ST. LUCIA -
Thursday, October 29 -
There were storms behind us and storms up ahead of us, but somehow our timing was perfect and we missed all of them. We neared the famous natural wonder of the Pitons near the southern end of St. Lucia at about 1:30pm. The rain clouds were mostly covering them up at first, making it hard to get a good photo, but then the clouds started to dissipate.
A huge pod of small dolphins (maybe spinners) came by and played alongside the boat for a few minutes! About an hour later ANOTHER pod of dolphins, bigger in size and in number, swam past us to hunt a huge school of fish. Four different dolphin encounters in one day. Unheard of!
In other exciting news, we caught our first fish today! We had a hand line dragging behind the boat, and a jack grabbed our lure! Not a very big fish, but big enough to eat, and a good start for us. Skeeter had no trouble pulling it up. We thanked the poor little guy for his sacrifice and Skeeter ended his suffering.
I hadn’t been fishing in over 20 years, and Skeeter in over 10 years. We aren’t super confident about our fishing abilities, and don’t want to catch something out of our league. I have this fear that we will catch a huge fish and it will pull one of us overboard. Plus, we don’t have autopilot and a bigger fish could take two of us to haul aboard. Also, we don't want to be wasteful and kill something that we can't eat.
While this was happening, I thought it a good opportunity to have Dad take the helm. I gave him instructions on how to hold a compass heading, and then I went to the back of the boat to take pictures and to bring Skeeter the never-before-used filleting kit.
Skeeter filleted the fish. It was his first time filleting an ocean fish, and I think he did a much better job than I could have done. I had no idea how to fillet a fish, and wasn't mentally prepared to cut into a recently living creature. I should probably be a vegetarian if I can't handle this kind of thing. But I think I'll eventually get over it.
Dad stayed at the helm for a while, getting better and better at staying on course. Steering a sailboat for the first time is harder than it seems, since you have to anticipate how the boat is going to move because there’s a lag between you turning the wheel and the boat’s response. Next time we had to trim the sails we let Dad take the winch handle and sheet in both the main and the Genoa. He was becoming a real sailor.
Now Skeeter and I had a chance to relax and take it easy, because Captain John had the helm.
We arrived at Marigot Bay at 4pm, beating the sunset. As I motored into the bay it felt like we were being attacked by vultures. A boy in a dinghy zipped up to us at high speed, and a drunk guy wearing a Santa hat in a kayak full of bananas & his bottle of booze paddled toward us with all his might.
|Drunk Santa (Noel)|
|Another fruit vendor|
The boy was not an official marina staff member, like we had been hoping, but he led us to one of the marina’s moorings in the inner bay. He took our mooring line from Skeeter and ran it through the mooring, helping us tie up. He asked for a tip, and Skeeter gave him a small tip even though tying up to a mooring is something we could easily have done on our own.
|Capella Marigot Marina|
The inner bay was very calm and protected, so calm that it is considered a hurricane hole and boats come here if there is a storm. The only waves were created by other boats and the water taxi that constantly shuttled resort guests to the beach during the day.
|Calm, protected waters|
|The water taxi shuttled resort guests to the beach|
Drunk Santa (really named Noel) suddenly appeared next to us and started opening up bananas. He handed one to me, one to Dad, and one to Skeeter. I was really hungry, so I took it and ate it. I called it a banana bribe. Normally, he said, he charges tourists $30EC for a bunch of bananas, but we get the local price – $20EC. I laughed. $20 EC is equivalent to $8 US. There is no way locals pay that much for bananas here. He definitely took us for fools. Bananas are dirt cheap in this part of the world, and he probably just picked them off someone else’s tree. I bargained him down to $10EC and got him to throw in a couple of limes too. Still an expensive bunch of bananas, but after his banana bribe I felt obligated to give him something.
|Drunk Santa trying his banana bribery on another boat|
We had heard about Marigot Bay and Capella Resort from our friends Gayle & Todd on My Motu and Mark & Sheryl on Peaceful Lady. For $20 a night you get a mooring in the inner bay, and use of the 4.5 star resort’s facilities: internet, pool with waterfall, towels, gym, and hot showers. It was an impressive resort. Nicer than any resort I had ever seen. We were super impressed by the staff, too. They were incredibly welcoming, and had the best customer service skills I had seen.
We went for an evening swim, took our first hot showers in a long long time, and then went on a mission to find dinner.
We left the resort premises to find a local place called “JJ’s.” The short walk “up the hill” ended up being more of a hike up a mountain. JJ’s ended up being closed, but some local guys pointed us in the direction of another place with local food called “Julietta’s.”
The place looked nice, with wooden chairs and tables with tablecloths and flowers overlooking the marina from the mountainside. When we got the menus we saw that the restaurant made local food targeted to tourists. The prices were way higher than what we were looking for, but at this point we were very tired and hungry and had no more options nearby, so we stayed.
|Julietta's is on the mountainside above Marigot Bay|
We all ordered chicken, rice & vegetables, and drank tap water to quench our relentless thirst and make the total bill less painful. Dad ordered a local Piton beer. The service was very slow, but when the food came out it was all worth it. It was mouthwateringly delicious, and the chicken was the most juicy, tender, flavorful chicken we had ever had.
|Local Piton beer|
On the walk back it seemed that all of the locals knew us and that we had just come from Julietta’s for dinner. A drunk man who looked to be in his 60’s was holding a grasshopper he had made out of palm fronds. Suddenly it was in my hand, and he was trying to get me to give him money. He said he was Julietta’s brother, and he needed money to feed his children. I gave him his grasshopper back and said that his sister has all of our money, because we just spent it all on dinner. We dinghied back to the boat, thoroughly exhausted, and went to bed. The boat was so still, it felt like we were on land.
Friday, October 30 –
5 star relaxation. Today was a low key day. We checked into customs, explored the Capella resort in the light of day, and went for a swim in the beautiful pool. A waterfall emptied into the shallow end of the pool, and another waterfall spilled over the side of the deep end of the pool. The deep end of the pool overlooked the marina.
|Pool overlooking the marina|
|Lovely tropical garden|
|Waterfall emptying into the pool|
The weather was a little bit rainy on and off, but when the sun came out it was blazing hot. Dad found some big leaves that fell off of an almond tree, and he used them as swim paddles. At one point one of the resort staff was cleaning up and tried to take them, and Dad told them they were his swim paddles and even gave a little demonstration.
The resort staff brought us a caddy filled with ice and water bottles, and later came by with coconuts for each of us to sip the coconut water - all complimentary.
|Complimentary poolside coconut|
We took hot showers, and when we finished there was a major downpour. We had to wait for it to stop before dinghying back to the boat.
I made tuna melts for lunch, and then we relaxed in the cockpit. I noticed that our scuba gear smelled bad, and realized that there were tons of dead shrimp all over out BCD’s even though we had rinsed them off. I spent hours picking off the tiny shrimp from every nook and cranny, and even found some sizable crabs lodged in some crevices. Gross.
Then we relaxed some more, and watched the beautiful sunset.
I made tacos for dinner, and we watched one of my favorite old movies, “Captains Courageous.” Dad had never seen it before, and really enjoyed it. It’s about a bratty little rich boy who falls overboard and ends up on a fishing vessel and learns some big lessons.
Saturday, October 31 -
We slept in a little bit, then dinghied in to the resort. I went to the gym and went for a run and lifted some weights while Dad and Skeeter went to the pool. It was a nice gym, and I had it all to myself. After working out I discovered some even nicer showers than the ones we had found before next to the spa. I joined Dad and Skeeter at the pool. Of course, Dad had his swim leaves again. After swimming we took the most luxurious hot showers imaginable in the spa bathroom.
We wandered around the marina, looking at the different sailboats, powerboats, and mega yachts.
At noon we sailed north to Rodney Bay. It was only about a 2 hour sail.
When we arrived, Gregory the fruit man pulled up to our boat with his impressive fruit and veggie boat. It was piled high, loaded down with tons of fresh produce. I bargained with him, and ended up getting a pineapple, 3 mangoes, 2 soursop, and 2 cucumbers for 30EC.
We dinghied through the channel into the inner bay where the impressively big Rodney Bay Marina is located. We walked around the marina and along the docks, checking out the different boats. We saw some party boats, some pirate ships, catamarans, mono hulls, and powerboats among others.
We went to the taxi stand and arranged an early morning taxi pick up for Dad tomorrow morning. We ended up having dinner at the Bread Basket in Rodney Bay Marina. I got a mahi roti that was amazingly delicious and a great value, Skeeter got a burger, and Dad got baked chicken breast. Everyone’s meal was delicious, and we got to see a pretty sunset. We didn’t have internet out on the boat, so it was good to be able to use their wifi to check on weather and Dad’s flights.
|My mahi roti & salad|
Back at the boat I helped Dad pack, then we sat out in the cockpit enjoying the night.
Sunday, November 1 -
We woke up at 5:15am and took Dad by dinghy to meet his taxi at 6am. It was a wonderful visit, and I think we all really enjoyed this time together. We hope Dad had a great time and will be able to come sailing with us again in the future! We love you, Dad!