Welcome to Paradise

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Grenadines/St Vincent  ,
Friday, April 20, 2007

Coming from a part of the world where it rains (a lot), and where the rain doesn't stop a person from exiting a spot of dry, we've become weather wimps. It's a bit embarrassing. We'll be ready to leave the boat, backpack and camera in hand, and if we smell a hint of rain, we stand down and wait. We even have to confess to a time in Antigua when we were planning on checking out a new anchorage and the rain came. We waited, wondering what the folks (especially the sailors) back home would think of us. Unlike the part of the world where we call home, the rain here usually only lasts a few minutes and then it's done, so it's usually an easy thing to wait - besides, there are few times when we are on any kind of schedule, so a few minutes later is no big thing.

After leaving Dominica, we landed on the island of St. Lucia (loo-sha). We anchored in Rodney Bay, outside of the main marina area. We went in to customs and noticed Sogna Mio, a Caribbean 1500 boat (one of the 75 that sailed from Virginia to Tortola with us) that we caught up with when we were anchored in Les Saintes several weeks before. They met up with a friend of theirs who had just completed a circumnavigation. He started out in St. Lucia but was from New Jersey. Guy and Hanna invited us over to meet him that evening.

It was bound to happen -- sooner or later -- nothing to write home about, but embarrassing just the same... We had just tied off to the pier; ready to visit with our friends for "sundowners" (snacks and drinks to thank the sun for another glorious day). I put my contribution of a pan of lime shortbread on the concrete pier and proceeded to climb up on the wharf. There was no hand hold on the pier and the tide was low. I stepped first on the side of our inflatable dinghy and then put my other foot on the side wall of the pier which was a foot below the top. I hesitated. The dinghy started creeping away from the pier with me straddling the water going for a split. In slow motion -- suitable for "America's Funniest Home Videos" -- I plopped in the water. Fortunately my foot found a stable rock while I was only halfway in and I practically flew back into the dinghy. All this time Chris stood, shocked, not believing what the heck I was doing, rooted to his spot, watching as I sank slowly into the sunset. Oh well, so much for grace. I sent Chris to tell Guy and Hanna that we'd be a bit late so that we could go back to the boat for me to change into dry. Thank goodness I didn't soak the shortbread.

Anyway, later I asked circumnavigator-John what area he liked most from his travels and he said probably St. Lucia. Lucky for us, now we don't have to sail the whole world to find the best place!

The boat boys here are a step up from Dominica's. These guys have engines on their boats. One fellow named Marle wanted to sell us some hats and bowls woven from palm fronds. I said we'd buy one if he could teach me how to weave a bowl. Thursday morning he came by (after shimmying up a palm tree to get the proper materials) and started the lesson.
I thoroughly enjoyed making my own bowl, but don't see much of a future for me as a bowl weaver since I can't climb the trees.

We split the cost of a car rental with circum-John and saw the sights of St. Lucia. None of these islands is very large and a day is usually enough to drive around and see most of what is interesting. As we drove along the edge of the island, we noted places that we wanted to go in our boat. We stopped at the "only drive-in volcano in the Caribbean". Be glad that this is not "smell-a-vision". The sulphur smell from the boiling mineral springs filled our noses with the delightfully pungent aroma of rotten eggs.

After leaving Rodney Bay, we headed south a few miles to Marigot Bay. This is one of the most photographed bays for the tourist brochures. It was a bit of a disappointment for us. Hassled by boat boys, (and they are only of the male persuasion) this small bay was filled with charter boats and upscale restaurants and we were ready to leave the next day. The only thing that was worth taking advantage of was the warm showers - our first since November!

Next stop, down island on St. Lucia was "the Pitons". Our chart book says that you should pick up a mooring buoy in the Pitons since the wind tends to be gusty and the water is very deep. They weren't kidding! We were happy for the boat boy who met us as we came to the area between the two Pitons. The wind was howling with gusts to 30 knots, but we were able to get attached to the buoy with his help. We triple tied ourselves to the mooring buoy before we felt secure. This area is a marine reserve in the shadows of the Gros Piton (2521 feet) and Petit Piton Mountains (2460 feet). We took the dinghy into to nearby town of Soufriere, where we were met by more boat boys.
These fellows promised to look after our dinghy while we were gone. It is a little worrisome that you have to pay someone to make sure that everyone keeps their hands off, but that is the way things work here. Better a few bucks than a missing dinghy. We hired a taxi to take us to Diamond Falls and the Mineral Baths nearby. The local claim is that if you soak in the Mineral Baths, you will feel ten years younger. While we were soaking, a group of tourists wandered by. One woman asked me if I felt any younger. Her friend said, "Sure, when she got in she was ninety years old!" Not sure if I got ten years out of it, but it did feel good.

Leaving St. Lucia, we turned left and made for St. Elizabeth on the island of Bequia (Beck-way).

Back to the small world department: I was online at the internet place in Bequia and I looked up and saw Phil walking past. Phil's the guy we met in the hair salon in Virginia who told us about the Caribbean 1500 and with whom we enjoyed Thanksgiving at Foxy's in the British Virgin Islands. We hadn't seen Phil since November and had actually lost track of him. It was great to catch up. We also had a visit from another couple who we met in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria while we waited for weather to cross the Atlantic. It is fun to have people recognize Quest now from our travels, rather than travels of previous owners.

We decided to stay in Bequia over the Easter weekend in order to attend Mass. We met a couple at the internet place who had been cruising over the past 15 years, including several transits of the Panama Canal. We invited them over to our boat for dinner so that we could find out more about those adventures. They mentioned that they were thinking about racing in the annual Bequia Easter Regatta but didn't have enough crew. We offered ourselves up to the cause. We enjoyed three days of intense racing in strong winds and hot sun. We took fourth (missing third by 17 seconds).

We left Bequia the next day. Destination: L'Ance Guyac on Canouan Island. We just spent the night here anchored next to two boats - one with a helicopter on its stern and another with the unfortunate name of "Hooter Patrol IV". The most distressing aspect of that name is that there are/were three others with like names. We took off the next morning for Salt Whistle Bay on the island of Mayreau.
This has to be one of the prettiest anchorages we've found yet. Unfortunately, everyone else thinks so, too. We have to be on anchor watch to make sure that no one anchors too close. We walked up and over the hill on a nicely paved road to the Catholic church at the top of the hill. What a view! A magazine article stated that Mayreau now has 7 cars. It was a delight to be able to walk without fear of bodily harm. We were cleared by one truck in Bequia by a mere six inches! After we got back to the beach where we tied the dinghy, we went to wet our whistles. We asked the woman at the bar how to properly pronounce the island's name. She said, "My-row". Her friend said, "May-row" and yet another fellow had another pronunciation. We started quite a discussion. Anyway, 300 people live on the English-Creole speaking island of Mayreau along with their 7 cars. Electricity was brought to the island in 2003 and their main source of income is through tee-shirt sales.

We stayed in Mayreau specifically to go to the church service on Sunday at the pretty little church with rough-hewn rocks and timbers. We asked two girls who were on the church grounds what time the service was. One said she thought it was 9:00 or maybe a little earlier, maybe 8:30. OK. Sunday morning we launched the dinghy and headed in to shore to begin the climb to church. We arrived at the church at 8:30 and were greeted by a woman who said they were almost ready to ring the bell for the 9:00 service. This lovely woman was raising funds for a trip to St. Vincent for a medical procedure. We bought a few trinkets from her and she proceeded to tell us about their newly acquired electricity. The church service was wonderful. In the absence of a priest, we had a Communion Service with the best music we've encountered in a long time. It didn't matter that we didn't know the songs, there was so much harmony going on that we just added ours to the mix.
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