Feb 7 - Update

Well, Ian Cowan of Island Water World here in Rodney Bay Marina was kind enough to email his source in Florida, who then used her Raritan sources to find out the cost of a new cylinder pump housing; not an easy piece to find. Suffice to say, the price was high enough to justify chucking that whole idea and buying a new Jabsco Model 29090-3000 Manual Compact toilet, which has now been installed aboard. This morning I finished stripping out most all the usable parts from the old Raritan, and now have quite a collection of new and used spare parts for the Raritan PHII, which eventually will be sold to some lucky cruiser at greatly reduced prices. Sheesh, you should check the catalog prices for most of these parts...crazy high. The Raritan bowl and cracked housing got placed in the proper recycling area here at the marina; Rodney Bay Marina has one of the few recycling areas in the entire Caribbean. At any rate, every day finds that various other small projects have been completed. We also ordered two Lifeline AGM 8D batteries to be shipped from DC Batteries in Miami to here; note: an agent is required for Customs clearance as well. Unfortunately, shipping via Tropical Shipping from Miami to St Lucia will be on next week's palate, so we'll be hanging around Rodney Bay until their arrival the 18th, then pull back into the marina for another 1-2 days for pick-up and installation. Sue just reminded me to mention that we had a lesson on how to play the steel drums yesterday. We took a short walk to the nearby reknown Gros Islet Pantime Steel Orchestra school, where the instructor patiently tapped out rhythms to a few yachties and visitors who tried to keep up. Fun and games in paradise.

Feb 2 - Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

For you eagle-eyed followers of this tome, yes...we've back-tracked. We had a delightful sail from Petite Anse D'Arlet direct to Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia to sort out our batteries. In a nutshell, they're toast. We had hoped to nurse them along until we reached Saint Maarten, but waking up this last week to a house voltage of 10.3-10.5V just didn't allow that; and that with the freezer & refrigerator turned off! These present batteries were purchased only four years ago (almost to the day) in Opua, New Zealand, and are Toyama Hybrid AGM-Gel batteries, size 8D. We had certainly hoped to get a longer lifespan, so are quite disappointed in the reality. Caveat emptor. Obtaining high quality 8D AGM batteries in Martinique proved an insurmountable problem; easier to arrange everything here in St. Lucia and sail the short hop to get them. In addition, in the last week, the pump housing of our 7 year old Raritan PHII Compact toilet developed several tiny cracks along its base. Never any good to have a leaky toilet; the housing will have to be ordered and replaced here as well. Along with a few other minor annoyances that need attention, we'll stay around here until everything is top notch again.
Pic: Approaching St. Lucia; Rodney Bay is just around Pigeon Point off the port bow.

Jan 17 - Update

Along with 3 other boats crews, we hiked around to Point Saline; return being about 10 km (6 miles). The bays nearby are beautiful and, of note to those interested, we walked by one of the several clothing-optional beaches. The next day, we tied our dinghy to sv Maia, and hitched a ride to Le Marin, which gave us a chance to explore the area and shop at the chandleries and Leader Price, the local large grocery aside from the Carrefour, which we didn't go to. The marina at Marin holds about 700 boats, and along with those yachts anchored, there must be over 800-900 boats around this bay. There's also a haul-out yard and all the technical support services most yachts would need. Too bad hurricanes come this far north....At night at anchor, the loud music still vibrates through the boat, especially on weekends. There are daily rain showers, but the wind has been quite modest for the last few days.

Jan 15 -Sainte-Anne, Martinique

Pos: N14deg26min / W060deg53min. We stored the dinghy early morning and motored over to the fuel dock to top off, having previously been told that the fuel in St. Lucia was the least expensive to be found. We cast off the lines at 0845, put a single reef in the main, put up the staysail, and unfurled about 1/3 of the jib. Wind was ENE at 15-20 knots and there was a 1-1.5 meter swell from the NE which slowed us down a bit. Overall, it was a wonderful trip, and we tacked once to lay the expansive anchorage at Sainte-Anne, having to motor the last 3 miles as the wind was directly on the nose at that point. We anchored amongst the large fleet of about 200 boats in about 20' water. All's well and we're looking forward to clearing in tomorrow and brushing up on our French.
Pic: Partial view of the anchorage in front of Ste. Anne. Buoys mark the prohibited area closer to shore.

Jan 12 - Update

It’s been a busy few days here. Last Saturday saw the start of the World ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) rally. This is sponsored by the ARC organization, and participants sign on for the entire, or various portions, of the around-the-world regatta. The entire scenario takes but 20 months; a very fast pace indeed. In the evening, we dinghied over to The Landings to listen to a sax player at happy hour. The next afternoon, we joined Chis and David (sv Platina) and their guest, Eric, as well as Bruce and Clark (sv Two Amigos) for craft beer at Antillias, followed by pizza at the restaurant outside Baywalk Mall “downtown.” The next morning, we hiked the historic Pigeon Island National Park ($7USD/EC 17.69 pp), along with our friends Tom & Delwyn of sv Mahalo. The top of Fort Rodney and Signal Hill has fantastic views; after, we shared an after-hike lunch at the cafĂ© Jambe de Bois at the base of the fort at water’s edge. Their coffee is great, and there’s an extensive book exchange as well as wifi. Yesterday, Sue and I decided on a road trip, and took the public buses from the marina entrance south to Soufriere. We changed buses at Castries , and total cost for the entire day’s transportation was 42 EC return for both of us. We walked thru the Botanical Gardens ($8USD pp) in Soufriere, and also walked to the base of Petit Piton. Returning to the marina, we picked up our laundry from Suds Laundry, on campus of the marina; cost was 50EC for a large load (twice as expensive as having the laundry done in Bequia.) Looking forward, there’s a cruisers pot-luck aboard the pirate ship "The Pearl" coming up as well as the weekly women’s lunch get-together; the almost daily yoga and tai’ chi classes, and various other social outlets. It’s become obvious that one needs to schedule time for boat projects and such…:) Rodney Bay…another sticky place.
Pic: The view of Rodney Bay from Pigeon Is.

Jan 4 - Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Pos: N14deg05.05min/ W060deg57.53min. We had an uneventful passage from Bequia to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia (just the way we like it). Departing at about 1630 hours, we had a pretty good sail to the west side of St. Vincent, hitting over 8 knots at times. That ended a few miles into the lee of the island, where we had to crank up the motor in little wind. The passing 25-32 knot squalls kept life interesting, and putting the second reef in, shaking the second reef out, putting more jib out, taking more jib in...well, you probably get the idea. We anchored at 1030 in the morning in 13' of water in front of a nice beach, avoiding the most crowded areas as well as the marina. Although tired, we launched the dinghy, put on the newly serviced Tohatsu 9.8 outboard, and almost got to the marina. The engine ran for 5 minutes and died. Of course, I had no tools with me, so we paddled like Hiawatha, as one of the oars has a broken oarlock whose repair didn't hold....Fun and games. After a few hundred yards, a couple of young guys took mercy and towed us in to the dinghy dock. Looking around for the Customs Office, we promptly ran into some friends of ours we had first met at Bequia, Chis and David of sv Platina, and it was like old times. After a bit, we bolted to the Health Office, apparently to ensure we weren't carrying, nor subject to, any communicable diseases, then it was up the stairs to Customs, which, by the way, uses the eSail Clear computer system. More stamped forms, then over to Immigration, and finally, to the Port Captain's desk. As he wasn't there, we were instructed to return in the morning to pay our port fees. We managed a tow back to Infini (thanks, Horst of sv Sapphire), and by that time, it was late afternoon and we both needed some rest. It's great to be here. There's a 0830 morning VHF radio net which provides, among other details, a very detailed weather report. Good stuff. We'll start exploring tomorrow; g'night all.
Pic: We awoke to a new neighbor. More eye candy.

Jan 1 - Happy New Year!

A very Happy New Year to all! We celebrated with pizza and friends at the newly re-opened Plantation House, and returned to Infini to watch a wonderful fireworks display which began at midnight. May 2016 bring good health, prosperity, and satisfaction to everyone!
Pic: Our neighbor, the Stad Amsterdam, a fully rigged clipper ship. Eye candy.

Dec 26 - Happy Boxing Day!

We had a lovely Christmas potluck dinner with 24 cruisers (including 2 children) getting together, using the tables and facilities at the Fig Tree Restaurant. The feast was plentiful, and most of us didn't eat breakfast the next morning. In the anchorage, it's been like a roller derby. Boats are dragging, re-anchoring multiple times, and there's been a few near misses but only two collisions that we know of. Very entertaining, unless you're the target. We've moved our anchoring spot twice to get away from neighbors that were too close and refused to move. Fortunately, we haven't been hit, but I must say, apparently we must have a bull's eye painted on our hull somewhere. Holding here in Admiralty Bay is dodgy; there's good holding in sand, but many areas appear sandy but are in actuality a thin layer of sand on top of gravel...almost impossible to get the anchor to bite; hence, boats drag as they finally come to that realization. Of course, all this is happening in steady winds of 20-25 knots and squalls to 37 knots! At any rate, it's all good. We've been visiting neighbors, learning what a real mince pie should taste like, and enjoying ourselves. Likewise, we hope all of you enjoyed your Christmas and had a chance to see family and friends. Cheers!