St Lucia: Life in the Caribbean

P1000620.JPGThe welcome from the ARC team and the local tourist board was lovely. We spent the first day recovering from drinking the rum into the morning, sorting out KS after 25 days at sea and clearing into St Lucia with ARC marina and emigration. Matt had timed his arrival to perfection, Alice arrived at 7pm meaning Matt now had an air conditioned room with fully sprung mattress waiting for him. Myself Geoff and Gav just opened the hatches and after dinner at 4pm had an early night.

Friday 15th was our first full day in St Lucia and it was the first time we realised that although the weather is always hot it often rains. Heavy sudden downpours that will saturate a boat if the window is left open and drench a person in the 5 minutes of rain. The plus side is that as soon as the rain stops the sun comes out and most things dry quickly. P1000579.JPGWe had been following the crew of NoStress and they were due in mid-afternoon. This meant they had missed the finish line, but we were determined to give them a big welcome. We had learnt only a couple of days prior that they had engine problems and were going to need assistance into the marina. When Nick and his crew arrived, opposite KS on the same pontoon, they were visibly relieved and pretty exhausted. We spent the rest of the day chatting and exchanging Atlantic tales with the NoStress team, while drinking buckets of beer.

By the time Saturday 16th arrived we knew our bedding was in dire need of washing so we stripped all the beds and took the bags to Suds Laundry. They promised to wash and dry everything and bring it back by 3pm. We walked to the supermarket and then onto matt and alices apartment. It was heaven being in an air conditioned and with stable WiFi, neither of which were available at the marina. gopr0545_moment2.jpgWe walked on to the beach where we had a lovely swim in the warm Caribbean Sea with Matt and Alice. We ate lunch at spinnakers a famous restaurant and bar frequented by yachters from all over the globe. Sure enough the washing came back at 3pm, just before we dressed for the prize giving ceremony at 4;30.

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Cheers Gav

We all met and the ARC team supplied a never ending supply of local rum punch. Needless to say after 4 weeks of no alcohol it took just a few rums and team KS were happy chatty and in Gav’s words became ‘tired and emotional’. We had great fun, Nick on the drums, dancing and exchanging Atlantic tales with lots of different yacht crews.

20171216_190916We decided that matt and Alice although a 25 min walk away it  only 5 minutes in the tender so spent the following morning pumping up the tender and testing the engine. We motored to see them and were able to tie up securely at their apartment block. This tender was to have lots of use over the next week. We spent the afternoon having a few beers with Nick, Des Paul and Cath from No Stress, Cath is Des wife who didn’t sail the Atlantic but had been in St Lucia 6 days waiting for his arrival. img_3368.jpgAs Christmas was approaching, the marina had put on Christmas carols singer on the boardwalk. We joined in with the singing, this felt very odd under palm trees and  in sunshine at 28C.

Monday saw the beginning of a working week and Regis Marine called in to check our malfunctioning chart plotter. Luckily it failed and John from Regis said due to our situation, ie sailing to Columbia on 6th Jan he would get a new replacement shipped in. The shipping process was as complicated as the arrival process with Geoff having to be in St Lucia when it arrives. This did put pay to our plans to go to Martinique for a couple of days.

Matt and Alice decided to visit Pigeon island on Tuesday 19th this is a national park and inside is a fort built the British to protect the island from the French. In fact, the Island changed hands 14 times during its history before finally gaining independence 22nd February 1979. After giving us the remaining food from Nostress we said a sad farewell to Nick, then caught a taxi and joined Matt and Alice for a tasty Roti lunch with on Pigeon Island.

 

IMG_3384A Roti is a traditional Caribbean food best described as fish or meat curry with potato, wrapped in a type of pancake. By the time we had arrived they had already climbed to the highest peak so they left after lunch. Geoff and I decided that one peak was sufficient especially in flip flops and the heat. The views across the island was amazing and Matt and Alice’s were even better.

Des and Cath from NoStress had decided to extend their Caribbean holiday so we invited them to join us on KS on Wednesday 20th Dec to see the Pitons, famous vocalic plugs. We motor sailed to Soufriere Bay and payed a boat boy to help us find a pick-up buoy. We didn’t have long here so decided not to go ashore but we did all agree that a swim and snorkel was not to be missed.

The water was clear and warm, and much fun was had by all. After lunch we motored back getting caught in the now daily but not particularly heavy rain squall. Matt and Alice left the following day, as the taxi was not due until the afternoon they had one final run in tender coming back to KS with a bag of unused food. Matt and Alice arrived home to wet cold and windy weather on the 22/12/17, Matts 28th birthday.

IMG_3435There is a particularly pretty and well known anchorage in St Lucia called Margot Bay and over the following weeks we tried to visit but on both occasions the squally weather thwarted us, maybe the next time we get to St Lucia. Over the next week we spent quite a bit of time with Des and Cath, when our outboard failed Des ( and Geoff his assistant) fixed it and Cath and I went shopping. We ended up in Matthew’s bar for cocktails.

Christmas time was strange for us and we did at times regret not going back to UK but we made the best of the lovely people, beautiful Island and food that St Lucia offers.  Christmas eve arrived so we called and texted lots of family in UK. This was when we discovered how much Geoff alone had spent on calls, he had reached his limit and was effectively cut off. After a lengthy conversation with 3 using my phone, we managed to up his limit and I paid his dept. From then on, we used WhatsApp to call family. This meant having to sit in a cafes or bars as marina wifi was intermittent to say the least.

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Christmas Eve 2017

On Christmas Eve we smartened ourselves up and Geoff Gav and I went out for a Thai meal.

We missed all our family dreadfully especially waking up Christmas morning and made do with a couple of phone calls and text. We had decided to have BBQ on the beach on Christmas day with Des and Cath.

IMG_3470After a cooked breakfast we cooked the meat, chicken, on KS and packed up the salad and jumped into the tender and motored around to Rodney Bay beach. There were lots, of people swimming walking eating and enjoying Christmas dinner Caribbean style. Chicken with salad homemade bread (Des) followed by Sainsburys taste the difference Christmas pudding all accompanied with glass or 2 of fizz and few dips in the sea.

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Christmas Day 2017

We left about 4pm and later had the standard Christmas day tea as requested by Geoff, Turkey sandwiches, Pringles, pickle onions and Christmas cake (thank you Alice)as this is the tea he has eaten all his life. We finished the day as most of our evening do playing cards.

Gav left on the 28th after being with us since 11th November and Matt since 17th so life will be different for us all.  Des and Cath came over to wish Gav a fond farewell. img_3508.jpgWe ended up having a few beers then going to Nadia’s place for famous fish and chip supper. Nadia owns a small café/gallery/shop/workshop called Island Mix where lots of local artist display and sell their work. Over the next week Geoff and I called in parked our tender while shopping and had a beer when leaving and eventually buying a picture of St Lucia’s iconic Pitons.

The following day saw the departure of Des and Cath and as usual Des was keen to meet for a final swim before they drove to the airport. So, at 10am we met on the beach and were presented with a beer, gin& tonic and a goodie bag of food Des and Cath didn’t want to take home. The food parcels seem to have been a much-appreciated theme with all who left us in St Lucia.

The departure of our UK family and friends, indicated the start of the next leg of our trip to Panama with World ARC (WARC) We had to go through the normal signing in and boat inspection process but this was much quicker than previous as we had already been checked or our Atlantic crossing.

The pre WARC program had a welcome party on 30th and this was an opportunity for us to meet other yachts intent on circumnavigation with WARC and other like ourselves joining for shorter legs. John and Stella from yacht Exocet Strike instantly made us feel welcome. They had completed the world ARC previously and enjoyed the pacific, so much were going back. They, like us are going with WARC to Panama City then independently to pacific Islands and New Zealand.

The following day 31/12/17 we joined a small group and took a trip to the rain forest of St Lucia. We had great fun as not only did we have a guide who described the island, but we viewed the rainforest from 12 zip wires and rope bridges, when we opened our eyes of course.

As it was New Year’s Eve we were keen to speak with Matt and Jo and my mum. It was lovely to speak with them all. Jo and Andy had flu but were determined to stay up to see the new year in. Matt was playing Pictionary with friends and Mum and Callum beating the rest of the family at cards. Geoff and smartened ourselves up and went to the marina bar for a drink and snack. IMG_3611At midnight St Lucia time we were sat on the back of KS watching the fireworks across the bay. I wonder where we will be next New Year’s eve?

The following days were spent preparing KS for our next leg, washing, splicing and general shackle polishing. We did go for drinks with Sarah and Keith on Infinity of Yar. This was lovely as they were the first Arc boat that we had met on our way to Las Palmas in the Portuguese port of Povoa de Varzim in August 2017 and had meant to get together ever since.

IMG_3659The world arc had arranged some panama and pacific specific lecture that we attended. John and Stella had given us a contact agent for Galapagos, Johnie Romerio. I contacted his group and an agent called Javier Plúa Rizzo from YachtGala SA has sorted out our visit we think. We were joined on our pontoon by a couple taking part in the WARC, Anna and Bones on Emily Morgan. Between them they had a fountain of knowledge that they happily shared. We filled up with food, water and fuel and were finally ready to go. P1000649The next leg was to be 815miles to Santa Marta in Colombia. This was to be Geoff and I longest trip with just us on board and were both excited but a little apprehensive also. The day before we had the Skippers briefing this updated us all on the weather to expect and any last-minute changes to instruction. As a bit of fun, we had to complete a prediction of the time and date we expected to get to Colombia. We decided on Friday 12th January 12:00 (watch this space!) IMG_3707I also chose the last day to download IT info about Colombia and Panama but due to the slow intermittent IT service in St Lucia, almost had a meltdown, probably made worse by a few butterfly’s but I have learnt a lesson not to leave things until the last minute. We chose to have quiet night in the marina, sushi, rather than attend the farewell party.

Saturday 6th January 2018 arrived, and it was grey overcast windy and raining. We ate breakfast in a cafe, like it was our last meal and chatted to Matt, Jo and Mum. We will be able to communicate during the sail via email and occasionally via sat phone. We left the Marina at 11:30 and made our way to the start line. We started in 15-20kts of wind made worse by the pouring rain, so put 3 reefs in the main and 2 in the genoa and ventured into the Caribbean Sea that was to be our home for the next 6 days.

We had a great time in St Lucia and we won’t forget old and new friends, the lovely country and people of St Lucia  and of course we can’t forget the rum punch.