Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grenada to St. Lucia 2009

We left Grenada more than 2 weeks ago to spend the next few months visiting the Windward and Leeward islands of the Caribbean. We apologize for not providing more frequent updates. Good internet access has been sporadic.

Here I am the day before our departure scrubbing the anchor chain. I would scrub a section, then Jim would pull a length of chain up and chip out the barnacles that had avoided my brush and formed inside the links. Even though I had scrubbed the chain every few weeks for the entire time we were in Grenada, that really only took care of the plant life and small barnacles on the outside. A coral reef had formed on the 20 feet or so of chain that hung suspended in the water from the surface to the bottom. The rest of the chain laid buried in the sand and was virtually clean.

Here's what the chain looked like before Jim started in on it with a screwdriver.
Once we left Grenada, we moved quickly up the island chain stopping for the night in Carriacou and Union Island before arriving in Bequia in the Grenadines. The sailing was not great. We had confused, sloppy seas north of Grenada. The winds at this time of year are E-NE so we are always close hauled, beating into the wind and big seas. Note to self; do this leg of the trip in November before the Christmas winds start to blow. They won't settle down until March, if we're lucky!
We were struck by how busy all of the anchorages were. Of course we came through here in June last year which is off season. But there are so many boats everywhere! Carriacou was packed. When we sailed past Saltwhistle Bay, Mayreau we counted 18 boats in a bay that seems crowded when there are 8. Bequia was packed and the moorings in Souffriere, St. Lucia were full. There is no such thing as the undiscovered Caribbean.
It was great to be back in Bequia! We love it there. It's a beautiful little island with a picturesque bay, lovely beaches, great restaurants and more.

In Bequia we met up with our friends Joe & Becky (Half Moon). It's been great spending time with them again. One of the highlights of our week in Bequia was attending the jam session at the Bequia Music Festival. This group was a Dixieland Jazz Band from New Orleans.

This are local artists from Bequia.

The jam session was great. I'm always amazed at the talent, how musicians who have never played together before can sound this great. We were lucky to be in Bequia when this was going on.

The next day we left early for St. Lucia. We did not recheck the forecast before we left and it had deteriorated. The winds and seas were fine in the channel between Bequia and St. Vincent although we did get some showers. Then we had the predictable no wind in the lee of St. Vincent. Out in the channel between St. Vincent and St. Lucia it got nasty. We had 20-28 kt winds with gusts in the mid-30's. The swell increased to 10 ft and the wave interval was not 9 seconds as predicted. It was more like 5-6 seconds. So we had 4 hours of big wind and seas as we guided Merengue up one side of a wave and down the other. The rail was in the water a lot and spray kept flying in on us. We arrived in St. Lucia tired and salty.

A few miles off shore the seas started to settle down and we had this rainbow beckoning us to come to St. Lucia.

In Souffriere, we picked up one of the last available moorings that was situated off the south shore of the bay near town. The first time we visited Soufriere was 20 years ago and while there are many more tourists visiting, little else has changed. We are always struck by the poverty here. Most of the houses are shacks with no plumbing. We saw children heading off to school but many more remained to play by the ocean all day. We were told that families have to pay to send their children to school. If this is true it's easy to see that most cannot afford to do that.

We think this is a pig-pen along the shore. During the day, the pigs roamed the rocky shore in front of the houses.

Just across the bay, a beautiful schooner-style cruise ship.

Jim couldn't resist a shot of this boat moored behind us. Hinano is one of his favorite beers because it comes from Tahiti. Hey, can we come over for happy hour?
Only about 15 miles north but about a million miles away from the poverty in Souffriere is Rodney Bay where we are anchored now. Named for Admiral Rodney of the British Navy this is a beautiful bay with beaches, hotels and restaurants. The only down side to this anchorage are the jet skiers who seem to like to use the anchored boats as an obstacle course. But hey, they're on vacation. Let them have their fun.

On Saturday we hiked up to the fort where Admiral Rodney kept an eye on the French in Martinique and then continued on up the hill to take in the view. You can just barely see the ruins of the fort at the tip of this peninsula.

It's always great when you come into a harbor and see friends you haven't seen in awhile. Here we are with David and Jan (M/V Deja Bleu) whom we haven't seen since Nov 2007 in Luperon, Dominican Republic.

Here are a few shots of ruins from the barracks and other buildings that made up the military complex that dates back to the 1700's.

See the rock sticking out of the water about a mile off-shore? You'll notice the side is hollowed out. Admiral Rodney had his troops use it for target practice.
Well, it looks like we may be in St. Lucia through next weekend if the seas don't settle down. We're getting some weird weather here. There are merging swells according to the weather sites, one from the east which is normal and the other from the northwest which is not typical. Consequently all the normally protected anchorages along the west shore have had about a 2 ft swell rolling through them. That makes cooking, sleeping and just living aboard uncomfortable. It's predicted to last all week but last night it settled down a bit and we were able to sleep well again.
When we leave St. Lucia we'll head to Martinique with Joe and Becky (Half Moon) to do some sightseeing. Then Jim and I will push north to meet friends in St. Martin in March.
Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Hey kids,
    Sounds like your doing great. Love the rainbow picture and the b/w ones too. I'm laid off awaiting my work permit which I don't think is going to happen now. Sue is off on a 7 day cruise as chef. Hi to Becky and Joe.