Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | May 30, 2012

Scooting Through the Saints

N 13° 00.06′   W 61° 14.68′

Bequia.

St. Lucia and St. Vincent, that is.

We would have loved to stay longer, but finally got a little break on the weather and some trawler-suitable travel days. We want to be sure we stay on schedule to meet our friends in Union Island. We hadn’t planned to spend a lot of time in these islands anyway since we can’t take the dogs ashore.

We left Marin, our easternmost latitude on this trip, stopped in lovely St. Anne, and spent the last of the euros on fresh produce, Martinique vanilla and some French shoe goo (works better than American shoe goo for repairing dilapidated Tevas sandals). Then made the four-hour passage to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. We spent two nights in the beautiful IGY marina and one at anchor.

Using shore power instead of the generator makes for a cooler engine room and Bob took full advantage of marina time to work on a watermaker problem. We were lucky to get the local AC technician to make two visits over the holiday weekend (they celebrate Whit Monday) to help diagnose the air conditioner problem. Looks like we are going to need to order some expensive parts to get the system back up, but at least have a better idea where the problem lies. We still have AC in the sleeping cabins, which is really all we need for now.

While Bob was spending his days in the engine room, I used the opportunity at the floating dock – rare in this part of the world – to shine the stainless ports on the starboard side and polish away some rust stains. We had no slip neighbor and could launch the dink, and I got to the port side from the water. This work is much easier in a marina where the boat isn’t moving around.

I found good shopping just a short dinghy ride away, both the Super J Market and the GL Fine Foods. I was thrilled to find some American products that were not available in the French Islands: ground turkey, cream cheese, cream-style corn, a US brand cereal on our guests wish list, skim milk, and Raid 22-foot Wasp Spray, commonly carried by cruisers since it doubles as an inexpensive weapon that doesn’t have to be declared. I made two loads with all I could carry and wish I had made time for a third.

St. Lucia has a reputation for having very aggressive boat vendors. We didn’t experience that during our short time here. Several vendors canvassed the docks asking to help us with our woodworking. It obviously needs help, and since it is my area of responsibility the strategy has been to let the Caribbean weather help strip the old stuff before I apply a different product. Had we stayed longer it would have been tempting to let one of those nice guys lend a hand. They were very polite when we declined. We were visited by a fruit vendor who settled his colorful boat into the slip beside us and humored the marina staff with some free bananas while I made my selection. Bob is less than enthusiastic about dealing with boat vendors and we understand they will become numerous as we head through the Grenadines. Lady and I are going to take charge of interactions with these folks who seem to be working pretty hard to try to make a living.

Marina time made it easy to meet fellow trawler boaters Barb and Chuck, and sailors Joe and Joan. We had a fantastic dinner ashore in a steakhouse that would rival the best at home (great fish for me). There were lots of nice restaurants and shops in the area. The atmosphere was upbeat and welcoming, although we were warned to take extra caution at night. We took the public bus to dinner to avoid leaving the dinghy at the same dock I had used during daylight hours, which has had some nighttime thefts. St. Lucia looks to be a wonderful place to take a land vacation, and we know we missed a lot by whizzing through so quickly.

We did the three-day Customs check in and out and purchased duty-free fuel at the best price we have seen since Puerto Rico – 3.26 XCD per liter which translates to 4.62 USD per gallon. We needed to exit the country by Tuesday. We decided to make a long passage to Bequia, skipping the St. Vincent mainland. Bequia is a separate island, located to the south of the mainland in the string of islands known as the Grenadines.  The northern Grenadines are part of the country of St. Vincent.

St. Vincent mainland is a controversial area for cruisers and in the past they have had more than their share of crimes against boaters. One of the cruising resources we have referenced, the Caribbean Security Index (CSI-update3_2013.03.20), gives it a rating of 5.6 out of 10 (10 is good) in terms of safety. For comparison, most of our destinations have rated in the 8’s and 9’s; St. Thomas was the lowest ranked at 7.8.  Some people recommend giving this rugged, lush land a skip, others say conditions have improved in some of the anchorages. We weren’t opposed to stopping if necessary, but set out to cover the 70-mile passage in one day while the better travel weather held.

We made it to Admiralty Bay, Bequia, just before sunset, and as Murphy’s Laws of Boating held true, it took a record 5 tries to get the anchor set after a very long sea day.  Today we will have a little time to relax and recover.  Bob says I am doing better with the big seas that are considered normal here and thinks I would have freaked out in similar conditions a year ago. Progress!

The dogs are just as happy to keep moving south, and will celebrate when they get to dog-friendly Grenada territory. With better planning and titre tests a year ago, I could have gotten them shore passes in St. Lucia. With St. Vincent, the deal is that US dogs must be quarantined in the UK for 6 months immediately prior to entering the country. The UK was just a little out-of-the-way! We have to respect their rules, but this one is definitely strange. Seems like they would have bigger issues to tackle.

Bandit brags that she snuck off the boat for a midnight walk, planting all four paws on St. Lucia turf for a good long romp. Maybe she was dreaming.

Leaving Martinique – saw lots of these interesting traditional yole sailing vessels. The annual Tour de Martinique des Yoles-Rondes is supposed to be quite the event in August with a week-long regatta featuring these unusual craft.

George, a St. Lucia produce vendor makes deliveries to the boat – even in the marina

The galley has taken on more of an international flavor, with French and Spanish brands beginning to take over the ship’s stores.

The weather was less than cooperative with my efforts to capture the stunning Pitons as we motored down the coast of St. Lucia.

Palm forests along the St. Vincent coastline reminded us of the Dominican Republic.

Always anxious for a shore trip, Lady and Bandit say “Hurry up guys, let’s get to Grenada!”

 

 

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