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Day 11 – To Mustique

After waking, Kelley, Loren, and Sheven all jumped in the blue waters for a snorkel, swam with some turtles and said goodbye to the lovely Tobago Cays. We decide to start making our way back north and the first stop will be the island of Mustique.

A goodbye snorkel at Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven
A goodbye snorkel at Tobago Cay
Loren & Kelly leaving Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven
Loren & Kelly leaving Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven

Mustique is a very interesting island – it’s private, and owned by some very wealthy folks. Including british royalty, business high rollers, and celebrities like Mick Jagger and David Bowie. It’s off limit to cruise ships and the general public. Yachters, however, are welcome in a limited fashion. There are some moorings for visiting yachts, and we figure it would be an experience.

One of the little boats parked at Mustique.
One of the little boats parked at Mustique.

Weather forecast is the usual 15-22 knts from the ENE. Unfortunately, that is exactly from the direction we want to go. Sailboats don’t sail straight into the wind very well. Cats, in general, don’t point as high into the wind as monohulls. So, rather than tacking a bunch of times, we motor ENE directly into the wind, then turn almost straight north and raise the sails. It’s the first time this trip that we’ve sailed close hauled, into the wind as high as possible. It seems that Ginger does well until about 50 degrees into the wind, which is not that terrible.

When motoring into the wind, we were getting some 8-10 FT swells from the Atlantic, which we were launching off and landing with quite a splash. Kelley and I were at the helm and by the time we reached Mustique, we were totally crusted with salt from the spray.

We pulled into Mustique and grabbed one of their mooring balls, then everyone jumped into the water for a swim. We could see the mooring ball anchor below us in about 40 FT of water. Very solid rig, probably because they get some pretty big yachts at this island.

Shortly, a man from the Mustique Moorings company comes by in a skiff. He gives me a map of the island with a very small portion of the coast highlighted. He explains this is the only area we are permitted to visit, and the rest of the island is off limits. He also says that cameras of any kind are forbidden, including any type of cell phone that has a camera. They are pretty serious about that, and when we dingy to shore, a security guy searches our bags for cameras.

Although cameras were forbidden on Mustique, we managed to get this shot of Loren.  Photo by Sheven.
Although cameras were forbidden on Mustique, we managed to get this shot of Loren. Photo by Sheven.

Since it’s a private island, I figure that’s fine and it is a privilege to be able to visit.

One of the most famous bars in the area is Basils and we are moored right in front of Basils. They are also having their annual Blues Festival with musicians flying in from all over the world. We decide to splurge on the $60/person entry fee which includes lots of music and a buffet with suckling pig, grilled fish and other yummy stuff.

Basil is the name of the owner, and the ad we saw for Basil’s had a picture of Mick Jagger singing there. The Blues Festival is a benefit that Basil does for scholarships to kids from St. Vincent.

There were musicians from France, England, Australia, and Italy all playing/sings american blues songs, and doing it very well. It’s not a very big place, so it was fairly intimate. Lots of people were dancing, and we danced a little but we were quite tired.

It was interesting to watch all the eclectic very rich people who have property on the islands kicking up their heels. I found myself wanting to know who they were and what there stories were.

This was quite a cultural shift from two days ago when we walked through the village on Mayreau saying hello to dogs, chickens and goats. Not very far away geographically, but quite different in terms of material wealth.

Panoramic of Shore at Mustique.
Panoramic of Shore at Mustique.

We are surrounded by some amazing yachts and in the morning, I’m gonna grab some photos of them before we take off. We plan to head for the west coast of St. Vincent tomorrow as we make our way back north to Martinique.

 

Day 10 – Tobago Cays

Tobago Cays is almost unreal in its beauty.  It's a heaven for cruising sailors.
Tobago Cays is almost unreal in its beauty. It’s a heaven for cruising sailors.

Up fairly early because I needed to get some work done via Wifi. I have a USB Wifi extender ($40) that is hanging on the front of the mast. I was surprised that in Mayreau, which is the most remote place we have visited so far, I could actually get descent Wifi from the boat.

We are excited because today we are heading to Tobago Cays, which is something we have all looked forward to since we started planning this trip. It really is (literally) the picture perfect place we’ve seen in all the photos/videos. Turquoise water, reefs, white sand beaches, lots of fish, turtles, sun.

 

Passed this big ship on the way to Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven.
Passed this big ship on the way to Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven.
Photo by Sheven
Photo by Sheven

 

It’s quite close to Mayreau, so we motor over, through the cut and into the lagoon of Horseshoe reef. Horseshoe reef is a spectacular reef shaped like (guess what?) a horseshoe about 1.5 miles across. It kills all the swell/waves from the Atlantic, although there is nothing to stop the wind.

Boat boy selling something. Photo by Sheven
Boat boy selling something. Photo by Sheven

There are probably around 50+ vessels from all over the world anchored in this amazing place. We circle around, doing reconnaissance, then we swoop in and drop anchor only about 300 yards south of the turtle protection area on the tiny islet of Baradel.

On the beach at Tobago Cays
On the beach at Tobago Cays

We dingy to the beach by turtle area south of Baradel, and do a bunch of snorkeling. Lots of fish and it’s fun watching the turtles graze on the grass of the bottom. Probably 100s of turtles, from fairly small to quite large. An big Iguana (we think that’s what it was) grazed on some branches overhanging the water where we swam.

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The beach on the the south of Baradel forms a little spit/peninsula of white sand and for a while we have this spit to ourselves. It’s like we are beamed into some kind of aquatic, nautical, sunny fantasy land. We will upload the photos when we get back to Wifi Land. We don’t feel like rushing back to that place, though.

Susan doing Yoga on beach.
Susan doing Yoga on beach.
Sheven frolicking at Tobago Cays.
Sheven frolicking at Tobago Cays.
Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven
Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven

The whole experience seems quite surreal. Perfect weather, perfect scenery, and there are scores of very nice cats and monos to ogle at as well.

Panoramic view of Tobago Cays
Panoramic view of Tobago Cays
Sunset Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven
Sunset Tobago Cays. Photo by Sheven

 

 

Day 9 – To Mayreau, Grenadines

Everyone awoke shortly after sunrise, and prepared to get under way. We were in such tight quarters with the other vessels that none of us slept very well. There were a couple of bangs in the night that made us jump up, thinking we (or someone else) had dragged anchor. Lots of noises and the wind would periodically go from 0 to 30, which sounded like everything was blowing away for about 3 minutes then it would quiet again.

Motored out of Port Elizabeth, hoisted sails in Admiralty Bay and headed west around the end of Bequia. We are headed for Mayreau (prounounced My-Row). We were mostly double reefed with winds gusting to around 30, but mostly in the mid 20s.

Kelley & Loren.  Naps are important for busy sailors. Photo by Sheven
Kelley & Loren. Naps are important for busy sailors. Photo by Sheven

Saw lots of flying fish skimming above the water and some larger dolphins. We saw some little mini dolphins a few days ago.

As we approach Mayreau, the water goes turquoise in color. Most of our journeying thus far has been in quite deep water, which is a darker blue. One of the things that makes the waters around this area spectacular is it is more shallow and brighter blue.

We decide to head into Saline Bay, Mayreau and drop anchor. We need to get more potable water before heading to Tobago Cays, and possibly stay the night here.

There is a 1/4 mile long beautiful beach, and we dingy over and spread out on the beach, bask, then swim.

Panorama of the beach on Myrau
Susan & Sheven in panorama of the beach on Mayreau

While there are about a dozen yachts anchored in the bay, we are the only people on the beach. Quite idyllic and amazing.

Dock at Mayreau. Photo by Sheven
Dock at Mayreau. Photo by Sheven

 

Conch shells on the beach. Photo by Sheven
Conch shells on the beach. Photo by Sheven

We walk up through the village, this is the smallest populated island in the Grenadines. We are befriended by a couple of dogs, who guide us up the hill past the houses, “super markets”, restaurants, etc. One of our dogs is clearly the alpha, since when we approach other dogs, they totally cower in submissive mode.

The alpha dog of Mayreau. Photo by Sheven.
The alpha dog of Mayreau. Photo by Sheven.
Doggie tour of Mayreau begins with a walk up the hill. Photo by Sheven
Doggie tour of Mayreau begins with a walk up the hill. Photo by Sheven

The Supermarkets are really just 20 FT by 20 FT houses/sheds with stuff for sale. Pretty much everyone has some kind of business since other than fishing, it appears tourism is the main gig here.  So we don’t mind too much getting ripped off for a case of Heineken and some jugs of water.

Catholic Church of Mayreau. Photo by Sheven.
Catholic Church of Mayreau. Photo by Sheven.
Behind the Catholic Church at the top of Mayreau, was a great view across to the Tobago Cays, where we are heading tomorrow. Photo by Sheven
Behind the Catholic Church at the top of Mayreau, was a great view across to the Tobago Cays, where we are heading tomorrow. Photo by Sheven
Sunset from our anchorage at Mayreau.  That's Union Island in the distance. Photo by Sheven
Sunset from our anchorage at Mayreau. That’s Union Island in the distance. Photo by Sheven

 

Everyone sleeps pretty well in our nice anchorage.

 

Day 8 – To Bequia

Up at 6:30am, haul anchor at 7am and set a bearing for the west side of St. Vincent. Between St. Lucia and St. Vincent winds were 20-22 knt ENE. We had 10 FT seas/swells in the aft port quarter that at times looked a little ominous. We kept one reef in the main and jib, and hopped along at 8.5 to 9 knts.

That's the north tip of St. Vincent in the background
That’s the north tip of St. Vincent in the background. Photo by Sheven

We had been warned that the east winds really start ripping around the northern tip of St. Vincent, but today they weren’t too bad. On the west side of the island the winds dropped to 15 knts, so we shook the reefs out.

D8PastStVincent
Passing the west side of St. Vincent. Photo by Sheven

When we reached the southern tip of the island, the winds dropped to 4-5 knts and in the interest of getting to Bequia, we started on of the engines. About a mile south of St. Vincent, the winds started picking up so we sailed again with full sails. A couple of miles later the winds perked up to 27 with gusts to 30, so we double reefed and skittered along at 9 knts, and once saw 11 knots surfing down a wave. There were lots of whitecaps and some of the swells got back up in the 10 FT range. An exciting ride into Admiralty Bay on Bequia, and into Port Elizabeth.

D8ToBequia
Photo by Sheven

The place was packed with boats, but we finally found a suitable spot reasonably near the Customs office so we could dingy in to get cleared. It took 3 attempts to get the anchor set properly and positioned with enough space between adjacent boats. The gusts come through the harbor with a lot of energy and we hang out on the boat watching our setting before convincing ourselves that we aren’t dragging anchor.

We lock up Ginger and all of us dingy to shore in search of the Customs office, then we stroll around the town and find a good restaurant (Coco’s) where we have fish, chicken and Conch (in chowder and curry). Excellent caribbean fare.

View of the crowded harbor at Bequia from our dinner table
View of the crowded harbor at Bequia from our dinner table. Photo by Sheven

It’s a nice town but a little more crowded than we’d like so we’ll head out tomorrow, probably to Tobago Cays, which is a place that we’ve all been looking forward to experiencing.

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Veggie market, Bequia. Photo by Sheven

We’ve been getting doused with salt water on most days, and our clothes can pretty much stand up on their own. We will also seek laundry facilities in the near future. It’s awesome having a fresh water shower on the boat. It’s about the size of a phone booth and is also where the head/toilet is, but it is very nice to wash the salt and sweat off.

 

Dinner at Cocos. Photo by Sheven
Dinner at Cocos. Photo by Sheven

Day 7 – To Laborie, St. Lucia

Mark's dad Bill was supposed to join us on St. Lucia, but he get sick and couldn't come.
Mark’s dad Bill was supposed to join us on St. Vincent, but he got sick and couldn’t come.

Busy day. We move our mooring back to Soufriere in the morning. Goals include: getting water for Ginger’s tanks, attending the local farmer’s market, and do some provisioning of edibles/drinkables. Susan and I dingy in to the market. We are swarmed by all manner of people trying to sell us all manor of goods and services. After about the 20th person, we finally start ignoring people who approach. Rude of us, but we are a little overwhelmed.

Kelley, Sheven and Loren are picked up by Vincent for another scuba dive. We meet them back at the boat, where Vincent drops them off.

Dive crew returning - St. Lucia
Dive crew returning – St. Lucia

They had a great dive. While Vincent dove/guided them underwater the man in his skiff was supposed to follow along. But the current took them around the corner of the Petit Piton and when they surfaced, there was no boat to be seen. After a while, Vincent was able to flag down another dive boat by waving his fins in the air and splashing. That boat went along the coast and found Vincent’s driver, who then came and got them out of the water.

Sheven taking post-diving dip
Sheven taking post-diving dip

We motored Ginger to the fishing dock and filled the tanks with water. The tanks have 600 liters capacity and we had used about 3/4 of that over the last 7 days. Also filled the dingy fuel tank.

Getting some water in Castries. This is our hose-attendant.
Getting some water in Rodney Bay. This is our hose-attendant.

Someone tried call us on the Sat phone, and we missed the call. We are supposed to meet my dad on St. Vincent tomorrow, so I call him on the Sat phone. Turns out in the last 24 hours he’s gotten an upper respiratory infection. Doctor says no travel. We are bummed, but thankful he was diagnosed early. We think the medical care is probably not quite as good here, as it is in West Palm Beach where he is currently. We’ve been looking forward to spending time with dad on the boat, but understand the importance of getting good care quickly. A friend of mine recently died of pneumonia in Anchorage.

We decide we’ll head of the fishing village of Laborie on the south end of St. Lucia. From there we can launch south the next day, weather permitting.

Strong wind, we are double reefed and seeing occasional gusts to 32 knts. Sheven, Susan, Loren lay out on the trampoline. Ginger launches off of waves and when she lands, a good amount of spray shoots up through the trampoline and douses them. Lots of water/amusement park shrieks, laughter.

The trampoline roller coaster ride on the way to Laborie, St. Lucia
The trampoline roller coaster ride on the way to Laborie, St. Lucia.  This looks tame, but big waves were blasting up thru the trampoline. Photo by Sheven

A squall was spinning off of St. Lucia so we dropped the sails and motored the final 3 miles into Laborie. We needed to thread between some un-marked reefs to get to the area our guidebook said there were some mooring balls. There were two cats anchored between the reefs. We motored by one of them and grabbed the only mooring ball we could see. A british gentleman came out of his custom cat and warned us not to use the mooring ball (contrary to the guidebook) because they were not maintained.

As we were dropping anchor, it started to rain and quickly became a torrential downpour. I think that’s the hardest I’ve ever seen it rain. We got soaked, and it only lasted about 15 minutes then cleared up to sunny blue skies again.

During the squall
We got soaked by the rainstorm while trying to anchor. Photo by Loren
The dock at Laborie, St. Lucia
The dock at Laborie, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven
Sunset view from the dock at Laborie, St. Lucia
Sunset view from the dock at Laborie, St. Lucia. That’s our boat on the left. Photo by Sheven

We dingy to the town dock, and happened to meet the british gent from the cat, and his friends as they were getting into their dingy. We had some nice chats about his catamaran, and the strong winds coming in to the harbor. As we started to say goodbye, we found out he is Chris Doyle – the man who wrote the guide book we are using. Nice guy and we told him how much we enjoyed and used his book (we have two aboard). 

Sheven chillin with Chris Doyle, author of our guidebook
Sheven chillin with Chris Doyle, author of our guidebook

We wandered thru town, bustling with people, dogs, and chickens doing their thing. Laborie is an authentic, non-touristy (except for us) place. People were very nice and we were not harassed by one person trying to sell us something or get some money from us using any method possible. In contrast, when Susan and I went to the market in Soufriere, we were propositioned literally by over 20 people trying to sell us things, or asking for money, asking to be our guide, etc.

Our guidebook had mentioned Captain Kent’s Big Bamboo Cafe, so we sought it out.

Big Bamboo Cafe, Laborie, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven
Big Bamboo Cafe, Laborie, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven

Quite a rustic place with super friendly staff. Their menu was simple: our waitress when and talked to Captain Kent, who was grilling food over a 55 gallon barrel. She came back with the choices: Chicken, Pork, Fish or Octopus. We got Chicken & Fish dinners that were delightful, tasty creole creations. With beans, rice, and a little local veggie mix.

Kelley posing with the Chicken Plate.
Kelley posing with the Chicken Plate.

We met the owner of the other cat in the harbor – it’s a Fountaine Pajot Belize (2004) and he’s heading back north. One of his rudders fell off when we was sailing a few days ago. I hadn’t heard of that happening before. He’s not sure when exactly it fell off, so he never found it. To get a replacement from the factory would take a couple of months, so he’s headed to Rodney Bay hoping to find a craftsman there who can make a new one. Another nice thing about having a catamaran: two rudders, and if one falls off, the other one can work by itself. Not as elegant if you are on a monohull, you are fairly helpless until you rig a rudder using something like an oar. Doesn’t work very well.

Dingy back to the boat for another round of cards (Five Crowns), which is a nightly tradition. I finally break my losing streak, although I think my crewmates threw the game to me so that I would stop whining.

 

We plan to get up before sunrise, and haul south, past St. Vincent to Bequia.

Day 6 – Between The Pitons, St. Lucia

Susan and Mark at the resort.  The little dot off Mark's shoulder is our boat Ginger, and we hiked up here from the boat.
Susan and Mark at the resort. The little dot off Mark’s shoulder is our boat Ginger, and we hiked up here from the boat.

Wow, what a day. I get up early and Gregory, our chosen boat vendor delivers freshly baked bread. We settled on him because he wasn’t obnoxious and aggressive. He helped us grab a mooring last night, and motored in and got us some ice.

We drop our mooring and motor up along the north end of the bay to check out the Bat Cave. Thousands of squeaking bats in there and we could see them moving around. We grabbed another mooring right next to the Bat Cave to hang out while we tried to get in touch with Action Adventure Diving. They were recommended in our guide book, and Kelley, Loren and Sheven are going to go scuba diving. We tried them on the radio, to no avail. Finally, Gregory motors up and finds Vincent from the diving company. Vincent visits our mooring and we agree to meet over between the Pitons in about an hour.

We like this bay (and the Pitons) so much, we’ve decided to stay in the area, and just move over to a highly recommended spot between the Pitons. We motor in, and Gregory helps us again by grabbing a mooring – they are partially submerged and would be a hassle to grab from our high deck.

The view from our new mooring ball between the Pitons. Photo by Sheven
The view from our new mooring ball between the Pitons. Photo by Sheven

The setting is amazing. It’s pretty much perfect. We are on the shore between the two Pitons, and there is an excellent resort called Jalousie Plantation directly in front of us. They have a sandy beach, there are snorkeling locations next to the boat, the resort has a dingy dock, security to watch our gear and very friendly staff.

Vincent and two nice ladies (mom and wife?) arrive in his open boat with the gear for diving. Sheven, Loren and Kelly suit up, jump in the boat and motor about 1/4 mile away to an excellent dive spot called the Coral Garden. They have an excellent time with Vincent and schedule another dive for tomorrow.

Our dive masters on Saint Lucia
Our dive masters on Saint Lucia. Photo by Sheven

Susan and I go for a long snorkel along the shore going south.

We’ve read in the guide book that there is a restaurant/resort called Ladera on the ridge above our location that has the most spectacular views of any establishment in the Caribbean. We decide to check it out. The book doesn’t say how to best get up there, but we can see it, and it doesn’t look too far.

Beach Bar we hydrated ourselves for the uphill walk to the resort
Jalousie’s Beach Bar we hydrated ourselves for the uphill walk to the Ladera resort. Photo by Sheven

After some refreshments from Jalousie’s great beach bar, we begin ascending on the road, sometime around 3pm. This is a road that the guidebook says is among the steepest in the world. It is seriously steep and quite a workout going up. It’s a concrete road that has little ridges running across the road for traction.

Way up, then way down, then way up again on a super steep road.
Way up, then way down, then way up again on a super steep road. Photo by Sheven
Sheven and the Drive in Volcano
Sheven and the Drive in Volcano

We talk to various people on the way up, who are surprised to see us walking and ask where we are going. We tell them Ladera, and get quite a range of responses. Some say it’s 20 minutes walking, and others say we are crazy and we won’t get there before sunset. The latter group was most accurate.

After huffing and puffing up the road we finally reach what appears to be the top of the ridge, about the same elevation as Ladera (our target). However the road starts descending rapidly. One of the people who told us we were crazy said the road goes all the way up, then all the way down to the City of Soufriere, then all the way back up again. That ended up being a very accurate description.

Finally! Ladera Resort!
Finally! Ladera Resort!

When we finally got to Ladera, it was just before sunset and we were totally soaked with sweat. Clever co-travelers (Kelley and Susan) had brought along extra shirts so that we wouldn’t try to get into this world class resort drenched in sweat. Turns out that Conde Naste rated it as the best resort in the world about 5 years ago. It really is stunning.

Ladera Resort. Photo by Sheven
Ladera Resort. Photo by Sheven

We settle into their open air bar, with our table perched on a precipice that drops down to the bay where Ginger (our boat) is bobbing on her mooring. The sun is setting between the Pitons. Very magical moment.

Kelley & Sheven at Ladera.  Our boat is the dot off Kelley's elbow.
Kelley & Sheven at Ladera. Our boat is the dot off Kelley’s elbow.

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Sunset at Ladera Resort, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven
Sunset at Ladera Resort, St. Lucia. Photo by Sheven

After sunset, we taxi into Soufriere and ask the driver to help us find a local restaurant with good, local, non-fancy food. He takes us to a building downtown and up to the second floor. It looks promising, because its painting and decor look very local and festive (not touristy). We are the only people there (not a good sign, IMHO). Alas, the food was only average but it was our only “average” experience of this amazing day.

Taxi ride back to our anchorage, roaring up and down (and up and down) the roads we had hiked. We find our dingy still safely in the hands of Jalousie Resort and we dingy back in the pitch black with Sheven holding a headlamp in front so we didn’t ram anything.
No sailing today, but we had a blast and we are all quite bushed.

Weather permitting, we plan to sail south to Laborie tomorrow (Sat), then leave early Sunday morning to sail south departing St. Lucia and past most of St. Vincent to pick up dad in Kingston, St. Vincent, which is on the south end.

I have no idea how accurate the information is, but many cruising guides and blog postings say that there are security issues in St. Vincent, especially in the north and west portions. So we plan to sail by those areas for now.

Another nice thing about Jalousie resort is that they have an open WiFi and this blog posting is being piped through that connection. Giving the Sat phone a break.

Day 5 – To The Pitons, St. Lucia

Sheven on the trampoline - the Pitons in the background
Sheven on the trampoline – the Pitons in the background

A minor kerfuffle in paradise: we got Sheven at the airport last night. Kelley dingyed me to the Coal Pot dock, where I met Winston, our scalawag taxi driver. He had ripped us off earlier, but we came back for more. I rode with him to the airport (about 1 mile), grabbed Sheven, then he dropped us back at the dock. We had previously agreed to $20, and (of course) when he dropped us off he said he meant $20 per person. I gave him $40 because I didn’t feel like bickering. Then he said that a tip would be nice. I put on my most menacing face and got very close to his face and said “Look, Winston, you ripped us off earlier today, you just ripped us off again. Now you want a tip. Things will work out a lot better for you if you are honest and people will know you are an operator they can trust. Instead, I’m going to put this on the internet and warn anyone going to Castries – avoid a taxi driver named Winston.”

I wasn’t really that upset, but he clammed up and bolted. I think the psycho persona can come in handy sometimes.

We awoke to the loudspeakers from two big cruise ships that had pulled in near us in the early morning. The captain was giving everyone instructions for disembarking. This is the same place that Susan and I had visited on a cruise ship several years ago. I never thought I’d go on a cruise ship, but we had a blast.

Big cruise ship at Castries
Big cruise ship at Castries. Photo by Sheven

We sailed south along the coast. Perfect sailing conditions.

Mark at Helm, big blue sky. Photo by Sheven
Mark at Helm, big blue sky. Photo by Sheven

We tucked into a small bay called Anse Cochon. This is the same bay we had visited with our friends Daniel and June while on the cruise. I remember watching a Cat come anchor in the bay and telling Susan that I would really like to come back in a Cat. And here we are.

Back to A bay - where we had visited previously with Daniel and June
Back to Anse Cochon Bay – where we had visited on a previous trip with Daniel and June. Photo by Sheven

We got a mooring ball and did some snorkeling on the south side of the bay. Good exercise but the water was quite cloudy due to the surge that was rolling into the bay. We then sailed further south and into Soufriere Bay. Grabbed a mooring ball near the bat caves with an incredible view of the Pitons, two primeval looking peaks that rise 2400 and 2600 FT out of the water.

View of the Pitons from our mooring
View of the Pitons from our mooring. Photo by Sheven

All day, we’ve been harassed by boat boys, aka boat vendors. We first politely tell them that we don’t need anything, but thank you anyway. Sometimes we give them a beer for good measure.

 

Some of them are quite aggressive and keep following us and shouting things at us. I then put on my menacing psycho persona and tell them “Leave us, NOW.” That usually works. I know they are just trying to make a living, but the really aggressive ones are quite irritating.

Kelley, Loren, and Sheven go snorkeling near the boat and get stung by jellyfish. I’d like to find out why they are here, but we haven’t encountered them anywhere else.

Incredible sunset at our anchorage
Incredible sunset at our mooring near the Pitons. Photo by Sheven

I finally figure out how to set the anchor alarm on the chart plotter – an extra bit of comfort/security as we sleep.

This is such a pretty place, we might head over to another mooring ball that is between the two Pitons tomorrow. We don’t need to be in St. Vincent until Sunday to pick up dad, so there is no pressure to be burning the miles.

No access to internet again, so this is going up via Sat phone.

Day 4 – Castries, St. Lucia

Ginger patiently waits for us to return from a lunch on shore.
Ginger patiently waits for us to return from a lunch on shore.

Leisurely awakening. Got things ready for departure.

There is an awesome  cat (I think maybe an Atlantic) who anchored right next to us last night. The captain was out on deck wearing a tiny speedo. This morning, we just about spewed our coffee when the captain of that boat (about 60ish and a heavy build) appeared on deck totally nude with a hose and brush and proceeded to swab the decks in the buff with his various bits exposed to the sun, wind, and us. Kelley says at least his bits won’t get burnt because his belly provided shade.

We hauled anchor and headed out and the captain of the Atlantic stood in the cockpit, waving goodbye.

We have a nice broad reach and downwind run to Castries, then we hook around to the east to enter the harbor. For some reason, we find the sails of Ginger are difficult to drop. A large person has to go on deck and yank the main sail down. We think it’s because she’s so new, things haven’t quite loosened up yet.

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I was reading today that St. Lucia changed hands between the British and the French 14 times before becoming firmly British around 1812. It also said during the French revolution, French republicans in Castries rounded up French nobility on the island and guillotined them on a street downtown. There is a certain finality to guillotines. Unlike guns, knives, beatings, etc. where you might wonder if the recipient is still alive, when the head is in a different location than the body, there is little doubt.

Castries has a very narrow harbor, and there is a big cruise ship in the harbor. The end of the airport is right on the water/harbor and when cruise ships enter or depart, they have to stop air traffic or there would be a ship/aircraft mishap. In 1942, during WW II, amazingly, a German U-boat entered the harbor and torpedoed two British ships. It’s hard for me to imagine a submarine being able to get into this small harbor. Must be quite a story there.

We dingy over to the Coal Pot, a somewhat famous restaurant in Vigne Creek, where we are anchored. Excellent fresh fish with exotic sauces at a waterfront table overlooking our boat.

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The picture on top of this page is from our table, looking at Ginger.

Coal Pot restaurant. Photo by Sheven
Coal Pot restaurant. Photo by Sheven

Susan, Loren, and Kelly take a taxi to get provisions. It went pretty well except the when they return to the Coal Pot dock the driver wants $80 US for the trip. A rip-off, but our lesson is to pre-negotiate the rates.

Sheven arrives tonight at around 11:30pm. I think I’ll dingy over to the Coal Pot, then take a taxi to the airport to retrieve her. Or maybe Loren and I will do paper/scissor/stones to see who goes. Tomorrow I think we’ll head for Marigot Bay or The Pitons.

Life is good.

Day 3 – Hanging at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Susan pointing to our boat.  Ginger is just off the tip of her finger.
Susan pointing to our boat. Ginger is just off the tip of her finger.

I rose with the sun and dingyed solo into the marina at Rodney Bay to clear Customs. After a little searching I found the tiny customs office on the second floor of a retail building.

It felt like I was beamed back to a 1950s office setting. I suppose it’s arrogant & rude of me to find it funny, but a couple of times I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. There were three desks crammed into the small office space, and one person sitting at each desk. I had to fill out the Customs form and there were 5 carbon copies of the document. I hadn’t seen carbon copies for years. The man at desk #1 meticulously checked, then signed and stamped each carbon copy. Then I moved to desk #2, where the lady took the green copy, checked passports, stamped them, and pointed me to desk #3. The man there took the yellow copy of the document, charged me 50 eastern caribbean dollars (about $20), then he produced another receipt form with several carbon copies. He did a bunch of stamping, tearing, stapling, etc. then I was done.  At least I didn’t need to go to separate offices for all three of these steps.  And to their credit, it was overall quite efficient.

Panoramic view from the fort
Panoramic view from the fort, Rodney Bay

We have such a nice anchorage here that we decided to stay another day. Tomorrow we’ll sail south to Castries to pick up our Sheven.

We dingyed over to the north end of Rodney Bay where there is a national park with a very old fort (1700s) on top of a hill. Hiking to the top, there was an awesome view.

Below the fort we also found a nice cafe that had Wifi, so I was able to straighten out my Satellite phone email account. There was a technical glitch, but it’s fixed now. We’re no longer dependent on finding internet to do postings and email – it’s done via the Satellite phone. It actually uses a modem and sends data at 2400 baud, which brings back memories of doing data transfers back in the 1980s. For example, to upload the photo of Susan takes about 8 minutes (!). Super slow, but to me it’s amazing that it works anywhere in the world with no dependence on phone, internet, etc.

Sat phone sending emails/blog posts. Amazing that it works anywhere in the world.  Not the speediest thing, but we are not complaining.
Sat phone sending emails/blog posts. Amazing that it works anywhere in the world. Not the speediest thing, but we are not complaining.

We checked the weather forcast, and the next 5 days are the same as usual – an excellent 15-20 knots from the east. Perfect for sailing south.

Awesome sunset, and some more jumping off the top of the boat for swims. We are running low on water and rum, two critical substances for sailing. We’ll probably do some provisioning when we get Sheven tomorrow in Castries.

Got an email from our friend Linda saying that it was -10 degrees F in Anchorage, and that Portland was expecting a storm with 6-20 inches of snow. That’s a big deal for Portland. We are all very happy to be here in the land of perfect weather.

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Day 2 – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Kelley & Loren at the Helm, heading for St. Lucia
Kelley & Loren at the Helm, heading for St. Lucia

Awoke with the sun, and motored back to Le Marin. The salon door was stuck open, so we docked and asked Pierre to fix it while I went to customs to clear out.

Overall, we are happy with our boat Ginger. I had wanted to rent a Leopard 46 because I’ve never sailed on one, however the only place around here that had a newer model Leopard 46 is The Moorings. The Moorings cat cost almost three times more than the boat we got from Regis Guillemot. We just couldn’t rationalize paying that much more.

Ginger is a nice boat – just a few configuration things seem strange. There is no chartplotter by the helm, it’s inside at the nav desk and thus unusable while sailing. We ended up using my iPad at the helm with the Navionics app for navigation.

I cleared out at Customs, then went back to the charter company office for another embarrassing round of credit card declines. Amazingly, they let us leave with the boat again, with me promising to call the bank with our Sat phone and call the charter company on Tuesday.

Susan testing the trampoline
Susan testing the trampoline

We aimed for St. Lucia, Rodney Bay. Totally perfect sailing conditions. Wind was 15-20 knots straight from the east. This is typical of the trade winds here and as I’ve watched the weather over the last months, pretty much every day has the same conditions. Ginger averages about 8 knots with one reef in the main.

When we get between Martinique and St. Lucia we get some big rolling Atlantic swells – 10+ FT high. The repetitive rolling on the swells causes an unnamed crew member to lose their breakfast over the transom. They were good sports about it, though.

We didn’t see much boat traffic between the two islands. When we get off of St. Lucia, a couple of rain squalls dump rain on us for a few minutes. The iPad, our chartplotter, goes into a big ziplock bag to stay dry.

We anchor in Rodney Bay – we arrived too late to clear in a customs, so we stay on the boat, dining, swimming, and watching the sun set. We marvel at how fast the sun sets here – and bam! It’s dark.

We had our first visits from “Boat Boys”. I’d read about this previously – men/boys in skiffs come out to sell things. I guy came out loaded with fruit and vegetables. We bought a dozen fresh limes and half dozen tomatos, for about $6. We gave him a beer for a tip. These guys make a living servicing the yachts anchored in the bays. I’ve heard that the fresh baked bread in the morning is not to be missed.

Our first 'Boat Boy' experience was good.
Our first ‘Boat Boy’ experience was good.

We fly our yellow flag to indicate that we haven’t cleared in through Customs yet. We are not supposed to leave the boat until we are cleared, so we are boat bound. There are worse places to be trapped. More card games. Late dinner of chicken & beans, then I jump off the bimini top into the awesome warm water for a night swim. When I did this in Greece in April, the water was shockingly cold – here it is truly a perfect temperature.

Sunset at our anchorage
Sunset at our anchorage