Saturday, November 17, 2012

St. Lucia Once Again

St. Lucia Once Again
Saturday 10 November – Friday 16 November 2012

We are underway by 7 am with Dreamcatcher right in front of us. Once out of the bay we turned north and had a great sail under partly cloudy skies in 1-2 foot seas between Bequia and St. Vincent. The trip between Bequia and St. Lucia via the west coast of St. Vincent is always a mixture of wind and sea conditions. We reefed and un-reefed several times with a top speed of 9.3 knots to a slow of 2.5 when the motor came back on and sails rolled up. Seas went from 1-2 ft. swells to flat calm to 4-5 ft swells with chop. We hit one of the local surrounding showers and got a little rinse, but we put the cockpit cushions down below several times more when the threat of rain was close by. By 10:45 we were sailing along nicely just off the north end of St Vincent. I hear a metallic sound behind me that I KNOW is not a boat sound. I turn around just in time to see our life raft falling out of its holder into the sea. I yell to Steve as to what happened he hits the MOB (man overboard) button as I start taking down the sails. Sails down and boat turned around to head back to the spot where the life raft fell off. Of course this is where the seas are the choppiest so we are looking for a white box about 2' X 3' in with all the white caps breaking around us. We make several passes in the area, Steve thinks the container might have sunk but I don't think so. Then we spot it and get the boat pulled up along side. On the 2nd try I grab one of the handles with the boat hook and work it back to the back of the boat where Steve grabs it with the other boat hook and brings it to the swim platform. We both grab the handle and manage to lift it onto the swim platform then into the cockpit. Life raft recovered !!! Guess this is our week for mishaps! The adjustment we had done down in Grenada was fine but the pressure on the cotter pin was too much as we bounced along. What we need to get is a clevis pin to put through the holder then the cotter pin goes through that taking the weight off the cotter pin. We had been meaning to do a MOB practice so now we can check that off the list, just wish we could have used a boat cushion and not the life raft which we will now need to get serviced. By 11:15 we are back on course with the sails back up. By noon the winds and seas have calmed back down again so we enjoy a nice lunch. By 2 we have tacked east to avoid the shower right in front of us over the Pitons where we are heading. For once the wind and current work in our favor and we get lifted right to our way point and are moored between the Pitons by 3:45. We are a faster boat than Dreamcatcher so we told them we would have dinner ready when they got in. After a refreshing swim in the beautiful sapphire blue water we start getting dinner ready. Dreamcatcher came in around 6:45, with Judy & Gordon knowing the area and our spot lights and Claude, the boat guy who came back and hung around to help them with the mooring lines it went off without a hitch. Once they got settled in Steve went over to pick them up since our dinghy was in the water. A great dinner with friends followed by a couple of rounds of dominoes. Sunday Steve & Gordon go over to Soufriere to clear the boats into St Lucia. They get into a little trouble since you are supposed to go to an official port to check in BEFORE going to an anchorage, just a $25 EC ($9 US) fine. Dennis & Phyllis and I enjoy swimming and snorkeling. By the time Steve & Gordon get back from checking in, it's noon so we decide to hang out here for the rest of the day. Dennis is way over at the base of Petit Piton snorkeling so Steve goes over with the dinghy to get him so he can help us get the life raft back into the holder. He was glad for the ride back as he would have been fighting a knot current swimming back. Steve had hooked up a snatch block on the arch to help pull the life raft backwards, then we used the topping lift line to raise the life raft up and out of the cockpit to maneuver it back to the holder. Putting a heavy padlock on it until we can get the clevis pin, don't want to go through that drill again. Dennis had caught a small shark on their way up here so they brought that over to grill and have lunch on Ocean Star, followed by dominoes and more swimming. A great day in a great location. Monday we are underway by 10:30 after a break in the rain we had since 6 am. It was a short break as we had rain almost the whole way up to Rodney Bay. Light to almost no winds most of the way so seas were nice and flat, until just north of Castries. Winds picked up so put the main out, could have put the genoa out BUT we were so close to turning into Rodney Bay that it was not worth it. We anchored on the south side of the bay first, we used to be able to pick up a good free WiFi signal from the Bay Garden Beach Resort, but found it password protected this time. Up comes the anchor and over to the north side closer to the Landings to pick up their signal. Re-anchored and all settled in by 2:30, we make contact with good friends George & Jan on Wild Thing who are in at the marina, hoping for a break in the weather so we can go in to see them. Dreamcatcher is anchored next to us by 3:30 and it is still raining, and continues to do so for the rest of the evening a quiet night on our respective boats. Tuesday rain clears and we all head over to Pigeon island to the park and fort, a great reunion with Wild Thing, and lunch at Jambe de Bois . Tuesday evening Steve & I meet Jan & George along with another couple, also from Kemah TX, Tony & Gail on Cetacea and go to dinner at Memories of Hong Kong. Wednesday we were supposed to do an island tour BUT we have had heavy rains since 6 am, skies are still totally gray, it's looking like another full day of rain. By 8, need to make a decision on if we should reschedule the Island tour. Talk to Wild Thing and they say they are fine with the change BUT I can not reach Dreamcatcher, start getting worried about if I should reschedule trying Dreamcatcher every 15 minutes on the VHF radio. By 8:30 (pick up time was 9:30) it is still cloudy so I call and reschedule for Thursday. Meanwhile Steve has talked to the life raft people and they say to bring the raft in by 8:30 so they can get to it later in the day. So between 8 & 8:30 we get the life raft back out of its holder and into the dinghy. Of course by 9:30 the skies start to clear and we finally find the crew on Dreamcatcher, who had gone in early at 7:30 for breakfast. They were OK about the rescheduling, even though they were packed and ready to go and weather was starting to clear. They went back to their boat unloaded their stuff and spent the day exploring the marina and near by shopping and restaurant areas. We run into them as they are sitting down to a late lunch when we go in to see what kind of unlocked phones they have here. I still need to find one I like. Stop by the grocery stores to see what is available, will come back with a list of things we need before we leave as St. Lucia is a great place to provision. Wednesday night we go into dinner with Jan & George & Gail & Tony at The Buzz, and have a wonderful meal while listening to a saxophonist playing some great music. The crew from Dreamcatcher, after a late lunch with drinks were content to stay on board to enjoying drinking wine. Thursday we get to do the Island tour, early morning shower and 1 or 2 during the day but it was a great day and we all had a lot of fun. Chris our taxi driver & tour guide took us on the scenic ride through the interior of the island over to the east coast with a few photo stops along the way we get to our 1st stop near Dennery to hike to the waterfall. It is in an adventure park but we did not want a guide or to do any of the other things they offer. At first they wanted to charge us $65 to go in BUT Chris talked to them and we got to go in free with him leading the way. It was a nice little hike and the waterfall was great, even if the water was a little “dirty” from all the run off from the rains. By the time we are done it is 1:30 and decide it is time for lunch. I had 2 places picked out BUT had under estimated how long it would take to get to this end of the island and do the hike, so they were both still a good 30 minutes away. Chris knew of a place close by with a great view and we all enjoyed a nice lunch. By this time we realize we can not to all that was planned so we let Phyllis and Dennis decide since they were the visiting guest. Next stop is the Mamiku Gardens, an old plantation turned into a serene and natural landscape of plants and flowers. Orchids everywhere and another nice little hike up to the grounds where in the late 1700's local freedom fighting groups (Brigands, freed slaves that were unwilling to be re-enslaved) fought the British, aided and abetted by the French. Again Chris led us on this hike which was a little muddy & steep. Ending the visit to the gardens with a stop at the bar right there on the grounds. It has been a great day even if we did not get to do all the things we had planned. Everyone is a little tired on the way back so not as much talking going on. Once back at the marina we thank Chris for a great job and catch the last few minutes of the J24 races going on in the harbour. Tony & Gail are over on their boat and invite us by for a drink. After visiting with them we decide it is time for dinner, so we all go over to one of the restaurants right there at the marina for dinner. A farewell dinner with 10 Texans !! Gordon & Judy will be showing Dennis & Phyllis a few other anchorages and sites along the coast so Dreamcatcher will head south while we stay in Rodney Bay. Just FYI the 4 of them use to be Steve's neighbors back on Lazy Lane in Lazy Bend in Kemah TX. Friday I go in for a massage, they have a great place F.A.C.E to face right here at the marina. Afterward Steve comes to pick me up and we go check out with customs. Then go pick up our re-serviced life raft. Once back on the boat we spend about an hour trying to get it back in, not as easy this time, tried at first to do it without the topping lift to raise it. Since it was in the dinghy at water level thought we could do it with just the one line raising and pulling, but that was just not going to work. So rigged the topping lift to lift and used the other to pull it back and we finally got it back in and secured. Lunch on board then into the grocery store to provision as we will be leaving St. Lucia Saturday morning. Dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant, Spice of India, with Jan & George and Gail & Tony. Another farewell dinner as Tony & Gail will be staying in St Lucia a little longer as Wild Thing & Ocean Star head north.

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