Monday, March 29
Hello! Please help yourself to a Long Island Iced Tea. *Shakes and pours cocktail* Today, we're chatting to one of my besties, Bridget whose engaged to Captain Barry of the Ad Astra! They're based in the sunny BVI's where they treat their guests to some serious R and R. If you've ever fancied holidaying or working in the Caribbean, I thought you might be interested to know a bit about their busy but beautiful island life.
Hi Bridge, how are you?
Hello Lasie!! Actually I have bad flu!! Crikey! And I pick up charter (guests) for a week tomorrow, so you caught me at an interesting time, generally the BVI's is good for my health...lol...but not this week! I am always telling people how great the sunshine, fresh air and ocean are for me....but I guess sometimes weeks on end of charter can run you down!
Sorry to hear that, friend. What time is it in the BVI’s?
It's 6:11 pm (I think we are 6 hours behind South Africa)
Ah. So you and Captain Barry have been sailing the seven seas and entertaining guests on your yacht, Ad Astra, for the past couple of years. How long as it been now?
5 and half years! Can you believe it? Every year I think it may be my last and then bam! I am back! We started it as a gap year!
The time has flown, wow. Please can you give us a tour of the boat!
Sure, if you visit www.yachtadastra.com, you can visit our gallery to see it in detail. But its basically its a 57ft Lagoon catamaran, french in design, with four guests cabins and one little crew cabin. We call the latter the hobbit hole..lol. We have to climb in and out of a large hatch to have access to our bed, shower and toilet ( a head in sailor terms!).
How many guests can you host at one time?
It can take 8 guests. Three cabins are queens and one is a twin bunk bed, so that tends to be filled with kiddies or singles.
Can couples book to have the boat to themselves or do you have to have a minimum number of guests?
Our minimum number is four, but I suppose two people could pay the four pack rate and have the boat. We mainly have four to six guests.
What’s a typical day like for you and a typical day for Barry?
Busy...he he. We wake up, generally barry lets me sleep a little since I tend to be clinging to my blankie. Mind you thats if we run the AC. If not then heat wakes you up! He sets the table, makes coffee and then checks the weather out on the computer, while the guests get up. I make breakfast and then during breakie, we do "beds and Heads". Barry makes the beds and I clean the bathrooms. During this we check on guests and then clear up and wash up! After this we may take divers for a dive or do some water sports or sail to another destination. Barry sails the boat and I help as a first mate, so there is a lot of role changing in our job. One minute we are chef's, the next cleaners and dive masters, the next barman, the next taxi drivers, tour guides and sailors. Whew! Its a busy day! After sailing, we drop anchor at some gorgeous spot and I make lunch. During that time the guests will play, relax or check out the shore.
After lunch, we sail to another destination. All sailing is a few hours and we try sail everyday unless there is no wind! The when we arrive, the guests either play, go ashore or chill. And we get snacks and cocktails ready, followed by dinner and dessert and perhaps tea, coffee and Bailey's! So from around 4:30 till 9 sometimes 10pm, I am in the Galley. Barry chats to the guests during cocktail hour and shows them on a chart how far we have come. I take pictures during the week and make them a CD when they leave! It's a great vacation for people, because they don't have to cook, clean or organise anything, they can relax and be taken to all these fab spots and do as much or as little as they like! LOL, Sorry for the essay there, you know moi!
Hitting those decks hard, eh! What do guests enjoy most about their experience on Ad Astra?
Relaxing! They also enjoy getting to know us and a lot of them consider us friends when they leave and some visit us every year on the yacht as repeat clients, which is great! The islands are so beautiful and close, so the trip itself is very flexible! You can hit the busy spots, the quiet spots or have a mix of both! Some anchorages you will be the only person there and that's fantastic!
How do you and Barry manage to live in such a small place without forcing the other to walk the plank?
I wonder that everyday!! It's so weird how I have gotten used it! It's hard for Barry as he is 6 ft 4. Only one of us can stand up at a time and when we sleep on our triangular bed, we are always touching the walls!
Yeeshk! What are the best bits and not so good bits about life in the Caribbean?
The not so good bits are missing friends and family and being so busy that a whole year flies by. You don't have much personal time and you are constantly entertaining strangers and sometimes its not easy, but you cannot afford to be grouchy! So you have to get used to people in your space and if your not little miss sunshine, then forget it!
The good bits, are meeting interesting people. We have some lovely friends on other boats and have had some fabulous guests!! Sometimes even though you are tired, you find yourself sitting on a little beach right on the waters edge, having lobster with your guests ( who have taken you out to dinner) and you think life is great! Living on the yacht year round means living with no expenses and saving all your money! We have wicked long holidays!!! So I can see all you nutters! And I have also been able to have friends and family out on the yacht, which has been a dream come true!! So hopefully you will make it someday soon! xox
I do hope so, sweet. What do you get up to in your time off?
If there is a short turn around time (i.e you pick up guests two days after you drop off, then its hectic!) You go to the dock, fuel up, get the yacht cleaned and get food on! If we have more time off, we head to a great anchorage called little harbour in Peter island. All the crewed yachts hang out there on their time off, so its called unemployment cove!
Hehe. What have been the highlights of your BVI experience so far?
I have got to travel quite a bit of the caribbean. I have met some wonderful people and have lived on a gorgeous yacht rent free! I have been able to share this experience with family and friends. Also I was never a diver back home, so this job has exposed me to some new things. I now go on a diving trip ever year! A big highlight is also having money saved, so the two of us can travel so much every year! This is my favourite part and because our holidays are long, I have been able to still see friends and family without years going by.
That's awesome. You must have some crazy island stories to share with us? Spill the coconuts!
aha! I think I should write a book. Yes, its all very Bridget Jone's sometimes! I have had some crazy party guests, but one of my favourite stories involves a stupid thing I did on Valentines day for my guests this year. I bought some cheesy fake roses and some nice chocs from a local supermarket. We had a lovely family on board, two mom's and two dads and their kids, including a teen daughter and two young sons. As we cleaned the cabins that morning I laid everything out on their beds. Later that evening they thanked me for the thongs and laughed nervously! I didn't know what they were talking about. Turns out there were lacy red thongs stuffed in the roses!! I also put roses on the two 10 year old boys beds! Can you believe it? They must of thought I was so inappropriate! It was hysterical, I am so glad they said something, they made fun of me for hours!
Oh my word, haha! Classic! What kind of qualifications and visas do you need to sail yachts in the BVI’s?
The Captain has to have a sailing course. To work on private charter yachts, like we do, the higher the qualification the better. Barry has an MCA 200 ton license. If you have cooking experience and dive thats a bonus! Basically we worked our way up with our first company job working on a smaller cat. There we did our dive masters, and honed our cooking and chartering skills for two and a half years. We then interviewed for Ad Astra and have been with her for nearly three years. We also require a BVI work permit, so the company you work for sponsors you.
If I were to join you for a holiday, what would you suggest I pack?
Bathing suits, sunscreen, flip flops and some gossip mags for the crew...well me....ha ha! You use so little during the trip, everyone is in swim suits all day! The worst part is when all the mom's walk around with ripping bods and you're half their age and not so ripped! ha ha!
Haha! Right, I'll pack a couple of Heats if I head your way. Now what should I definitely not bother packing?
Girls leave the heels, sparkly tops and make-up behind!
No make-up, crumbs. You’re getting married next year in South Africa! Please tell us how your special day is going to look!
Oh La's heard a lot about this one! lol!! Hopefully it will be at Tala Game reserve and the theme is chocolate, because my diamond is a chocolate diamond! How fab! Hope I don't try eat it! You are one of the bridesmaids and will look mega hot in your choc frock! Looking forward to having a big party, me thinks there will a box of dress up goodies for dance time!! If only I could stop obsessing over the expensive Vera Wang dresses!
We want to come for a BVI holiday now! How do we book?
A lot of people book through brokers, so you can google Ad Astra and their links will pop up or you can book with us and email email@example.com
You’ve become quite the cook haven’t you, Brij. Do you have a favourite recipe you could share with us?
lol... sometimes I am amazed by how far I have come and other days I think someone might say " the gigs up, you're food stinks" ! haha!
Okay a recipe!!
BBQ beef tenderloin steaks served with asparagus, potato rosti's and pepper sauce.
For a fancy meal, thats quite simple but looks great, try getting your hands on some beef tenderloin steaks or a rounded steak, some asparagus and potatoes! Marinade the beef in olive oil, balsamic, honey, mustard and your favourtie herbs! I use Mama Africa from the South African shop here! Yes, we have one in the Virgin islands!! Let the steaks marinade in the fridge all day and in the afternoon boil a potatoes ( one bag makes about 10-12 rosti's, ) . Before they are too soft, drain them and let them cool. Once they are cool, grate them in the now empty pot you boiled them in, to save on dishes! Heat up just under a block of butter and two finely chopped onions in another pot. You can add chives if you like. Then add the butter and onion mix to the potatoes. Mix it up and add salt and pepper etc Get out some muffins tins and spray them with non stick. Roll the potato mix in your hands into medium sized balls and place them in the muffin holes. Preheat the oven to 180 and bake for anywhere between 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. Once you start to see the balls browning throw the steaks on the bbq and boil some water for the asparagus. The potato balls should be ready when the steak is done. Let the steaks rest under foil and throw the asparagus in the boiling water ( add salt if you like). They will cook in few minutes and when they are crunchy and bright, drain them. Take a nice funky place and place a steak in the centre, put some asparagus spears over the steak, then using a table spoon, take out the potato ball or rosti and place it over the asparagus. It should be sitting on top, creating a stack, so that the green spears stick out from under the potato ball which balances on the veg and steak. Drizzle the plate with herbs, balsamic reduction or pepper sauce ( cheat and use Inna Parman's!).
YUM! Thanks for this wonderful taste of island life, Bridge! Hopefully, I can join you for a dip in the Caribbean one of these days. x
Fancy a holiday aboard the Ad Astra? Visit Barry and Bridget, here! If you've ever been to the BVI's, I'd love to hear about your experience. Was there anything you're super glad you packed and anything you wish you'd packed? Let us know in a comment below. x