St. Lucia and the Problems We Face Here

We felt good about our anchorage in Rodney Bay, on the northwest coast of St. Lucia, as there were many yachts, beautiful beaches, and no shortage of bars within eyesight of our boat. A constant, brisk wind also charged our batteries beautifully in the absence of our engine. Of course, the gravy train pulled out of the station shortly, taking with it our outboard engine’s functionality and the wind we wanted to transit down the coast.

We explored the Friday and Saturday night scenes but it was shockingly slow. On reflection, we hypothesized that our early schedule, going to bed around 8 pm and waking up at 6 am, probably doesn’t lend itself to the pub-crawling lifestyle. During the day, we did manage to check out the beach, which was fun until the waves almost destroyed our dinghy. The waves got up to eight feet high, and Aaron and I had a great time throwing the football to each other so that the waves crashed on the receiver just as the ball arrived.

Afterwards, we were enjoying a pint of Piton, the tasty local brew, and watching soccer on TV in an English pub/beach bar when we realized the waves were probably breaking over our dinghy, too. Sure enough, the ring to which the lock was fastened had ripped off. Worse, the motor would only work at near idling speed. Aaron had to motor slowly over to the marina and walk about a mile back to the beach. As we were motoring back to the boat from the marina, a distance of about 3/4 of a mile, the motor quit, and we had to row the rest of the way in the dark. Needless to say, our early optimism regarding St. Lucia was fading.

Sunday, we decided to row ashore to the beach again and had a good time. This time, we wisely brought the dinghy high up onto the beach. We also stopped at the supermarket, where we had fun trying to buy water and something for dinner with EC$9, or about US$3. We managed to get 3 liters of water and some dubious-looking “chicken hot dogs,” which we cooked up for dinner with black beans and rice.

Eagerly, we left Monday for Anse des Pitons, a bay lying betwixt Gros Piton to the south and Petit Piton to the north, St. Lucia’s highest mountains. It was a beautiful spot, as the mountains thrust vertically straight out from the sea and rainbows constantly flash in and out of being over the lush forest. We anchored in 25 feet of amazingly clear water, though not 100 yards from the shore. Our anxiety was evident in the three anchors we tossed out to hold ourselves, two of which ended up almost on top of each other. We caught a ride up to the top of a hill and walked a two miles almost straight down to Soufriere, a quaint fishing town with an interesting stone church. After we tossed our trash in a dumpster, we walked all the way up the hill and down again back to our dinghy.

As we were eating dinner that night, a ranger came around to inform us we were anchored in a marine reserve and had to pay EC$40 or US$15. Apparently, a mooring was the same price, but they were all taken. We were upset at not having been told this when there were moorings open, and thought about taking off south at 7 pm and sailing overnight. We finally paid, though, and spent an uneasy night with our trio of anchors before taking off for Vieux Fort Bay in the morning.

The contour of the St. Lucian coast turns as it goes south so that we had to beat into a 25 knot wind down to Vieux Fort Bay. After a few hours of tough sailing, we were approaching the bay and tacking in when the ring attaching our jib sheets to the jib ripped out, leaving our jib flogging violently in the wind. Hurriedly, we rolled it up and hoisted the staysail to finish the passage. We anchored in a lot of wind between a German and a French boat, feeling very much like the Maginot Line. A couple of hours were spent trying to lash down the sails, stow things away, and make the boat shipshape enough so we could relax. Finally, we had a late lunch of pancakes and spent the afternoon wandering through a maze of half-blazed trails in the nearby brush.

From where we sit, we can see the airport where our parents will arrive, and we look forward to an enjoyable and productive holiday season fixing things and sailing around with them. Web site updates may become a bit less frequent during the holidays. However, we will remain in contact with friends and family via e-mail. We plan a major web site update in mid-January and it should be full of interesting stories, and finally, all the best pictures from our trip thus far. Audentes wishes you a happy holiday and an adventurous New Year.

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