Friday, June 20, 2008

Dave and Derek talking boats.....

Gregory the Fruitman here in Rodney Bay. Every day, rain or shine, fresh papayas, mangoes, pineapples. He blows a conch horn to let you know he's at your boat.

Well, we're still here in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. Its been almost 3 weeks now - about 2 weeks too long, but we are stuck waiting for parts for our watermaker which quit the morning after we received the other boat bits we were waiting for! It all takes time in "de islands, Mon". Also, the weather is starting to deteriorate (currently rain squalls with gusts to 25 knots) and looks like it will get pretty nasty over the next week, with squalls to 50 knots and 13 ft. seas in the open waters. We'll likely stay put until it calms down toward the end of next week. Still, we don't expect much sympathy from our friends up North.

To keep ourselves amused, we've been to several Happy Hours at the various bars along the beach, hiked up to see the fort built by Admiral Rodney on Pigeon Island, rented a car to drive down to see the volcano at Soufriere, shopped in the market at Castries and swim everyday off the back of the boat. We are also doing boat chores and visiting with Lynn and Randy, who are also still here waiting for a good weather window. Had a very nice dinner the other night on their boat. We may rent a car with them and try heading to the rainforest and out to the East coast. Once the weather settles, we plan to scoot down to Bequia and the Tobago Keys, staying there as long as we can while keeping an eye out for any hurricane activity in the South Atlantic.

Gardening at 8 knots! A nice way to combine your hobbies....
En route from Martinique to St. Lucia.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

“Life ain’t all beer and skittles…”. Installing new solar panel controllers (Blue Sky MPPT units that seem to be living up to the advertising and delivering about 15% more output from our 480 watts of solar panels). Doing anything, even at night (so there is no output from the panels), creates rivers of sweat. Cathy had to stand by to mop up so I didn’t drip into the circuitry.

A stop along the incredibly twisty road between Castries and Soufriere in St. Lucia. The Pitons behind us. Not sure I’ve ever driven such a long stretch of unrelentingly twisty (and steep) road. Too bad it was in a little Dihatsu that was so underpowered we had to shut off the a/c to keep over 20mph on the uphills. Would have been a lot more fun in the ol' Bimmer!

Our friends Lynn and Randy of the Canadian yacht “High States”. They are from Victoria too – Finlayson Arm in Saanich Inlet. Small world. We are anchored right next to them here in Rodney Bay (that's the bay in the background - we are at the top of Pigeon Island), and are enjoying their company as we both make our way “down island”.

Cathy at the Castries market buying a “heap” of mangoes. Apparently, a heap is 4, plus we got one more as a bonus - resulting in mango pancakes for Father's Day breakfast. Cathy keeps us well fed!

Mt. Pelee looking very benign (those are clouds – not smoke).

The St. Pierre market. We didn’t buy any fish – should have.

Anchored off the next beach South of Marigot in St. Lucia. Sailed down there from Rodney Bay where we met up with our friend Dave from Victoria who was putting his boat up on the hard for the hurricane season before heading home for 6 months. Had a great visit and some good sailing with him for a couple of days. (Seems I’ve lost a few pounds since getting out from behind a desk, in spite of the necessity of quaffing a few beers to combat the heat!).

Life is good! Cathy and I sailing along in about 15 knots of (warm) wind in flat water on the West side of St. Lucia. Boat is moving along nicely at 8+ knots. Our friend Dave took the picture, and then he gave us some sail trim advice and got us sailing closer to the wind and faster. Once a racer always a racer! Thanks Dave!

Life will be good again as soon as I finish cleaning out the almost inaccessible bow compartment!

The St. Pierre waterfront off which we anchored. The current houses and have been built on the ruins of those destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Pelee in 1902, in which all 30,000 inhabitants were killed, (save one prisoner who was in an underground cell).

St. Pierre fisherman hauling their net just in front of where we were anchored.

Cathy finishing her appertif before we head ashore for dinner in St. Pierre.

Idyll Island waiting in the evening light for our return.

Tristan and Cathy sitting down to breakfast at anchor off Vieques in Spanish Virgin Islands. Vieques used to be a US Navy firing range. Tristan wanted to find some of the unexploded ordnance that the signs kept warning us about. We did find what looked like it might have been a shell partially buried in the shallows, but left it undisturbed – much to T’s frustration!

We are anchored in North Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVIs. One of our favourite spots. Just taking a pause to tighten the trampoline nets before we head across the Anegada Passage that night to St. Maartens. The tighter they are the less chance that the fastenings will break when the nets are submerged as the boat pounds through waves going to windward. And the bows do completely submerge at times!

Thought maybe we should change the name of Idyll Island. A tanker heading in to the oil transhipment facility on St. Eustatia (‘Statia). Having left St. Maartens that morning, we had planned to spend the night in the anchorage, but when we realized it was right under the oil facility we changed our minds and kept going to St. Kitts, where we arrived after dark in Ballast Bay and slept soundly after a great meal that Cathy had prepared as we approached.

Sunset after the squall. Between Statia and St. Kitts. Not bad – winds to 25. Single reef and we scooted along at 9 knots.

Approaching St. Pierre on Martinique. Have had a good day’s sailing from Isles des Saintes in Guadeloupe, which we really enjoyed. Isles des Saintes was only place where we took an extra day on our sail down from St. Maartens to St. Lucia to meet our friend Dave. St. Pierre is a great little town where we spent a delightful evening and had a good meal ashore. People were friendly and accommodated our very rusty attempts “a parle francais”.