Via St.Lucia back home... with obstacles

       

In St.Pierre/Martinique the cats had their second vaccination and the boat got some engine parts. A good reason to rent a car again (to pick up the parts) and drive around a bit more.
Unfortunately one of the desired parts, a new silent block for one of the engine supports, appeared not to be the right type and the correct part had to be re-ordered in Europe. So obligatory we had to eat baguettes and French cheeses for an other five days. But... after five days of waiting for nothing we still had to leave without the part, as it got stuck in Paris and after that it became entangled in the Carnival festivities. To make our misery complete Montserrat had a little cough so our decks were covered with vulcano ashes for days. Stubborn stuff. And everywhere (inside as well) grey cat's paw prints, sóóóó sweet.

Usually the sail to Bequia is a comfortable broad reach, but we experienced strong winds from the southeast. The only other yacht under sail was Velsheda. As we had to sail close to windward with the high aspect jib, we made a short illegal stop on St.Lucia. Rodney Bay (where the ARC finishes) is a normally comfortable bay but now the anchored boats were lifted five feet by waves crashing on the beach with a thunderous roaring. JW was completely fed up with it all so we sailed on to Vigie opposite of Castries, St. Lucia's capital and best kept secret, as no one anchors here. Vigie is a pretty little harbour hidden behind the cruiseship terminal. Unfortunately the anchor would not hold but Julian the ferryman directed us to one of his moorings (2 beers) and next he raced us into town as on Sundays the supermarket is open until 1300 hours. Rhum, icecubes and new beer (also for Julian).

From Castries we sailed to Soufrière Bay; a unique spot directly underneath the Pitons, St.Lucia's two most striking mountains. This area is a protected nature reservation and a couple of years ago nobody was allowed without permission. This has changed now, and there are even moorings (and subsequently boatboys rushing towards you to be of assistance). Good reason for a stop-over because Soufrière is a nice little town. Around the church you see some pretty classical Carribbean wooden buildings and it is busy on the streets (and on the pavements).

Soufrière is not rich. A pity, as all exploitable nature (waterfalls and the Pitons, nota bene THE image of St.Lucia: name of the local beer brand and also logo in the national flag) is here and not in Castries, where the tourist's money disappears to.
The rickety homes on the quay are quite worn out, the occupants laze around and most yachties going in for a stroll turn around immediately. A pity, because they miss a lot.

We met Max (Mad Max), artist and handyman. For the kids he constructed a merry-go-round from an old truck-shaft and concrete iron and the seats are wooden dolphins; and of course we bought a piece of woodcarving from him. It is interesting that Max could not tell how old it was exactly. These people calculate with the hurricanes: the piece is from after Lenny and before Omar. With some bitterness he said: “You are at 1 and then a hurricane brings you back to zero. I built my house twice and now I'm waiting for the next hurricane so I can start all over again.” These people live on a A1-location, with a splendid view but with no splendid future. If they look behind they see their laboriously built homes which may be blown away in one breeze.
Obviously we had a drink in the little shop down the road and we met the whole neighbourhood.

Waiting for the engine support we had lots of time so we decided to visit St.Vincent once more. Three years ago we were there in Wallilabou Bay.
IIn the bay nothing has changed, well, part of the jetty came down and there are more boatboys than ever.  But the fishermen still use rowing boats. What has changed indeed, is the Wallilabou waterfall. On 10 minutes walking distance from the bay, hidden in the forest... It is now called Wallilabou Heritage Park, with EC money they cut most of the trees so you can see it now from the road, constructed paths and a restaurant. A pity for us. The price of development is that there are less and less unpoilt spots, but the positive effect is that with this they can earn more money from the cruiseship tourists. Which helps the island.

In Wallilabou we found old and new friends and with a huge bag of grapefruits and bananas we left for Bequia. There we would pick up the engine support but after a week the thing was still on Martinique. So we left to Tobago, hoping that it would be FedExed to Bago’s Beach Bar.
And yes, a fes days later than expected but finally we held the part in our hands. Quickly mounted, well quickly... more than a half day's work but at least the thing fitted. Good opportunity to check the oil in the saildrive again and bingo: there was again water in it. The sail home to Surinam had to be postponed again.

In the vicinity of Tobago are two Volvo Penta-dealers: one on Trinidad and one on Grenada. On Trinidad you are more or less a playball of the gods, as appointments are not always kept and with the Volvo Penta-dealer we already had one bad experience. On Grenada people are more serious and businesslike and furthermore it is a better startpoint for the return trip to Surinam. So we went back to Grenada.
Not much fun, especially not for the cats as at was blazing hot on the hard and they were bored to death. At night the mosquitoes (type: dengue, to be recognized by their striped legs) in our ears and we slept like mummies wrapped in a sheet in the cockpit. And when the sun came up we started running after the suppliers again, because if you arrange with them to work in the morning, they'll hopefully be there in the afternoon, a couple of minutes is an hour and the day is gone before you know it. Ordered parts are always the wrong type, and also now with a new propellor shaft. But next week we'll be afloat again and sail directly to Surinam. Six or seven days of sailing against the wind and the current.

In the meantime both Rita (in lane 1) and Roberta (lane 2) have qualified for the Carib Cats swimming team in the junior's section, specialized in night diving. Fortunately they know how to save themselves. Of course there is a lot of miserable shivering to it, in Roberta’s case probably to catch an extra snack because her main interest is food.

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