Saturday, July 28, 2012

St. Lucia 2012 (again)

St Lucia 2012

Thursday 14 June – Monday 9 July

Anchored once again in Rodney Bay we talk to friends Linda & John on Kool Kat who tell us they are going in for HH and to watch the J 24 races and ask if we want to meet them to get caught up on our travels since we last saw them in Bequia in January. We have a fun time watching the 24' racing sailboats AKA J 24's maneuver in the tight quarters of the inner harbor, and enjoy catching up on travels with Linda & John whom we had met here almost exactly a year ago. Friday is a rainy day so we hang out on the boat. Saturday Kool Kat heads south as we go into the marina, time to equalize the batteries. We enjoy Saturday & Sunday in the marina with A/C, cable TV and easy access to shore side restaurants. Steve gets the oil changed Monday morning before going back out to the anchorage. The week goes by fast as we hang out, swim, do errands, and revisit familiar places in the Rodney Bay area. Saturday we catch the bus into Castries to go to the “Saturday Market” unlike many other Saturday markets that start very early and end by 1, this one goes on until 4-5 in the afternoon. We get a few things at the market then wander up & down the surrounding streets as all the shops are open and many vendors set up along the streets. So much to look at but I'm with Steve who hates shopping and just looking so I don't get to shop much. We enjoy the atmosphere and the town sites before catching a bus back to Rodney Bay. Sunday as we are looking around the anchorage we notice a boat that looks familiar, using the binoculars we think the boat is Promise. Still not sure, but a little while later see activity on deck as they launch their dinghy, and it is old friends Colleen and Dave, whom we were here with a year ago traveling down to Grenada and who we have not seen since November. Dave stops by on his way back from checking in at customs to invite us to dinner on their boat to get caught up on the last 7 months. Hard to believe it has been that long since we saw them, no trouble picking up like old friends and have a great evening talking about both our travels. Tuesday Steve & I wanted to go over to the northeast side of the island to Cas En Bas to check on some hiking trails and the kite surfing, for when Sean comes to visit. Dave & Coleen go over with us and we fall in love with the place. Unlike the built up area of Rodney Bay this area is almost empty, just one condo / villa with a restaurant and 2 beach bars on a beautiful bay that on this day we have almost to ourselves. The kite surfing place is not open but we get her phone # to call later, then take a nice walk up into the surrounding hills ending with a great lunch at Marjorie's before calling for the taxi ride back to Rodney Bay. Thursday we watch the J 24 races again, this time with Colleen & Dave and Catherine & Bruce from Latitude Thinking. Steve had helped Bruce with his single side band radio and then they had us all over to their boat in the marina for dinner. They have just recently purchased their boat and are new to the area so wanted to talk to people with a little more info on the windward islands as they plan to head to Grenada also. Friday we go to the stores to provision and get the boat ready for Sean's visit. We had arranged for a taxi to pick up Sean and since he was based out of Rodney bay he said we could ride down to the airport with him to meet Sean when he got off the plane. It also gave us a chance to see some country side we have not seen since the airport is on the very opposite side of the island. Sean's flight arrives after a short delay, during a short down pour but it clears as we head back to Rodney Bay giving Sean some great views of the island along the way. That night Colleen & Dave join us for dinner on Ocean Star to help welcome Sean to St Lucia. Sunday Steve & Sean hike up Pigeon Island touring the old fort grounds while I wait on the beach. When they get back we go snorkeling along the headland. Later that night we meet Colleen & Dave over at Jambe de Bois to listen to a great jazz trio playing there. Monday afternoon we rented a dune buggy type car that we thought was going to be an off road adventure over on the trails we saw on our visit to Cas en Bas. We did go over that way but did more on road driving then we did off road. It was a fun day BUT NOT something I would recommend, for the price we could have rented a car for 2 days and driven all over the island. But we did meet another kite surfer on the beach so Sean was able to set up a time for the following day to come back and try his hand at kite surfing again. Monday night we have HH with friends Lilly & Thomas on Blue Heron. They had originally planed to leave their boat in Guadeloupe, where we met them, so we were surprised to see them here in Rodney Bay. Their plans had changed and were now getting ready to leave the boat there in St Lucia. Tuesday we spend the afternoon watching Sean kite surf, the winds had shifted a little to the north so conditions were not the best, he had a busy afternoon getting reacquainted with the skills of kite surfing. That night we go to one of our favorite restaurants in the Caribbean, Spice of India, and have another wonderful meal. Wednesday Sean is ready to move on to another anchorage to see more of St Lucia from the water. We go into the fuel dock to top off on fuel and are underway by 1 sailing down the coast with just the genoa out in nice calm seas. By 4:30 we pick up a mooring in Anse Cochon, the guide book says private yachts are supposed to use the moorings on the south side leaving the ones on the north for the charter boats. It is a little confusing since all we see are the orange dive buoys and what at first looks like a fish trap buoy. But there is a guy out there on a kayak waving us over and says that it is for big boats to use. The lines look good and Steve & Sean go in to double check to make sure it will hold. It is a beautiful little bay and the snorkeling right next to the boat is good. A dive shop runs out of the resort Ti Kaye located right in the bay. We don't get in touch with them until the following morning so we have 30 minutes to get our gear ready, they pick us up and take us to the dock to load the hotel guests on and we are underway by 9:30 to go do 2 dives down by the Pitons. There is actually only one other diver, the 6 other people are being dropped off in Soufriere to do some land tours. We do 2 dives one along the north wall of Gros Piton the other along the south side of Petit Piton. Both are great dives with good visibility and lots of corals and fish life. Sean & I both have a little trouble equalizing but plenty to see as we follow along a little higher up. We both finally get equalized and join Steve and the others down at 60 feet. I was very glad and surprised that I had no trouble equalizing on the 2nd dive and was able to go straight down, something I can rarely do. Back to the dock to pay for the dives and rinse our equipment off then get dropped off at our boat, ready for lunch. As we are making lunch one of the day charter boats comes up and needs the mooring we are on, they have priority so we have to move. We have since seen a couple of moorings to the south that are probably the ones we should have picked up in the first place but at first looked like they were maybe in a different bay. No one is using the dive buoy out in the middle, since we just need it for about 30 minutes to finish lunch we pick it up. Finish up lunch and head back to the Pitons with our boat this time, picking up another mooring by 5. Thursday we relax, swim, snorkel and enjoying the beautiful water and view of the Pitons. Friday Steve & Sean go to hike Gros Piton!! Not stopping at the resort to call for a cab, they get a work out just walking up to the road. Once in the cab it is a long ride over to the little village where the hike starts. A cute 20-something girl meets them and says she'll be their guide. Sean is happy because first she's cute, and second he thinks the hike is going to be easy if she can do it. Once ½ way up Steve & Sean are feeling the effects of this strenuous hike and have to slow down. The young lady that is their guide and does this several times a week is not even breathing hard, she is actually talking on her phone as she climbs. They make it to the top, Sean does an extra side trip over to the north side of the mountain that overlooks Petit Piton while Steve rests up for the trip down. They get a taxi ride back to the resort, being dropped off right in front so they just have to make it to the beach and dock so I can pick them up. One very tired father and a fairly tired son, dinner out at the resort latter that night after cool off swims and a little rest. Saturday we sail down to the anchorage by Vieux Fort, the guide book shows 2 areas to anchor in but the electronic charts show it all to be a no anchor zone as it is close to the commercial port. We do see one unoccupied boat anchored to the south, but we decide to check out the anchorage in front of the fishing pier, figuring if they don't want us to anchor here someone will come tell us. No one does and it gets a little rolly during the night so we are glad to go ashore the following morning. Martinez greets us at the dock and tells us where to leave the dinghy amongst the fishing boats. He also tells us the town of Vieux Fort is having their own little carnival celebration that afternoon. We take the short walk through town and over to Anse de Sable beach also known for kite surfing. It is a FABLOUS beach, one of the prettiest we have seen and almost no one else there. We walk down to the Reef a bar & restaurant & kite & wind surfing shop but unfortunately the winds are too mild for kite surfing. Sean is disappointed that he will not get a chance to kite surf in this beautiful bay, but we all enjoy the beach and water and have a great lunch at the Reef. Tearing ourselves away from the beach we head back to town in time for the start of their carnival parade. Very small town = very small carnival festival but it is a lot of fun to watch. They are doing their own little one since many of them will be going to St Vincent the following Monday & Tuesday for a much bigger carnival and St Lucia in Castries does another carnival the week after. It was a nice surprise to run into and give Sean another island experience. Back through town stopping by a few street vendors for some food & drink. Move the boat over to the south side anchorage since Martinez said it would not be rolly there and it's not so we have a nice calm night even if it was on a lee shore. Monday Sean has to catch a 3:30 flight so we get a cab and stop by the Reef for another great lunch with a beautiful view, sadly the winds are a little better today and there is a guy out kite surfing, so Sean is a bit envious. We see Sean off at the airport and look forward to his next visit. Steve tries to see customs at the airport but a flight just came in so they are too busy to see boaters, one last stop to customs at the commercial pier then to fishing pier to go back to the boat. Tuesday we sail to Bequia in the Grenadines.

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