Return to Saint Lucia

Published: February 19th 2013
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Grenada to St Lucia – going North

We left Grenada after a bit of a false start as we went alongside into the nearby dock in Prickly Bay to fill up with water and check out. This is a Caribbean ritual that comprises of taking the boat papers and passports to each island, filling out loads of forms (similar in each island) handing over hard cash and then doing the same ridiculous system on arrival at your next port of call. The smaller the banana republic the greater the amount of paperwork! This sounds like a local authority that I used to work at! So after filling up and saying a very sad goodbye to Mr and Mrs Maloo we waved goodbye and set off for the high seas. That was until we had a call on the VHF from Davide, the very likeable Italian manager of Prickly Bay Marina, saying that we had left all our papers and passports in his office! I would love to say that this is not normal in our lives but this type of administrative faux pas has become a thing that we Duncans occasionally like to do – just to keep the people around us on their toes. So after calling the Maloo’s on the radio they came to the rescue by dinghy and with outstretched arms returned the said paperwork. What would you do without friends?

After this we settled down again and started to stow away the ropes and set the sails ready to make our way to Carriacou. We had only just cleared the southern tip of Grenada, in about 25 knots, when the genoa halyard parted (front sail to you and I). OMG – disaster(!) as this was a brand new (out of the packet) genoa that Alastair (Gill’s Dad) had ordered from UK and had delivered to the Caribbean. After quite a bit of swearing and shouting, Gill and I tried with everything we had to pull the sail from the water and prevent it disappearing beneath the boat. What can I say but back-breaking, and after many attempts we decided that this was not going to work. While this was happening, the fishing lines went flying out, prompting another outbreak of Thoerets. Cameron began to sort out the fishing line – to bad as we lost the fish. Gill then decided to attach a spare halyard to the top of the sail and try to winch it up – which involves someone on the bow getting bounced around and soaked, whilst feeding the luff of the sail into the groove on the roller furling and someone working like made on the winch. Not sure which I would prefer, but I got allocated the winching (it’s good for you – Gill). Helpfully whilst Cameron was panicking with the fishing line Samuel was down below (of course) and planting an unhelpful idea in the Cameron’s mind by calling casually “we’re all going to die”. Children are such a blessing!!!

Once all returned to normal we went for a short sail to the next island of Carriacou. I’m sorry to say there was not much to see there and we decide to just chill, apart from a brief trip ashore to get some bread and basic supplies. We did however meet a nice chap called Warrior who asked if we would like some Oysters for the next day, picked freshly from the mangroves. Well, to me they are lovely but I have three fellow passengers that think they look like a mixture of “Harry Munk” or snot – not sure which one is better? But in the spirit of all things new we order a dozen and waited until the morning for our special delivery. Warrior arrived, as agreed, first thing and preceded to open and de-beard the little gems onto our plate, whilst telling us on numerous occasions “there is one thing that you should know about these oysters – they are delishosh” in a thick Caribbean accent. My three little brave soldiers didn’t want to hurt Warrior’s feelings so we all tucked in to these fresh delishosh oysters from the mangroves. Great start to the day – shame there wasn’t something cold and white to go with them!

Sandy Island

A short sail around the corner and we came to a small spit of land called Sandy Island. Not sure why it was called an island as it was more of a sandy bar and had nothing on it save the amazing white sand and turquoise water. Heaven! We had a lovely afternoon, snorkelling and the boys played with a lovely dog and then ended the evening with the ritual of sun-downers and supper and as usual bed by 9 – we are still amazed if we manage to stay awake that late!

Union Island, Chatham Bay

We spent a fun few days in the beautiful forest-lined tranquil bay with nothing but jumping fish, pelicans and a couple of beach-side shacks. We spent a lovely few days with Rafiki and the Blues to celebrate Emily’s Birthday (turning the grand age of 10) with a BBQ on the beach and cake and tea on board their boat.

Again, as always, we had to check in and instead of taking the boat into the capital Clifton (where we were hit) so Gill decided that he would run up the track leading up and over the hills (it was horrendously hot and I regretted it immediately – I’d rather have another bent pulpit and damaged hull! Freddie wimped out too – lazy civie! – Gill). Gladly I took the other task of looking after the boys, not sure which one is harder (oh come on – Gill). This was a charming bay with nothing else to do but chill, swim, snorkel, read and the boys enjoyed collecting sand dollars and sea biscuits. Yes, I never heard to them before, so for those of you like me, you might want to google them!

Tobago Cays – Our explore (Samuel)

Mum, Dad, Samuel and Freddie went swimming and saw about ten starfish and on the last starfish we saw a great Barracuda trying to eat a starfish. Then we saw three turtles all together – one swam over the other. We went expgloring on the little island and saw 11 iguanas’ and Cameron, Mum and I saw one mummy tortoise and a baby one. The baby had orange spots on its shell and the mum had red spots on its shell. The first time we went to the beach we got soaked as it was so windy. We did see the island where Jack Sparrow got abandoned by Hector Barbosa, but there were too big waves to get there, so we went home.

PSV or Petit St Vincent

The words, Exclusive, Expensive, Exquisite are the best three words to use when you need to describe this tropical island that some rich tycoon bought back when islands in the Caribbean were for sale. Of course we didn’t stay in one of the £4,000-a-night villa’s with your own butler and buggy cars to get around the island but we enjoyed sitting on the beach, drinking beers at the bar and of course, wondering what the other guests did to afford such luxury. These houses also come with your own flag system where you can change them to alert the 24 hour staff whether you need drinks, food etc or be left completely alone. I would like to try that on Fabiola when I want a cup of tea but think I may be waiting a long time and peace and tranquility are only interrupted when you really want it ( set sail is the key to keeping the kids down below – Gill). On the first night we bought a large dorado from a local fisherman and I cooked a (delicious – Gill) Thai fish curry for the 12 of us on board ( joined by Rafiki and the Blues) before we took the plunge to eat ashore (for Rob’s birthday) in the beachfront hotel restaurant and prepare for the huge bill and terribly shoddy service (astoundingly the waiter was monging on his mobile as he took our order – we were clearly in his way)! Next day Freddie and I (Open Blue) went early for a island wander to see how much of the island we were allowed to explore before we were ejected to the beach as non residents and booked Fred’s spa treatment (belated present from hubbie) I looked at the price list and consider a small treatment so that I could lounge alongside her in the spa, although I thought paying £60.00 for a ten minute bikini wax was a little excessive (depends upon the amount of hair being extracted – Gill)! The evening came and we all got out our glad rags and started with cocktails and then sat down for dinner in this most amazing beach fronted restaurant. Fred and I had already selected our tables (at last met someone as toxic as me) which was a hand carved mangrove base with a circular glass top. This doesn’t really do it justice as each table had an individual style of its own which you looked at and imagined repeating when you get home. Grandpa - I have already got the designs on paper and will ask that Geppetto can make me one when we get home! That said, dinner was a little disappointing which one wouldn’t expect from a 5 star plus resort but the company was great and the setting amazing, so I can’t complain – grrrrrr!

Palm Island

Next morning we headed off for a lunchtime stop on the way to the Tobago Cays. This was a bracing reach as we slid through the waves like butter. Little did we know that this was a race with The Blues as we flew towards the island with the Blues starting 10 minutes ahead of us ahead and us charging up behind. We quickly passed another boat and were fast approaching the Blues as we flew into Palm Island at max speed with the Blues announcing that they had won (“Protest” as they clearly crossed “the imaginary startline” at the “imaginary 10 minute gun!” – next time Blues… AND I can I say at this point that he who casts the first racing blog does not mean that they are either winners or any longer friends!!!! – Gill). This was a brief stop on another exclusive island where we were constantly reminded to stay to the path (and keep our kids on a lead!) and were not to sunbath under some palm trees but allowed to sit under others. How very strange. After a quick bite we headed back on board and headed onto Tobago Cays.

Ramueau Bay, Canouan, by Cameron and Mummy

From there we left on our own as Rafiki and The Blues headed straight for Bequia while we decided to take a short hop for a day to relax on this new island that we hadn’t visited before. When we approached it was clear that we couldn’t go into the main bay as we were too deep, so we settled for a night time stop along the coast in a little bay called Ramueau. To our delight we were the only boat so, as the Marines would say, “Naked Boat!” was declared and we enjoyed a relaxing day swimming and snorkeling with less clothing than normal!

Whilst we were snorkeling we saw Puffer Fish, Trumpet Fish and Christmas Tree sea anemone – which when you touch the top they quickly went inside themselves. I also found a sea biscuit on the way back which I dived down to get. I also think I saw a spotted eagle ray which has spots on its back. As soon as I had got out of the water, Dad and I cleaned the hull and the propeller, which wasn’t much fun but needed doing.

Bequia - Gill

Leaving Rameau we sailed fast and tight upwind to Bequia.

As a matter of course now we trail a fishing lure to augment our diet with some free-range protein (which is not easily found). Fish represents the best fresh meal that we can get and after 6 months or so of sailing we have a few tried and tested methods of cooking it. Having changed the line and pimped it with a “bling bling” pink sparkly lure I had a feeling of confidence that we might catch something. I was not expecting a bite and subsequent fight of such ferocity! Assuming that I had caught Moby Dick when the line went out at huge speed, I grabbed hold of the rod and gradually increased the resistance to start to tire the fish out. Tuna fight notoriously hard and even once the fish had come to the surface, some 40 metres from the boat it clearly had decided that this was a feint only and that the fight had just begun. It then started to pull really hard on the reel and even with the maximum resistance on the line it was pulling away and down. Lisa had to let the wind out of the genoa (our only sail flying) and slow the boat down but even then it was a back-breaking task. Once the fish arrived aboard it was not the leviathan I was expecting – perhaps only a 5kg blackfin tuna – but he was absolutely spent, as was I.

On arrival in Bequia we met up with the Blues and Rafiki again. Admiralty Bay is a great spot, a fabulous beach, turtles in the bay, a secure anchorage and one of the best places in the Caribbean to decalcify a blocked holding tank! For those of you not wise to the world of the holding tank it is a sealed container where feces and urine are stored while in remote beaches so as to preserve the water quality. It is one of those jobs that you don’t ever want to have to do let alone get it wrong or the worker will literally be up to their ears in Windsor soup! I can think of no finer way to spend a hot day below decks! Luckily the task in hand went off well and the upshot is that we will not have to use it again – ever but I am content that were the next vendor really wish to inspect it they would see that it was the cleanest, nicest holding tank in the Western world!

We ate our fish with the Open Blues and the kids from Rafiki. Stir fry is really the very best way to get fresh fish into the children and the whole fish disappeared between 10 of us without any leftovers! I am not sure that any of the three families at dinner would have set about a fish supper (without chips and batter) 6 months ago!

Bequia is only a small island and I think that we had exhausted most of its delights on the first stop, so we felt that it was time to move onwards and make our rendez-vous with Juno. Rafiki and the Blues were heading the same way, Open Blue the day later so it was with Rafiki that we set off expecting a very hard fought passage north and with both reefs in the main and the staysail set we plodded out of Admiralty Bay. We had prearranged kids and adults quizzes to be done en route with the Rafikis which meant that the time was spent both educationally and interestingly. The Blues could hear the questions but no one could hear their responses from Bequia. The time flew by and, in fact, the sail was very easy once we realized that it was not going to be the “roaring forties” and started flying some main and genoa and we tramped along in the direction of St Lucia, aiming for the Pitons or Marigot Bay. After (yes) 4 hours of quiz Cameron hosted, a la Nicholas Parsonas, a “Name that Tune” competition. This involved playing iTunes as loudly as he could in the saloon and then pressing the VHF handset button. It was quite traumatic hearing 15 seconds of ACDC at full whack and then silence. It is also clear that we don’t share many of the same musical tastes as Rafiki as neither boat were able to recognize each other’s music!

Just before dark we nipped around the corner into Marigot Bay, secured moorings for both ourselves and he fast approaching Rafikis and then ate and went to bed. 60 miles upwind on Fabiola was not as uncomfortable as we had imagined. The following morning, to beat the boat boys, we were away to Rodney Bay. Another day of jobs and provisioning, topping up water and taking advantage of the local amenities and then ready to start the next leg of our modest Odyssey – a la France!

Additional photos below
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Fabiola's entry to the Palm Island "Bread Off"Fabiola's entry to the Palm Island "Bread Off"
Fabiola's entry to the Palm Island "Bread Off"

1st Prize - "How do you like them apples" - Freddie"

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