Helen and Dusty's visit

Chiscos - Atlantic Cruise
John Simpson
Tue 3 Jan 2012 18:42
John and I were joined by Helen (John's sister) and Dusty (our brother-in-law) for a week's fun in St Lucia.  They stayed at the Bay Gardens Inn, Rodney Bay and so were within 15 minutes walk or a short dinghy ride of Chiscos.  On their first evening we introduced them to Spinnakers bar on Reduit Beach, which is a fantastic vantage point for watching the sun go down.
Christmas was still in full swing and I was particularly taken with the Domino's Pizza restaurant in Rodney Bay, which had gone to town with a huge range of Christmas lights in the garden, including a large illuminated nativity scene.  This was the only Christian reference I saw in any of the decorations here, although the local people seem to attend Church and the majority are Roman Catholic.  There was a four hour midnight mass on Christmas Eve and then another one on New Year's Eve.  Our taxi driver on New Year's Eve said he would have no problem in picking us up at 1.30 am as he would be coming straight from Church!
After a lazy first day acclimatising, we hosted a Rum & Coke party on board Chiscos to introduce Helen and Dusty to our ARC friends.  17 people crowded into Chiscos' cockpit, which was no mean feat!  The bow was well out of the water with the weight in the stern, and it was an uphill walk to the table to pour drinks in the cabin!  On the Thursday (29 Dec) we took Chiscos out into the bay and anchored near Pigeon Island for snorkeling.  It wasn't a great success as the water was quite cloudy and Dusty got some sea urchin spikes in his foot!  However, whilst we were sitting having a cup of tea a sea turtle swam by and popped its head up to see what we were doing.  He was too quick for us to photograph him though.
John and I had noticed that a segway tour was available from Rodney Bay and, having had fun on the segways in La Coruna, we booked a tour for Friday afternoon.  Our two guides provided some instruction to begin with and we were all soon whizzing through the forest on the hills around Rodney Bay.  Dusty's face was a picture - I think he'd have liked to have kept a segway for the week!
Our guides were very knowledgeable about the history of the island and also the medicinal properties of the many plants and herbs we saw on the way.  There didn't seem to be much that couldn't be cured with the leaves! 
Half way through the tour we stopped for a jungle fruits picnic, where the local fruits were cut up for us to taste: delicious oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, bananas and coconuts.  We tried the coconuts in their various stages from green through yellow to brown.  The local people seem to eat the younger coconuts more than the mature ones we're used to.  There are coconut vendors by the roadside selling the green coconuts which they slice with a large machete so that the coconut water can be drunk straight from the shell.  The insides of the young coconuts contain a white jelly rather than the solid white core of a mature coconut.  We were not too keen on the jelly, but the water was lovely.
We climbed the last few feet at the top of the hill to a rock face pond full of fish which fed on bread brought for us to feed to them.
We continued our adventure activities on the Saturday with a 'three adventure' day.  This consisted of an hour's ride in an open top jeep across the island, followed by zip wire rides through the rainforest and a dip in the highest accessible waterfall on St Lucia.  There were 12 zip wires to ride through the treetops, each increasing in length, height and speed.  We donned protective hairnets, helmets, harnesses and gloves and set off with some trepidation.  Dusty was the first to ride and didn't look too keen!  
However, we soon got the idea and had a great time zipping through the trees and across the gorge.
In the evening we had all been invited to join a party at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort organised by Caroline from S/Y Peat Smoke.  She had 19 members of her family in St Lucia for the Christmas/New Year period and we augmented that with 20 people from ARC boats so we made up a sizeable party.  St Lucians referred to this as an Old Year's Night party, as they also celebrate New Year's Evening on 1 January. The buffet was Asian cuisine, with each table carrying dishes from different countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Singapore. The hotel provided us with tables literally on the beach; the theme of the evening was red/black/gold and the tables were beautifully decorated in the colours.  As the evening progressed the hotel staff handed out party hats, rattles and streamers; Dusty decided to decorate himself to match the colour scheme.  He had to leave the Chair cover behind at the end of the evening, despite trying to persuade a member of staff that he was the Caped Crusader!
Sunday 1 January began with a late breakfast at Rituals Coffee Shop, whose sign looks remarkably like Starbucks!  We have enjoyed several breakfasts of omelettes and filled bagels there.  In the evening we had a beach barbecue with crews from Beyzano and Time Bandit.  Despite all the shops being shut and our original fear that we wouldn't have enough food to go round, we pooled our resources and had a feast of burgers, steaks and salads followed by cheesecake and banoffee pie - plus Rum and Coke of course, still trying to work our way through the prize winners rum selection.  Time Bandit had just been joined by new crew (Brian and Agnes) who had spent Christmas on their own boat in Scotland.  I don't think they could quite believe the difference in the weather!
The last full day with Helen and Dusty (Monday) was spent on Reduit Beach, snorkeling at first.  The snorkeling was much more successful this time and we saw plenty of fish, coral and other sea life amongst the rocks in the corner of the bay.  We sat on the beach for a couple of hours and there were several heavy downpours of rain but luckily we managed to be sheltering in a restaurant for lunch during the worst shower and in Spinnakers later in the day when it rained again.  In the evening we visited a lovely restaurant called The Edge, so called because it is literally on the edge of the waterside in Rodney Bay lagoon.  Beyond our table was an open-air balcony over the water.
On the whole, the food we have eaten in St Lucia has been very good and The Edge was no exception.  It was a fabulous way to end the week with Helen and Dusty.  We bade them farewell this morning (Tuesday) - what a lot we managed to pack into the week!
I have a few more days in St Lucia before returning to the UK on Sunday 8 January and John will have a few days on his own then preparing Chiscos for the next leg of the trip.  Mikaela will be returning, joined by Carrie Parkinson and Anne Noon for a trip South to Grenada and the Tobago Cays.
Happy New Year,