Sailing along the rugged coast of St Vincent was marred by a slash in the Dinghy on the dock at one of the film sets of Pirates of the Carribbean II….my dinghy was a complete embarrassment for the rest of the trip.
Mayreau to Wallilabou, St Vincent
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e had originally planned to go to Bequia on this leg, but sailing close hauled into more than 30 knots of wind and a couple of metres of swell knocked that plan on the head. It made more sense to keep going with the wind we had rather than tacking East to fight our way to Bequia. We did see a huge Leatherback turtle floating on the surface a little way off, however!
So despite our early start it was a long day’s sailing and we arrived into Wallilabou just as the sun was setting. With help from a local boat boy, we dropped the anchor in 12 metres of depth – a bit more than I like – and he took a stern line ashore to keep us pointing out of the bay; we had to tie 3 ropes together to get one long enough!
We hopped in the dinghy and headed ashore for look around the ‘Pirates’ film set museum and dinner in the restaurant. The bar is very charismatic with lots of piratey memorabilia and old barrels for bar stools! However there the only other guests were a bunch of drunken Czech sailors from a renegade catamaran that had cut us up on the way in…go tell ’em, Zuzana…so the menu was a bit limited. This is often the case in Caribbean restaurants; they can only cook whatever supplies they have ordered in for that day!
I had been a little worried when I tied up the dinghy, about the swell and the state of the dock, and I should have taken heed of my angst because when we returned there was a 4 inch gash in the front tube which meant the whole front end had collapsed….BUMMER. It still functions with the other 2 tubes, fortunately, so we managed to get back to the boat and left it til the morning.
In the morning Andrew and I took it ashore with the mending kit, but it was useless….what with the salty water lapping around us and powdery volcanic black sand there was no chance of us fixing it and interested though the locals were, I didn’t fancy the thought of letting them away with 3 grand’s worth of quality rubber; I would have deal with it when we reached civilisation!
It also transpired that Customs weren’t visiting Wallilabou today, so we would have to stop ashore further up the coast in Chateubelair to clear out of St Vincent.
Clearing Out in Chateaubelair, St Vincent
We set off up the coast having hauled the dinghy up on the davits where it hung, shamedly for most of the rest of the journey! And with some swell and wind against us it took over an hour to motor the 5 miles north to Chateaubelair.
We anchored in sand, some distance off the beach and, worried that using the dinghy would cause the front tube to fill with water and cause more problems, I decided to swim ashore with our documents to make the clearance.
I’m sure I was the talk of the town for the rest of the day as I strode through the town in my rash top and bikini bottoms, dripping water and carrying my flippers! To make matters worse, Customs and Immigration were in completely different buildings so it meant walking backwards and forwards more than once….and I got a telling off at Immigration – also the Police Station – for going into a government building inappropriately attired! It was all a bit tongue in cheek as I brightened their whole day I’m sure!
St Lucia and the Pitons
So we headed off again before midday, motor-sailing up the leeward side of St Vincent into a large swell and headwinds before striking off for St Lucia into 30 knot winds with 3 reefs in the sails.
It was after 11pm and pitch black when we arrived into the Pitons anchorage – it’s very deep and you need to take up a mooring ball – and even with the eagle eyes on the bow with a torch, we didn’t manage to find a mooring ball free, and all the boat boys had disappeared for the night!
There is no real place to drop an anchor in this area with the shore shelving off steeply and as we were below the giant Pitons there wasn’t even some moonlight to help us. Reluctantly we headed North for Rodney Bay where the anchorage is an easy night-time entrance and finally dropped the hook at 3 in the morning. It had been a VERY long day!
We moved round into the marina the next morning so that I could take the dinghy in for repair, and I have to say I had one of the most frustrating days of my life dealing with the CROOKS who run the “Liferaft and Inflatable Center”. I’m not going to rant here, but will be writing a review for anyone who’s interested. Suffice to say that the dinghy came back in a worse state than when I handed it over and these guys should NOT be running a business.
I think Zuzana and Andrew made the right decision to take a bus down to the Pitons and avoid my raging! They had a lovely relaxing day exploring with sundowners on the beach. Gretchen and I found a very nice Chinese for me to de-stress in, having finally got my dinghy back on board at 9pm.
Martinique – Anse d’Arlet and Fort de France
The next morning we set off again, this time for Martinique and civilisation! 4 and a half hours later we dropped the anchor for lunch in the very pretty Anse d’Arlet having negotiated a load of bouys marking a fish breeding area.
With a lovely relaxed lunch inside us we headed up the coast in some beautiful sailing conditions for the capital of Fort de France, dropping the hook just below the ramparts of the fort and in the heart of town. After a quick bit of provisioning, we settled down to a nice restaurant meal and an early night for everyone!
Next day Dominica!
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