Pete snuck out of our anchorage sans motor in a light breeze around 6am whilst we all slept. The hop from Martinique to St Lucia was only a short 4 hour sail, and we could see St Lucia in the distance.
This is the type of sailing I enjoy, lying in bed listening to the slight slap of water against the hull, and gently rocking in low to almost negligible swell! We all slowly got up and were very happy to see St Lucia getting closer, and the plan of a week in a marina for some land-time, showers, laundry and re provisioning.
We also had friends from the UK to catch up with – the Janes – Sam, Mei-lin and their 2 boys, Sammy and Ralph. They were staying at the newly opened Royalton Hotel, and we were so lucky to be able to spend the day with them at the hotel, and enjoy not only the resort facilities and their company, but breakfast, lunch AND dinner at the restaurants. What bliss! The boys tucked into the smorgasbord b’fast and lunch, then we had a Tepanyaki dinner, complete with very entertaining chef who did the traditional egg toss! Ben and I managed to catch the airborne egg (as Pete put it, when there’s food about I don’t often miss out, even the smallest crumb flying through the air is not to be wasted!).
Whilst hanging around the pool at the Ronald Bay Marina we met with a local who demonstrated making a hat out of coconut palm leaves. In about 15 minutes, the hat was complete, and we happily paid him for his demo, along with some more $$$ for an extra hat for Tom and a couple of baskets for our fruit!
The Jane’s were joining us for a couple of weeks on the boat after their 6 night stay at the Royalton, and our plans were to explore further south from St Lucia. With 9 on the boat it was a bit of an experiment as to how comfortable it would be, although Pete had located rooms at a beautiful resort for us all to break up the trip and have some long awaited land time. Sam and Mei-lin had last gone sailing with us on our honeymoon in Thailand, back in 2000, whilst Mei-lin was pregnant with Sam junior. That trip had 12 of us in 2 smaller boats, so we knew it was possible!
With the boat all tidied up, and food for the next leg, we left Rodney Bay marina on the Saturday night and anchored in the bay near Pigeon Island to listen to music from a big musical event, Mercury 2017, which had about 4000 people from the nearby islands gathered for the biggest beach party in the Caribbean, a yearly, apparently fairly wild event, where there were lots of bikini clad, inebriated folk dancing the afternoon and night away. Pete, Sam, Sammie and Ben headed ashore for a quick look, and all came back with smiles on their faces, so I’m guessing that they weren’t disappointed with what they saw. There was a huge stage, with screens and videos, pounding music and a water spray jet cooling the crowd. Anticipating pounding music all night, we were pleasantly surprised when the music stopped just after 10pm, so a good sleep was had by all. Actually, that’s not quite true – our new crew found the boat incredibly hot, so some decamped to the cockpit, in between rain squalls, a pattern that continued for the rest of their trip unfortunately. I guess we have just got used to sweating it out, and intermittent sleep, broken by scrambles to close hatches, is pretty much the norm now we are in the raining season.
Next morning, after fuelling up, we headed south to the Piton’s, a world heritage site which consists of 2 stunning volcanic peaks, just outside the town of Soufriere. We anchored in Malgretout bay, helped out by the local “buoy boys”, and the kids had a great afternoon being dragged by Captain Pete behind the dinghy on our donut.
Before the sun fully set for the day, we headed out to walk/climb to a restaurant called Dashee, famous for its spectacular views of the Piton’s. After a 45 minute hike, we found ourselves unfortunately on the wrong side of the mountain, and at the wrong resort. After a bit of haggling with a taxi driver, we got the price of a ten minute trip to Dasheen down from $50 US to $30 US, so we all piled in and gladly enjoyed the ride, exhausted after the very steep climb we had made so far. As it turned out, the walk to Dasheen was much longer than would have been acceptable to the kids and the taxi driver offered to return us to the boat for free after our sunset drinks! The view was amazing, and the bar itself very quaint, although with prices to match. Very much worth the walk and taxi to get here though.
Back on the boat it was dinner and bed, ready for an early sail the next morning across the sea to the windward side of St Vincents and then down to Bequia. The guide book describes this crossing as hard on the wind and hard on the body, and for our guests this proved to be all too true unfortunately. Pete set off early, however once out in the open sea, away from the protection of St Lucia, all guests were on deck and soon popping Travacalm’s and Kwells to stave off the nausea. After beating and bouncing into the wind for a couple of hours, Captain Pete, in order to avoid mutiny by the crew, headed downwind into the protection of the lee of St Vincent’s. Colour soon reappeared in Mei-Lin’s cheeks, although quickly disappeared when very strong gusts caught us as we rounded the tip of St Vincent, blowing so hard the boat went into a broach (that is, rounded up into the wind). Sails were quickly reefed in, and the drama settled quickly.
Once in the lee of the island, despite a fast opposing current and some chop, sailing was much smoother and we all enjoyed toasted cheese and ham sandwiches, slipping past the southern end of St Vincents and on to Bequia by mid afternoon. Pete finally managed to catch a Mahi Mahi, what a beautiful fish!
We anchored in Admiralty Bay, just outside the lower bay and Jack’s bar, and a short dinghy ride to the town of Port Elizabeth. Bequia is relatively unspoiled, with fruit and vege markets scattered along the sides of the streets, lots of nice buildings and restaurants along the bay, and beautiful clear water. We explored the town, then returned to the boat for dinner – it seems that prices in this area look like being consistently high, so eating out will be saved for when we can’t cope eating on the boat and when our food supplies dwindle! Of course, with Mahi Mahi on the menu, there was definitely no need to eat out that night!