Sunday, January 19, 2014

Martinique to St. Lucia

We spent a few days more in Martinique.... during which time our outboard quit on us, but we found we were in a perfect spot (Le Marin) to get it fixed. Our friends on s/v Chill very kindly altered their plans in order to give Skip a tow in with the dinghy so Pierre Marie, outboard fixer extraordinaire, could get his hands on it. He took on the job of cleaning our carburetor after his morning cigarette and beer break, and 60 euros (about $80 US) and a few hours later the outboard was as good as new. 

Yole Ronde boat practicing in Le Marin
We anchored in about the same spot in Le Marin we'd anchored before, but as it turned out, not a good spot at all. There's always a concern about what you can't see on the bottom in an anchorage where the water is murky and this time we hooked a massive chain concealed by the murk. 

I was able to raise the anchor far enough for Skip to pass a line through the offending chain, then tie off the ends of the line on cleats on either side of the foredeck. Once the line was secured, I lowered the anchor so it could slip free of the snagged chain. Once Skip got back to the helm, I let one end of our line go and the chain dropped back onto the bottom to lie in wait for the next unlucky boat. Back we went to the relatively clear water of St. Anne for the night before sailing for St. Lucia in the morning.

St Anne full of boats
Approaching St Lucia
We cleared into St Lucia in Rodney Bay and did our usual dinghy around to try to familiarize ourselves with the place. Not that we expected anything one way or the other about Rodney Bay.... but somehow we didn't expect quite what we found it to be. The mile long bay is home to several resorts, including a Sandals Resort (read: constant jet ski traffic) and about half way along the beach there's a narrow channel into the marina complex that's full of shops and restaurants catering to the boating crowd. At a far corner of the marina there's a tucked away dinghy dock where a cheerful young guy named Michael, will keep an eye on your dinghy and will happily accept 5 EC (less than $2 US) for his services. 

From Michael's dinghy dock it's just a walk down a narrow path out into.... as one person we met described it... "Disney Land". There are malls, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and more shops targeting both the boating crowd and the resort crowd. I'll admit I was glad for the huge supermarket where we stocked up, but the excess here was a bit much in contrast to the general poverty of the island. 

We were also glad for the big hardware store by the marina. We brought some Sunbrella with us and have been planning a remake of our sail cover but are still collecting a few odds and ends we need for the project. Johnson's Hardware, just outside the marina had the final pieces we need for it. Don't hold your breath for the sail cover blog... there's lots of measuring still to do and my confidence is still a little wobbly from the recent narrowly avoided botch job I managed while sewing the final piece of our sunshade for the cockpit. Besides I keep promising a centerboard blog and haven't even gotten to that yet. 

Walking around the marina grounds we saw this little guy named "Snow".... certainly the only snow St Lucians will see down here.
Having had enough of Disney Land we hightailed it back to the boat and went for a hike in nearby Pigeon Island Park. No longer an island, since the distance between Pigeon Island and the mainland was filled in (and a Sandals Resort plunked down at the mainland end of it) there's a short but fairly vertical hike up to Fort Rodney on one side of Pigeon Island and short and even more vertical hike to Signal Hill on the other. Nice views from the top though.

View of Rodney Bay from Signal Hill... Saralane is the second boat up from the bottom in the center.
We met some new people in the anchorage, and as in most places it would have been easy to stay on longer and get more connected to the people and the place, but we're focused lately on getting south so after a few days we moved along. I wanted to check out the outdoor market in Castries but when we arrived there were three giant cruise ships in the harbor and mobs of cruise shippers flooding the marketplace. There also wasn't any apparent place to take the dinghy in because the local guys had come in their boats to sell their goods from the waterfront. 

The crowds beginning to collect on the waterfront
Here are a few shots of the floating cities we came across in the Castries harbor. The guys cleaning/painting the rust around the anchor opening (top R) are visible in the photo of the whole ship too (top L). You'll have to look closely to see them but it gives a pretty good sense of the size of the ship.

Passengers off three cruise ships filled up Castries market in a hurry
Passing the Hess Oil storage tanks on our way from Castries to Marigot Bay
We opted to go into Marigot Bay for the night and were met by a boat boy who offered to help us tie up to a mooring ball but was respectful of our decision to anchor instead. A basket vendor came by before we even got the anchor down and gave us helpful info about the depth ahead and chatted with us for a bit even though we declined to buy one of his baskets. 

There are as many good and bad stories about the boat boys down island as there are sailors who encounter them but our experiences to this point have been pretty positive. Some are more persistent than others (including one here whose boat name is 'Persistence') but it's a two way relationship and mutual respect has been the basis of each encounter for us so far. Granted, we're not that far south yet and some of the rougher stories are from farther down, but we're optimistic. The fruit and veggie vendors almost always have something we'd like so we're usually glad to see them come by and they'll often stay and chat for a while.

This guy sat on our bow rail and kept an eye on our friends Simon & Hilda's boat Brisa anchored just ahead of us
Marigot Bay is a snug little harbor that grew up around a charter boat fleet but seems to have declined since the charter operation moved up to Rodney Bay (see: Disney Land). The channel into the bay here is deeper than Rodney Bay's and that's attracted some mega yachts into the small marina. Unfortunately while we've been here there's been ongoing work in the marina to fix some sort of pipeline break and even through the weekend the constant sound of jackhammering echoed out into the anchorage. I imagine the people on the fancy yachts or the people who paid big bucks to stay at the swanky resort abutting the marina aren't too happy about it.

We walked around a bit and wandered up to a small B&B called Mango Beach Inn where we lucked into meeting Judith who owns the place. She pointed the way to a killer hike up to the ridge line and gave us the scoop on where to avoid along the small beach. Apparently a few drug dealers on the beach are getting pretty bold and are known to take phone orders from arriving yachts. Pretty bold indeed. 

Judith saw our flip flops and said "You'll want to wear proper shoes though... it's a bit steep." That was a bit of an understatement...

At the top, the meditation platform. Skip suggested the addition of a defibrillator to the platform.
From up here that 200 ft super yacht in the upper corner of the marina looks pretty small.
Love the home made trail signs
Hot and sweaty we worked our way back down the loop trail that comes out in the Oasis Resort and wondered how the resort guests handled the steep hills and hundreds of steps around the resort. Then we came across this.... the do-it-yourself incline plane car. It looked a little shaky to me and I decided that even with two broken legs I'd still rather take the stairs than ride this mini DIY cable car. 

Mini cable car - with appropriate "caution" sign. 
The sound that defines the bigger Caribbean anchorages at night is a criminally loud, hard, aggressive mash up of abused reggae, rap and club music, sometimes with a DJ interrupting with laughter and unintelligible chatter. The source of the music is often an almost empty bar which makes the whole thing a bit confusing, though I suppose conversation anywhere near the bar would be impossible so the empty bar makes sense. The music often goes on until 3 or 4 in the morning and I have a hard time shutting it out. Tonight here in Marigot Bay all I hear is insects chirping, waves washing against the shoreline and wind in the rigging. We'll stay here for another peaceful night or two and then.... south again.


Cindy B. said...

Nice photo of the two of you together. Maddie and Skip in the same picture....good! You do look like you have entered a busy part of the islands. May you find more peaceful anchorages as you head further south. Note to self: Do not leave cufflink backs exposed to the air for a long time because they TARNISH....badly.

Miles said...

Man. We need to get the comment section fired up. I think everyone is probably disappointed about the lack of a centerboard blog. It's 14 degrees here...

Dana Greyson said...

You didn't look NEAR sweaty enough on that platform! Dana and I did that hike and I thought I was gunna drown myself in my own sweat. lol, nice to hear from ya again. Be safe down there.

Wayne & Dana

Dana Greyson said...

BTW, gotta echo Miles comment.... STILL waiting for a centerboard blog. :)

Miles said...

cen-ter-board, cen-ter-board, cen-ter-board.... Ok. I'm done.

Skip said...

For Miles & Wayne (aka Dana): A centreboard (UK) or centerboard (US) is a retractable keel which pivots out of a slot in the hull of a sailboat, known as a centreboard trunk (UK) or centerboard case (US). The retractability allows the centreboard to be raised to operate in shallow waters, to move the centre of lateral resistance (offsetting changes to the sailplan that move the centre of effort aft), to reduce drag when the full area of the centreboard is not needed, or when removing the boat from the water as when trailering. In a case that the centreboard consists of just a pivoting metal plate it is called a centerplate. A daggerboard is similar but slides vertically rather than pivoting.

We're working on it.

Miles said...

So instead of actually doing the centerboard blog post, you choose to insult our collective intelligence... nice

s/v Skylark said...

Love the photo of you two together. We miss you guys. s/v Skylark

Eliza said...

The puppy is sooo cute!! I'm sure Scarlet wouldn't mind having a new friend if you brought Snow to RI.

Fletcher Bonsaint said...

Thanks for compiling this list. Great to read about others enjoying the cruising life. I have begun creating my own list of great sailing blogs and bloggers; some of which are on your list as well.

Location Voilier Guadeloupe