Posted by: catamarantwooceans | July 12, 2008

November 2007- Trinidad to St. Lucia

Nov 1st – Bureaucracy saga part 2: Since we want to leave Trinidad in the evening we went to Immigrations to check out. A very nice officer receives us, look at the papers we got in Tobago and says:”Didn’t you check out of Tobago?” I explain that we asked the gentleman there to check us in and out at the same time and he assured us that he is doing just that. “And he did not give you any other paper?” “No” “I find that hard to believe”. So what do we do now? The officer calls Immigration in Tobago and they are supposed to send a certain form that will help the course of justice. It arrives promptly and the smiling officer releases us. “You have to leave in 24 hours, now go to Customs”. The Customs officer woke up on the wrong side and is not smiling at all. We fill two forms in triplicate and on a single copy. He then asks:”when do you plan to depart?” “Around 1700” says I. “Then come again when you want to leave”. Obviously there is no coordination between Immigrations and Customs. “In this case we will leave right now”. This is acceptable to him and we are leaving according to our original plan: A fishing sortie onto the Gulf of Paria, thats between Trinidad and Venezuela (which is clearly visible to the west) and then a break for rest in Scotland bay before the night passage back to Grenada. Scotland bay is another enchanted anchorage, a deep fjord between wooded hill from which the sounds of Howler monkeys is hauntingly audible. Come five pm we raise the anchor and go out. The wind is easterly at 15 to 18 knots and “Two Oceans” is surging ahead at high speed even with the sails reefed to the first point. The second reef becomes necessary immediately and still we sail around 7 knots SOG (speed over ground, that is the real speed on the face of the globe as opposed to speed through the water the is influenced by current, waves etc). The moon has yet to rise but the light of the stars is astonishingly bright. The boat is gliding rapidly in water full of phosphorous plankton and suddenly she is joined by several weaving and intersecting glittering trails, Dolphins are paying us a visit, exiting the surface for a quick breath and then hurrying toward the bows to continue their favourite sport. It is so magical that I forget to look at the watch and wake Doron for his turn at the wheel. The night passes quickly and we are nearing Grenada. Now there is a problem, we want to get there about an hour after sunrise so we can troll for fish, but the boat is too fast, even with second reef. Down goes the main sail, up go our anticipation but alas… No fish…

Nov 2nd – Nine o’clock we show ourselves at the combined Immigration and Customs of Prickly bay. The ever present forms are there but they are chemical and there is no need for carbon paper. In ten minutes the procedure is completed, Hurray Grenada!
Near the office there is a yacht maintenance company named “Enza”. A young man is working, fibreglassing some wooden part. We need to do some jobs on the boat, like repair the water maker and check the house batteries, now five years old and probably at the end of their useful life. Peter, that’s his name, comes aboard at 1030 and works without intermission for four and a half hours. The batteries, a German super product by the name of Sonnenshine are determined to be “Kaput” and have to be replaced. There are no such batteries in Grenada and even if there were, their price would have been prohibitive. I go for Trojan 6 volt, deep cycle batteries that are more reasonably priced and have 12.5 percent more capacity. In order to fit them and check the water in the cells (the former were no maintenance batteries) Peter cuts an inspection hatch behind one of the saloon settee cushions. He really does good work, we are impressed. It turns out that the Catana 471 not far from our boat is his! He is originally from Prague in the Czech Republic and lived in Florida for 15 years before coming to Grenada. Interesting guy. Doron is leaving the day after tomorrow (Sunday) Saturday we’ll take a car and do some sightseeing.

Nov 3rd – We took a Suzuki jeep from one of the car rental companies near the boat yard. It has about 6000 km on the instrument, need front alignment but otherwise goes OK. We start at the market in St. George, drive north along the shore to Gouyave and turn east into the interior and the mountains. The view in fantastic, we see narrow gorges deep below us, full of trees through which streams are making their way downhill. Seven Falls was perhaps the highlight of the trip. We walk on a muddy, slippery trail to reach it and as we come back, shoes full of mud, two entrepreneurs are waiting for us with buckets and sponges. They clean our shoes for a few EC dollars and everybody is happy. That’s modern economics for you! Identify the need and make a business out of it. On to Grenville, on the island’s east coast to fulfill our dream of eating a Roti for lunch. Local people send us to Rins, a small shop doing only takeaway, and for 2.25 dollars US each we get this filling food. We want to sit on the shore for our lunch but it is surprisingly dirty, with black oil covering what could have been a perfect Caribbean beach. We end up eating in the car (air condition on) on some side road. On to the northern part of the island and then back to Prickly bay and the boat. A very satisfying day.

Nov 4th – Doron flew home, to Martha’s Vineyard, to hurricane Noel and New England winter temperatures. It was very nice having him on board both as an expert seaman, handyman and even cook! Although not a drinking man, he surprised me by making good combinations of fruit juices and rum. During the day I do some work on the boat, like mending the outboard’s cover, damaged by a dock in Union island last May, with fiberglass and epoxy and then spray painting it. I try my hand in fishing but nothing comes out of it. I still have a fish that Doron caught and cook it with potatoes and cauliflower in curry sauce.

Nov 5th – The owner of Turbulence sails and one of his riggers come to the boat to fix the roller furler which had some problem, I replace the ropes of the mainsail traveller and then motor to Whisper Cove marina, whose owner, Luke, came on the cruiser’s net to advertise a promotional deal in it. 50 dollars EC for the night, free electricity and Internet but what I need most is water, to fill the tanks and to wash the boat. After all, the lady of the house is coming tomorrow, so I better clean her up!
I am the sole visitor to the marina and get to tie along side. After washing the boat I am tempted to dine in their restaurant. The French ambiance is there, the fish soup reminds one of Paris or even Marseilles but there it stops…

Whispercove marina

Whispercove marina

The picture above is from the previous visit, i will only get my new camera when Gili arrives.

Nov 6th – Early in the morning I go out to sea in the hope of catching some fish trolling but although there were a few hits on the lure, what ever fish that did it quickly understood that it was a fake and broke away. No luck, have to change the lure! Back to Prickly bay and tidying up ship for the arrival of Gili. Hard work that never seems to accomplish your intentions. Dirt is creeping in from nowhere to contaminate a section you worked on feverishly for a long time and thought to be in perfect condition. Frustrating. On another front the outboard is again quitting at low power so I arrange with Spice Isle Marine to have it fixed tomorrow. Gili flies in at 8.30 pm, she does not remember where exactly her yacht is located and an Immigration officer comes out to find me and check that she is a Bona Fide traveller and not some international terrorist. Dinner at “De Big fish” followed by “The Big sleep”, both of us are very tired.

Nov 7th – We take the rented Suzuki jeep and tour the island. As I now have a camera I can share our impressions with all of you. First is the market, where we meet Big Mama who sells necklaces made of different herbs and spices.

Big Mama

Big Mama

Then the fish market and on to Concord Falls. The road that follows the western coast of Grenada is colourful, the dominant green foliage merges with the various colors of other plants, reds, yellows and those of the houses, some of which are painted in the hues of the national flag. It is also quite narrow and one has to concentrate and keep the left, that’s the side they drive on here, so as not to hit any oncoming vehicle, especially those minibuses that go like being driven by Michael Schumacher on one of his best career days. We reach the place you park the car to go to the falls. A “Mini fall” lies next to it for those who do not wish to exert themselves. A local man asks me if I know the way and when I request that he describe it he says “Follow the path, it is clear but you have to cross the river a few times”. Now I have good hiking shoes on but Gili, as is her habit, embarks on such excursions with a pair of flimsy sandals. At least she agrees to take a bamboo cane to help her along. At first the path is wide and comfortable, we investigate a tree with yellow fruit and cutting it find out that it is a nutmeg, the nut is enveloped in some red fibres and makes a lovely picture.

Path to Fall

Path to Fall

Nutmeg

Nutmeg

After a short time we come to our first river crossing and have to step from stone to stone, not always sure if the footing is solid.

A river to cross

A river to cross

The first time I slid and had my foot sink up to above the ankle was actually a blessing because immediately afterward each crossing became a child’s play, except of course some that required balancing on fallen trees, not my best point of sail… The path became narrower until it was not more than a foot wide and we had to be careful of pits covered by the thick vegetation.

Through the bush

Through the bush

After about 40 minutes we got to the fall and it was just great, absolutely worth the effort. A still picture does not do it justice, especially because you cannot hear the sound of the water.

Concord Fall

Concord Fall

Nov 8th – I persuaded Gili to go trolling before we enter our destination for the day, Egmont harbour. We sail fast to the 35 meters depth line, drop the mainsail so as not to go too fast, and lower the new lure into the water. We wait eagerly for the sound of (reel) music. I tell Gili that the best chance for fish is where the continental shelf drops of to the ocean deep water which here it is from 35 to over 100 meters. As the depth gauge shows 100 meters – the reels gives out a short screech, I check the rod – no, nothing. We go back and forth in that same area for about an hour, but no joy. I give up , turn the boat towards shore, raise the main and we sail at 7 knots to Egmont.
Now,when I do not expect anything and am the least ready for it – a fish is on, the rod bends as I try reeling it in, the boat goes too fast, the pressure exerted by the hooks on whatever they are stuck in must be immense – and sure enough, the fish escapes. But this has awakened the fishing fever in me and it is rewarded ten minutes later by a nice Barracuda. The jinx is broken and we will have fish for dinner.

Jinx broken

Jinx broken

We enter Egmont harbour by 1230. It is located at the end of a long bay, fringed with coral reefs and is entered through a narrow passage revealing an enclosed lagoon with mangroves all around. Big houses surround it and huge tractors are biting into the hills, preparing lots for more. We prefer looking on the green side of it, coconut and mangroves. I swim there and see many fish and also oysters! In the evening I throw a fishing line with calamary pieces into the water and am rewarded by a nice size fish.

Nov 9th – Today we are leaving Grenada and start going north. First point will be Tyrrel bay in Carriacou. It is about 35 miles away from where we are so an early departure is advisable. But first we need to fill our water tanks, because when ladies are on board the water consumption rises. This is done in Prickly Bay marina and then we are on our way. The lee of Grenada makes for flat seas, but when you reach the north tip of the island and are no longer protected by land the wind and waves get higher. We can just point our bows in the right direction and the boat does 7-8 knots with first reef. In between Grenada and Carriacou the are some islands, Isle de Ronde,  The Sisters and Kick ’em Jenny. This very name was also given to an underwater volcano located a bit to the west of the former. As we near the islands the wind freshens, the boat sails even faster – 9 knots, but behind us I can see a monohull overtaking. I don’t like being overtaken, especially not by a mono, however, this is not just a regular yacht. As she passes her length and graceful lines are apparent. She is at least 60 foot long and has a very tall mast. Right then a fish takes the lure, but the speed is too high and the fish is gone, leaving cruel teeth marks on our poor plastic lure.

                                

The overtaking mono

The overtaking mono

We enter Tyrrel bay, where a very large number of yachts of diverse kinds are at anchor and find a place by a Wharram Pahi on which a family with a big black dog reside.

Wharram's Pahi

Wharram's Pahi

Talking about Wharram Cats – you can say they are outdated, behind the times, uncomfortable, don’t perform well and so on and so forth but they are all over the world and get their owners everywhere in safety. Some of them are modified with all sorts of structures for crew accommodations, mostly sensible additions but some a bit strange to the eye.

Wharram conversion

Wharram conversion

A propos accommodations – we also noticed this Trimaran/boathouse in the bay.

Tyrrell bay

Tyrrell bay

In the evening we took the dinghy ashore with the intention of having dinner in a restaurant called “Twilight” that the guide gave a good review to. On the way there we passed the “Lambi Queen”, another eatery and it was full of people, yachtsmen as well as locals. The “Twilight” was empty so we did a 180 and took a table with the Queen. Right outside the place a few young guys with Bongos and some other types of drums where making music that soon had all of those present move with the rhythm. One local man, not a very young guy, was dancing,shuffling his feet in a way reminiscent of some old Jazz masters. This was not a gourmet peak but it was great fun. In the program there was a group of Reggae musicians and we eagerly waited for them to start playing. Unable to sit for so long we strolled along the main street and came back again to see them take their instruments and microphones. At that very moment the rain came and everybody gathered under the roof trying not to get wet. The band turned out to be some local youth effort and not exactly Reggae so the moment the rain stopped we ran to the dinghy. Finding “Two Oceans” in the dark (with two Caribs consumed) was challenging and after a few experiments in the wrong direction we found her where we left her. Not a surprise really…

Nov 10th – In the morning we took the dinghy to what the guide called the “mangrove swamp” on the north side of the bay. This is a protected, shallow, mangrove enclosed lagoon and yachts are not allowed in unless there is a Hurricane warning. This probably explains what we saw as we motored in.

Wreck

Wreck

Another one

Another two

Later a stroll in the village, some shopping  (got tomatoes!) and then to the boat to motor the short distance to Sandy island opposite Hillsborough, the capital of the island. Sandy island is a sliver of sand and some dead coral, not more than 200 meters long, on which some coconut trees are trying to grow. A few dead trees washed ashore make a convenient perch for the pelicans fishing the area. We come close to the small island shore, find a spot with sandy bottom and drop the anchor at 2.7 meters. We swim to the island and walk along it’s full length, going into the water at the eastern tip and snorkeling back to the boat. The finale were two of the most fantastic fish that were foraging for food right under our boat, the likes of which I also saw in Tobago Cays, those with the large “wings” they open when threatened, showing off their iridescent blue colour. They also use two hand like fins that they have to move sand and even stones to look for food.  Sorry, is this island for sale?

Sandy island

Sandy island

After lunch we motor to Hillsborough, check out of the country in order to go to Union island, Grenadines, which is part of St. Vincent. We are going to sneak into Petit Martinique, an island that is part of Grenada, tomorrow – but the guide says it is permissible. Just before dinner I do what Doron taught me and throw a line with calamary bait into the water. In twenty minutes we have two nice snappers, tomorrow’s dinner!

Snappers

Snappers

Nov 11th – As planed we went to Petit Martinique. Gili allowed me to tack against the wind since the distance to destination was something like 5 miles and we had a lot of time on our hands. Got to PM after enduring a rain shower and the look of the place wasn’t so inviting. On the other hand – Petit St. Vincent, a few hundred meters away looked great, with coconut palms on shore and areas of that special blue water near the shore. We saw a few catamarans there so we joined them, anchored, did some disappointing snorkeling and around midday made our way to Union Island, the entry port into St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The wind, as the forecast predicted was 20 knots, and we made the four miles in just half an hour. In Union the immigration officer asked me weather i heard about the “advanced reporting” required by the Caricom states. Of course I did, and my information was that it relevant only to ships of 100 gross tonnage or not applied at all. This is a new and annoying procedure, I am supposed to e-mail ahead of my arrival, filling some form on line, as if I am always connected to the web. Anyway, he let us go saying that we will need to do it on departure from St. Vincent (?).
Near us a neglected yacht is at anchor. On it’s jib boom a line of sea birds perch. Aren’t they just like a taxi line in the airport?

Taxi line

Taxi line

In the evening Gili grilled the fish you saw on the picture above and as always it was delicious!

Nov 12th – During the night the wind blew at 20 knots, but when morning came it went down to 15 and the cloud cover dissipated. We followed a charter catamaran through the southern entrance to Tobago Cays and anchored on the north side of Baradel, the eastern cay in the group. This was supposed to be the least crowded anchorage and truly, there were just the seven of us, all catamarans. After snorkeling and having lunch we turned to Salt Whistle bay in Mayreau, just 3 miles away for the night. Pretty and popular, judging by the number of boats anchored and more are coming as I write! I count 24 at this moment.

Mayreau

Mayreau

A boat boy approaches. “You want lobster?” “How much is it?” “25 EC a pound”. That sounds reasonable. I figure we want a two pound one. “What sizes do you have?” “I have 3, 4, 5 pounds” “OK, bring us a three pounder”. We end up buying a four pound beast and the vendor cuts the live animal and cleans it for us.

Lobster man

Lobster man

Trying to grill the big lobster turned out to be a problem and we had to put it into the oven thrice to have it cooked. But this was only the first disappointment. The second was the swell, no – waves, that kept rolling us all night to the sound of the howling wind and made sleep difficult.

Nov 13 – Come six o’clock we were eager to leave. In front of us 21.5 miles to Bequia. Out of the bay, we get the third disappointment in a row: the wind is practically on our nose and we have to motorsail. At least the conditions are good for trolling! The lure goes into the water and before we turn to do anything else we have a fish on the line! A nice yellowtail snapper that will make a meal for two. 20 minutes pass and there is a second hit. This time it’s a 78cm Kingfish and this one is a lot of meals so I stop fishing.

Catch of the day

Catch of the day

The going is quite rough, short waves make the boat pound and Gili is not feeling too well. As we pass the island of Canouan the wind changes direction slightly enabling us to sail 15 degrees to the left of track. It wasn’t fun but at 1045 we were in Admiralty bay Bequia. Cleaned the fish, the dinghy (blood in the bilge…) and at midday went to town. Mac’s pizza, the fruit market and back to the boat. The plan to go to Maria’s Internet Cafe in the evening were shelved by the rain. It did not stand in the way of the chef’s superb Chinese style fish in the oven, another success for Gili!
Bequia is a place  with a special appeal that you don’t always find elsewhere. What is it’s secret? The view in the bay? The secure anchorage? The congregation of yachts from all over the world? The people – like those guys in the fruit market, mostly Rastafarians or the boat vendors like Mr. MacArthur who comes to your boat in the morning and sells fresh bread? The combination of all this make Bequia a lovely place to visit and stay at.

Nov 14th – A “take it easy” day. Some jobs on the boat, a little shopping and the delayed Internet thing. After that we motor to Petit Nevis, a small island south of Bequia with good snorkeling.

Petit Nevis

Petit Nevis

We are alone here, at least for the first 45 minutes, the reefs are nice, we saw an octopus hiding in a hole covering the entrance with a stone as it saw us approaching, a lot of Flute fish and also a spotted Moray eel. We thought of staying the night at Friendship bay near by but it did not look so good with some swell going into it so we lazily unfurled the jib and sailed with the wind back to where we came from – Admiralty bay. On the way we notice what looks like an abandoned settlement – it turns out this is a place called Moonhole, the brainchild of some American architect. It sits at a fantastic location on the southwestern tip of the bay. From the south the dramatic wooded and almost vertical cliff looks a bit like a whale.

Whale

Whale

Back in Admiralty bay I point out to Gili a big cloud, a Cumolonimbus coming from the east. “This can make some rain” I say. Our attention is momentarily taken by a formation of three Rays passing right by our boat. A snorkeler on their way practically jumps out of the water and then dives trying to follow them. Meanwhile the cloud is getting nearer, shreds of it are racing over the hill at incredible speed. I close all hatches and bring the cockpit mattresses in just as the first drops and the wind hit us. And what wind! In seconds it is 28 knots, the water is turned into  foam and visibility is reduced to less than 50 meters. The anchor holds, the boats all over the place turn 120 degrees to the right with the new wind direction and it splashes! Huge amounts of water come down for at least 30 minutes. Amazingly some people are still swimming, including a guy from a German boat who is snorkeling in the nude.

Nov 15th – We are leaving Bequia for the Blue Lagoon in St. Vincent. The wind takes us to Young Island Cut, another anchorage to the west of the lagoon. On paper the lagoon looks better but when we get close to the Cut we are almost tempted to stay there. It is simply very attractive.

Island cut

Island cut

Blue lagoon

Blue lagoon

Yachts are on moorings between Young Island with the posh hotel on it and the shore, on which many restaurants are located. The Blue Lagoon is entered through a break in the reef and is full of boats on moorings. Less attractive,perhaps, but seems to be better protected and we will be able to fill up our water tanks at the marina.

The marina office people help us arrange a car rental, Geoffrey brings a Toyota Rav 4 in which we hope to tour the island tomorrow. But first we go to the Sunrise supermarket near the airport to stock up. It turns out to be a modern shop with excellent variety of goods. Then back to the boat for Kingfish in papaya salsa dinner. EXCELLENT!

Nov 16th – Two places stand out in the Doyle guide regarding touring St. Vincent. The first is the Soufriere volcano and the other is Montreal Gardens. Before leaving the boat I contemplate the idea of taking the “Leatherman” tool with me and decide to take it, who knows – I may have to peel some fruit. We  enter the car, key in the ignition – it does not start. Quick consultation with Geoffrey brings forth the possibility that the battery lugs are not bolted tight enough. Opening the hood confirms this and the Leatherman goes into action. We start the small jeep and go. First station – the gardens. We drive through villages and agricultural areas where you can see a lot of poverty, it is apparent in the clothes people wear, in the condition of many houses and in the many out of work youth idling around, doing nothing. At least no one can be hungry – food grows on trees and in the rich soil.
The road to the gardens is very narrow, local minibuses – taxis – with extravagant names printed on them, roaring by, passing us at great speed. The road signs are not bad but the one splitting from the “main road” to the gardens doesn’t seem to go anywhere, perhaps just into some fields. Luckily a jeep goes into it and we follow. After a few minutes we reach the gate and enter another world. Somebody put in a lot of work and effort and what you see is a beautiful garden with all the endemic flora and it looks so natural!

Garden

Garden

The colours and variety are really astounding,big towering trees and small plant and ferns. Some are so delicate, looking like an embroidery.

Natural embroidery

Natural embroidery

Next is the volcano. We drive through Georgetown to Rabacca where a sign leads you towards the mountain, passing banana orchards. There are no clear signs, but we keep going straight and finally get to the starting point, the beginning of the trail. Two guys are sitting there and a van is parked. They identify themselves as sort of caretakers for the site. “How long is the way?” I ask. “Two and a half hours” says one of them. “Each way?” His answer is not very clear, he is saying that the way down is quicker and that at any rate we should be able to do it with no problem and without the need of a guide. The time is 1110 as we start walking the trail. It leads through the rain forest and it is well tended to, fallen trees are cut and pushed aside, “stairs” made of earth and bamboos or sometimes rocks help you when it becomes steep. At many points the path, about a foot wide, is on top of a very narrow hilltop and it seems that the incline on each side is almost vertical! You don’t want to lose your balance! The vegetation is lush and you see all kinds of trees from palms to bamboos, exotic hardwoods, fern and parasites attaching themselves to other trees. I feel the need for a walking cane, but there was a sign at the entrance urging not to cut any bamboo. I overcome this by using some fallen down bamboos that we encountered en-route and again the Leatherman came in handy! Walking stick is essential for trips like this, it is almost like a third leg.

Trail to Volcano

Trail to Volcano

We go on climbing and after about one hour we meet a group coming down. “How long will it take me to get to the top?” I ask their guide. He is a nice looking young man, he considers the question:”With your pace, it’ll take you one and a half, two hours”. One of the group says:”Relax, he is pulling your leg” and tells us that they estimate it to be another 45 minutes. They also instruct us on a point in the way that can mislead us and get us stick in some gorge.
They tell us that some of their friends are still there and we are sure to meet them on their way down. We go on climbing. The mountain is shrouded in thick cloud, we cannot see the top. We get to the problematic location they mentioned, a lava flow, rocks smoothed by water, leading down into the forest and up into the bush. We thought they said we needed to follow this on the right but can see no path. On the left a sort of trail goes up, full of stones and mud. Is this the right one? I can see some evidence of human presence there. Some footprints, some candy wrappers and a few old shoes and sandals. Is this all that was left of those who chose this path?
And where is the group that is on the way down? Doubts enter our minds. We are already two hours on our way. We decide to give it 15 more minutes, when those have passed we are pushed further by the thought that it will be terrible to give up now that we are so close. Then euphoria sets in as I notice people ahead. They are right at the top, on the edge of the crater, they are the friends  of the people we met an hour ago. The problem with viewing the crater is that the cloud cover makes it impossible most of the time. We are rewarded for our efforts and it is visible for quite a long time. It is breath taking (in more than one way) huge, has a lake inside and is very steep.

Crater

Crater

Crater

Crater

The group guide takes our picture and I am not ashamed to say that it shows our pride and happiness of achieving this goal.

On top

On top

And now for the way down… To cut a long story short, this took another hour and forty five minutes, most of it in continuous heavy rain that had us stop caring about getting wet, we were simply soaked! A long, long trek, almost four hours and it was physically difficult, the crater is at 3000 feet and I suppose we started at about 500 feet. At times we had to stop and let our legs muscles rest, but still it was worth every minute and all the effort. Really one of the most beautiful sites we ever saw. I would advise taking a local guide for it. We were that close to despairing and turning back! A guide will make sure you get there in safety. Also, as the Doyle guide suggests, take some light rain jacket and enough water and some snacks!
Back at the boat Gili’s first concern is food. We had nothing since breakfast and it was already five pm. In twenty minutes she makes dinner, I am in charge of happy hour stuff and all is well.

Nov 17th – We woke up in the morning feeling yesterday’s hike – aching feet! Went into the marina for water and then, after a short battle with the wind that tried to push us onto the boats next to us we went out. An enormous black cloud is following our wake and telling us not to set anything over second reef. The wind is from behind, the sea flat so when a gust of 25 knots hit us the boat, with no stress whatsoever, surges forward, the speed instrument reaching 13 knots. I am quite sure it over reads but we were sailing really fast. And of course it was raining…
We thought about anchoring for lunch in Buccament bay but found ourselves going on the two miles or so to Wallilabou, out of which we plan to check out of the country.

Wallilabu

Wallilabu

The little bay is beautiful, but the restaurant and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” paraphernalia are in a bad state of
repair. A sign on the restaurant says they are sorry for this condition as they are preparing for the new season. A bit too late in my view, but then perhaps they had some hurricane damage lately.
Tomorrow we are leaving for St. Lucia. The forecast is NE 15 knots, waves 5-7 feet. Let’s see how this turns out!

Nov 18th – Bye, Bye, Wallilabou and St. Vincent! At eight o’clock we leave the place and set course towards La Soufriere town in St. Lucia a distance of 37 miles. The guide book says:”The passage between St. Vincent and St. Lucia can be hard on the wind and hard on the body”. Gili is preparing herself for the worst. At first we can only motorsail and the guide’s warning is understood when we encounter short waves on the nose. But as we approach the northern tip of the island the wind veers allowing us to unfurl the jib, shut down the engines and sail. The going is not too bad despite the annoying waves and spirits rise when a big group of dolphins stop their breakfast and join us for a few minutes. When St. Vincent is ten miles astern the seas abate, the wind goes down and enables us to go back to first reef from second. Our average speed is about 7 knots over the ground. Looking around I spot a monohull closing on us. It’s the same one we saw between Grenada and Carriacou.  We pass the Pitons, impressive not so much for their hight but for being so steep.

The Piton

The Piton

At 1430 we tie up on a mooring in Soufriere, aided by a boat-boy  impersonating a SMMA worker (that’s the agency regulating the marine operations in the area), he gets his 10 dollars EC and goes away.

Quickly completing the Customs and Immigration procedure, we turn back south to Harmony Beach. Ben sends his children in a pirouge to moor us and take the order for dinner. They will pick us up at 1915 “That’s my father’s policy” says the kid. So be it!

Ben's kids

Ben's kids

So we swim a little, have a beer and just relax, laughing as we watch our German neighbours baring their pink behinds for all to see. This is not Croatia, guys!

Asses

Asses

Nov 19th – Thought of going to Marigot bay for the night. It is supposed to be a beautiful bay. We came in slowly, trying to decide where to anchor, but the bay is now full of moorings. O.K, we’ll take one. A gentleman named Nash takes our lines and 20 U.S and we sit there, feeling unhappy about the place. Too many businesses, too much noise and too close to the boat on the mooring by us.

So what if we paid the 20? Is this a good reason to ruin the rest of the day and night ahead? We untie, exit the bay and motor 2.5 miles to the south, to Anse Cochon. Nice, quiet place (when the day tripper catamaran will leave), Internet connection from the near by hotel and a good reef to snorkel. We saw many nice fish, Flounder type ones, trumpet fish, the fish with the big wings (which we found the name of – it is the Flying Gunard) and many more. Good decision!

Cochon bay

Cochon bay

Nov 20th – No rush to go anywhere, that’s perhaps the right way to cruise, we got up in the morning, had a leisurely breakfast and then went snorkeling. Immediately below the boat a Flying Gunard awaits as if for inspection, a little bit to the side on a patch of grass a turtle grazes and from seaward comes a big Ray. I dive and swim by it’s side for a few seconds. Fishermen are passing by on their small boats which look like they were constructed on top of a shaped log. They are five on each boat and it seems that their method is placing the net in the water and having one of them dive and frighten the fish into it.

Fishermen

Fishermen

Later, we sail out, again – trying unsuccessfully to troll for fish. Our destination today is Vigie, a part of Castries, the island capital. We are going there because it is right near the airport and Gili is flying tomorrow back home. We try to anchor but the anchor does not dig in, it seems the bottom is small stones by the feel of the dragging chain. Guys working on a nearby day charter catamaran show us a mooring we can tie the boat to and we are comfortably set.
On shore we go to Castries which is closing down for the day because four pm has passed. We can still buy some fruits and vegetables in the picturesque local market. Look at this fishmonger wearing so much silverware!

Fishmonger

Fishmonger

The work tool of choice in the islands for almost all trades is the machete, used here in the fish business.

Machette

Machette

This lovely lady sold me honey in a Campari bottle.

Honey lady

Honey lady

Colourful place, Castries. In Vigie, right where we are moored, two of St. Lucia’s best restaurants are located. We choose the “Coal Pot” for our goodbye Gili dinner and it is excellent, every item of the meal, the decor and the service was simply perfect. A bit expensive, of course…

Nov 21st – Gili flew away and I was left to take care of a fridge problem that just came up. Is there any refrigeration technician in Castries? Matthieu, the skipper of the sportfishing boat on the dock near us knows one. He takes my cellphone and dials a number. “Hey Prudence! Did I wake you up, man?” Prudence says he is on his way to our location anyway and will be on the dock in 10, 15 minutes. When 45 has passed I call him again – no reply. I try again 15 minutes later and he answers. “Oh, man, I forgot I had a meeting at nine, I’ll come to you around noon”.
At 1215 I spot a guy waving from the dock. Prudence is here! He is about 30 years of age, sports short dreadlocks and a lot of gold jewellery. He works for about an hour and seems to know what he is doing. He recharges the fridge system with refrigerant gas (this was also done last May, so that’s not good news, there may be a leak) and departs.
At 1330 I leave Vigie and go back to Soufriere where my son and his family will join the boat for four days. Motoring all the way for lack of significant wind and also to charge the batteries, I get there a little before four pm. This time I tie to a mooring on the northern side of the bay, near tree covered cliffs and quite close to shore. This is a marine nature reserve and the reef in it, a thing I am quick to explore, is quite nice.

Soufriere mooring

Soufriere mooring

Even though the real chef flew home, I still have a good curried snapper and go to bed early.

Nov 22nd – I marvel at the names people give their boats! Here in St. Lucia I saw some interesting examples. I am going to open a special section on the site for boat names. Here is one.

Name

Name

Went to town to do some shopping. I am not accustomed to having a lot of people on board and now I need to plan for six hungry mouths. I arranged a taxi to meet them at the airport and a water taxi to bring them to the boat and sit waiting for their arrival. From time to time I scan the dock and at 5 pm I see them coming. I am very happy to have them aboard but will confess that there are also some fears regarding the safety of the little ones, Hadar – 9 years of age and Ido the energetic 6 years young man, who, true to his nature, immediately starts speeding about the boat making his grandpa think of hospitals and broken bones. When he is not running around like Speedy Gonezales he sits by the small DVD screen and watches a movie called “Transformers” which in his grandpa’s view should have been outlawed long ago, taking part in the action by making his version of the soundtrack. Yuval, the 14 years old young lady is no worry in the safety department, but her parents fear that she may suffer from motion sickness.
                                                  

                                                                         

Ido

Ido

Hadar

Hadar

Yuval

Yuval

Nov 23rd – My daughter, Yael, and her partner,Nir, are joining us today. As the boat is full they will stay in a resort in Marigot bay.  We sail to Marigot bay to wait for them and on the way we try trolling. Ido is impatient for a fish and is very unhappy when none is caught. He sulks in the cockpit and falls asleep with his face showing his emotions.

Unhappy

Unhappy

In Marigot we anchor to the north of the channel and in the evening dinghy to the resort’s restaurant, “Doolittle”, to await their arrival. They come tired after a five hours delay courtesy of Virgin Airlines but all is forgotten in the happy moment of reunion.

Nov 24th – Back to Soufriere, and then to the mooring between the Pitons, near the Jalousy resort. Helicopters keep flying in guests and no wonder, because the resort is situated in one of the most beautiful locations in the Caribbean. We try our hand at fishing, I do is eager to see a fish caught. We catch a small grouper and return it to the sea. Then a Spotted Moray Eel takes the bait and wraps itself around the line in a way that makes it impossible to free it. Regretfully I have to kill it. Another try and another Eel! I decide to stop fishing.

Nov 25th – I thought it would be nice to do a trip to the island’s interior. We arrange a van with a driver from Ben, the taxy driver the guide book recommends. Near Soufriere there is a nice botanical garden, a gentleman named Alexander (the great – he adds) leads us enthusiastically through it.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

In the same area there is a fall and some sulfur spring. Our driver says this will take two hours but after forty minutes we are back at the gate and can continue to the rain forest trail. A 40 minutes walk in the forest and then we are back on the road to Sofriere. As we come back we see that the wind has risen considerably, maximum gust was 28 knots. I decide to motor north towards Marigot bay and if the anchorage in Anse Cochon will be calm, we’ll stop fpr a bit of snorkeling.
Out of Soufriere I mouth the thought:”Why don’t we try to fish?”. Ido, although satisfied with the catch of the evening before, will be extatic if he sees a fish caught trolling. I release the lure, set up the switch that makes the buzzing sound alerting you when a fish is on and before I turn back to enter the cockpit the reel spins out furiously. It takes a few second to understand that a fish or something else has snatched our lure! We adjust speed and I start reeling in. If it’s a fish – it is a big one, the pressure on the rod is great. Slowly the line comes in, first we see a blueish smudge in the water and then the fish appears. It is a Wahoo! The first time I catch one and it is BIG. It also is strong and tries to escape. It is too heavy to lift with the fishing line and we have to use the gaff. Nir tries but lack of experience does not help him accomplish the feat. We change roles, he holds the rod a I bring the fish into the dinghy. A splash of whiskey on his gills and my celebrating mouth and we both relax. What a fish! 120 cm, very nearly the size of Ido, who during all the operation, together with Hadar, watch the operation enthusiastically.

Wahoo

Wahoo

As big as Ido

As big as Ido

Anse Cochon is calm and while the kids are in the water I start taking care of the fish, cleaning and slicing it into steaks. An hour passes and I am only third of the way to completing the job. We have to go on to Marigot. Both engines forward we join the multitude of boats seeking the shelter and beauty of the place. As we enter we can see that the place we anchored at before is taken. I try dropping the anchor a bit further ahead but it bring us too close to the catamaran that was behind. “Let’s take her to a mooring” I say and we start bringing the anchor up. I can feel the windlass is having a hard time and then Nithai says:”We snagged something”. I rush to the foredeck, and yes, we brought up an old engine that was probably used as a mooring base. It took a few minutes and some hard work of the crew to break free and then into the inner bay we went, took up a mooring and sat down to prepare for dinner. The fish was great, accompanied by white wine that surprisingly we found in a Soufriere supermarket –  Sauvignon Blanc by the Two Oceans winery in Capetown…

Nov 26th – My son and his family are leaving today. It was great having them on board and being with them for a while. They live in the US and I don’t see them enough.

Yael and Galit

Yael and Galit

Nithai

Nithai

Nir

Nir

Now it’s Yael, Nir and myself on board and we go out of Marigot bay to motor to Rodney bay where I hope to fix my mainsail headboard car that causes the main to get stuck up the mast sometimes. On the way we pass the entrance to Castries harbour where a huge passenger ship, the Queen Mary 3 is anchored. I remember that when I was here in May the QE 2 was at the same place. We decide to anchore out in the bay and not to enter the lagoon. The holding is better, the water clearer and it is quieter. A few minutes after we anchor a dinghy from the yacht to our left with two guys in it approaches. “You are American so you must know everything” says one of them with a smile, mislead by the American flag we carry. I explain that the boat is registered in the US and that we are from Israel so we also “know everything”.
They are looking for a golf course! Do we know any around? I invite them aboard and together we look at the St. Lucia map that I got at the tourist information bureau. We actually find one very close to the bay and keep on talking about golf, sailing and life in general. After a while I apologise for not having any beer on board and then they say that they have so much left and that since they are leaving tomorrow it will be left on the charter boat. So do we want some? Well… Why not? One of them takes their dinghy to the yacht and comes back with a case of Heineken! Yael, meanwhile has taken out the wine bottles and we sit there, drinking with people who were total strangers just a few minutes ago, having a lively conversation and good time!

I wanted to give them something to reciprocate for the beer and Yael comes up with the idea:”Give them some fish!” We have so much in the freezer and I gladly give them enough Wahoo steaks for their dinner.

Nov 27th – A relaxed day in Rodney Bay. Started with big rain that intertwined with the dream I had at the same time so it took me too long to wake up and close the hatch. Later some shopping, trying to get professional help from the “Sail Loft” regarding my mainsail that will not drop down readily and concluding with a curried Wahoo dinner that was really good!

Nov 28th – At 0700 I brought Kenny from the Sail Loft to check the problem with the mainsail. He confirmed my suspicions, namely that the headboard car lost a few balls, like those in a ball bearing.  It is a French product so he guesses I will be able to fix it in Martinique. We went out sailing trying to get some fish trolling but didn’t get anything. Back to Rodney bay, relaxing, snorkeling and just having a good time.

Dutch

Dutch

Nov 29th – The day started just as the one before it. After an unsuccessful “Fishing Trip” we decided to have a brunch in the marina. Sitting there for a long time waiting for our sandwiches and salad we were treated to a fashion show, probably a model school exercise. About eight (I didn’t really count) beautiful, super long legged girls were doing the funny model walk in their super high heeled shoes on the dock, stopping from time to time to give that special pose and look that is supposed to appeal to fashion consumers. After that we decided on an afternoon nap. This proved to be difficult due to the numerous jetskis roaring close to our boat all the time. At a certain moment, just as I was dosing off, a strange sound was heard and simultaneously a strong vibration resembling a dragging anchor chain but on a huge scale. I jumped out and saw nothing, still the noise and vibration persisted for quite a long time, the boat was really shaking and then it downed on me that we are experiencing an earth quake. The second thought was:”Tsunami!” So what do you do? I opened the VHF and there was some talk between yachts about it. A woman said she was near a building that seemed to explode but didn’t. I took a quick decision, started the engines, raised the anchor and motored out of the bay. The port engine is having a difficult time revving up so I shut it down and the starboard one took us out. Later i tried it in neutral and it seemed fine, maybe we caught something on the prop. Although the possibility of a Tsunami was very remote, I didn’t want to take any chances. We went out for 40 minutes using the opportunity to troll for fish and then came back empty handed. Never mind, we have some chicken breast in the freezer. Anchored again, dived to look at the prop – nothing there. Interesting! We’ll check it out tomorrow. From the web (which we get here in the bay, courtesy of Bay Garden Hotel) we learned that it was 7.4 on the Richter scale, centered near Dominica and that no casualties were reported. An awesome experience!
With beautiful sunset we have some Rum punches and I initiate Nir in the working of the rod and reel we use in anchorages. The first time he takes the rod he bring in a small but still a plate size Jack, the second throw – a good size snapper and then another one! In the matter of fishing both of us, grown men, are just like the six years old Ido, enthusing every time a fish bite is felt…
It seems the Rum punch made us forget to take the chicken out of the freezer so we had baked fish in soy sauce and ginger instead. Yummy!

Nir's fish

Nir's fish

Nov 30th – Diving again to check the port prop and it is absolutely clean. I start the engine, try it again in gear and it does not give enough power. It occurs to me to check the gear oil and when I open the cap the oil oozes out like it’s overfilled. I don’t see any evidence of water ingress so I wipe it clean and step out to take stock of the situation. I am simply at loss as to what the cause of this problem could be. This is obviously the time to bring in an expert. I dinghy to the boatyard and the lady in the office directs me to Elvis, who sends Roger, his diesel engines wizard, with me to the boat. Roger checks the engine in gear and out and then goes on to dismantle some parts of the transmission and takes them to the shop to be repaired. He says this is a problem he sees a lot with these drives and is confident he can fix it. It is 11 am and he tells me to come and meet him at 1 pm. If all is well we may still keep to our plans for the day, namely – Fill water in Marigot and go to Soufriere to meet Nir’s brother and his wife who arrive in the evening from Florida.
One o’clock sharp I met Roger who now brought an assistant, Silvester, to the boat. He put the drive back together again, we started the engine, put it into gear and – the RPM did not improve at all… Roger is sweating, it is hot in the engine room, or is it something else? He decides to replace the Racor filter and the engine fuel filter – still no good. After a lot of head scratching he admits defeat and suggest that I do it in Martinique. I take them back to shore, a short discussion about how much I should pay for a job not accomplished ensues but concluded amicably. After all, he changed some filters and also tightened some belts for me. All in all a big disappointment.
We are still operational, though, and go out towards Marigot, it’s water pipe and the restaurant Chateau Mygot, in hich we decided to have dinner. A bit overpriced at 50 US per person, food was good, ribs and fries were good, fish combo tasty but a small portion and it is “Happy Hour” all day.

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