January 1 - January , 2008: Martinique - a second visit - St. Lucia
January 1 was rather quiet. We had left Hello-World to get some rest around 0300 that morning. The others celebrated till about 0600 and weres till tired when we all met again around 1500 at the Mango Bar. Wolfgang wanted to reciprocate our various dinner / cocktail hour invitations by inviting all of us for coffee, icecream or whatever else we wanted. We chatted for a good two hours or so. then a few of our group went back to their boats to get some more sleep. We tackled the internet, etc.
January 2 we spent endless hours at the Mango bar. There is free WIFI, Brit and Axel joined checking emails, talking to some friends and family to wish them a happy new year. I spent over an hour with Adobe for reasons I cannot mention. There is a secret birthday present involved... it was more than frustrating, but in the end, I hope I got it all done. Before we knew it, it was 1700. We were back on Impromptu. It started pouring. At 1800, we were supposed to be on Africa for drinks. We were nowhere ready to go, but we did. The others had already arrived, some just about with us. It is a Sunbeam 42 - very beautiful down below and roomy for the boat size. We had lots of drinks, great nibble food, and wonderful talk about anything and everything. It was almost 2300 when we finally all said good-bye. We planned on sailing to St. Lucia the next morning to refill our propane bottles. Brit and Axel wanted to go diving around 0900, Soenke, Judith and Andreas and Trixie made plans for a joint trip to Dominica, if I understood correctly, they want to leave tomorrow, January 4th. We think we will see Andreas and Trixie again because they want to go all the way to the BVIs, but very slowly, before turning South again and towards the Panama Canal.
This morning, January 3, we checked out at customs, waved good-bye to Brit and Axel, and to Trixie and Andreas, after finally managing to purchase stamps at the post office which was not closed this time around. A Dockwise ship had arrived around 0800. We watched as they slowly approached the anchorage and then dropped anchor. There were about five sailboats on the ship as far as we could make out, many more motor boats. We assume that they would discharge today and reload tomorrow. See the pictures of her as we passed her on our way to St. Lucia.
St. Lucia is a beautiful island, visible from Le Marin. The distance is only about 26 nm miles including harbor mileage. We made it in about four hours, a slow and comfortable sail with winds of 11-14 knots only. Still, the swell was sometimes amazingly large and at other times almost negligible. We could not make out the reason therefor.
We called Rodney Bay Marina on channel 16 and asked for a slip for two nights. They accommodated us immediately and told us where to go. Dock A is the longest with many fairly large sailboats, most of them from Europe - many of them took part in the ARC (Atlantic Rallye for Cruisers), a few US boats from all over. This is the largest accumulation of US boats we have seen since leaving St. Croix.
We checked into customs, the marina, the propane situation, took our empty tanks to the laundry service which will have them filled (we can pick them up tomorrow at 0900), went for our first St. Lucian drink, a "Rodney Bay Sunrise" - a beautiful multi-colored beverage in a tall glass consisting of local rum, passionfruit juice, pineapple juice, and Grenada syrup, all served on ice - delicious!
We finally spoke with Guenter and Waltraut who had already checked out our website and knew what we had been doing on New Year's Eve. They also knew about Juli's hospital stay - diagnosed with diabetes. We have talked to him both yesterday and today. We could not reach him earlier as Ulli and Gabriele had initially not rented a phone. Now, we can talk to him daily, and I am eager to do so. He sounded so mature, it made us smile. Still, we feel so bad for him, wished we could help in any way to alleviate the shock, the symptoms, the outlook...
January 4 This morning, we made coffee by heating water in our microwave oven for the last time - so we thought as we went to pick up our propane bottles - refilled, got rid of our garbage, and took the dinghy back to Impromptu where Juergen immediately tackled the reinstallation of our propane bottles. And then it all started. That is, I tried to light the gas burners. Nothing. I tried by keeping the gas supply line open, nothing. Juergen tried to do a bunch of things including cutting and reconnecting the line for the solonoid. Nothing. After he had already put away all his tools, he realized that he had a gas line that could circumvent the installed system. So, out came the tools again and the gas line was installed, and YES - it worked!!! We were both elated.
While he had been working on the propane bottles, our neighbor, Mario (grew up in Brooklyn but still speaks with an Italian accent) told Juergen a horror story which I must share with you. They had participated in last year's ARC (Atlantic Rallye for Cruisers), left their boat here in St. Lucia on the hard for many months and came back this winter to sail the Caribbean. Well, when he entered, 25 rats had decided to make his boat their home, eating through plastic to get inside, chewing up his dinghy, all his electric wiring, all sorts of hoses - damage so far, about $ 15,000. One funny story in all of this, after he caught 9 rats himself and drowned them, then getting rid of the others - we don't know why - supposedly, he is sure that none are in his boat any longer... he has a new dinghy, and, we are certain, all his wiring has been replaced... He had a bag full of different flags given that he was visiting - or going to - many different countries. The rats got it all, except, they did not damage the American flag but instead took it into their nest and used it for softness. This same flag is now hanging on the port side under his first spreader - in memory of this rather terrible (overall) event.
Brit and Axel will most likely not arrive here today. They were still having work done around 1300, too late to get here and be able to check into customs. They do expect to arrive tomorrow but are not sure as it all depends on the completion of their repairs today - which is questioned. We decided to go into town and see the "Jump Up", a street festivity that occurs every Friday evening when locals dance in the streets to music, food stands lining the streets. It is supposed to be rather colorful - and loud, and the food is supposed to be "non-gourmet". Still, we will have to check it out and, we were told, it is safe to walk around on the main street, even with my camera. We will describe our experience tomorrow.
January 5 - we called Ruben for his birthday. He was busy talking to Sony tech support. We still need to call Ron. It is his birthday too. We talked to Juli today - he is home for the day, must stay at the hospital overnight. Brit and Axel arrived around 1400. They came over to oour boat a little while later - for lunch. It is almost 1900. They just left to get ready to go to dinner. We made a reservation at "Edge", supposedly the best restaurant in the entire Caribbean. We will see. We will pick up Brit and Axel by dinghy and go there - it is not far away, and we can tie up the dinghy right there. Their tasting menue is supposed to be wonderful.
January 6 We decided to get a taxi for our island "safari". They quoted US$ 60 per person, not cheap, but then, we wanted the driver to take us pretty much all around the island, stopping here and there, having lunch some place, etc., etc. Brit and Axel joined. We had a very nice driver who also made additional suggestions or commented about an undue delay if we were to do what we suggested. All in all, it was a wonderful day, full of excitement, gorgeous and spectacular scenery, a magnificent lunch in a setting deserving of a movie. We were told later on that Bill Gates and others stay at this particular resort, the Ladera Resourt in Soufriere when he visits St. Lucia. It is situated high up on a hill with a breathtaking view over the pitons - at least one of them, and the Caribbean Sea. Our lunch was elegant though it was served buffet style, but it had none of the typical ingredients a US style buffet has. Instead, is was full of local ingredients (plantain, dried salt fish, various fruits, salads, fish, very little meat, and a most wonderful passion fruit cream pie - not too creamy but definitely delicious. None of us really had wanted to eat dessert, but then... we were all glad we got it anyway.
We drove South from the marina, on the West side of the island, through Castries - which on Saturday mornings, has a picturesque and colorful market (unfortunately, we only heard about it this morning, and today it was closed), the fishing village of Anse La Raye, Canaries (none of which were too picturesque - Canaries has one singly street). We had stopped high above Marigot Bay and not only purchased a few items from a small stand where they also served rum drinks, but also took some beautiful pictures of this rather small bay. Our driver stopped a few more times when the sites were spectacular - we would never have found them all. In Soufriere, we first stopped for lunch - the place I mentioned above - great views, beautiful setting, good service and excellent food. From there, we drove to a small waterfall (Toraille) which was not terribly impressive, but the plants and their flowers, the few birds we saw, were all worth the trip. We stopped at "the only drive through volcano of the Caribbean", again a rather dismal place that has sulphur springs - a caldera of a volcano that erupted the last time in the mid 1800s - it is said to be due to erupt - who knows when...
In Vieux Fort, the most Southern town of the island, the light house "Moule a Chique" is picturesquely located atop another hill. From there, one is supposed to see St. Vincent - on a clear day. Well, we saw a hint thereof...Vieux Fort has the island's international airport (Hewannora) which means "land of the iguanas" in the ancient language of the Amerindians. While we have not seen any iguanas on this island, we saw a local show a poisonous snake to a group of tourists - we did not stop, but were told that these snakes live in the area we were driving through - and that this is the only area where they can survive due to the sulphus springs. From the Moue a Chique, we took the road more or less along the East coast of the island. The landscape looked so different that one could easily imagine being on a different island. There many reefs visible through the breakers, and here and there we saw a fishing village tucked between volcanic mountains. Hotel chains like the Ritz Carlton, the Westin, and others seem to favor the East Coast as they either have built or are in the process of building large hotel complexes - so far, however, not in an obtrusive highrise style but, instead, "sort of fitting the scenery". We took another two or three stops before it got too dark to photograph. In addition, it started raining again, and we - and we are sure our driver - were looking forward to getting back to our boats (he his home).
We all had a wonderful time, took lots of pictures. Sometimes, Brit and I could have stayed on much longer, but the daylight hours are still rather limited. We did the best we could. Soon, the photos will be shown in our gallery - we hope that you will get an impression of this wonderful adventure.
January 7 - By the time we had breakfast, Brit and Axel's boat was gone. They wanted to go swimming somewhere. We readied the boat, went to pay our last night at the marina, checked out at Customs and were on our way at exactly 1100 - at the lagoon entrance. Sailing was wonderful. The wind around 20 knots at an approximately 60 degree angle to the boat. It was easy, comfortable, and our speed ranged from around 6.5 to 8 knots. We anchored near Brit and Axel's boat for easy communication and visits. Juergen scrubbed the bottom of the dinghy - it had grown a small beard again. I started to do laundry again. We went food shopping as we had invited Brit and Axel for dinner - we had shrimp, a vegetable mix, potatoes, lots of wine.