Friday, February 23, 2018

Exploring Marigot Bay … Tues-Wed 20-21 February 2018

Exploring Marigot Bay      Tues-Wed 20-21 February 2018

On Tuesday morning we left Soufriere just as another squall rolled through. It’s certainly been showery and windy these past several days and according to locals this weather pattern is highly unusual. It was a quick motor sail up the coast to Marigot Bay and we anchored towards the open end of this finger shaped inlet. It’s a beautiful spot and we took the dinghy to the dock at the marina / hotel at the head of the Bay and hiked up the road to the east, which gave us great views over the anchorage. We were excited to bump into Duncan and Cathy from “Free Sailing”, one of the Caribbean 1500 rally boats. We chatted briefly and hope to meet up with them again in Rodney Bay over the weekend. It was a little early for Happy Hour ashore so we returned to Cotinga and did our own Happy Hour with a couple of excellent “pain killers”. Even Marigot Bay was a little bumpy overnight – we think that the swells that have built up with all the strong winds are simply wrapping there way round the islands and making all the anchorages somewhat rolly.

This morning we jumped in a taxi that we had booked yesterday and headed to the center of the island to a trail called ………..  that makes it way through the mountainous rainforest. It turns out our taxi driver, Albert, is the father of the man we made arrangements with and it seems like a family business. On the way back Albert pulled over at a local shopping center where we met another of his sons who took us the rest of the way back to Marigot. Albert himself needed to get to Castries for an appointment to get an infected eye seen to. In retrospect I feel bad because we were late in the morning to pick up our taxi and he probably had the times all worked out carefully and we inadvertently messed them around. Anyway, Albert and his son were both lovely, interesting people and we enjoyed travelling with them. The trail itself was also atmospheric and enjoyable. We were a little disappointed not to see any parrots (or boa constrictors, which are not native), but we did see some great land crabs … and a lot of mud!

Once back on the boat, Stew and Paige took a quick swim and then we pulled up anchor and headed out of Marigot Bay and northwards up to Castries, where we are now anchored in what can only be described as an urban harbor. Tomorrow (22nd February) is St Lucia Independence Day and we are hoping to see some parades and street parties.

President’s day ... Monday 19th Feb 2018

President’s day
Monday 19th Feb 2018

In the morning, after breakfast, we motored around the Petit Peton to take up a mooring off the town of Soufriere.  A dinghy ride took us to shore for a walk to the Botanical Gardens.  Once inside we left Mike in pursuit of the perfect hummingbird photos and toured the rest of the gardens.  Our big birding spot was the gray trembler.  Most often when you spot a new bird you are cataloging its features so that you can try to figure out the identity as some later stage.  The trembler was something else altogether.  No sooner had I looked at its overall colors and beak shape than I realized that its wings seemed to be shaking or trembling.  That is one well-named bird!

Once we mentioned lunch, we managed to winkle Mike away from his photo spot.  A quick walk to town brought us to Pier 28 for a “local lunch”.  To avoid the food coma, we took a short walk to the beach at Malgretoute.  We strolled back to town and took the dinghy back to the boat.  The ambitious sailors got ready to go snorkeling, the lazy person tried to keep out of the way. 

A group effort on chopping, with excellent stir-fry skills from Mike, produced an outstanding Szechuan meal.  A short session of star-gazing in the cockpit and boater’s midnight had arrived.    


Lesser Antilean Hummingbird

Lesser Antilean Hummingbird

Lesser Antilean Hummingbird



Thursday, February 22, 2018

It’s all about Direction … Sunday 18th February 2018

It’s all about Direction    …    Sunday 18th February 2018

Our sail back from Vieux Fort to “Between the Pitons” was the exact opposite of our sail down a few days ago (see Scary Valentine’s Day). The winds were more or less the same 20+ knots from ~ E-ENE and the there were still significant swells. The difference was all in the direction of travel. Sailing north west on a broad reach was delightful, beating to the south east was miserable. As the saying goes – gentlemen don’t sail to windward.
The mooring between the pitons was as beautiful as we remembered, although still a little rolly, and we after a quick lunch we went snorkeling off the beach. The corals in this area are relatively healthy, which was good to see, and we saw lots of fish, including some big shoals of something or other in the deeper water. Unfortunately, because of the increased swells, it seemed like the water was not as clear as it had been previously. After snorkeling we went ashore at the Sugar Beach resort and hiked up to the warm waterfall and baths. It was really a lot of fun. I regret not taking up my camera because the light was soft and beautiful and I could have gotten some great portraits of people with the water from the falls bouncing off their heads.
We passed on drinks at the resort on the way back. Having been caught out once, we were now aware that prices fro drinks are in $US rather than $ Eastern Caribbean and as such about three times the price of any other drinks we have seen! However, back on board we were able to introduce Stew to “painkillers” (Rum, coconut cream, orange juice, pineapple juice and grated nutmeg). For dinner we ate tuna “burgers” made with fresh tuna, spring onions, parsley, egg and Worcestershire sauce, along with risotto and salad. Dessert was sautéed plantains with butter and brown sugar. It was a fine meal all round!


Fishing boats - Vieux Fort

Abstract overlay of fishing boat interiors

Gloria and Paige enjoying a fabulous sail to "Between the Pitons" - both Pitons seen in the background

A passing cruise liner at sunset from "Between the Pitons" 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Stew and Paige Arrive … Saturday 17th Feb 2018

Stew and Paige Arrive      Saturday 17th Feb 2018

A 3-hour delay on the departure on the Boston Miami flight meant that Stew and his daughter Paige couldn’t make their connection and had to postpone their departure for a full day. So Friday saw Gloria and I doing some additional cleaning on Cotinga, particularly in the cockpit and aft deck. Gloria was also able to do a little sewing on her current project and basically we had an enjoyable relaxing time hanging out. I also took the opportunity to go ashore and wander around the fishing port and take a few photos. It's a colorful place with lot's going on and plenty of interesting people. Although it seems a little sketchy I find the people to be genuinely charming. They are more than happy to chat about what they are doing and if you can be assertive and move on from those people that are looking to do jobs for you (trash, look after your dinghy etc) then it's really interesting to walk around and chat to people. One fisherman confirmed that the strong winds that we have been experiencing are not normal for this time of year. He said that he had never seen this pattern in his 57 years!

On Saturday, Stew and Paige arrived as re-scheduled in the middle of the afternoon and we jumped in a taxi back to the fishing port and took the dinghy back to Cotinga. As if on cue, the swells picked up in the harbor and it was by far the most rolly evening we have had in Vieux Fort. Nonetheless, we had a lovely evening eating spaghetti Bolognese and drinking beers. Stew and Paige had been up since 3.30 am and we were all tired and so we all went to bed pretty early. It’s great to have them with us to cruise for a few days.

Our plan is to sail up the Pitons area near Soufriere for two night, then on to Marigot Bay for two nights and finish our time together up in Rodney Bay on the north end of St Lucia.

Vieux Fort    13o 43.4 N, 60o 57.4 W

Between the Pitons  13o 49.5 N, 61o 03.9 W

This is the north west corner of the inner harbor where we park the "dumb dog". It's quiet and out of the way, but also where all the plastic trash seems to congregate

This guy was very friendly, had a warm face and great dreadlocks!

Thomas - offered to help us with the dinghy and was fun to talk to

This youngster caught what we think is a type of garfish. He says they taste good and have blue bones

The "garfish" up close

Colorful boats

Abstract boat thwarts

Local lunch and ground provisions ..... 16th Feb 2018

Local lunch and ground provisions
16th Feb 2018

When we went to Castries a few weeks back we had a “local lunch” from a stall in the market area.  The lunch was advertised as being the meat of your choice with rice, lentils, salad, mac and cheese and “ground provisions”.  When it arrived, there were some plantains, what appeared to be sweet potato and a couple of other starchy, slightly unpleasant tasting lumps.  These we took to be the aforementioned “ground provisions”.  We pictured some vegetable that had been dried, ground and re-constituted into the items that appeared on our plates.  Today, we found lunch at a cafe in Laborie (took the local bus to get there).  The waitress at the cafe offered us a lunch of either fish (it being Friday and Lent) or chicken with rice, lentils, mac and cheese, steamed vegetables and ground provisions.  Knowing that we hadn’t enjoyed this too much previously, I wondered what had been ground up to make the “provisions”.  Laborie is a progressive village and has open wifi all around (at least where we were).  So I searched the web for ‘provisions as in food’.  I nearly burst out laughing.  “Ground provisions” is a term used in the West Indies for foods such as yam, sweet potato, cassava and some other root veg (whose name I’ve forgotten).  It’s not ground as in milled or minced but ground as in the earth!  Boy do I feel stupid!  I think it’s the cassava and the other thing that we don’t find so delightful.  One could probably substitute the phrase ‘ground provisions’ with ‘root vegetables’.  There’s something much more charming about the thought of ‘food provided by the ground’.

Laborie is a fishing village with a really nice dock and a mix of older and newer buildings.  It was colorful and attractive (in a way that Vieux Fort is not).  The streets seemed quiet.  We walked along the main (?) street passing the public library(closed) and a few bar/restaurants.  At the far end of the village was the church.  We went in and sat in a pew.  The windows and doors were open and a lovely breeze was sweeping through.  After our lunch we looked around the center of town a bit more and then caught a bus back to Vieux Fort.

The beach at Laborie

The Catholic Church Laborie

Pink Boat Laborie

Buildings Laborie

Buildings Laborie