10-13th December arrival and a departure

Slipstream Web Diary
Bill Cuthbert
Mon 14 Dec 2009 12:38

And so a brief resume of events will have to suffice, partly because a combination of Piton beer, Pina Coladas, Rum Punch, Red Stripe Beer, sun, exhaustion, and editorial good taste have cast a veil over some of the events (fortunately for Richard).

Wednesday night was fine. The wind increased a little which powered the boat through the swells more comfortably, but we needed to pass between St Lucia (to the South) and Martinique to the North, and being uncertain of the marks we preferred to make the passage in daytime, & so furled some sail to slow down. There were several boats around us which took the same approach. We came round the top of the island & had to turn pretty much south (having spent the last couple of weeks going pretty much straight west). We came onto the wind dropped the twistle rig, raised the mainsail and came first to a broad reach, and then (once we’d worked out which of the headlands was Pigeon Island) more onto the wind, coming down almost close hauled onto the finish line. We finished just after 11 am boat time which meant we’d taken a couple of hours under 18 days. This is just after 7 in St Lucia. Engines on, sails down and aim for the marina.

As we arrived & tie up we’re met on the pontoon by Johnny, the first St Lucian that we’d encountered and a very friendly bunch they promise to be: he pressed on us first rum punches all round and then a vast bottle of Heineken…not that we would have chosen these for our breakfast (well we might have) but it would have been churlish to refuse & so we all tucked in. We’d agreed that we’ll do nothing to the boat for the first day, & so first responsibility is a freshwater shower so we gear up (son of sheep dip, towels) and head towards the marina buildings, but sadly pass close to the café & so are distracted by the first (of many) beers. Bar/café is occupied by those who have come before. General feeling of cheer & goodwill as we meet up with fellow ARCers  some of whom we recognise from Las Palmas others we’ve heard on the radio. Beers run into breakfast and a few hours are passed comfortably in the increasingly hot sun before we head (eventually) to the showers.

Not quite sure where we’ll all sleep, some suggestions we may need a night watch, just to make sure that we’ve enough bunks but fortunately (most fortunate for Bill) Bill sorts out a hotel room. Bill & Mike wander to Bill’s Hotel, Richard took a ride to Pigeon island but when he discovered he had to pay to get in turned round & walked back along the beach. Paul & Nick hitched a lift being, picked up by a fellow who showed us his hotel and restaurant & then dropped us back at mall close to the marina, bought some fruit from a roadside stall & then hitched home again… Nick being very pleased to get a lift in the back of a pick up truck.  Towards the end of a long day we had a Chinese meal for supper and then all returned to the marina bar, where the younger Baines conked out although the others continued to party!

So on Friday, we woke up reasonably early, started some of the boat sorting (amongst the more fun tasks, emptying the fridge of cheese and attempting to rid it of cheese smell, removing the remains of a squash which had imploded in the vegetable store), but in general just removing the detritus that collect when five men live in a very small flat for three weeks. We took the dinghy round to the beach outside Bill’s hotel (possibly two more than the dinghy should have held and had a grand afternoon* with a shot on a jet ski and some snorkelling. (* Nick may not have had such a grand afternoon… we lost him when we went snorkelling and he walked home (sans shoes which were in the dinghy) but was rescued by the lady in the fruit stall who gave him his bus fare home! The others retired to the bar (where they thought Nick would be) but in the time taken to drink 2 pina coladas the dinghy had broken free and was drifting out to the (very big) sea. Mike donned snorkel and began to swim for it but after a short frantic splash of a few metres, looked up to see it drifting faster than he could ever hope of achieving. It was eventually rescued by a canoeist and we returned home in the dark with no lights (but no one else seemed to have them either!). There’s a local street party in Gros Islet, which we wandered to for a few beers to eat some supper from the street food stalls, not quite sure what but it was all very edible and we were none the worse for the experiment.

On Saturday we did a bit more boat fixing, took a bus to Castries (the large adjacent town), which was interesting and then got a taxi home after supper in an Indian restaurant and then (again) a couple of beers in the marina bar where Nick met a fellow from school…

Amongst the challenges for us all…to start drinking beers rather than pina coladas (a girls drink)…to reaccustom ourselves to England in midwinter (coats, central heating) instead of St Lucia (swimming trunks, sun).

Discussions have already turned to what the next event should be……..