Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hello St. Lucia

Before we get to St. Lucia ... we connected with Teoula who sent us some great shots of Mowzer underway between Dominica and Martinique that I just have to share.  It was a grey and squally day and as you can see we were sailing well reefed, but Mowzer was handling it all beautifully.

Now on to St. Lucia ... 

As we departed from the south shore of Martinique we had a good view of HMS Diamond Rock.  Way back, when the French and English just couldn't decide who should have which bit of island down here, the English actually commissioned this chunk of rock and stationed sailors on it to keep an eye on the French.  It is just a few miles offshore so that must have irked the French.  Reverse the Monty Python skit of the French in the fort and you might get the picture - said in a haughty English accent, "I relieve myself in your specific direction!"

HMS Diamond Rock

On the other side of the crossing we were treated to our first view of the magnificent St. Lucian Pitons.  They are down at the south end of St. Lucia but distinctly visible as we arrived at the north.

Petit Piton, with Gros Piton shrouded in cloud behind.
And then, just before finding our way into Rodney Bay we navigated around this freighter sitting at anchor.

The backside of the Alpine Duke!  Even though the aft end, still glad it's at anchor :-)
We arrived in Rodney Bay and anchored out just a bit from the lagoon entrance to the marina.  We'd heard concerns about security here but in this bay there are still lots of boats coming and going, quite a bit of charter activity and lots of folks zipping about from the resorts dotted around the bay.  We lock up the dinghy when we're not in it and have added a good noisy chain at nighttime, we close and lock any opening someone could get through and have not yet felt threatened in any way.

The marina at Rodney Bay is accessed by a long channel, and I keep having throwbacks to Jolly Harbour on Antigua - even the placement of the marina in the lagoon is similar!  We've made ample use of the facilities and are getting to know some of the cafe staff and of course Sophie in Island Water World too, so we will have to be careful not to settle in too comfortably.

Dinging down the lagoon channel

Past the fishing fleet

And arriving at the marina, still somewhat full of sailboats on this side, although the other side of the docks are pretty empty.
The north end of St. Lucia is dotted with resorts and guest villas, along with some pretty nice shopping areas - yay, more nice grocery stores, so there are many amenities to be found.  Just next to Rodney Bay is the little village of Gros Islet.  This is the main party town in the evening and music can be heard most evenings wafting / blasting out into the anchorage.  At first glance it looks a little ramshackle but on taking a walk through there are some charming little spots.

Interestingly, we seem to have also landed in the wild, wild, west.  We have heard more radios tuned to a country station and seen more horses being used both for tourist attraction but also personally, than since Dominican Republic and south-western Puerto Rico.  In fact, other than the English language, there is much of St. Lucia that reminds me of these areas.

Taking a stroll down to the dock in Gros Islet - there's Mowzer out in the bay.

Mowzer on the right, along with a number of other cats in the shallow part of the bay.

Believe it or not, Bernard actually takes this boat out around the anchorage to sell fruit and veg to cruisers.  He's got a whole garden on top (look out for bugs!) and a shady fruit stand below.

There's one of those horses I mentioned, patiently waiting for the guys to finish limin'.

We headed off for a morning stroll round to Pigeon Island, a National Trust site with old British fortifications, but when we arrived on Sunday morning we found the gates closed in preparation for a Soca Festival later in the day.  Hmmm, maybe we should return later, or just listen from the bay?

Nothing daunted we returned to Gros Islet and then followed the signs for Cas En Bas where there is a beach on the Atlantic side of the island.  We followed the road up and down the hills, then a dirt track up and down, and finally arrived at what is apparently a very active kite surfing beach.  The kiters were out in force in the 20 knot breeze and we were treated to a front row seat of some of the stunts.

I didn't get them in this shot, but there were probably a dozen kiters in the little bay.  Not sure how they didn't tangle their kites together.

Following our little explorations we've puttered around Rodney Bay doing the odd boat job and enjoying the scenery, including watching the floating fruit stand go to and 'fro in the anchorage.

He has a definite list to starboard!

Little blue heron on the water's edge.

More views around the marina.

Good night St. Lucia.
More to come on St. Lucia as we wait out yet another tropical wave.  No worries, we are settled in nicely on the hook and enjoying the local vibe completely!