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13 April 2015

St Lucia

009 Looking back on the Pitons Hello Again
St Lucia – another gorgeous Island in the chain, but this one really grabs your attention as you sail towards it.  The south western end has two quite spectacular volcanic mountains close together that rise from the ocean dripping in tropical rain forest. These are known as the Pitons. Gros Piton - 2600ft, and Petit Piton - 2500ft.  In fact the they are depicted on their national flag, one gold and the other black rising from the blue sea.
026 Tropical Flowers
 
St Lucia is a teardrop-shaped island only 27 miles long covering an area of 238 sq miles. Banana plantations ( alongside tourism ) form the staple industry for the island. It is also home to beautiful hibiscus and wild orchids along with many other tropical trees, shrubs and flowers.  It is a little sad as today only 10% of the Island remains covered in rainforest, though you would not think so from the sea as it appears so lush and tropical, but what remains, is now set aside as a nature reserve,  When it was under British colonial administration much of the forest was harvested for its timber. 
Tropical FlowersOur point of entry was to be the town of Soufriere, which sits in a bay just to the north of the Pitons.  “MOONDANCER” arrived before us, and having done a quick reconnaissance of the anchorage, decided to move further north to the bay at Marigot. We followed.  In hindsight this was a bad decision as it was now Good Friday when we checked in which involved overtime fees to do so.  We had forgotten that Easter was upon us.  Strange how time moves on and we forget what day it is. Never mind, Marigot turned out to be a beautiful anchorage, and the perfect place to spend the long Easter weekend.

013 Marigot026 Marigot Marigot Bay is completely sheltered, mangrove-lined, and one of the few truly safe hurricane harbours in the Caribbean.  Not that we are in hurricane season yet !!  We anchored to the side of the entrance channel along with a number of other yachts, so not to be landlocked, but able to enjoy the breeze off the surrounding hills. It was also in this bay that the British fleet hid from its French pursuers. They are said to have hidden their masts by tying coconut fronds in the rigging.
I have time here to watch the the frigate birds – a large tropical sea bird, which is beautifully graceful in flight.  It has a distinctive forked tail, and a wingspan of 6 feet.  They would swoop down into the bay and skim the water’s surface picking up small fish, but, they supplement their fishing by harassing other seabirds until they release their catch then swoop it up in mid flight.  Quite something to watch.
035 Doolittles, Marigot038 SHAMAL'S Toys !!! Our days are spent exploring the bay in the tender and kayak. We swim, I snorkel the reef which fringes the bay, “SHAMAL’S” hull gets a good rub down as Alec has the power snorkel out again. Ashore we visit the Marina village with coffee and drinks at the different restaurants that line the bay.  One afternoon a tender comes by full of locals and one European Lady.  She comes to say hello as NZ was also her home many years ago. She sees our flag flying from the stern. We discover we come from farming communities very close to each other when we were children. We spend a couple of evenings with her over dinner and drinks catching up on the past and learning about her life here on the Island. We have dinner at Doolittle's, a restaurant taking on the name from the movie which was filmed partly in this bay.  We also discover that parts of the movies “The Pirates of the Caribbean” were also filmed here.
043 Pirates, Marigot The boat boys come alongside with their delicious tropical fruits for sale, so Alec’s fresh fruit salads never run out. One morning Alec noticed a papaya floating past which must have either fallen from a tree growing on the waters edge, or more than likely fallen from one of the boys boats.  That was too big an opportunity to let past so Alec dived into the tender to retrieve it !!!!!!!!!!
040 Sunset, Marigot031 Marigot Marina Village It was also at this anchorage that Alec and I see the “Green Flash” for the first time.  Yes it was over a sundowner, but I can assure you the drink has nothing to do with what you see.  It happens as the sun disappears over the horizon and the last vestige of the sun turns bright green. It only lasts a second and only can be seen on a very clear horizon. Blink and you miss it.
When Easter is finally over, we up anchor and move on up the coast to Rodney Bay.  This bay is over a mile long and is the entry point into the Caribbean for the ARC rally which crosses the Atlantic every year arriving in time to celebrate Christmas and New Year together, before the yachts then disperse and go their own way around the Caribbean.  It is an organised rally for those who want to do the crossing with company, and now numbers joining can be as many as 250 yachts.
066 Fruit Vendor at SHAMAL070 Rodney Bay Marina We drop anchor out in the bay along with many others, but there is also a large marina inside a very sheltered lagoon.  There is no problem to take the tender in here with small docks to tie up to. We spend a couple of nights here, but decide to move on as Alec has arranged at the next Island – Martinique - for new bearings to be replaced in our wind generator which now sounds like an aircraft about to take off.  I am sure we have the Sahara sands still grinding away in there. Also we still have just over a 1000nm to reach Florida, so we will reach a point where we will just leave the Caribbean and go pretty much directly there as we need to be out of the area before hurricane season officially begins at the beginning of June. Never mind we will return and explore these islands more next season.
053 Bar at entrance Rodney Bay Marina So the 8th April sees us checking out from St Lucia.  We do not leave till the following morning, but we need to clear before we can get our duty free fuel which we do early the following morning once the fuel dock is open.
We then set sail for our first French Island, Martinique.
Much love from
The Admiral and The Commander

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