Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent:

May 16-June 8, 2012

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

Le Marin, Martinique

On May 16 we motored down from Portsmouth, Dominica to Le Marin, Martinique. We anchored in our favorite spot just inside the bay past the point that hosts the resort that used to be Club Med. The French islands are finally catching up with their neighbors; we were delighted to see that a nearby hill had sprouted an antenna, and were especially delighted when it delivered an exceptionally strong wifi signal. We indulged ourselves in glorious isolation in our little corner for 5 days, finally pulling free to move down to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, on May 21.

Locals practicing on an old-style boat with little keel or built-in ballast; so they perch on poles for counterweight

St. Lucia

Here we caught up with Steve (Receta) and without too much effort talked him into joining us for dinner at the new Indian restaurant A Taste of India which is in the new mall in Rodney Bay. Also joining us were Morgan (Nirvana) and Lee and Sharon (Tranquility).

Fruit vendor in Rodney Bay still sporting his distinctive style

We moved in to the IGY Marina in order to equalize the house batteries and ended up staying a number of days, taking advantage of the low cost ($.70 per foot) and non-rolly conditions to remove and rebuild the Energy Transfer Device (ETD) of our Sea Recovery watermaker, which had stopped working while underway from Le Marin. One of the bolts on the unit broke while I was disassembling, and despite exhaustive efforts I could not find aboard the spare bolt that I was certain I had purchased on the occasion of the last bolt-break. So after replacing an obviously ruptured seal late Saturday afternoon, I reassembled the ETD and set it aside, hoping to be able to find a replacement bolt on the following Tuesday; Monday being their Whit Monday holiday.

So glad to be up out of the engine room with the watermaker ETD that he forgot to remove the headlamp

"Vision" talked us (Barb) into hiring him to wax the hull up to the caprails

Meanwhile, Ann (Receta) returned from visiting her father in the States, so the four of us did some "comparison shopping" and had dinner at the other (and well-established) Indian restaurant Razmataz.

The local host of the VHF morning net conducts a trivia contest each Saturday morning. The question of the week was to guess how many steps there are on the stairs up to the Customs office. The three closest answers then qualified for an extended set of questions in one of three categories. Barb qualified. The three categories were "colors ","potpourri", "names". The lady with the closest guess chose "colors", Barb chose "potpourri", and the hapless third contestant got stuck with "names". At the end of the set of questions, Barb and "colors" had each missed one, and Mr. Hapless was out. To break the tie, the host asked a question and the first to answer correctly would be the winner. Barb and "colors" both jumped on "bamboo" as the favorite food of pandas, so the tie continued. The second tie-breaker was "type of tree that loses its leaves every year". Barb was judged the winner, but friends told us later that "colors" had actually gotten in first with the correct answer, but since "colors" was in the bay and we were in the marina, and since their radio was in need of repair and ours was stronger, the host had not heard "colors" answer. And so it was that Barb won a complete dinner for two at the restaurant "Delirious". The meal was delicious, and we didnít even feel guilty about the nature of the victory. Or at least this writer did not.

Tuesday morning I went shopping for the bolt. No luck: neither the Island Water World nor Johnson Hardware had what I needed. Resigned to waiting until we arrived in Grenada, where a phone call had confirmed the existence of the bolt at Budget Marine, we decided to move on down the island. Barb went up to Customs (15 steps!) to purchase a mooring permit for the Pitons while I put away the many tools that had been scattered throughout the boat from my project. Guess what I found in an obscure compartment of one of my tool chests. The extra bolt. We left for the Pitons anyway, where the view was as magnificent as ever, and the conditions a bit too rolly for reinstallation of the ETD.

Companions on our trip south

Barb readies the mooring lines as we approach the Pitons

Cletus is our favorite "boat boy" at the Pitons; we always try to buy some fruit

Gros Piton

Up on the ridge the units of the exclusive Ladera resort are visible

New condos have sprouted along the waterfront between the Pitons

Tusen Takk II under Petit Piton (file photo from another year)

Bequia, St. Vincent

We left for Bequia the next morning (May 30), arriving mid-afternoon in the throes of a tremendous squall that made it impossible to read the waters and find a sandy spot in which to set the anchor. Even in the best of conditions, Bequia is one of the most problematical of places in the eastern Caribbean for setting an anchor. This time, it took us only three attempts in slightly different locations to get the anchor to hold. We ended up nestled up just to the port of Receta. Which was fine, except that when the winds reverted to their prevailing easterly direction, we found ourselves positioned an unseemly distance directly in front of them. But we had tested our holding and were well set, so we contented ourselves with shortening the anchor chain a bit, an action that did not prevent Steve from teasing that if we would just turn up the volume a bit, they could watch videos on TV with us. Ever a forgiving and tolerant sort, they even had us over for Annís fabulous lambi (conch) pizza one night. Barb contributed a delicious double-layer pineapple/mango/rum cake. Marilyn and Martin (Rocking Horse), new but wonderfully congenial friends, also came.

Conditions in the bay were eventually smooth enough to permit more work in the engine room, arthritis not withstanding. Turns out I probably should have changed all of the seals (rather than just the one that was obviously ruptured), because after re-installing the ETD, a time-consuming and frustrating chore, the watermaker is now working but not optimally. One day soon I must take the damn thing out and thoroughly rebuild it. Soon. Um, real soon. Maybe in the next quiet bay. Or the one after that. But, soon.

As we left Bequia we noticed that traditional housing is creeping from the left up to the unconventional Moon Hole residential area

Chatham Bay, Union Island, St. Vincent

On June 4 we took the short hop down to lovely Chatham Bay, Union Island. Sandy anchor-friendly bottom with patches of grass that provide feed for the many resident sea turtles. High hills to the north, east and south. Long stretch of fine clean sandy shore, above which are a few "rasta" huts that call themselves restaurants and bars, one of which is awkwardly-named "Sun and Beach and Eat", but hosted by friendly Vanessa and Cletus (Seckie). Vanessa or Seckie often "patrol" the bay in their dinghy, waiting to greet new arrivals and issue invitations to come in for drinks and/or the evening BBQ. We know Vanessa by name, and she recognizes us and our boat and came to greet us when we arrived. Several days later, we accepted her invitation and were later transported by Seckie to shore where we joined three other groups of cruisers for dinner. Nice folks, good food, generous portions. We recommend them.

The waters in the bay remained smooth for our entire stay; it takes a distinctly northern swell for that not to be true. But the bay is also notorious for its gusts of wind, and we certainly experienced that while there. Instantaneous transitions from 5 knots to 35 can be shocking and unsettling. But the puffs are fairly brief; that is why they are called gusts, I guess.

(The massive tri-hull pictured below is Pilar Rossi.  You can read about her at http://www.superyachttimes.com/yachts/details/1761.)

Sunset at Chatham Bay

"Sun and Beach and Eat" bar/restaurant

Barb shot this as we arrived for the evening BBQ

This strange ...

... massive ...

... tri-hull shared the anchorage with us

When this boat entered the bay, it was steered by using a noisy bow thruster. Barb was so amused she had to document the vessel as we left

On June 8 we rounded the corner and headed back north to Salt Whistle Bay at Mayreau. We expected the 5-mile trip to be horrible; in fact it was quite tolerable. And why head back north? To attend a pig roast! But to read our account of that event you must wait for the next exciting installment of "Barb and Chuck go cruising".

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