July 2016: St. Lucia and The Grenadines

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April 16th, 2018 by

  June 27th – July 7th: Rodney Bay

The marina had several restaurants on site, as well as a small pool and a bar. Ferries to Martinique left from the docks, so there was always some activity. The town of Rodney Bay was a short half mile walk away, with restaurants, big grocery stores, and even a nice casino. Rodney Bay proper had a large beach and a number of resorts – it seemed to be a popular spot for cruise ship passengers. We settled into a routine of doing some boat work in the morning, with an afternoon at the pool – the prices at the bar were very reasonable. We had planned to stay for four or five days, but strong trade winds moved in, so we decided to wait for calmer weather. We still did not need to be in Grenada until mid-July, so we had time on our hands.

St. Lucia – Rodney Bay is at the top left

Guadeloupe to St. Lucia










We rented a car for two days to explore the island, one day in the west, and another day in the east. St. Lucia has an active volcano, which features a drive-in caldera complete with boiling pools and Sulphur emissions. On the first day, we drove south through Castries, the capitol, and then continued along the eastern coast. Our first stop was at the St. Lucia Distillers. Located near Marigot Bay. The distillery is a mix of new and old technology. We signed up for a tour, and we were thrilled to find out that prior to the tour, you wait in the self-serve sampling bar. I would not say it was the best rum I ever tasted, but the variety of the rum creams and liqueurs was something else. They had some unusual varieties, such as Nutz ‘n Butter (tastes like peanut butter), Coconut Cream, Banana Cream (tastes like banana pudding), Chocolate Mint, and Chocolate Orange.

Nothing beats a rum distillery tour … except the free tasting before the tour!

                       Fermentation vat                                                                          A pot still

                 My new favorite saying                                                         Barrels in waiting

The tour, as is true of most rum distilleries, was quite interesting. This distillery was a mixture of old and new technology. The fermenting vats were made of bare concrete, and they used both pot stills and continuous stills. St. Lucia distillers gets their molasses from Guyana, South America. Yeast and water are added and the mixture ferments for twenty-four to thirty-six hours. Distillation occurs in either a pot still or a continuous (column) still. The output of the still is a high-concentration rum, of around 70% to 90% alcohol content. It is then aged in barrels that were formerly used for bourbon or whiskey. After a specified aging period, the rum is mixed with water to reduce alcohol concentration, and rums from different barrels can be blended to create unique tastes. That is the essence of distilling rum – there are an infinite amount of ways to accomplish distilling, but the basic procedure is the same. We enjoyed the tour, and we purchased several of the unique rum creams and liqueurs from this distillery.

We continued our drive south, through some very rugged country. St. Lucia is one of the most mountainous countries in the Caribbean, with a 3,120 foot high peak. Along the road, we came across some cows that really didn’t think too much about is. We picked up a number of mangoes along the road, and stopped for lunch in a small roadside restaurant. They were serving a group from a cruise ship, but they let us have the chicken lunch for just $10EC each – a bargain!

We continued our drive south, through some very rugged country. St. Lucia is one of the most mountainous countries in the Caribbean, with a 3,120 foot high peak. Along the road, we came across some cows that really didn’t think too much about is. We picked up a number of mangoes along the road, and stopped for lunch in a small roadside restaurant. They were serving a group from a cruise ship, but they let us have the chicken lunch for just $10EC each – a bargain!

Our destination was the world’s only drive-in volcano at Sulphur Springs. Although the volcano is technically dormant, it doesn’t look or smell like it. Before we saw the caldera, we smelled that wonderful stench of rotten eggs in the air. We drove around the edge of the caldera, which had several boiling caldrons in it. We went past the caldera to the visitor center, which was up a very steep road. Our little car struggled for traction since the road was slick from rain, and at one point, we thought that we would slip backwards.

              Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble                                          Not safe to drink!

              Steam, steam, and more steam                             Sulfur in the water stains the area

In addition to the drive-in volcano, we spent some time in the forest, seeing many beautiful and exotic plants.

On the way back to Soufrière, we had a great view of the Pitons. These are famous St. Lucia landmarks – they are volcanic plugs left over from volcanic mountains that eroded away. They rise straight out of the sea. Gros Piton is 2,530 feet high, and the lesser Petit Piton is 2,438 feet high. The Pitons are a UN World Heritage Site, and the national beer of St. Lucia is naturally called Piton.

                        The obvious choice                                                           Great view of the Pitons

The next day we set off again to explore the eastern and southern sides of St. Lucia. We had to cross the mountainous interior, and we went through a fern forest with some of the biggest leafs we had ever see. We emerged at the town of Dennery on the Atlantic coast, where we stopped for drinks at a bar that overlooked the bay.

As we ventured further south, we made a side trip to Latille Falls. The volume of water was quite low, but the forest was beautiful. There is a small cottage on site, and when we arrived there was a wedding in progress. There were a number of friendly cats about the area, and a small pool featured fish that nibble the dead skin off of your feet. People in the USA pay good money for that experience. It feels very odd at first, kind of ticklish, but after a while, you start to enjoy it. All of us tried it out, except Rosé – she has a thing about not being touched by fish. There wasn’t much else to see, and we drove to the far southern city of Vieux Fort, where we had a nice seafood lunch.

                That’s a big leaf                       Enjoying the nibbling fish                     Cats love Scott

                                               Views of the Atlantic coast near Dennery

We took the long, slow drive back to Rodney Bay, and that night, we went to the town at Rodney Bay, where we had a very good Chinese meal, and we visited the Treasure Bay Casino. Noi had never been to a casino, so we taught her how to play video poker. She had beginner’s luck, soon hitting four of a kind. Lucky tried the local blackjack game, which had good rules. He didn’t bother to count down the game, but got some favorable cards and made a few hundred dollars in short order. All in all, it was a fun and profitable night.

We spent a few more days of routine in Rodney Bay, as we waited for the weather to improve. Afternoons were spent soaking in the pool and having drinks, and we walked to the town a few times for food and provisions. We finally got a break in the weather, and we went to the customs office to check out. We wanted to cruise down the coast during the following day, then spend the night in the shadow of the Pitons before departing the next morning for The Grenadines. However, the customs officers told us we had to have a permit to anchor in the Marine Park, which we knew about. But, the officer said we had to have the permit in advance, or we would have to pay a fine to the park ranger. He proceeded to tell us that we could not get the permit at that time, as the receipt book was not in the office. The cruising guide said you could buy the permit from the park ranger, but the customs officer insisted that we had to have it in advance.  He suggested that we out in at Marigot Bay a little south of Rodney Bay, where there was a customs office where we could get the permit. But we decided if we had to go to Marigot, we would just spend the night there instead of at the Pitons.

July 7th: Rodney Bay to Marigot Bay

We made the short cruise to Marigot Bay, then entered the bay to seek out a mooring. There is a fabulous resort in the bay, The Marigot Bay Resort and Marina by Capella. There is a small med-moor style marina, but we opted to just take a mooring ball, which cost $30, but gave us resort privileges. Shortly after we tied up, we were greeted by a boat boy wearing a Santa Claus hat, riding on a paddle board. He was selling fruit, and he was so ambitious that we decided to buy some of his fruit.

Position at destination: 13°57.959’N, 61°01.398’W
Air temp: 87, Humidity: 50%, Water temp: 85
Nautical miles for this leg: 10.04  Total: 10,237
Departed at 9:30am, arrived at 11:15am

After paying for our mooring, we had lunch at Chateau Mygo, then we went to the resort’s pool. The pool was on three different levels – we spent our time at the mid-level, which offered a great view of the lagoon. The staff brought around fruit on sticks, water, and samples of virgin blended drinks. That worked as intended, as we all went to the bar to get some rather expansive versions of those drinks with rum. The resort and lagoon were very beautiful, bit we did need to get south, so we resolved to spend more time at Marigot when we returned from Grenada.

                    Entrance to Marigot Bay                                                      It’s lunchtime

               Noi, Scott, and Lucky at Mygo                                             A perfect rainbow

                              Sitting pretty                                                     Dinghy dock for the pool

                      The mid-level pool                                                      View from the top

                                                                      Sunset progression

July 8th: Marigot Bay to Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

We left Marigot Bay at dark-o-thirty (3:00AM) for the sixty-knot cruise to Bequia (pronounced Beck-way). We had very favorable currents for once, so the trip was quicker than we expected. We cruised off of the lee side of St. Vincent, but we did not put in due to the poor reputation of the St. Vincent “mainland”. There have been more than a few instances of violent crime done to boaters, and a few resulted in death. Few cruisers anchor off of St. Vincent these days. Instead, we would cruise directly to Bequia, an island in the Grenadines that has a large anchorage and a good reputation.

Position at destination: 13°00.137’N, 61°14.683’W
Air temp: 84, Humidity: 69%, Water temp: 85
Nautical miles for this leg: 62.59  Total: 10,300
Departed at 3:00am, arrived at 2:30pm

July 8th – July 12th: Bequia

We anchored off of Princess Margaret beach, a little to the west of the main town of Port Elizabeth. The following morning we went to the town to check in. Since Tropical Blend is registered with our LLC as the owner, the authorities wanted proof that we owned it. They wanted a document of permission, or an insurance certificate with our names on it. We had prepared that kind of document when we were in Mexico, but we were never asked about proof of ownership. I had to take the long dinghy ride back to get the insurance certificate, but once in hand, we were able to finish check-in. We explored the small town, including a kind of gourmet grocery store, Doris’ Fresh Food and Yacht Provisioning – an interesting store with some products we had not seen for some time. Oh, and the town had a “pizza hut”, or so it said…

               Symbiosis at anchor in Bequia                                       Princess Margaret Beach

                  View of the anchorage                                        Quincy taking a rare stroll outside

                                                Just another sunset –  we can’t get enough of them

                                                Beautiful waters close to a harbor – that’s unusual

               The boardwalk                    Looks like every other Pizza Hut

We spent a few days on Bequia, wandering the town, doing a little shopping, and enjoying the local restaurants. The beach was very nice, and uncrowded. The snorkeling off the beach and around the rocks to the west was decent. Once afternoon we were all standing waist deep in the water and Noi let out a scream. She claimed that there was a snake in the water that had touched her foot. We didn’t believe it, as we had not heard of sea snakes in the Caribbean. Noi has a healthy fear of snakes. A local guy in the water said they did have snakes, and they were brown with white stripes. Sure enough, we found a very small creature that resembled that description. On another day, Noi and I went snorkeling around the rocks, and I saw a much larger version of the snake looking for its dinner on the bottom, about five feet below us. I pointed it out to Noi, and I have never seen her swim so fast.

The great dinghy disaster, part 2

On our last afternoon in Bequia, we took some blends onto the beach. Apparently the blender contents attracted ants, as we saw a lot of them around when we left. Rose had a beach bag around her shoulder. Shortly after we left in the dinghy, Rosé became aware that the ants were all over the bag, and thus all over her – and she really hates ants. As soon as we got back to the boat, she tied up the dinghy and leapt into the water. I went down to shower off, and just after I came out, I heard her yelling for me. When I went to see what was happening, I saw a sickening sight: Little Blend was drifting away behind our boat, heading for the rocks. Apparently in her haste to get the ants off of her, Rosé had not secured the dinghy painter. I prepared to leap into the water to swim after it, but Rose stopped me and gave me the keys. That could have been a D’oh! moment. I started swimming, and fortunately, the wind and waves were following. I was slowly closing the distance, but when I got to within twenty feet or so, I realized I could go no further – my heart was about to pound out of my chest. Fortunately, a nearby sailor had seen the chaos and showed up just then in his dinghy. I lacked the strength to climb in. so I held on to his dinghy, and asked him to take me over to Little Blend. Again lacking strength, I just grabbed the painter and he towed me back to Tropical Blend, where Rosé fully secured Little Blend – whew! We had dodged another dinghy disaster!

July 12th: Bequia – Tyrell Bay, Carriacou (Grenada)

After checking out of St. Vincent, we left at the crack of dawn for Carriacou, which is part of Grenada. It was a great day for trawlers, with flat, calm seas. Along the way, we crossed over Kick ‘Em Jenny, and underwater volcano. There is a 3km exclusion zone over the center of the volcano. If activity is detected, the exclusion zone is widened to 10km. As we passed nearby, there had been no activity detected for some time. We entered Tyrell Bay around noon, and anchored in the far eastern side, as the bay was full of boats.

Position at destination: 12°27.416’N, 61°29.242’W
Air temp: 88, Humidity: 63%, Water temp: 84.5
Nautical miles for this leg: 38.16  Total: 10,338
Departed at 6:00am, arrived at 12:40pm

July 12th – 18th: Tyrell Bay

We headed to the customs office for check in. On the way, we passed the sailboat Serenade. We had originally met the owners, Jo and Gregg, when they were briefly docked next to us in St. Maarten. We saw them again in Antigua – they were having electrical issues on the boat, and we went with them to town to find a place to rebuild their alternator. After we finished checking in, we stopped and talked to Gregg and Jo. They were regulars in Tyrell Bay, and there is quite a social scene happening there. They invited us to join noodle aerobics, a hike, and a birthday party. The group of people there were a lot of fun, and they preferred being in Carriacou over Grenada. We got some great views of the island during the hike, which was hot, but not too strenuous. A highlight of the hike was a stop at a local bakery for breakfast – the breads were to die for.

We also joined Gregg and Jo, who are both avid divers, on a lionfish hunt. Throughout the Caribbean, lionfish are a rapidly growing invasive species. They were somehow released into the Caribbean, probably by stupid tropical fish owners, and they are aggressive predators with no natural enemies. They can devastate reefs, so people are encouraged to hunt and kill them with spears. They have very poisonous spines on their backs, but the meat is delicious. We had gotten some off of a dive boat in Dominica, but we had not yet cooked them. It turns out there was a pizza and seafood restaurant, the Lazy Turtle, in Tyrell Bay that specialized in lionfish, so we had a chance to taste them and to figure out a recipe. The local dive shop organized a lionfish hunt, for both divers and snorkelers. The hunting ground was quite close to where we were anchored. Before we left to go to the dive shop, we scanned the skies and decided we could leave the hatches open, as there was no sign of rain. In the next half an hour before we left with the dive boat, the situation rapidly changed. Shortly after shoving off, the skies opened up, and we realized the hatches were open – d’oh! We spent a lot of time looking for the elusive lionfish, but we never saw them. We had Hawaiian sling spears, but they were of little use with no prey. We did enjoy the snorkel. The divers were only able to spear two fish, and one was too small to eat. It wasn’t a very productive hunt, but it was fun. That night we all ate lionfish at the Lazy Turtle, and it really was delicious. The recipe we favored was simple – the fish was cooked picatta style, in a sauce of lemon, butter, garlic, and capers.

              What more could a cow want?                                   Hey, we want some shade, too!

          Goats are everywhere in the Caribbean                           The view was worth the hike

I’ll tell you what, the lionfish were sweating that day!                        Meager results

                  Watch out for that first fin!                                   The end result, ready for the pan

               Noi and Scott                                Wildlife of Carriacou

July 18th: Tyrell Bay – Port Louis Marina, St. Georges

After nearly a week of fun in Carriacou, it was time for us to claim our reservation at the Port Louis Marina. We had reserved that space a long time ago, to ensure that we would have 110V, 60Hz power for the summer, so our air conditioners would be happy. And after experiencing a summer in Puerto Rico without a pool, it would be nice to have one at Port Louis. Symbiosis did not have a reservation, but they would be staying for a week or so with us, before moving on to the anchorages on the south side of Grenada. We had a very pleasant cruise down the lee shore of Grenada, and arrived in St. Georges Harbour around noon. We contacted the marina, and they directed us to come around to the back side, where the USA-powered dock was located. Luckily for us, it was a wind-free day. Docking at this dock was med-mooring, where you tie the stern to the dock, and the bow is secured with a forward mooring ball – there are no fingers. However, Port Louis did not use forward mooring balls – they connected a line from the bow to an underwater tie. I’m not sure how they accomplished the connection, but we gave them our thick bow lines for the connection. Later I would learn that you can ask them to supply the lines, since being in the water in that harbor turns the lines into a home for nasty, slimy, green algae among other things – yuck!

Once we knew which slip to go in (it was the last one on the dock), I turned the boat around and backed down into the slip, which was very tight. It was one of those magical and rare moments where the boat backed straight in. To our starboard was the Hatteras trawler AfterMath, which we had seen in Deshaies, suggesting that they reserve a slip in Port Louis. The owners, John and Debbie, watched with trepidation as I smoothly backed into the slip without touching their fenders. John told me he bet a dollar that I couldn’t back it in in one try. After we tied up and checked in to the marina, we had lunch at one of the marina restaurants. Welcome to Grenada, our home for the summer.

Position at destination: 12°02.601’N, 61°44.982’W
Air temp: 90, Humidity: 65%, Water temp: 85
Nautical miles for this leg: 32.03  Total: 10,370
Departed at 7:00am, arrived at 12:00pm

         Getting to Port Louis Marina, St. George’s              The route to Grenada

July 2016: Port Louis Marina

The Marina

The dock at Port Louis that features 110V, 60Hz power was totally full for the summer, and the boats were really packed in. We probably had a foot to spare on either side of us, so there was a zero chance of getting a breeze from the side. There wasn’t much breeze from the front either, as the harbor is well-protected. We quickly found out that Grenada was a lot hotter than Puerto Rico, but with the very expensive power, we could not go hog-wild on the air conditioning. Our neighbors on AfterMath had visitors for a week or so, and they weren’t boaters, so they used the air conditioning liberally. The electricity bill for that month was $800 USD! We typically did not turn our salon air conditioner on until the middle of the afternoon, when the cabin temperature hit 92°. Even then, we set it to 84°, which was actually quite refreshing compared to the outside. Most days, we went to the pool around 1:00 to escape the misery. However, the pool was also very warm – one day I measure the water temperature at 91° – ouch! Debbie from AfterMath was almost always in the water, and we met some new friends, Brian and Lauren, on the sailboat Nightingale.

Aerial view of the harbour and Port Louis          We are on the left, squeezed between the two powerboats

                                                                   A VERY tight fit, indeed!

                                              The small, hot, but very welcome pool at Port Louis

                      View along our dock                                     Looking at St. George’s, across the harbour

Fixing the air conditioning

When we were in Rodney Bay, the power cut off one afternoon while we were running our air conditioner in the cabin. When the power returned, the AC unit started back up, but apparently there was a glitch that caused the control board to fry. One of my first tasks in Grenada was to get the cabin air conditioner running – Grenada is really hot. I ordered a replacement control board from Cruisair, but it would take a number of days to arrive. In the meantime, I planned to swap the control board from the pilothouse unit to the cabin unit. The wiring is complex, and I did not have a schematic for it, so I decided to get some professional help. The guidebook recommended an electrician who was also an electronics instructor at the local community college. He came over and we made the swap. It took several hours to finish, as we had to carefully note the where all of the wires were routed – it was not a simple task. It was much harder dealing with the pilothouse unit, since it was more space-constrained. I thought that I could hook that one up myself when the replacement board arrived. After all, I was an electrical engineer in my previous life. Of course, my analytical mind turned to mush when I entered sales and marketing.

I think I mentioned it is hot in Grenada – all together now, “how hot is it?”. It is so hot that clothes iron themselves, and I saw two trees fighting over a dog. The replacement board was shipped to our mail forwarder in Jacksonville, and then I had it sent to Grenada. One of the aggravating things about Grenada is the ambiguous duty rates. We were able to register our boat such that replacement parts would be subject to a very small duty, instead of the usual 35%. However, they charge duty on the total price, including shipping. Our mail forwarder was good enough to create a $10 commercial invoice for the board (I paid $275 for it), but the shipping was expensive. Once the board had arrived at the local Fedex office, I walked over to pick it up. I had called a customs broker to clear the board. It was about a mile walk around the harbor to the Fedex office, so I was pretty toasted when I got there. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my passport, and Fedex required ID to release the board, so back I went, and back I came. Thoroughly drenched with sweat, I paid the duty invoice, which was around $80ECD, and staggered back to the boat, sweating, sick, and delirious. I tore off my clothes, tossed them into the “to be burned” pile, and headed to the pool.

The next day, I attempted to install the new board, but the wiring was a little bit different on it, and in order to access the installation location, I needed to disconnect other stuff. I decided to call Michael back, and this time he brought one of his students. It turned out to be a lot tougher than installing the controller in the berth, but after a couple of hours, the mission succeeded. We not had air conditioning available throughout the boat. I say available, because we were cautious about using it. Electricity is very expensive in Grenada. AfterMath had some visitors on board who were not boaters. Apparently they kept the a/c running in their cabin around the clock, because after they left, John found that his monthly electric bill was $800USD! Ouch! We used the a/c in the berth at night, but we set it to 80°. In the salon, we waited until it got over 90°, and set the temperature to 83°. When it is 95° and 70% outside, a dry 83° feels pretty good. If we stayed in the marina, we usually spent the afternoon at the pool. Sadly, the pool was also hot. We debated how hot it was, and one day I checked it with the pyrometer – it was freaking 91°! It actually hurt like a hot bath when you first got into it. If we had a heavy rain, it would cool down for a couple of days. Did I tell you that it is hot in Grenada?

The West Indies Beer Company

Scott has a thing for IPA beers. He is no fan of Caribbean lagers, so he was not thrilled with most of the island beers. As a matter of fact, it would be fair to say that he totally disrespected them. He heard that there was a micro-brewery on Grenada, and he got rough directions. We took a taxi to it, and like a shining palace, Scott found his IPA’s! He was in hog heaven. We had a tour of the brewery, then sampled some of the crafts. Debbie found out that she liked the cider, which was actually quite strong, and flavored with a different fruit each time we went. I found a Belgian Tripel that I liked, and Scott was salivating over the IPA’s. Nois went with a light ale, so we were all pleased. They had bar food that was very marginal at best, but it was cheap. The brewery is pretty close to the university, and when school started up, the brewery did a pretty good business. I think Scott was there at least two or three times per week. We could take a bus to get pretty close to it, with about a one mile walk from the bus stop. We did enjoy going there, but not as much as Scott did.

      Checking out the brewery                Brewmeister ‘splainin’                 It looks like a beer, but it’s cider


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