Monday, December 10, 2012


St. Vincent, Wallilabou

I had been hoping to find a day with the wind in the SE to make the trip up to St Lucia but it looks like the best we can do is 80 degrees so it is going to be a beat on Saturday. It was an easy sail but bumpy and as always the unexpected happened without becoming apparent until we tried to anchor.

As we came up the shore of St. Vincent there was little indication we had arrived at an anchorage.

A landmark that is north of the entrance, called Moon Hole (yes, another!), was visible.

We thought it looked more like a Trojan Horse.

Wallilabou Bay is a small, deep, very picturesque bay with striking hills on either side of a beach.

There were a few houses visible, a long cement fence, an outlet for a freshwater stream, restaurant, a rusty platform with a sort of tower on it, a row of cannons lined up in front of an old stone faced facade, a run down skeleton of a home and a dingy dock. We were the only boat for a while until later in the evening when a catamaran charter boat came in.

As in most of the anchorages throughout the Windward Islands, there were boat boys waiting to greet us. John, from his first cruising experience on s/v Carpe Diem, remembers when the Boat Boys were much more aggressive and markedly less polite. The government came in and did some training along with giving them a new job title: Beach Front Service Provider. There are still some problems that a well tuned in Captain is on the lookout for,

such as boat boys without bumpers on their boats. The only time Jan has ever seen John more than gently polite was when a bumper less boat boy was inches from his new paint job ($6,000 US +/-) in the Tobago Cays.
On approach to Wallilabou the boat boys often will be up to two miles out rowing in a Bequia Double-ender.

In this anchorage the safest way to anchor is with a stern line toward shore, which the boat boys offer as a service in exchange for $10 EC. Rowing in from a couple miles out is tough, and you might lose a customer so often they will ask for a tow in. They have been known to end up capsized with the yacht owner liable for the costs.

Today the boat boy that met us was in a fiberglass boat with an outboard and either his mother or the re-training program had reached him because he was polite-professional, nicely dressed and patient as we prepared for anchoring..... a few times. John brought the boat in to the exact place, stern pointing ashore, he wanted us, stopped the boat and ventured forward to drop the anchor. Easy right? The windlass let out about 50' of chain and stopped. As he passed me heading below to my cabin in the bow where the chain locker is, he told me the chain pile had fallen over during our passage. Not good! (I stand at the helm waiting for his direction). But a cool Captain went through the process three times of moving the chain pile while laying prone on my bunk reaching forward wrestling with a pile of 3/8'' chain that was over 220' long, going back to the bow raising and lowering the anchor until it finally cooperated on the third try. The boat boy was right there when we were ready to pass him our stern line taking it to the structure John wanted us tied off to. I had had a good demonstration of the abilities you develop as a single-hander.

Safely anchored, we then had three more boat boys offering to do work on the boat, selling jewelry and produce paddling out to greet us.
Is it time for a sundowner yet??

Jan saw potential for another snorkel.

The tradition of a Sundowner in the cockpit has evolved into a daily tradition for good reason. We'll let the pictures tell the story.

Day Ashore in Wallilabou
After lowering the Mighty Dingy from her davits we motored over to the dingy dock (a VERY loosely used term in the Caribbean) for a day exploring Wallilabou. A dingy dock is any wooden or masonry structure (another loosely used term) that it's possible to attacher a painter line to. Today, it was pretty scary for dingy AND passengers.


Note also that we used a stern anchor to keep the mighty dingy well off the dock because the bottom of the dock has sharp rusty bits and a myriad of overlength nails protruding through the high quality woodwork. Now just wired on with rusty fence wire.

Just when I think I've experienced the best of the best, John comes through with something that seems even better! Today was certainly one of those days.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Wallilabou claim to fame is as the main filming site for Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003. Much of the shore line in Wallilabou Bay is left over set from that filming and a source of tourist interest. Disney built the set for short term use. Residents of Wallilabou feel Disney should come back and fix the set that is now decaying.

The restaurant also underwent a remodeling for the filming. As we walked on our way to the restaurant John introduced me to some of the year round residents.

Walk to Wallilabou Nature Preserve

We ambled up through the little cluster of houses and rum shops lining the road, acknowledging the greetings from the dreadlocked vendors as we dodge onto the verge seaking safety as the gaily painted local minibuses howl past at high speed, laden lorries also pass by at their best speed Jan noted the canvas showing on the inner Caribbean dualies where one good tyre is matched with one worn one, she also saw how closely the local warning signs were enforced, but all was irie.

We stopped at a local sculptor's garden and souvenir shop.

He had some interesting stuff and showed it off to us without the relentless sales pressure sometimes found down here. His garden is special. The pics say more than I can say.

Then it was on past the roadside plantations or market gardens growing everything from sorrel to ganja and up to the falls.

The EU had contributed to the development here one of 14 such projects and in this case the work enhanced the experience of the falls. We were lucky to visit on a day when there were no other charter boats in so we had the place to ourselves.

It is a magical little pool with the sun filtering down through the shade trees and the steady flow over the falls just sufficient to provide one with a real percussive massage as you stand under the falls.

But as well as the swim and the chance to get totally salt free in an endless high pressure shower the flowers and foliage are outstanding. Again the pics speak for themselves.

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