St Lucia

John & Susan Simpson
Sat 15 Jan 2022 20:31
St Lucia has been our home for the last 6 weeks - where did that time go!?  We had a fabulous end to the ARC rally.  As we arrived in the marina fog horns were sounded, there was applause from crews on the boats already in and a stream of people coming to Casamara to say hello and well done.  So it was for all the boats which came in after us, and we joined in with the raucous welcomes for all who arrived.  There was particularly memorable welcome for a yacht named Magic Dragon which had picked up the crew of one of the other yachts half way across the Atlantic after their boat suffered steering failure.  Magic Dragon already had a full complement of crew, including three young children, so to take on an additional 5 people and feed and water everybody for 1500 miles was an amazing act of kindness.  They arrived in the marina one night around midnight, to find over 100 ARC participants cheering on the dock as they came in.  One of the other boats had ordered enough take away pizza to feed an army so it was an impromptu midnight pizza party for all.  One of the children on board Magic Dragon looked around in amazement at the crowds and, when told they had all come to cheer him because he was a hero, asked  ‘Has the Queen come?’  It was such an occasion you could well imagine she had!

There were as many welcome parties in St Lucia as there had been farewell parties in Las Palmas and we did our best to contribute to them all!  One evening John played guitar and we sang at a 10th birthday party for the daughter of one of our friends.  The party clashed with a fancy dress themed night so we went to her party dressed up for the theme ‘Welcome to the Stone Age’.  We raided our dressing up bag (yes we have one on Casamara!) and came up with a number of ‘stone’ based interpretations.  
R to L: Laura (Stone Age Viking), Noa (Miss Rhinestone), Susan (Willma Flintstone), John (Stoned)

Goodness knows what the birthday girl thought when ’the band’ arrived to play at her party!

Finally the parties came to an end, flags were taken down, boats left Rodney Bay Marina to cruise the Caribbean or were shut down and left in the marina whilst their owners flew back home.  Our crew members departed - Noa to join another boat and continue with the Oyster World Rally and Laura to go back to University.  John and I flew back to the UK for Christmas and had a lovely time with our children and grandchildren.  It was great to be reunited with them all again, despite the need for coats and wellington boots.  It felt very odd to be wearing socks and shoes again after so long barefoot or in flip flops!

We were thankful to be able to travel to and from the UK with no Covid issues.  There was a definite sense as we left that the rules might change whilst we were away from the boat and we might find ourselves unable to return, either because the UK government might ban flying or the St Lucia authorities might take fright at the Omicrom numbers and close the island to British travellers.  We left Casamara under the watchful eyes of those of our friends who remained in the marina and in the care of a local charter boat skipper but we took back to the UK with us all the paperwork we could think of to prove that Casamara is our home and not a holiday boat - however difficult that may be to believe!  Thankfully all went well and we were allowed back into St Lucia on 4th January to continue our adventures.

Back in Rodney Bay Marina we treated ourselves to a Lobster lunch, well actually two lunches!  A local guy named Trinity had called by every day trying to sell us lobster and finally we agreed.  He brought to the boat two whole lobster, ready cooked and still warm, accompanied by a vat of the most pungent garlic sauce you could imagine.  There was so much lobster we couldn’t eat it in one sitting so had the rest for lunch the following day!
Lobster lunch number one!

Another of the local characters in Rodney Bay is Geoffrey, who sells fruit and vegetables from a boat that is unlike anything ever seen before and defies all the laws of physics.  How it stays afloat we will never know.  The transom (back of the boat) only just clears the water and we did wonder if it’s a marketing ploy to get people to buy the fruit and veg if only to lighten the load on the boat so he doesn’t sink!
Geoffrey’s fruit and veg boat - topped with grass and foliage, and decorated with junk.  

We stayed in Rodney Bay for a further week but removed ourselves from the marina and anchored in the bay just a mile away.  Although the anchorage was only a short distance away it felt as though as we were in a completely different place.  We planned to explore the south of the island but were enjoying ourselves so much we stayed put.   The days were spent swimming, snorkelling or wing-foiling and the evenings on board dining in the cockpit to the distant sounds of the evening entertainment at the Sandals Resort!
Rodney Bay anchorage at night

We even had a visit out in the bay from fruit & veg Geoffrey in his sinking boat - get back to the shore now Geoffrey!

The bay is named after Admiral George Brydges Rodney, a British naval officer who in 1782 built a fort at Pigeon Island on the north side of the bay.  The fort is at the top of a high hill overlooking the bay and with clear views to Martinique only 25 miles away to the north.  It was a hot walk!  Admiral Rodney had the fort built because Rodney Bay was such a strategic anchorage for the British fleet, being so close to the French in Martinique.  The British and the French fought over St Lucia many times and it changed hands 14 times.
Rodney Bay from Fort Rodney with Casamara highlighted at anchor