rum Punch. Having been assured that it was cheaper to have two rum punches than a bottle of water, I duly had 4 rum punches. Well, it just had to be done…

Their yacht is some 44ft long with a relatively wide beam. The guest quarters is a good size cabin at the bow end (that pointed bit near the front of the boat). The bed is 5ft wide at the head end and 3ft wide at the toe end. Ample room for a party! Even in hot weather the breeze comes through the sky hatch which always faces the wind when anchored. Our en suite bathroom had a sea-water flushing toilet and a fresh water shower and basin. (Those who will be following us a visit should be aware that the alcohol, including beer and wine, is within 3 walking paces from the shower. Please telephone me if you need exact details of the location so Keith doesn't notice you quietly acquiring alcoholic beverages and becoming sozzled whilst showering.)

Once the grape vine had cottoned on that we were going to visit them, the various parcels arrived for us to take with us. 20kg of luggage is generally allowed on flights - so the 26kg holdall case was not only in excess of the weight allowance but was bloody heavy to carry. Luckily the airport did not impose any surcharges and attached FRAGILE stickers just in case. Keith and Christine received the various presents including Vegemite and marmalade from us - we really could not think what gift we could buy them so, having stayed with them for a few days, we found two that you would never think of in the UK… Firstly a pair of prescription specs bought off-the-shelf for Keith. Secondly, Keith received a bollocking from Christine for breaking her carving knife while trying to open a coconut we had found on the beach. The second present thus became obvious - a machete! 2 foot long with imitation leather case and straight off the supermarket shelf! Now Keith can open all the coconuts he wants with the ease of a knife through butter.

What amazed us was that this round-the-world holiday trip of theirs is a full time job. The sheer amount of work involved to run, maintain and manage the boat is incredible. There is not as much free time available as you would expect. I think our short visit did slow them down a bit - restrained them from a few of their normal chores, thus giving them time to relax. About 20% of the time is motoring or sailing; the rest is at anchor or moored up. The mornings generally start with Christine up first, in her dressing gown up on deck with a cup of tea reading. Second was myself. You cannot but go up on deck and look around and appreciate the view of the day; the sheer beauty of white sandy beaches with clear blue waters and bright blue sky. We have all seen the postcards - well, this was for real. Keith is awake but reading in bed. Pat is still in bed dreaming of colourful fish and vegetarian food. At about 8am she summons me for the morning cup of tea. Whilst I am normally proficient with culinary skills, I get lost in the galley so Christine or Keith normally provide Pat with her morning beverage. Breakfast ranged from bread (home made by Keith) with the usual butter and jams, to full cooked English breakfast - the choice is yours. Decision was made as to what was happening that day and how to get there. If sailing was involved then you really had to arrive at your destination by about 2pm. That allowed you to sail close to an island or into a harbour and still see the coral and seabed below. Later in the afternoon the sun is too low to be able to see the coral and rocks - a dangerous situation, so always better to play safe and arrive early afternoon.

Arriving at a new anchorage was really quite good fun. You normally had the chance to hear Christine swear. To those that know her, this is something of a rarity. Christine has perfected this art and her conversation, whilst anchoring, now flows easily like the tide with quite good swearing. Let me enlighten you with a recall of an excerpt of the conversation heard between Keith and Christine. Firstly the scene needs to be set; anchoring requires Christine at the helm (steering) and Keith at the bow (pointy end) in charge of dropping the anchor and looking out for rocks. The boat is 44ft long and it is difficult to hear one another without facing each other or using walkie talkies.

"Keith, do you want me to stop?"
No reply because he cannot hear.
"Keith," she shouts with a sharpening tongue, "Do You Want Me to Stop?"
Still no reply because Keith is looking over the bow. Now the Australian/New Zealand tongue really comes into its own.
"Keeeeeiiiiith………. F*cking turn round when I'm talking!"
Now that Keith has dropped the anchor he turns around - not realising the saga that has been going on - and shouts "Full astern, Christine." This is duly done and, once the anchor is safely held, the engine is stopped and all is well - and they are lovey-dovey again. What fun!

We really enjoyed the holiday and sailing experience. Whilst I have no interest in sailing (although my own father has sailed the Atlantic single-handed), I really picked up on the pleasure, enjoyment, excitement and hard work involved with the lifestyle that Christine and Keith have chosen. Whilst Keith is a 'Yacht Master' I do hope he awards me 'Caribbean Master'!

I could write all day about our adventures but time, alas, does not prevail. If you get the chance to catch up with them, then do. It is an experience you will not regret.

Paul & Pat