St Lucia again

Wed 26 Mar 2008 13:37
13.52N 61.05W
We spent a couple of weeks around St Lucia on this visit, but mostly at places we've visited before, and this is being written some time later, so I'll just describe the highlights.
This position is of our latest favourite anchorage at Anse Chastenet - well actually a mooring buoy supplied by the local marine parks department and away from the most popular areas, so not too many boat boys trying to help us pick one up, then charge us and try to sell us stuff as well.  It's also really good for snorkelling with a 'garden' of wonderful corals and brightly coloured fish which caused Syd to buy his own mask and snorkel instead of managing with his old swimming goggles (thanks Janet).  It's just off another of the beaches carefully manicured for cruise-ship guests and in this case for those staying at the smart hotel (Jade Mountain Resort ... Just look at the web site .. rooms up to 2000 US dollars per night!) in the bay the other side of our mooring buoy.  Moreover, behind the manicured beach theres' a carefully developed and manicured network of mountain biking trails, including a black run designed by an Olympic champion biker.  We test-walked ... well scambled up and slid down!!.. that in preparation for Paul and Rachel's visit the following week.
Oh, I nearly forgot - the sail from Bequia to St Lucia involved an early start but we made good time and arrived early afternoon at the 'between the Pitons' moorings where we'd been with Nishi after Xmas.  The sailing was good, but Annabel didn't like the heeling and also managed to helm through a couple of waves and soak herself and the cockpit  (what she really means is she drove the boat at full tilt 7 knots ish into a vertical wall of water (twice) I have NEVER seen the green water getting all the way down and then going over the back end of Gaviota -before- or since!!)  well it was quite rough between St Vincent and St Lucia !
Another place we had visited in December, Marigot Bay was very busy and we baulked at paying $EC65 for a mooring buoy so anchored out on the edge of the bay and were disappointed to find the restaurant with the particularly good pizzas that we'd been looking forward to was full.
We went into Castries and anchored right up by the town to do some shopping - no other yachts were anchored there, but it seemed OK and we particularly wanted to get some duty free booze at the shops for cruise customers(and others).  We did the supermarket run first, back to the boat and unpacked, then off again for fruit and veg from the market and the duty free gin(6 bottles!). Eeek ! when we came out of the duty free shop to where the dinghy was tied up, Gaviota wasn't where we left her !!!  In fact she was several hundred yards down the bay, with another yacht which had anchored shortly after us and a couple of local motor boats around her !  Apparantly she'd dragged her anchor and the other yacht hadn't been able to hold her, but we were a bit surprised because she'd been fine for the first hour or so that we'd left her, and we didn't think the wind had been any stronger.  Luckily the 'salvage' only cost us 2 bottles of gin and a small amount of cash, but it was a frightening experience.  We now have an extra weight for the anchor, which Syd created from 2  bloody heavy (like 10lbs each) anodes and the safety line from the old life raft (dumped before we set off but all the good bits still on board!), and we now anchor particularly carefully in soft sand and mud and watch all the others dragging in the strong winds. tee hee .. just need a bit of physics and applied engineering on the job..... Great fun though when you pass ...very nonchantly this contraption to some poor unknowing person ,, who suddenly gets a 25 lb weight in their hand to hold ....
Back to Rodney Bay where we'd arranged to meet Paul and Rachel on 6 March, but the marina was 'full' (and noisy) due to the rebuilding work, so we had to negotiate hard for a spot, not giving us much time to get the generator and small sail repairs, as well as cleaning done before they arrived. We enjoyed introducing Rachel to yachting life, although the hangover caused by the first night at the Jump-Up at Gros Islet probably didn't get her off to a good start. We were lucky with the weather for a gentle sail down the St Lucian coast and Rachel coped very well with a rolly anchorage the first couple of nights, and helmed a bit too ! At Anse Chastenet Paul and Rachel also learnt our trick of getting the bikes ashore in the dinghy, even a beach landing, and enjoyed the bike rides.  Another night was spent at Harmony Bay, just beyond Soufiere, where a family runs a restaurant and also helps you onto the mooring and provides a water taxi to dinner - very civilised, and friendly, and good food and service - a new St Lucian experience for us ! ... and best of all paid for by Paul ... made it taste even better!
Another new anchorage for us was at Vieux Fort, right on the south eastern tip of St Lucia. We had a good sail down into the wind, with Rachel being braver than Annabel about the heeling (and she also braved the heads whilst beating hard to windward ... a whole new meaning to peeing into the wind ... and she wasn`t even yellow when she reappeared!), Paul doing quit a bit of the helming, and anchored outside the (very smelly)fishing port and enjoyed an excellent meal in a hotel (thanks Paul ..again!) up the hill at the back of the town.  For Paul and Rachel's last day we walked over to a lovely sandy bay on the atlantic coast and watched some people kite surfing, which Syd would love to try when we're in one place for long enough (and he has enough of his Yorkshire money to spend).  The airport is at Vieux Fort (or might be closer to say that Vieux Fort IS the airport, but a bit fishy), so Paul and Rachel flew back from there.  We stayed another couple of nights and bought fresh fish at the market to stock our freezer and excellent veg from street stalls - the town had a more genuine and friendly atmosphere than many we've visited.
Back up to Rodney Bay AGAIN on 15 March.  No, it's not our favourite place, but makes a good base for shopping and filling up with water etc.  We treated ourselves to lunch at the yacht club where Syd had enjoyed the laser sailing after Xmas.  Oh and more of the mocha frappes and bacon and scrambled egg croissants in the cafe...