Rodney Bay, St Lucia

Thu 13 Dec 2007 22:13
14.05N  60.57W
Well here we are in Rodney Bay, St Lucia after 16 and a bit days at sea, with a very benign Atlantic crossing behind us. After all the preparation for any medical emergency, we used only one bandaid on the whole trip. We sailed pretty conservatively, avoiding  gybing in the dark, and although we travelled a longer distance than many boats, as we look around the dock at shattered booms, we know that playing it safe has really paid off, especially as it's only five weeks until we set off for the next leg of the journey.The Caribbean couldn't be more different than the Canaries, with all the colour, dreadlocks, music and sultry weather, all the more so as we came in on the tail of Hurricane Olga, only the tenth ever recorded in December. Thanks to our weatherman, Bruce Buckley in Perth we were able to get the best of the winds when all around us yachts were motoring, and behind us they were stuggling with exceptionally strong winds and huge down to chick peas and lentils. Some of the Beneteau 57s are still at sea with damaged gear and crews who must be pretty fed up by now. Each time a yacht comes in horns toot and a great cheer goes up, especially for the very small boats.
After our rather hairy start, we had a trouble free trip, with no seasickness and only one bandaid used. Others were not so lucky and some crew members have been transferred to ships with bad burns and head injuries. A few yachts were abandoned at sea after suffering structural damage, with their crews being picked up by nearby boats. The atmosphere here on the dock at Rodney Bay is exciting, with everyone having a tale to tell of 50 knot squalls or huge fish that got off just at the last minute. Highlights for us were spotting a whale and pulling in three good fish. The days and nights went surprisingly quickly, thanks to radio contact with friends on other boats and a good selection of music and comedy on the Ipod.  John and I were never bored and feel much more confident now about the long leg from the Galapagos to the Marquesas in French Polynesia. In fact, the most challenging part of the trip was coming up the narrow channel to the marina in the dark and strong wind, trying to dodge unlit yachts at anchor and fishing buoys. The buoyage system of red and green lights marking channels is the opposite in North America to the rest of the world, so that takes a bit of getting used to.
Now the main challenge of the day is resisting a second rum punch at luchtime.Because Bernadine and Dereck did the crossing last year they were able to direct us to all the best bars and restaurants, as Caribbean food is not uniformly excellent. Yesterday was Ian Massam's birthday which was celebrated in grand style with at lobster lunch, followed by a yacht club party with steel band on the beach. 'Funky' is the best way to describe St Lucia, a combination of New Zealand's Bay of Islands and Far North Queensland, but much more colourful in every way with the boat boys selling fruit and collecting laundry and taking us to the beach in water taxis with names like 'Thy Rod and Staff". The local people are exceptionally friendly and full of fun with names like Israil and Jesus the water taxi drivers and Hubert our road taxi driver who closely resembles a young Louis Armstrong.