After an easy sail up from St Vincent we arrived in time to sort out our inward clearance with St. Lucia Customs and Immigration, which seems to have got cheaper, then have a swim.
The charm of the place is still evident although the procession of local boats, typically HUGE catamarans with HUGER speakers blaring with the same history over and over for their load of cruise ship visitors, or Q TIPS as I call them, the 2 dollar tour grates somewhat. BTW Jan says we're not to call them them Q tips, since she's noticed SHE has white hair and might resemble a Q tip!
We spent a day anchored in Castries harbor.
It is a quiet anchorage in terms of sea state but the traffic, cars that is, along the waterfront grinds away till late. We visited the supermarket, walked the streets and bargained in the markets.
“An armpit !” declared Jan, and with two cruise ships, murky water spewing forth from gigantic discharge pipes, a rusting old fishing boat dragging down on us, an interesting visit to a local health center and an old television set floating by after a rain storm washed it out of a drain her description was an accurate observation. The ''health center'' was unrecognizable for the filth and dilapidated building next door that looked to be a retired hospital of sorts. Under the stairway in the out of doors was a dentists chair complete with instrument tray stored uncovered and waiting for....a patient?? One has to hope that the health center was a renovation in progress.
What a contrast to Clifton in St Vincent and the Grenadines
where a local sweeping up the blossom falling from a tree harvested a flowering cluster he presented to Jan. She carried it back to the boat and we enjoyed it for days on our table.
We were very grateful to the young man in the harbor ferry who heard our call on the VHS and came by, then alerting another local to the fishing boat that had dragged his anchor across ours. He came out in his own boat with two big outboards, tied up alongside the rusty fishing boat and dragged it up wind never touching the anchors 'holding' it. I suspect from the confident way he approached the task he might have done this before.
This was a short trip from Castries but we were banging away into a big Northerly swell and found when we arrived that the chain pile in the locker had rearranged itself again preventing the anchor from deploying. It was great to have someone on the wheel to look after things while I sweated away sorting out the mess. I had to use a chain hook, the winch, some serious tension and a big lever to move things.
But anchor down, sundowner at the ready and it was soon time to check for the green flash which was a no show that first night. Our reward came Saturday when we sat there, drink in hand and got a wonderful sunset performance complete with GREEN FLASH!
Once a year the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, ARC, comes to Rodney Bay and things get lively on shore with drunks in the ditch, torn sails on the grass,
serious spinnaker wraps around forestays on show in the marina and boats finishing seconds apart after 'racing' 3000+ miles. We are positioned right at the entrance to the channel leading to Rodney Bay Marina in full view of the ARC finish line. The Parade of Boats was spectacular as always.
We also had the 'yoles'
racing into Rodney bay down from Martinique. These skinny canoes based on a single gommier tree were the workhorses of the locals until recently and had almost disappeared. Now there is a thriving group racing them in Martinique who sailed down to St Lucia to show them off. IMHO it takes a LOT more sailing skill to get one of these tippy, over canvased, unballasted craft down across an open ocean passage between Martinique and St Lucia than to cross an ocean in a modern sailboat.
Christmas day on December the 13th?? well it seems that is the case in St Lucia and it traditionally involves the climbing of the greasy pole
which we saw while drifting in the dingy as we anticipated someone making it up the pole. There was also a greasy pig contest which we did not see.
Saturday December the 15th saw a farmers market in the marina and with fair prices and a number of interesting booths with products that went beyond regular produce. We sampled some local delicacies, including lethal coconut punch, found some good local bacon [ maybe the pig did not escape ] and filled our veggie rack.
Jan got a lesson on the steel pans from a local
I had one too but am way too ashamed of my pitiful lack of any sense of rhythm to show the result.