Sunday, July 3, 2011

St. Lucia

Sunday 26 June - Sunday 3 July

We leave Martinique 9 am on Sunday to go to St. Lucia, and before we are even out of the bay we get caught in a thunderstorm, not a good beginning. We are sailing, double reefs in both sails. As we get across the bay there are several smaller bays, and as the skies temporally clear they sure look like a good option to me to duck into and wait another day for better weather. Once committed to going it is hard to turn back so looks like we are in for another wet & bouncy ride. By 11 we are approaching diamond rock and the southwest end of the island and can see black skies ahead. Just as we get the sails in we get hit with the next storm. Visibility is extremely poor as we try to keep a lookout for any other boats in the area, keeping the boat on course as the wind and rain howl down on us. Luckily with these storms they are over in 15 to 20 minutes, just leaving us wet for the remainder of the trip, which other then being wet and a little bouncy is not all that bad. Putting double reefed sails back out, making good time sailing along with just a few small waves breaking on us. A few wind gusts heeling us over putting the rail in the water makes us put the 3rd reef in. By 2:30 we are entering the protected waters of Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. We have dried out and down below stayed dry so all in all not a bad trip, not a relaxing day sail but we are now in St. Lucia able to relax in Beautiful Rodney Bay.
Dave & Colleen come in about an hour later and anchor near by inviting us over for a grilled chicken dinner on board their boat that evening.
Monday Steve goes to clear us in, then comes back to get me to go check out the marina complex and town. First over to the marina which has several great choices of restaurants, & an Island Water World marine store. Across the street they have a huge hardware store with a marine section also. This is all part of the routine of coming into a new place, seeing what is there and what they have available. Even if we do not “need” anything it is always good to know what is available, especially since we will be coming back this way. Lunch at a restaurant serving Thai food, then take the dinghy over to the Rodney Bay Village area. Here they have several more great choices of restaurants plus if we were having a fast food craving a KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, & Pizza Hut were all in the area. They have two huge supermarkets, that between the two you can get just about anything you could back home. Also a large drug store, this is one of the best places we have seen to re-provision in a long time. Back to the boat, & after walking around the hot, dusty streets in the sun it is so nice to go back and jump off the back of the boat for a nice cool swim in the beautiful blue water.
Tuesday morning along with Colleen & Dave we go to explore Pigeon Island. A history with pirates as well as the French & English navy's and even the US used it as a naval air station during WW II. They are doing a great job with restoration, the beach offers good snorkeling and the views from the hikes up the two peaks is just breathtaking. Stopping for a beer and to rest at the restaurant by the dinghy dock, before making a tough decision to go over to another restaurant by the marina for lunch. After lunch it's back to the boats for a swim, relaxing & reading in the cockpit. Later that evening we go into the village to go to the restaurant Spice of India for a fabulous meal.
Wednesday morning Steve goes into the grocery stores while I stay on board to clean the refrigerator and get ready to go to a luncheon. They have a cruisers net here & the morning announcement mentioned a ladies luncheon at one of the hotels on the beach that I was going to go to while Steve changed the oil on the generator. The Bay Shore resort has a great pool, bar and restaurant right on the beach and they had postcards in their gift shop and the front desk was able to sell me stamps and mail the cards. I was one very happy camper, all my favorites in one spot. Nice lunch and swim in the pool even if it took 4 hours as we had a good time talking and exchanging stories and info on things down island. Back on board Steve had talked to John & Linda on Kool Kat, who we had stopped by to say hi to the night before on our way to dinner after seeing they were from Houston Texas, and they will be coming over at 5:30 for drinks. John had grown up in the Webster / Clear Lake area and we remembered his old boat Sails Call, they have been cruising between the BVI'S and Grenada for the last 3 years so had some good information to share. Colleen & Dave pass by on the way back from their grocery store outing and join us also.
Thursday 9 AM into the fuel dock getting tied up just as it starts to pour, so just hang out waiting for it to stop. An hour later Steve is able to go over to customs thinking he can check out several days in advance but they tell him no it has to be within 24 hours. Get fueled up and are underway under sunny skies by 11, heading for Marigot Bay. Have a nice breeze behind us so are running with just the genoa with following seas making 6-7 knots. Just as I am thinking and saying what a nice gentle sail this is, we see the skies behind us turning dark. Books and cushions down below, reef in and the storm hits us, getting real tired of being wet underway. Storms come and go fast around here, just in time as we are approaching the entrance to Marigot Bay the rain stops and the sun comes out. They have a little problem with boat boys coming out to “help” you get a mooring, telling them you do not want their help is not easy and at the same time other guys are coming out to sell you fruit. All this why you are trying to navigate is a pain. Pick up a mooring and buy a few bananas and send them on their way. Get ready to go into the village and another rain storm comes up, so lunch on board. Later we get another short break so go in to walk around and see what is here, I find a place for a pedicure and treat myself while Steve goes back to the boat between showers. Dinner on board as the rain starts and stops all night long and into Friday morning. Finally around noon the rain stops and the sun comes out so we go in for lunch and then do a hike up to a lookout point. Beautiful views with the sun shinning but on the way down the rain comes again, takes a while to get through the trees to reach us but it's a wet walk down. This is the rainy season, but a lot of these showers are from a front that has hopefully passed us now.
Saturday Steve goes in to check out with customs at 8:30 to find out they open at 9, he is 1st in line and has the paperwork all filled out and ready for them. We are underway by 9:30, with light winds and flat calm seas. Finally a nice calm relaxing trip, we do get one little sprinkle but after what we have been getting it does not even faze us. We do have to motor sail as the winds are that light but enjoy the beautiful coast line as we make our way south. The Pitons are a sight to be seen and make quite an appearance as they come into view. We had been approached by a boat boy awhile back, asking us where we were going, and just when we think we lost him, he comes back up to the boat as we are entering the bay. Really not a bad thing, as some of the moorings like this one, are tricky with the wind and tide. This is how a lot of them make their living and so you let them help for a few dollars / EC. This guy captain Bob, also offers tours and tells us what is available. We agree to a price on a short tour after we settle in and have lunch. Captain Bob comes back to pick us up, bringing us over to the town of Soufriere where he puts us in contact with a taxi driver. A ride up to the Sulphur Springs Volcano crater, when the volcano blew it left an opening so now you can drive up to and thru the volcano. Won't be taking any hot spring baths here as the water is 200+ degrees and the steam 300+ degrees. They do have hot springs you can go into at other locations around the island. Next we stop at the BEAUTIFUL !!! Ladera resort. It is located up on a ridge overlooking the bay we are anchored in between the pitons and want to get a picture. What a place, being the “off” season if we wanted to spend $680 (lowest rate ) we could spend ONE (1) night there. Instead we buy a drink at the bar and I get my pictures, even if it is hard to make out our boat in the bay. Next we stop by Diamond Botanical Gardens Waterfall & Mineral Baths. Not allowed to go into this waterfall, they have small pools for the mineral bath, NOT the same as going into a real waterfall so we do not pay extra to get wet. Enjoy walking around the gardens seeing all the different flowers, trees and plants. Drive back into town where captain Bob is waiting to take us back to our boat. Not one of the best tours but a nice short glimpse of the area, and enjoy a sunny afternnon. Back at the boat and it is time to try to tackle the water maker problem. On the way down when we tried to make water we could not, as it would not build up the needed pressure, kept cutting off then try to build up pressure, fail and cut off again. Steve tries a few things trying to trouble shoot it but with no luck. We have a good supply of water on hand and our next destination of Bequia has someone that might be able to help. On Monday we can also try to calling the manufacture Spectra. By the time we are done messing with the water maker it is getting late, so start getting the boat ready for an early departure crossing down to Bequia. With the winds pouring down into the bay between the Pitons, it is one of the coolest anchorages we have been in, so windy that we don't even need all the windows open which turns out to be a good thing when it starts pouring rain at midnight. The rain and WIND continue all night long, the wind just howling at a steady 30 knots with gusts up to 46 and one at 52 knots !!!! Thankful we are on a good secure mooring ball and have double lines on it. We were supposed to leave at sunrise but needless to say that did NOT happen, no one was going anywhere in this weather. At 9:30 the rain stops (just a drizzle), wind still howling, so Steve goes up to check on the mooring lines. All is well, an hour later I look out the companion way and see our bimini flapping in the breeze !! Sometime during that hour a zipper broke and the bimini came loose and with 30 to 40 ++ knot winds started flapping and tearing. We get the connecting piece down and tie up the back part so it wont rip any more. Now when we go to Bequia we will be looking for a person to help repair the water maker and someone to sew the bimini back together !!!! Yes life in paradise does have its challenges.

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