Beer

I blame the beer.

And the Sint Maarten Yacht Club’s wifi code.

This is very clever of them: The wifi code is BUYMOREBEER – and you do feel obliged to, sitting on the deck under the Heineken umbrella trying to get to the British Virgin Islands.

The way things were going, It looked as though I might never reach the thousand palm-fringed anchorages and miles of white sandy beaches and some of the best snorkelling in the world. Originally, I didn’t intend to. I was going to Anguilla instead, which is just as nice but has contrived a series of charges designed to dissuade the charter fleets.

In the Virgin Islands, chartering is such big business that many of the vast catamarans in the glossy brochures no longer come with masts at all (if the clients aren’t going to put up the sails, why go to all that expense…)

And so I arrived in Anguilla’s Road Bay after the overnight sail from Martinique. I hadn’t even got the sailcover on when Customs & Immigration called on the VHF to ask why I had not filed my documents at least 48 hours before my intended arrival – oh, and by the way, if I set foot on the beach, they would fine me $200 for not having a negative COVID test.

Martinique hadn’t wanted any of that (and I didn’t even know I was going there until I arrived). So, I pulled up the mainsail again and sailed over to Anguilla’s larger neighbour, St Martin. One thing I have learned is that, the bigger the island, the smaller the bureaucracy.

St Martin is the French side. The Dutch side is called Sint Maarten – another of those lovely Caribbean stories: Apparently, the two nations had occupied opposite ends of the island and, not being terribly keen on fighting over it, decided to have a Frenchman walk from the north coast and a Dutchman walk for the south coast. Where they met, that would be the border.

So far, so good. It was just that the Frenchman was armed with a bottle of wine and the Dutchman with a bottle of Bols gin – and gin being somewhat stronger than wine, the Dutchman lay down for a kip some time before the Frenchman – and so the Froggies got the lion’s share.

Also, it meant I had to row all the way across the lagoon to the French side so I could use my Martinique SIM card. I had baulked at buying a Dutch one (so far I have Lebara from the Canaries, Africell from the Gambia, Unitel from the Cape Verdes and two different kinds of Digicell for the Caribbean – as well as dear old UW from the UK.)

That’s why I ended up on the Yacht Club’s wifi. The trouble was that the longer I spent online trying to make sense of the forms, the more beer I had to drink to keep the connection going – and the more impenetrable the BVIs Health Declaration form became. I had my negative COVID test – acquired from a man sitting in a van across the road – but could I find anywhere to upload it… unless that was part of the SailClear form.

Yes, that worked – except that every time I clicked “submit” a window popped up saying: “You have not uploaded health declaration forms which is mandatory to fill and upload for every individual who is arriving BVI.”

By this time I had downloaded four half-litres of Mr Heineken’s finest – which might explain why I gave up the whole idea and resolved to sail straight back to England in a huff. It might even have had something to do with my falling into the harbour on the way.

I woke up this morning to find dinner still on the table – that portion of it that wasn’t all over the floor.

After addressing the ship’s company on the evils of drink, I returned to the table under the umbrella and ordered something called a “Heineken 0.0”. It comes in a beer bottle but in fact is a fizzy concoction tasting almost exactly unlike beer. The good news is that you tend to drink it a lot more slowly.

Three hours (and three bottles) later, I had dealt with the health forms, confirmed that I had no infected crew members, stowaways, firearms, ammunition, animals or financial instruments and rewarded myself with “The best Bloody Mary on the Island”.

I thought I deserved it.

7 Responses to Beer

Diamond Rock

It’s such fun, writing this blog: You throw out a story like a seed in the wind – and back comes a saga.

This is Diamond Rock. It looks uncannily like Rockall, except that Diamond Rock is a lot bigger – 175 metres. Also, it’s much more important: While Rockall only manages to extend UK waters out into the wastes of the Atlantic, Diamond Rock brought down an empire.

Here’s the story, courtesy of Chris Doyle’s Sailor’s Guide to the Windward Island, a little bit of Wikipedia – and my sister Carol (she of the stepped-on face in the 1960’s Folkboat).

In 1804 the British navy jealously guarded its control of the Caribbean and made a point of harassing shipping calling at the French island of Martinique. Indeed, when they could spare the odd frigate, they would blockade the capital, Fort de France.

The trouble was  that ships were scarce, and the navy was busy. Then a Lieutenant William Donnett, a bright young officer in the mould of Horatio Hornblower, decided that since Diamond Rock was more or less in the best position for a British ship blockading the harbour, why not put some guns on the rock and dispense with the ship?

The fact that the rock was precipitously steep, totally barren and infested with the poisonous couresse grass snake did nothing to put off the tenacious young officer. Soon “HMS Diamond Rock” had a two 18 pounders on the summit and two 24 pounders sited in caves halfway up – together with a complement of 120 men and two lieutenants.

Water and supplies came from the main island, where the local population were happy to do anything to upset their French masters, and for 18 months, the “stone frigate” was a highly unpleasant surprise for unsuspecting shipping.

And all of this would be an interesting side-note to the naval history of the Caribbean were it not for the fact that Martinique just happened to be the birthplace of Napoleon’s Empress Josephine. It turns out she was born on a 200-acre, 150-slave estate on the other side of the bay from the capital. Consequently, the Emperor was more than usually incensed by the British impertinence and ordered Admiral Villeneuve to go and take back the rock – and destroy Nelson while he was about it.

Napoleon had it in for Villeneuve because the French navy never seemed to do as well as the French army (nothing to do with Bonaparte’s total lack of understanding of maritime matters, of course). Anyway, he ordered the admiral to report in disgrace.

Villeneuve’s forces managed to re-take the island – after an intense 70-hour battle which ended only when the British ran out of water and ammunition. But that still left the admiral with the problem of what to do about Nelson. He knew his fleet was ill-prepared for a full-scale engagement but, preferring death to dishonour; he met Nelson at Trafalgar.

The irony is that Villeneuve survived while Nelson died.

And although Napoleon’s empire collapsed about him, Martinique and Diamond Rock remained French to this day. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than this – I’d better admit to that now – before squadrons of naval historians embark on a campaign of correction.

But they may not know about the cheeky assault on French sovereignty 150 years later. This is where my sister Carol comes in.

She tells me that her husband John Guthrie, sailing to the island with a friend in the 1960s, scaled the rock and left a union flag flying impudently from the summit.

It was a while before the French authorities noticed – apparently, they were not best pleased with having to mount an expedition to remove it.

5 Responses to Diamond Rock

  • Hi John, came across your blog and am reading through your archive in it’s entirety. Really enjoying it. Please keep up the good writing, and be safe on the boat. I would like details on your health supplement please! Regards, Mark near Chicago, IL USA

  • I love it, what a fantastic yarn. May The Old Man find many more.

  • Priceless!

  • Always love your stories! This one did not disappoint -I wonder if Macron knows about the flag

  • Used to do some nice dives at Diamond rock some 40+ years ago !!
    Enjoy your trip . Best regards . Lannigdu

The Caribbean Current

It is about 200 miles from Grenada to Dominica. It took me four days, and I ended up in Martinique.

That’s the good news. It could have been Venezuela.

The other news is that I found the Caribbean Current.

Of course, I knew all about the Caribbean Current. It gets a whole page to itself in the pilot book, which says it travels generally from southeast to northwest and can flow at up to two knots in open water.

“Generally” is the operative word here. The rest of the page seems devoted to saying that nobody is really sure, and you just have to watch out because it can appear almost anywhere at any time, going in any westerly direction, especially between April and June.

Well, thank you very much. This information I had filed away as mildly interesting and possibly relevant if it happened. Then I woke up at two o’clock in the morning to find the boat becalmed. Out of habit, I looked at the plotter on my way to the cockpit – and was startled to see we were doing 4.8 knots on a course of 203° magnetic.

Now, 203° is southwest. As you can see from the screenshot of Navionics on my phone, there is nothing in the 203° direction until you hit the coast of South America … which is undoubtedly what we would be doing if things went on as they were.

I couldn’t believe it. Where did 4.8knots come from? Nobody mentioned 4.8 knots. I checked both phones. They agreed with the plotter. I took the screenshot in case all of this was some sort of bizarre nightmare, and I would wake up and have to convince myself I hadn’t been dreaming.

Worst of all, when the wind did come back, as it always will, it would be the North-East Trade Wind which – as its name suggests – is from the northeast, and I cannot beat into that and a 4.8-knot current at the same time. I would just go backwards and get very cross doing it.

This was serious stuff. I was 57 miles from my destination in Dominica. I did have 50 litres of diesel, but that would last only about 20 hours hammering away at five knots through the water – and that, I calculated miserably, would give me a speed over the ground of 0.2 knots which would take 285 hours (or put it another way, nearly two weeks).

By that time, I would have to start rationing the water. I forgot to mention this, but I hadn’t filled up before I left. There didn’t seem the need since this was supposed to be just a quick hop up the island chain.

I started the engine – after all, every minute without it put us another cable in the direction of somewhere called La Esmeralda.

The next screenshot shows the situation as we headed for the nearest land – Martinique, 36 miles to the northeast. At our most economical 2,000 revs, you can see the speed over the ground is 0.00kts. In other words, we are standing still. I wound up the throttle to 2,500rpm. At that speed, the little Nanni 21hp guzzles fuel, but there was no point in going nowhere. Gradually the speed over the ground crept up to 0.8kts.

Thirty-six miles at 0.8 knots is 45 hours. We would run out of fuel long before we got there, but my theory was that the nearer we came to the lee of an island, the weaker the current should become. Anyway, 4.8 knots had to be some sort of aberration.

It wasn’t. Or if it was, it was a particularly persistent one. As the sun came up and with it the wind, I still felt as though I was trying to swim up a firehose. Any attempt at sailing sent us whizzing off backwards. The only way to make any progress at all was to keep the nose dead into the current – and, of course, the wind. I put the flattening reef in the mainsail and sheeted it almost dead centre. The headsail was useless, of course.

And then the engine stopped. Within an hour, we were back where we had been at two o’clock in the morning.

It took an hour (in fact, it took three) because not only did I have to change the CAV filter, which looked as though it was full of caviar. In fact, this was diesel bug – something I suffer from particularly because I don’t use the engine nearly enough. The fuel just sits in the tank, growing things.

Also, I don’t inspect the filter often enough. My excuse is that I can never get it back on without it dripping diesel into the bilge. This time I had to re-arrange the seals three times.

The other reason it took three hours was because it wasn’t just the filter that was blocked. The pipe to the tank was full of goo as well. Blowing it out was like volunteering for the trombone section at Beyreuth.

It wasn’t until the middle of the following night that the speed started creeping up – I have never been so pleased to find the boat doing 1kt. The question was: would the fuel hold out long enough to get us into the lee of the island and able to sail again?

Meanwhile, what startled me most was thinking about how this would have played out in the old days before satellite navigation. I wouldn’t have known anything about it until two o’clock in the afternoon and the “midday” sunsight. The morning sight would have given me a position line running northeast to southwest but  I would have had no clue where I might be on it until I got the intersect – by which time it would be twelve hours after I had woken up to find the boat becalmed … and another 57 miles in the wrong direction.

I could imagine myself saying: “Sod it: let’s go to South America.”

Of course, in the end, I did make it into Martinique – gradually making more and more progress until l turned off the engine when we were down to the emergency can of diesel for motoring into the anchorage. After that, it was just endless tacking back and forth and gradually creeping closer and closer until the enormous Bay of Fort de France opened out with the “largest and liveliest city in the Windwards” climbing up the hill.

Look on the bright side: I would never have come here if it hadn’t been for the current – in fact, I would never have turned to the Martinique chapter in the book at all – in which case I would not have learned about Diamond Rock just around the corner and how it changed the course of European history.

That’s the best part of pilot books; they tell you stuff you really need to know – in this case, a swashbuckling tale of intrigue and adventure involving Napoleon, Josephine and Lord Nelson – instead of vague predictions about ocean currents.

6 Responses to The Caribbean Current

  • HI John . Well it just goes to show you can allways learn something new.AS a charter yacht skipper back in the early nineties I have sailed an motored from Granada to St Lucia and St Lucia to Martinique many many times and have never heard of the Carribean currant. Good on you John and happy days.

  • If you would like to know more about HMS Diamond Rock get in touch. I spent over 20 years sailing the Caribbean in big yachts and did a lot of research into the naval history of the islands.

  • Wonderful stuff, all thanks to Jeremy Vine 1st lock down.

  • Blimey what a carry on! That’s as strong as the Gulf Stream! When in those parts in 2016/17 we didn’t notice any current at all. Mind you we had plenty of wind too. Saint Pierre, up the coast is worth a visit. There’s an anchorage there. Portsmouth, Dominica is a lovely spot. Dominica was our favourite island!

  • Fascinating

Locked out

I am hoping that people will read this and say: “Ah, yes. Been there… done that.” If not, I am going to feel an awful fool.

Because it’s happened again: I arrived back from the family skiing trip to La Plagne – it was great, thank you; perfect weather all week and not too warm, so lovely spring snow.

Back in Grenada’s Prickly Bay, a charming Frenchman who was remarkable in speaking less English than I speak French gave me a lift back to the boat from the dinghy dock at the One Love restaurant. I would have invited him aboard for a drink, but since our conversation would have been conducted through Google Translate, I waved him off into the darkness with a stilted “Merci Monsieur!”

Then I turned to open the companionway.

I have a new combination lock on the companionway. I bought it, I think, in the Cape Verdes after inadvertently scrambling the numbers on the old one and locking it in perpetuity (fortunately, it was not attached to anything at the time).

The new one is a cheap, shiny affair with not only numbers but also an exclamation mark, ampersand, plus and minus symbols and heaven knows what else. Apparently, this increases the possible combinations into the stratosphere.

But I knew the correct one. I had no doubt about it at all. I use it every day – and while my memory might be a tad idiosyncratic on occasions, I was 100% certain I had this right.

But for the life of me, I couldn’t get the blasted thing open.

The last time this happened was in Baltimore (the Irish one). Indeed, I think I may have written about it since it was the occasion I met Tom Fisher. He was passing in his dinghy after one of the many Jester Challenge parties. Did he, by any chance, have a torch? My phone was flat. I couldn’t read the numbers.

We ended up sitting over the rum bottle until the early hours – the first of many convivial occasions.

So you may wonder why – apart from the opportunity of widening my social circle – I choose to have combination locks in the first place. Why not hide a spare key under the gas bottle like everyone else?

Well, I tried that – back in the 70s. On the one occasion when I needed it, I found it rusted into a solid lump twice its normal size and obviously useless without a jam jar and a bottle of penetrating oil – and that was providing I felt like sitting in the cockpit for 24 hours waiting for it to dissolve back to its normal size. In the end, I rowed over to the boatyard and borrowed a set of bolt croppers.

This time, with everything shut (even the One Love), I considered the chances of hailing a passing dinghy. But Prickly Bay is not Baltimore. Dinghies here do not putter about at three knots. They plane at twelve knots, 15hp Mercurys screaming. Standing on the foredeck, waving the torch on my phone would somehow fail to hack it.

But wait: What about Jock? Jock would be here. Jock is a Canadian who has been anchored in Prickly Bay for nearly a decade. Very occasionally, he makes forays to places like Martinique – except for this summer which he has spent growing things on the anchor and waiting for a credit card to arrive. I had his number because he had offered a lift in the event that I should fail to find a charming Frenchman. I called Jock. He would have a hacksaw. He built his own boat, for heaven’s sake.

Jock arrived ten minutes later in his curious square dinghy – also home-built. He handed up a canvas bag full of hacksaw, penetrating oil, and, I believe, some sort of burglar’s jemmy.

Ten minutes after that, we were sitting under the stars with the rum bottle between us.

He was not at all impressed with my combination lock. He had a long list of possible hiding places for a key. But I wouldn’t hear of it. After all, what would happen to my social life?

9 Responses to Locked out

  • Have you considered using a diesel bug treatment ie ‘marine 16’ or similar ?

    • I do. But I also use something called (I think) “Diesel Blast” which is supposed to stop the engine smoking. I’m going to leave that one out for a while and see if things improve.

  • Ho, ho; I remember our meeting and your bottle of rum in Baltimore John. It and subsequent sessions are fond memories and of course I will always be in your debt for ‘spotting’ the absence of my Hydrovane rudder in Falmouth last year despite, our punishing a bottle of G&T! Serial offending clearly has significant social benefits. Jock sounds like a thoroughly decent chap. Hope the rest of your time in Caribean is equally enjoyable! Very best, Tom

  • The key to the Rum rebellion is Bundaberg.

  • I have a very strong combination lock on my boat. I change the combination every 1st Jan. I never forget it, this year is 2022 AND I never tell anyone,

  • Great read John and what is it with combination locks losing their memories when we don’t!

  • What kind of rum could you recommend to another salty itinerant?

    • I’ll drink anything. Aldi and Lidl’s £10 a bottle is great stuff – at the moment I have a bottle of Clark’s Court from Grenada at £6.
      Now in Martinique where everything is in Euros instead of East Caribbean dollars and the local brew in Carrefour is around €10. Looks all right, though.

      • Undoubtedly the best and only true rum is Pussers, favoured by ex-Royal Navy personnel of a certain age. If one can afford a boat then one can afford the best rum. No excuses…

French-speaking volunteers, please

Calling all native French speakers: i could use some help.I have to choose a translator for the Old Man Sailing book. I have a likely candidate but, speaking only “Restaurant French” myself, I have no idea if he’s any good.
He has translated the first 500 words. Now I need some French-speakers to read his version and tell me if i should give him the job.

Please leave a comment if you can help.

3 Responses to French-speaking volunteers, please

  • Hi, John,
    You might connect with Dennison Berwick. He’s had much of his work translated to other languages. It’s about marine diesel basics, and more.
    All the best to you.
    Noreen
    SV Soundhaven
    SV Sweethaven

  • Hi Old Man !!

    As a native French speaker, and having sailed for 30 years on several types of sailboat, I think I have a reasonable knowledge of French in the field of sailing. I can assess your contractor’s translation.

  • Dear John
    I would be pleased to help you . I lived in France for 15 years . I am Spanish/French bilingual.
    Your book could also be translated into Spanish by the way . If you send me his translation I would gladly have a look
    All the best
    Fernando Santamaría

The health benefits of Petit Becaye Bay

Petit Becaye isn’t much of a bay. The pilot book describes it as “so small that four boats would be a crowd” and advises you to take down your sails before entering – but I forgot that bit.

Anyway, I am the only one here. I don’t think I’ve had an anchorage to myself since arriving in the Caribbean – or, come to that, leaving the east coast of England.

But Petit Becaye Bay has more surprises than you would imagine from the fifteen lines it merits in The Sailor’s Guide to the Windward Islands.

For a start, there was the extraordinary sight of hundreds – literally hundreds of little white birds sitting on the water all around the edges. They appeared to be waiting for something – certainly, they didn’t get up and fly about. They didn’t swim or dive for a meal. Their friends didn’t come and join them.

It was only when I had set the anchor and examined them through binoculars as if I was a proper bird-watcher that I realised that in fact, they were the upended bottoms of hundreds and hundreds of small white plastic bottles. It appeared I had stumbled into some sort of rudimentary fish farm.

Never mind, I had business to conduct. I had to get to the Foodland supermarket up the road – at least, I presumed there was a road. I needed bread, and I needed sugar. Would I have come to Petit Bacaye Bay for any other reason?

I was just as well I did have a reason. On the beach – well, the landing place which was a small patch of sand between the rocks, hardly wider than the dinghy so that you had to scoot in, fold the oars and hop over the bow in one smooth movement – stood the King of Petit Becaye Bay.

Since, as I said, it isn’t much of a bay, it doesn’t have much of a king. But Robert Mitchell put it like this: “This our bay. What you doin’ here, man? We need to know who comin’ in our bay. You got permission comin’ in here? Anchorin’ an all?”

The effect was rather spoiled by the four henchmen standing behind him, who were all grinning, rolling their eyes, shaking their heads and sending out vibes which said only too clearly that everything was cool. Robert was just doing his thing. Let him have his fun.

Better still, I decided, was to show some genuine interest in Robert and his fish farm. Besides, I really was interested – and before you could say: “I have a cruising permit issued by the Grenadian Immigration Department,” he was telling me all about Sea Moss.

That’s what they were growing here on strings attached to all their plastic bottles – what the health food trade knows as Irish Moss. I’ve looked it up. It’s a superfood. It is claimed to be good for everything from cholesterol to the immune system to a healthy gut.

Meanwhile, I had to get to the shop. I would never find my way back in the dark.

Actually, I couldn’t find my way there in the daylight and ended up being invited to take a shortcut through a garden – and then the neighbour’s garden. I did get the bread, but forgot the sugar.

More importantly, on the way back, I picked up some Sea Moss.

There was a little man sitting beside the road with a big tub of the stuff. I suppose he was sorting it. I stopped to ask but, honestly couldn’t make head or tail of what he said – so it was just as well that Robert came by with his friends to do the sales pitch.

I should cook it and put it in a blender and mix it with milk. For sure, I should try it. I could mash it up with a fork. I bought what has turned out to be a year’s supply.

Returning to the boat, I did some more research: Apparently, I should be using it as a thickener for milk products, specifically ice cream – although its slimy texture and fishy taste could be off-putting.

And it does have possible side effects: fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, not to mention a burning sensation in the mouth, throat and stomach

As if that isn’t bad enough, sea moss may accumulate toxic metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead. I don’t think I’ll be consuming enough to overdose on its iodine content and get goitre.

I’m not too sure about this – even though there’s a pan of it simmering on the stove and a whole basin-full in the cockpit, plotting.

If you don’t hear from me again, blame King Robert.

 

Postscript: After 25 minutes simmering in the pan, the sea moss had reduced to a jelly-like substance which can only be described as “snot-like”. As to the smell, it reminded me of the scent of a decomposing squid the dog found on Padstow beach one hot summer’s day. I tried to wrench him away from it, but he had his nose deep in the putrid entrails. When I could hold my breath no longer, I had to leave him to it.

He was sick later.

The sea moss has been returned to the sea.

 

Hundreds of little white birds – but try zooming in.

 

 

11 Responses to The health benefits of Petit Becaye Bay

  • Ok John,
    I’m a 71 year old guy.
    On the same dream of dyeing on my boat!
    Give me a hand. What is the supplement and where can I get it.
    Enroute to Tahiti.

    God bless you man.
    bb

  • I have just finished reading your book, the first paper book I have read in I don’t know how many years and thoroughly enjoyed it. My sister bought it for me as a birthday present because at the beginning of this year this old man decided to realise his dream. So I am currently in the process of buying a yacht (god help me) and will this year spend my time exploring the Adriatic and then next year …….

  • Do you think it would make slug bait for my dahlias

  • For a minute I thought you had discovered the sea’s version of polk salad. Nice local color.

  • Please send me the supplement info. Thanks

  • Just thinking outside the box JP – Is it any good for teak decks….;)

  • And I thought you were on the verge of starting up a new health food import business!

  • Thank you – I shall make a note to avoid ‘sea moss’!

Mustique

Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Prince William – Princess Margaret, of course…

And now me.

Mustique is not an island you can bypass. Mustique is one of those islands that actually deserves the words “unique” and “iconic”.

Just north of the Tobago Cays in the Grenadines, it really is the world’s most exclusive (and most expensive) holiday destination, contrived for the rich, the very rich, and the uber-rich.

The only way anyone else can get there is by rocking up on a boat.

Admittedly, they charge you £60 to stop (taking a mooring buoy is mandatory), but that gives you three nights and £20 a night in the Solent would be considered good value.

Also, it’s a lot cheaper than renting a villa or taking a suite at the Cotton House hotel.

I looked up the villas. OK, from the hundred-or-so to choose from, I looked up Princess Margaret’s 10-acre estate, Les Jolies Eaux, now owned by the Mustique Company and available to rent at $42,500 a week.

For that, you get 5-6 bedrooms, a “Media Room”, both a dining pavilion and a dining room – and a pool overlooking the Atlantic in one direction and the Caribbean in the other.

Your live-in staff comprise of a butler, a chef, a gardener and two housekeepers (all expecting a tip of between five and ten per cent.)

On top of that, you have to stump up another 10% for using the island’s amenities – everything from the tennis club to the tasteful wooden boxes to hide the litter bins when your butler serves a picnic on one of the island’s nine contrasting beaches.

There is no chance that you would baulk at the cost of any of this because, even before your booking is accepted, you have to be “approved”. This might be why 85% of the bookings are repeat business – the same families coming back year after year so that they’re as much a part of the community as the Jaggers and Hilfiger’s who own their homes on the island (Jagger has two).

But I wouldn’t be playing tennis – or going to the weekly cocktail party or inviting the neighbours round for dinner (everyone wants to show off their chef, and there is a certain amount of good-natured rivalry).

Actually, I wasn’t even supposed to see as much as I did. No sooner had the harbourmaster collected my money and given me a receipt complete with a 60-word disclaimer than I leapt on my bike to pedal off and tour the island – it’s only as big as Alderney, after all.

It seems the Mustique Company had not imagined that boats stopping here would conceal rusty folding bicycles. They assumed that if anyone wanted to see the island, they would hire a mule with a driver – not the animal, but a curious six-seater conveyance that is something of a cross between a golf cart and a dune buggy.

So, when I arrived at the airport and paused to photograph one of these things outside the bijou bamboo terminal (no private jets, please), a smart young man approached, slipping a discreet blue badge from his pocket: “Security”, it said.

Respectfully, he explained that the regulations prohibited anyone who was not a “resident” from wandering around wherever they pleased – something I should have learned from the information supplied by the harbourmaster.

I assured him the only information I had was the 60-word disclaimer. We agreed that I would make my way back to the harbour where I belonged. I got a little lost on the way, but it was remarkable how many polite security men I found to help me.

Still, it did mean I got to see the statue of Colin Tennant – Lord Glenconner – the man who made Mustique what it is today. He bought the island in 1958 when it was nothing more than a few wild goats and a ramshackle village. He paid £45,000 (£442,000 at today’s prices) and did nothing with it until his father sold the family financial business, leaving him without a job.

Oh yes, he did one thing – one very astute thing: He gave Princess Margaret ten acres as a wedding present. Lady Glenconner was her lady-in-waiting, and they offered the Princess the choice of a silver cocktail shaker from Asprey’s or a whole headland with the best views on the island. There, she commissioned the stage designer Oliver Messel to build her the perfect hideaway from her imploding marriage and the tabloid press.

If you have seen The Crown, you will know all about this – particularly the scene with Roddy Llewellyn and the sun cream – and the paparazzo in the bushes.

Those were the heady days of wild parties with young men in gold loincloths – although, it must also be said that the electricity had a tendency to pack up at awkward moments and there were no shops: everybody had to go down to the harbour and buy their food directly from the boat.

Or, at least, everybody’s chefs had to go down to the harbour…

As it became more civilized in the 1990s, Tennent moved on to another development in St Lucia, and Mustique became quieter – more family-orientated. You can see this in Basil’s Bar – a collection of huts on stilts built out over the water. This is where the two Mustiques meet – where it was always said you might see a fisherman dance with a duchess.

Now merchant bankers dance with their three-year-old daughters as they might at an up-market wedding reception. You can imagine Prince William twirling Princess Charlotte.

I stayed the third night just so I could experience the Sunday night “Sunset Blues” party. The music was first class – just as everything is first class on Mustique, from the lobster to the horses in the riding stables.

But I still felt like an outsider. It took me a while to work out why this was: I was the only one handing fistfuls of Eastern Caribbean dollars across the bar – or worse still, a whole handful of change that had been rattling about the chart table.

The rich don’t carry money. They certainly wouldn’t be seen dead with a pocketful of change spoiling the cut of their white linen trousers (£178 from LottyB at The Pink House).

Whether it’s a round of Mustique Whammies at Basil’s or ice creams for a gang of Manhattan teenagers invading the Sweetie Pie Bakery … on Mustique, just charge it to the villa.

5 Responses to Mustique

Bequia

The rum punch in De Reef beach bar was a mistake. I thought I was in Keegan’s beach bar – but then there is a beach bar of some kind every few yards along the mile and a half of Bequia’s coastal path.

Keegan’s had seemed rather special because it had a wonderful signpost with the mileages to New York and Berlin and London (4,283) and aphorisms such as “There are better things in the world than alcohol – but alcohol compensates for not having them” and “A Rum Punch a day keeps the worries away.”

The whole Island seems to consist of beach bars and rum shops and people in flip-flops and T-shirts saying “Sail Fast – Live Slow”. It’s been like this ever since it first became a Mecca for Caribbean sailors in the 80s.

In those days, it must have been like St Tropez was in the 60s. Now there are cruise ships in the bay and a man in uniform to shepherd me politely off the dinghy dock – even though I tied up there yesterday without so much as a by-your-leave.

And that’s another thing: In Grenada you chain your dinghy to the dock with a couple of stout padlocks and haul it out of the water at night in case somebody pinches it.

In Bequia nobody bothers.

It’s pronounced “Bequé”, by the way to the people in the know. I wasn’t in the know either when I first read about it back in the 90s. But it’s been moving up the bucket list ever since, and as soon as I got the boom welded back together, I set off north. It was only 40 miles.

Of course, all the best destinations require a bit of effort – so it took 18 hours, a torn headsail, the mainsheet parting company from the end of the boom and my dinner leaping off the chart table and upending itself all over the floor.

This may have been my own fault (actually, everything was my own fault – it usually is) – but, honestly, who was I trying to impress, attempting to eat off a plate with a knife and fork in 25knots of headwind?

It was a good thing I made enough for a second helping – and that was taken properly with a spoon out of the saucepan, feet braced against the leeward berth and pan-handle at 120°to the angle of attack.

But Bequia was worth the effort. This is a place that does not just welcome yachties; it seems to have developed entirely for our benefit. Every morning the boat boys whizz about distributing fresh baguettes and croissants. An extraordinary bright yellow trimaran can be summoned alongside to fill you up with fuel and water, provide a bag of ice for the Rum Punch and take away your dirty laundry.

I felt a bit mean that I hadn’t hoisted a proper courtesy flag. But think about it: there are 40 nations and dependencies in the Caribbean, and every one of them has its own ensign – so I bought a string of “Caribbean Bunting” off eBay and proposed to cut off the appropriate bit as required.

It looks rather cheap, flying there from the signal halyard like an afterthought – as if I don’t care any more about protocol than your average Frenchman. The French don’t even worry about their own ensign.

But, on the island where “living slow” is a way of life, who’s going to care?

It may be different in Mustique, tomorrow…

P.S. If you have been tracking me on NoForeignLand, you may be surprised to find that, apparently, I am in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. I have no idea why, and quite honestly, I’m beginning to find the whole site more trouble than it’s worth.

So I’m going to abandon it.

There are various ship-tracking apps where you can find me by entering the British ship Samsara and the MMSI number 232010712. The best seems to be Marine Traffic (Findship still has me in the Cape Verdes.)

4 Responses to Bequia

  • Glad to hear you got ypur boom fixed. Sounds like a great place to visit. I am now hoping to get to Panama for next March and have therefore put Bequia on my list of stops. Leave some Rum Punch for me please 🙂

  • so why was the rum punch a terrible miscalculation? sounds like a great idea to me! Looks like you made it to Mustique too. Excellent, very jealous

  • New post from old man sailing. Ah! Find a quiet time-slot, put the kettle on and enjoy some observations and musings from this man that is doing what I would like to be doing after retirement. (But probably will not)
    Please keep up the good work, it is needed in these turbulent times.

Publishers and agents

This caused quite a bit of interest when I posted it on a writers’ Facebook group, so I thought people might like to see it here as well.

I used to think that finding a proper agent and a proper publisher was the be-all and end-all for a writer. Now I’m not so sure.
Back in the 1980s, I thought I had written a best-selling thriller. My hero among writers was Ken Follett who started as a reporter on the Evening News. Once he was successful, I interviewed him over lunch at his local restaurant and he ordered Dom Perignon champagne and a claret that would have wiped out my entire week’s expense account – but he insisted on paying.
I sent my book to the Laurence Pollinger Agency. They told me to cut it from 108,000 words down to 60,000, said the result was “workman-like”, and started sending it round the publishers. All of them sent it back with modest compliments but declined to take it. One said it was “too good for the general list”, but since they had already chosen their lead titles, regrettably…
Honestly, how ridiculous is that?
So I put the novel away in the attic and forgot about it – until 2014 when the theme became rather topical. I thought it might be fun to self-publish it on Amazon. It sold a few copies, which was rather gratifying but hardly amounted to literary success. Instead, my writing was confined to this blog which by 2020 had 163 followers.
I kept this number rising gradually by writing posts about particular sailing topics and then posting the link as a comment when one of the subjects came up on a sailing Facebook group.
Then, along came Lockdown. But instead of Locking Down at home, I went off sailing. When I got back, I found myself talking about it on the Jeremy Vine Radio2 show – my ten minutes of fame.
By midnight that night, the blog had received 45,000 hits. More to the point, Jeremy Vine’s literary agent called to say that if I could write a book about it, he was sure he could find a publisher.
I wrote the book in double-quick time – a lot of it was on the blog already – and he sent it to his chums. All five of them came back and said they liked it but asked what was my “platform”. In other words, was I a contestant on Big Brother? Was I a pop star or Premier League, footballer? Did I have ten million Twitter followers? Was I Jeremy Vine, for heaven’s sake?
When they heard I was just a bloke who had gone sailing, they all regretted that the book was “not commercially viable”.
But, of course, now I had written it – and having one book on Amazon already – the obvious thing to do was put this on Mr Bezos’ electronic bookshelf too.
And, of course, I put a link on the blog.
A year later, it is still selling between five and fifteen copies a day. In the run-up to Christmas, this was running at 20 and 50 a day – and the other day, I was astonished to discover that it was the Number One bestselling Amazon sailing book in the USA.
Here’s another thing: If one of those publishers had accepted it, I would have been given an advance of – say – £1,500 (of which the agent would have taken 15%). The book, with colour pictures, would have been priced at £16.99 in hardback with a print run of maybe 2,000. My family and friends would have bought maybe 50 copies and, by the following January, it would be remaindered down to £3.99.
There would have been no second printing.
With Amazon, I was able to set my own price: £11.49 for the paperback and £6.99 for the Kindle edition, of which I receive £2.76 and £4.86 respectively. No pictures are included, but there is a link to the gallery here. During the current month, my income is £719 on top of $829US and $95AUS – as well as various smaller amounts from places like Spain and Brazil.
And, of course, I get to keep it all – before tax, of course.
Because the marketing is done entirely through the blog (which now has some 700 subscribers), people leave comments and sometimes mention how much they enjoyed the book. I am able to reply, asking if they would be sure to leave some Amazon stars – stars are so important.
And reviews, of course – one was so good I couldn’t resist re-posted it. Well, wouldn’t you, if someone wrote: “Now and again, something or someone comes along that invokes a shift in the way we think and view the world. Thank you, John, for opening my eyes to a new paradigm and a reality I thought was beyond the reach of a mere humble town planner. I’ve had a few laughs along the way and all for a few quid. I hope to buy you a beer in some far-flung place one day. Keep up the blogging.”
(Oh dear, I seem to have posted it again…)
Meanwhile, if I look carefully, I can see that, in among the sales of the new book are a few for the old one.
Am I despondent that those publishers turned me down? Not a bit – if they had taken me on, the book would have sunk without trace. Instead Yachting Monthly called it “a word-of-mouth bestseller”.
Now, I would advise any new writer to ignore the traditional route entirely.
Do it yourself – you won’t regret it.
And here’s a tip: One of the hallmarks of a self-published book is dozens of typos and mistakes in the text – you just can’t spot them yourself, no matter how many times you read it through. But a professional editor is expensive (and not always effective).
Here’s what I did: I included a line in the foreword asking people to email me any mistakes they found (just send me five words, including the error, so I can search for it). If they were the first to report something, I would refund the cost of the book.
Three people took this to heart and, between them, cleaned up the whole manuscript. Only one of them accepted the refund.
With Amazon, you can go back in and change things as often as you like – not a luxury you have with the traditional publishers.
Of course, I would be happier if Mr Bezos paid his staff a decent wage – and paid his taxes, come to that. But he’s paying me every month, so I can do my bit on his behalf…

5 Responses to Publishers and agents

  • Well we’ve certainly enjoyed reading it John and so has the next generation in the family. Who is tie Mr Bwzos?! Keep on sailing John and may the waters be kind to you Cap’n!

  • John, I hope you don’t mind, but I am adding you to a list. Already on the list is John Noakes (I loved Blue Peter as a kid), James Wharram and Pip Hare plus a few others I can’t remember at the moment. These are people whose lives I have enjoyed or am enjoying viewing from the sidelines and people whose wake I might find myself following. I bought your most recent book on Kindle, I think I might buy the paper version too. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  • Excellent tip for budding writers!

  • We , your community of readers be it the blog or the book appreciate it as much as yourself your lucky strike with Vince ‘s interview and the events that followed which allowed us to discover your book and blog . We also appreciate that apart from the lucky strike there is a story , a writer and a humble enough person to almost convince the rest of us anyone can try it . We reckon though how brave you really needed to be to do what you did and how beautifully , funny and interestingly you put it on paper . We wished we had such a story to tell to start with . Thank you and congratulations for the success story . Keep it coming
    Fernando. Tarifa Spain

Not a straightforward crossing

Grenada

I’m going to try and put a positive spin on this: After all I’ve said about not consulting doctors and carrying no pharmaceutical products aboard Samsara, I arrived in Grenada and went straight off to find the health centre.

For most of the 23-day crossing from the Cape Verde Islands, my major preoccupation was whether I was going to lose an arm – and if I did, how I was going to cut it off myself with the aid of the breadknife and a bottle of rum.

…or whether I would chicken out and chuck myself over the side instead.

This was not your average Atlantic crossing.

The 2125 miles between Mindelo and Grenada is supposed to restful – restful to the point of boredom with every day the same – the ship sailing out of a golden dawn and reeling off fifty miles in perfect sunshine before plunging into another spectacular sunset.

To be followed by another fifty miles under starlight so bright that you get a crick in your neck from considering the significance of one little boat when compared to the infinite universe laid out upside down for your inspection.

Even so, the prospect of breadknife surgery on the chopping board does claim the attention periodically – like, for instance, every half-hour or so.

All this needs a bit of explanation:

Two days before leaving, I went to buy the beer. I hired one of the lads who hang around the harbour to carry it back for me – there were going to be 72 cans, after all. While in the shop, I brushed my arm against the sharp corner of a shelf. My porter noticed the blood before I did and made me dose it with hand sanitiser (which stung horribly).

I don’t bother about these things too much because I am so stoked up with my food supplement that I very rarely get an infection – and if one should start up, I can see it off by taking a second helping in the evening.

So when, 24 hours into the voyage, the arm showed signs of infection, I took another spoonful of the white powder.

Now, the fact that it was white powder is important: In the six years since I have been ordering this stuff every month, it had always been light brown – an artist might call it light ochre – and tasted horrible. But a monthly order is no good if I keep moving around – particularly in other countries… and especially after the export chaos that is Brexit. So now I buy a year’s supply at a time. This lot arrived in Falmouth. I stowed the cardboard box under the forward berth.

When I opened it in the Canaries, there was clearly something wrong: this powder was white – and tasted of nothing. It might have been baking powder or cornflour. It certainly didn’t seem to be my wonderful supplement.

I emailed the company. They assured me they had sent me the real thing – the difference in colour and taste was something to do with a chance variation in humidity during the freeze-drying process. All the magic ingredients would still be there. I was not to worry.

And so I didn’t – until one day when I was kneeling on deck, working on the toe rail. Suddenly, I felt that unmistakable sensation of sunburn getting started – not in any of the usual places like the shoulders or the top of the head (by this time I was as golden brown as the Ambre Solaire advert). No, this was the soles of my feet – as white as a newborn baby’s – and now, unusually, upturned towards the midday sun..

Without a second thought, I went and fetched the atomiser from its clip above the chart table. In this, I keep a solution of the powder. This really shows you what this stuff can do: just spray it on, and the burning sensation stops immediately. Of course, you don’t go brown either, so I had to ration it on my knees until they matched the rest of me. It even worked when I burned my thumb on the heater. The next morning there was no blister – nothing to see at all.

Yet, a solution made with the white powder had no effect. I might as well have used plain water – the soles of my feet carried on burning. I had to go and find a pair of shoes.

This was a worry – especially as the company was sticking to their explanation. After all, what did I know about it?

Meanwhile, another customer who was taking it on my recommendation wrote asking my advice. I could only pass on what I had been told. But this man did know a thing or two: he had started life as an analytical chemist and he said the humidity explanation was nonsense. He reckoned they’d run out of the usual stuff and substituted something else.

I was sure they would never do a thing like that, but I went back to them – ending up on a Messenger call with the managing director. Once again, he sought to put my mind at rest – although he would exchange my supply for a consignment of the brown version if that was what I wanted.

 By this time, I was halfway up the Gambia. I might be stuck there for months waiting for a package from the UK. Clearly, I had no choice but to take the MD at his word.

And so, on January 18th, I set sail for Grenada.

On the 19th, the ship’s log carried the legend: “Bandaged arm”. We had covered just 44 miles. I was still close enough to turn back. It would mean beating into the light trade wind, and I was without a mainsail, having broken the gooseneck on the way to Africa. I would have to rely on the trysail for windward work. In this wind, it might take 36 hours.

Besides, I had a plentiful supply of the supplement, and it had always healed infections before – just take another helping at bedtime. Even if this was a different colour, I would trust the MD – he was the expert, and I couldn’t believe this idea of him substituting something else…

Of course, it would have been better if this had not been a trade wind crossing. Every day was the same – hours of sitting in the sun and discovering that if you can’t be bothered to get dressed in the morning, it doesn’t half cut down on the laundry when you get to the other side. On the other hand, reading a book every 24 hours does leave unusual crease-marks in the new suntan. I suppose nude models don’t sunbathe with their feet braced on the other side of the cockpit because the boat is rolling through 40° every two seconds.

Mind you, I did wake up one night to find us charging along at seven knots, much over-canvassed. Glancing at the plotter on the way out, I was surprised to see we were heading back to Africa – clearly in the grip of a baby hurricane.

They do this: A tiny disturbance kicks up in the gentle easterly airflow, and the next thing you know, a miniature but intense low-pressure system is in action. In the summer months, the higher water temperature feeds it with energy and turns it into a full-blown hurricane which hits the Caribbean chain like an express train, turns sharp right and lays a trail of destruction all the way to the Carolinas.

I took down all sail and lay a-hull for twelve hours. I didn’t see the point in trying to beat into 35 knots when the passage was going to take three weeks anyway.

And it did take my mind off the arm.

The arm was not doing well. Admittedly, natural healing does take longer than a course of antibiotics – all the same, I was used to seeing the inflammation begin to die down after a couple of days. This was just getting worse.

After a week, I had a hole in my arm the size of a pea and every time I changed the dressing, this would erupt with green pus, like an indoor firework.

A week after that, the hole seemed to be closing up – but another one next door to it appeared out of nowhere, producing pus of a greenish-brown hue. Whether this was an improvement, I was not qualified to say.

The First Aid chapter in the almanac had a section on “Open Wounds” (between “fishhook injury” and “bleeding – internal) but the only help from this was that applying a tourniquet was now out of date and risked “loss of the limb”.

Loss of the limb was something I wish they hadn’t brought up. Whatever happened over the coming days or weeks, it was going to be a very private drama. This would not be one of those occasions for mounting an international rescue operation, diverting supertankers and summoning naval vessels equipped with operating theatres – the skipper being ordered to scuttle his yacht before being lifted off.

The log tells me that for 16 days – between day four and day 20 – I saw no other vessels at all – not even on the AIS. So, a Pan-­Pan Medico call on my little VHF set with its 15-mile range would have been about as much help as Hornblower’s speaking trumpet.

Also, taking the view that health and safety does not apply over the age of 70, I carry no EPIRB. (If you didn’t know this and find yourself aghast, there is a full explanation of the reasoning behind it in the book – and don’t forget that Alex Honnold climbed the sheer face of El Capitan without ropes or safety equipment of any kind “for the fun of it” – and he was only 32.)

In retrospect, it was all a lot of fuss about nothing because eventually, I sailed into St George’s with all limbs intact and the breadknife only blunted on my attempt at a stoneground loaf with out-of-date yeast.

But I did have unfinished business with the supplement company: as far as I was concerned, here was proof that there was something wrong with the white powder. I started emailing round other customers – specifically those who I knew had to buy it in bulk like me. This has become normal since the chaos that is Brexit. My new-found friend Frank in Lisbon had to wait three months for his first delivery. Now he wrote: “My arthritis is coming back, and in general, it feels like the powder is different. I’ve been taking it for three months now, and the effect is zero. With the brown stuff, I had better joints after a month or so. Now I am back where I was two years ago, despite taking two spoons every day.”

Forwarding this to the MD, I added for good measure that I had been obliged to increase the size of the font on my laptop and the dislocated shoulder from getting falling-down drunk in Tobermory was keeping me awake again – something it hadn’t done for months.

To give him credit, he accepted all of this without question – obviously, people who had taken only the occasional month’s holiday from the brown stuff hadn’t noticed the difference. He would replace our supplies with the right colour. He would get the wrong kind analysed. In future, he would refuse to accept anything but the original formula. All remaining stocks of the suspect powder would be spread on his garden…

The no-good stuff – almost pure white.

The good stuff – the colour is brown/beige – what an artist would call “light ochre”

The white “No Good” powder does not dissolve in water – in which case, how can it be absorbed into the body?

So, in the event, there was no harm done – except, of course, to my immune system, which will now have to recover from being knocked askew by a course of antibiotics for the first time since 2016.

And as for the positive spin – well, it does show that the stuff works.

As long as it’s the right stuff…

A passenger. This incontinent booby took up residence and refused to get off for 48 hours. Every time I suggested it, he took off, flew a couple of circuits and came back. In the end I gave up.

22 Responses to Not a straightforward crossing

  • Hello John
    Let me say I really enjoyed your booking is excellent.
    I am going to ask the same question, where can I get the magic formula? as I too am now getting old and think it might help in my latter years and my wife needs a boost to her immune system.
    Thanks for any reply.

  • Just read your article, very interesting as always, regarding the supplement, for info I’ve just received my order and it is a fawn colour and tastes awful, take care and looking forward to your next episode

    Paul

      • I know they changed suggested intake and I’m sure it all depends on one’s needs. However do you take a single scoop (gives about 0.8g) when at maintenance level?

        • A single scoop is only 300mg. That was never enough. The standard adult dose was 600mg. I consider that is OK up to the age of 60. When COVID struck, I was taking 900mg. Since then I have been taking 1,200mg (and haven’t caught it yet…)

  • Thank god you’re okay! Seems the last I heard you were in the Med. Need to catch up on your travels. Hope to see more on the blog soon.

  • Didn’t the Stones have a song about the brown stuff ?

  • Hello John

    Sorry to hear of your travails. I don’t think that’s quite the mot juste but you’ll get my drift.

    Serendipity stumbles on to the stage again – I was minutes away from placing an order for 3 months’ supply when your post landed. Paying in South African Rand for a British product is a painful experience at the best of times, so buying a dodgy powder would move the pain to exquisite level.

    I shall hold my order until the mists clear.

    Read your book (OMS) with chuckles and enjoyment. Looking forward to Trident.

    Stay safe.

    Kind regards

    Angus

    • I would say you are safe ordering now. Being in South Africa, you will have to email David anyway and you can ask for his assurance that you will be getting the “light ochre” coloured powder not the white.

  • Thanks, for sharing your adventure, however adverse. Your reports are inspiring. Glad you are fareing better.

  • Sounds very unpleasant and must have taken the shine off the crossing. Good copy though . Glad you are on the mend now and hope you can enjoy the rest of the cruise.

  • John I hope your keeping well. I buy the plant minerals after reading your book in a bulk order I haven’t received any recently since Autumn time last year 2021. all mine are the usual yellow/brown colour it’s brilliant I swear by it as it has been a game changer for both my husband and myself. When I next order I will make sure I mention your problem and check it’s not the white stuff. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Safe travels and keep safe. Regards Jim and Joyce

  • Hi John ,

    Glad to see you have done your crossing .
    Regarding your supplement , I have been taking it for a few months now and no spectacular improvements on my health ! But it is going a bit better .
    Anyway , I do remark that I received a monthly one couple of months ago which does not look like the previous one ! It was more whitish !! Instead of a more yellowish !
    So , who know ? You talk of a brownish Color ? What do you mean exactly by that ?
    Me I would describe it more as a light ocher !
    Anyway , take care and wait to read more of your sailing .
    Alain

  • Please let me know what this powder is, I could certainly do with some! A really great story, as usual.

  • Me thinks I will be placing an order for the Brown stuff JP. Stay as safe as lone sailing permits.

  • Well that’s interesting John. On your advice and recommendation I ordered this product some time ago, took it for a couple of months or so but noticed zero positive or in fact any effect. It was definitely a white rather than brown powder! It’s probably a bit late in the day to look for recompense or a supply of the proper stuff [I chucked the rest of it out – and cursed you for a knave and a vagabond] and it’s not cheap. Great shame.

  • Wow! Scary experience. I can only assume you are waiting to discover the efficacy of the usual stuff, being light brown, before disclosing what it is and how to order it. The fact that the formulation had been adulterated does not inspire confidence in the company’s quality control. Are you now taking the “right stuff” and off the antibiotics? How’s your arm?

    • Awaiting the package of brown stuff. Yes, it does not fill one with confidence in the company (in 2017, they reduced the content from 600mg down to 100mg without telling anyone – the full story of that debacle is in the documents I send to interested parties). On the other hand, it does restore confidence in the brown stuff. What they’ve been playing at, I just don’t know.

  • Dear John,
    I am pleased to hear you have got better. I suspect it was your body that fought off the infection rather than the supplements. Most people on a normal diet do not need supplements and taking too much of some supplements can be harmful. Some alternative medicines from the Far East contain dangerous ingredients – but patients feel better until they get side effects!
    Glad you got yourself checked out by a doctor afterwards anyway. Doctors would far rather help at an earlier stage if they can, than at a late stage. We’re here to help, you are not ‘troubling us’

    Best wishes,
    Monty (Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon, with interest in musculoskeletal infection)