23 Feb, Rodney Bay Marina (still)
I am pinching bits
from recent e-mails to help with the blog:
Friday the 13th - I should have stayed in
We've had a very frustrating, tiring and somewhat expensive day.
This was idea number one to combat
Harbour Rot. We need a break from
the marina - the cost fo hire cars is prohibitively expensive (about £50/d), but
understandable when you look at the state of the roads and the standard of
driving. So let’s look into hiring a motorbike or scooter. Not quite so bad at £20/d, so we did it,
a bright red 125cc Yamaha. Firstly back to the marina (5 miles) to change
shoes. Then we set off in the
direction of Soufriere (ambitious), but at least hoping to do a Rum distillery
tour and check out the Fish-Friday event at Amse la Raye. First stop was a detour up and then down
the steep hills to get to the supermarket at Marigot Bay to replenish the Gin
stocks (much cheaper here). We
returned to the bike, and that’s when our day turned into a bit of a nightmare,
the main cause being a puncture in the back tyre. About half an hour was spent trying to
contact the hire company (Wayne’s), finding someone with a pump, and asking
where the nearest tyre repair shop was.
Wayne said it was our responsibility (They're so helpful in the
Caribbean!), so we started walking with the bike up the 1 in 3 hill to the
main road. A car full of young
lads stopped to offer help – said they would lead us to the nearby tyre
shop. Paula rode with them and I
pushed on. Then I was stopped again
with more offers to help. We tried
pumping with some temporary success and I rode off quickly only to find Paula
walking back. The tyre man was not
in residence. Then the local Rasta,
flagged down a pickup and arranged to take us and the bike to the next tyre
shop. I hasten to add, that the
tyre shops are nothing like anything in Europe! Anyway, they said they could do it, so
the bike was unloaded and I gave the driver, a very well-spoken gentleman from
Guyana, $EC 20 for his help. Then
they set about taking the wheel off.
Whoa, hold on I said. Can’t
you do it without removing the wheel (chain and brakes)? I wasn’t happy with them dismantling a
hired bike, as I might be liable for any damage. So this started a slight argument with
the boss man, and some playing of the racism card. ‘That’s typical of you white guys, you
don’t trust us blacks to do the job’.
We walked away with the bike.
The young Rasta that was going to do the job, followed us to the junction
in his clapped out pickup and said we should let him help us – rock and a hard
place scenario. So we agreed that
he could take us back to the bike shop near Castries. The old bloke that helped load and tie
the bike down then wanted a back-hander – another 5EC. Paula in front with Rasta, me in the
back with the bike. Back to Wayne’s
and the driver wanted EC$ 60 for his efforts. Wayne wasn’t too pleased to see us
with a dead bike, but eventually agreed on a part-refund, so we got 50EC
back. So there we were, hot,
hungry, and dirty, we didn't get to where we were going, it took half a day and
about EC$120 (£33) to return to square one, still with the puncture.
Unfortunately we have no photographic evidence of this
At the end of that
day my feelings towards Caribbean life led me to ‘pen’ the
at the moment, I'm so cheesed off with St.Lucia, boat problems and expense,
harbour rot, cruising, the Caribbean and the heat, that I'm tempted to jack
it in for this year, leave the boat here and try again next year. You've no
doubt heard about the strikes and problems in the French Caribbean Islands
(Guadeloupe & Martinique) - it sounds like they've just about ground to a
halt. If not resolved soon, our passage North might be rather more speedy and
possibly less interesting than originally
there was the Double jaw toggle saga – Pete had kindly sourced the right fitting
and sent it as an airmail parcel (as requested) last Friday, with a Post
Office ETA of 5 days to St Lucia.
Within minutes of hearing that it had been sent, I received news that
they had one in Martinique – malheureusement (j’adore ce mot) trop tard mes
amis. It would cost more to get it
from the next Island anyway. When I
mentioned to the local Chandler about having it sent from the UK, there was a
lot of Cornish sucking of teeth, and muttering about the postal system here and
was it addressed properly and if it didn’t make Sunday’s flight it could take 2
weeks. Panic! I checked with Pete, and as expected he
had done everything possible to ensure a safe journey for our precious toggle.
problem was that the post arrives at the marina late in the afternoon and they
close at 5pm. Monday it hadn’t
arrived, Tuesday still no show, Wednesday, missed the office (see next farce
below). Thursday morning, yes they
had something for Whitemeadow – a yellow slip for me to take to Castries PO and
sign for it. Bugger, what a
pain. After some deliberation, as
we had plans to meet someone, we set off fto collect it in Castries. We found the correct counter, and they
eventually found the parcel (it was like 17th century outer-Mongolia), I signed
and then was told I could collect it from Customs. The same girl took the packet to the
other end of the PO and handed it to Customs. Wait your turn (the notice stated). Then I had to go through to the customs
office and open the parcel in front of them and explain what it was. ‘OK, you can go’. Yippee, I’m free (almost). I
suppose it's not that different to the system in the UK, just a pain when you
know what it is and the problems involved in getting it this far.
Back to our
planned meeting, 20 mins late. In
the afternoon I tried to phone the rigger, but no answer. So everything is in place, but still
can’t get it done, then it started to rain and the forecast for the next few
days is for strong winds. Patience
is a virtue, but mine is running out.
philosophies after discovering the forestay problem and wrestling with why it
happened, and when it happened and the possible consequences were as
1. It's worth having regular rigging checks and getting to know
2. If something changes - find out why as soon as
3. Go up the mast on a regular basis to prepare for when you
really need to - it's not that bad!
4. Taking up religion may not be
such a bad idea. Someone must be watching over
Then there was the
simple bus excursion to Soufriere.
Another frustrating day in Rodney Bay – a slightly delayed start
(blame the internet) but we eventually set off on the 1A bus to Castries ($5),
then change to the 3F (I think) to Soufriere ($16). Here we stopped for Tourist Information,
which actually seemed quite productive until one discovers that the
leaflets don’t actually impart much useful information, just the bullshit
without the price. Then a
disappointing lunch at Camilla’s (recommended in our cruising guide) – Paula
tried the National dish, Green Figs and Salt Fish. The green figs are actually cooked green
bananas and taste of cardboard, the fish was edible, but not plentiful. I stuck with the safe bet of a chicken
Roti, but we agreed to swap half way through. My half of the chicken Roti contained
reasonable meat with some bones, Paula’s half contained 70% bones. Onwards via Bus 4F to Fond Doux ($3) a
nearby organic Cocoa plantation, recently visited by Charlie & Camilla – HRH
not the one from the local restaurant.
Another disappointment as it seemed to rely on income from the bar,
restaurant and shop, rather than putting on a decent display of cocoa processing
as advertised. The Tet Paul nature
walk was nearby, but too far to reach without a car, so we returned to Soufriere
on the bus (EC$3), as we were told the buses stopped running back to Castries by
4pm. We met up with a French
couple we saw earlier who were also returning to Castries. We all waited and asked, and waited, and
checked, and waited and negotiated alternatives (boat, taxi) – running out of
patience now. It transpired that it
was half-day closing in Soufriere and the only method of getting back, that we
were willing to afford, was to take a bus to the South of the island (Vieux Fort
- $16) and then another back to Castries ($12) then another to Rodney Bay
($5). Taxis or boats to Castries
were going to cost around US$100 (=EC$270). So, at the end of the day we had taken 7
buses, been virtually all round the island, achieved nothing, seen nothing
(new), all for a simple visit to Soufriere.
That sums up life in the
Caribbean, on a Cornish cruising budget.
My philosophies in one e-mail,
in response to glasses being half full or half empty, went along the lines:
A pessimist is an optimist with
experience. One's views on the
Caribbean tend to change daily. I
don't think this is a good year as the 'natives' are revolting over high prices,
and the £ is well down so we are revolting also. I think most Islands are OK if you're
staying all-inclusive on a 4*+ resort, and never leave it. Otherwise you need to
be a wily old sea-dog with a few years' experience, and have a boat that doesn't
need fixing, and a healthier bank balance than mine.
If you’ve managed to
read all that drivel, well done, full marks for stoicism. Enough for now, things should change as
soon as the boat is fixed and our new 'victims' arrive. Next instalment from somewhere else I
offending Toggle. Sail repairs with the new haircut.
My view from the
bus. Harbour Rot (reading matter and a litre of Rum for £6). Paula
taking the pith - from a giant grapefruit.
Petit Piton from
above (almost), and Gros Piton from below.