St. Lucia

St Lucia (posted from Bequia)

May 19. We enjoyed out stay in Martinique, but it was finally time to go. We got a pretty good weather forecast: The wind would be mid-teens and a bit forward. The seas would be a bit lumpy, but on the beam more or less.

Going,

We got an early start and motored down the island and curved around the southern coast until the wind filled in, then we started sailing. We had a reef in the main and the small jib up and that was about right. The southern-most point of Martinique was a few miles to our east, so the transition to open ocean was gradual. We set a course as high into the wind as we could without losing the drive we needed to keep us moving in the seas.

Going,

We have found that things change a bit as we come out from behind an island, so waited to see what would happen. Everything seemed to settle and we found that our course was right on the rhumbline. We also noticed that although we were doing about seven knots or more through the water, an adverse current was taking almost two knots off our speed over the ground. With less than 30 miles to go, the speed was fine. We decided it was settled enough to put out a fishing line.

Hard to read, but the knot meter shows 8.5

The speck in the middle of the picture is a small, open fishing boat. Picture was taken halfway between the islands. And we thought we were having a fun ride.

 Gone

We rolled along for a while and sometimes saw the knotmeter climb up over eight knots – pretty good for Little Rosie. We were moving pretty well when we got a hit on the fishing line. I scooted to the back of the boat and tightened up the drag on the reel to stop the line from spooling out. It didn’t stop. Whatever was on the line was big enough to overcome the reel. I tried to crank some line in, but my effort loosened the pole in the rod holder and the pull on the line snatched it out and over the back of the boat.

This was the big rod I bought at the cruisers flea market and although well used, it was a nice piece of equipment. Luckily it came with a line attached that I always tied to the back rail on the boat to ensure that I would never loose the rig. The rod accelerated aft and never slowed down when it broke the line. It was irretrievably gone.

Somewhere between Martinique and St. Lucia there is a big fish dragging my fishing equipment around the Caribbean Sea. I’m not certain which one of us is less happy about the situation – me or the fish. Our only consolation is that now the fish and I both have interesting stories about the one that got away.

Rodney Bay

Our course brought us to the mouth of Rodney Bay on the north end of St. Lucia. Other than the fishing casualty and the bumpy-ish seas it went well. As is so common in the Caribbean, Rodney Bay is a large half circle open to the west. There is a channel near the middle of the bay that gives access to a large two-part lagoon area. One part is home to Rodney Bay Marina and the other has moorings for local boats and a dinghy dock for a nearby mall.

Approaching Rodney Bay

We stayed out in the bay and motored around a little to get a feel for the anchorage. There was a large shallow area just north of the channel between some boats and the public beach/local town. We eased in and dropped the hook. We never did find out for certain why no one anchored closer, but we heard that there have been problems in the past with people swimming out to boats and stealing items, but we never saw anyone swim any distance off the beach. South of the channel near the resorty beaches boats were anchored in much closer, but the shallow water didn’t extend out as far in that area.

Maginificent frigatebird soaring over Rodney Bay

John and Ann on Moonlight arrived about two hours later. They anchored near the top of the bay where it was quieter, but a much longer ride to town. We wanted to be close because we were tired from the sail and wanted an easy trip in to Customs. We found Customs and Immigration in an office in the marina complex. Check-in was pretty easy, although we had to stop at three desks in the little office to get our forms scrutinized, stamped, and signed, and pay our fees.

Rodney Bay – and Rodney Bay Marina – have more of the yacht club high-style feel than they typical places we stop. The marina complex has little restaurants, a tiki bar, a boutique, a small grocery store, and some yacht supply/service establishments. From there it’s a short dinghy ride to shopping complex that is being expanded. Quite yachty – especially compared to the stores outside the gate and the actual town just across the lagoon entrance.  The harbour is also home to Unicorn – the ship that played Henrietta in one (or more) of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Henrietta from Pirates of the Caribbean

Rodney Bay also had its share of boat boys.  The fruit boat may take the prize for the most interestingly decorated boat.

The Fruitboat of Rodney Bay

We took a tour of much of the east side of the island. We rode in the back of a truck that was outfitted with seats and overhead bars so we could stand and look around. A guide accompanied us. Jackie and I were the first aboard. We stopped at two resorts to pick up the rest of the tourists.

We drove through or briefly visited many of the towns and got to see some anchorages from land, two of which where we would later stay.

The town of Soufriere and its bay are part of an active volcano. We visited a more inland portion of it where hot springs bubbled and permeated the air with the smell of sulpher. The guide told us the volcano could erupt at any time, but she didn’t seem too concerned.

We then walked to a place where the hot springs flow down into a few pools and then into a stream. The mud is supposed to be good for your skin, so we were encouraged to rub it all over ourselves and let it dry. Funny thing, when I was a kid if I covered myself in mud I was liable to end up in “hot water” at home. Here it was encouraged and you used the hot water to clean it off.

The mud's supposed to be good for the skin but I think it's biggest benefit is to tourism

After we were more or less clean, we climbed back into the truck and went to a waterfall. It was great. Cool, clear, FRESH water pouring over you. We have spent so much time swimming in salt water that this was are real novelty. Once clean, we drove to a restaurant that overlooked Marigot Bay. They had a wonderful buffet set up for us. From there it was back to Rodney Bay.

A couple days later we traveled with our friends Mark and Michelle to Castries, the capitol city. We travelled by bus. There is a bus stop just outside the marina. The busses are actually small vans that carry 10-12 people. There is not set schedule. A bus leaves when it has enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile. There are actual bus stops along the way, but it seems like you can get on and off almost anywhere. To get off, just call out, “Bus Stop” and the driver pulls over at the next stop. Even more interesting is when the driver sees someone walking along the road or towards the road he toots his horn and the pedestrian signals whether they want a ride or to pass them by. At 2.50 EC each, the ride was good transportation and cheap entertainment.

Castries was fun to walk around. There are vegetable and craft markets just off the waterfront and a small shopping district nearby. It is a pretty good size town for the Caribbean, but that doesn’t make it very big by US standards.

Marigot Bay

We spent nine days in Rodney Bay and finally decided it was time to move on. We motored/sailed nine miles down the coast to Marigot Bay. Moonlight had sailed there quite a few days before us and Mark and Michelle were about a half hour ahead of us on Reach.

Marigot Bay

Marigot Bay is very narrow. There is an outer area, a very narrow spot, and then the inner bay, which has a marina and is home to a couple charter fleets. We anchored in the outer area, but the bottom is hard and rocky with just a little sand over it. It took a couple tries for us to get it to stick.

Marigot Bay is very rather pretty. The marina has a small shopping/service complex and a fuel dock. They also offer free showers. There are a number of restaurants and ferries that make frequent runs from one side of the bay to the other. In addition to the many charter boats going in and out there are also a lot of day cruises that come in to show off the bay and sometimes anchor to let the guests swim.

Soufriere

It’s hard to belive we spent five days there, but between snorkeling and happy hour at Hemingways we enjoyed our stay. Our plans were to bypass St. Vincent and go straight to Bequia. That looked like a twelve hour trip, so we decided to get a head start by moving about nine miles down the coast to Sourfriere. We topped off the fuel tanks and sailed most of the way.

Soufriere and the Pitons

The bay at Soufriere is just north of the Pitons – the twin peaks on the St. Lucia flag. There is little shallow water for anchoring, so boat boys meet you, lead you to a mooring, and help you tie up. You then give them a tip for helping you and they try to sell you other goods and services. They offered to sell us a fresh tuna and we made a deal, so they motored into town to get one. While they were gone the park ranger came by to collect the mooring fee. They gave us a discount because we were leaving early the next morning. The boat boys came back a little later and told us they couldn’t find a four pound tuna, but would we like a six pounder? We renegoatiated the deal and they went back for the fish. They finally got back to the boat and commenced to clean it for us – using a knife they borrowed from us. The whole process was entertaining. The fish was tasty, too.

Boat boys cleaning our tuna

Next: Bequia

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One Response to “St. Lucia”

  1. Dennis Lancaster Says:

    Thanks for the continuing updates. Am enjoying sitting on the sidelines and reading about your adventures. Retirement is finally set for Sept. 1st of this year. The extent of my cruising will be on the lake. (if it ever decides to stop raining).. guess I’ll be building boats… got two orders already.

    Cheers!

    Dennis

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