St Lucia to Grenada one way, Trip Report Feb 9th thru Feb 18 on a Moorings 4800.
Pictures here, https://jccarr.smugmug.com/St-Lucia-to-Grenada-2017/
Day 1 Travel:
Delta airlines from the Midwest with one connection to most spots in the Caribbean has worked well for us over the years and this year was no exception. Depart Wichita at 6:00AM and be in St Lucia at 3:30PM the same day is pretty good service. While on the travel, we were able to depart Grenada late afternoon on Saturday the 18, overnight in Atlanta and arrive back to Wichita Sunday morning. This worked great with a noon return time for the boat, so we put in a good morning’s sail the day of our departure.
On arrival to St Lucia we rented a car from Sixt. We reserved a SUV but all they had was a very small Chevy Spark. It was a hatch back and the back seat folded down for cargo so we went with it. The Sixt people were very nice, helpful and even provided their personal cell phone number if we had any issues. Driving in St Lucia is no problem; I would not hesitate to do it again. Sixt has an office in Rodney Bay basically next door to the Moorings office for the drop off, it could not have been a better arrangement.
Day 2 Provisions, Boat Briefing and boarding
Jennifer and I arrived one day ahead of the rest of the crew to shop for provisions and get the boat and chart briefings. We stayed at the Coco Palm, it was reasonable, clean and nice. We checked out of the hotel and dropped all our stuff at the Moorings office. The Moorings folks told us that we could board the boat when it was ready and we did not need to wait till 6:00pm. What a great relief, we had been worried about storing perishable provisions between shopping in the morning, the 3:00 boat brief and the 6:00 boarding time. We are noticing that everybody is very helpful; this little offer solved a big logistics problem for us. Jennifer puts the provisions away, I attend the briefings and we are done at 4:30 just in time for the crew arrival. We had a cold beer for the crew on arrival, dinner at the sushi place at the dock; it was very good and very reasonable. We checked out of St Lucia at the customs office at the marina this afternoon to enable an early departure, more on customs procedures later.
Shopping, Shop at the Massy store in the Baywalk Mall, there is a parking structure entrance on the east side. Don’t try to find 12oz beers, they don’t exist just buy more of the mini beers. They don’t seem to display all the beer options in a case, ask. This is a large store and you should find what you need, however it was slim pickens for the tequila options. We did shop at 2 Massy stores, the one at the mall was by far bigger and had more selection. One more note on the shopping, next time I would provision from Moorings, I had looked on line and the prices looked out of line. I think I was looking at the price in EC, it looked 2.7 times too much. I have not verified this so check it out yourself. I was told the website can display in either currency. When buying 30 gallons of water, 5 cases of beer plus a lot of other stuff, it would be nice to have the bulk of it delivered. You can fill up a Chevy Spark pretty quick.
The chart brief was one on one and very informative. I was counting to learn the local area, security, where to go, where not to go, and customs procedures and I accomplished all of that. Here is the short Summary, Don’t stop in St Vincent, make passages on the west side of the St Vincent and Grenada, lock your dinghy, lock your boat when you leave, take your cash with you when you leave the boat, enter Tobago Cays via northern channel and exit the same way, use the moorings balls if available. Plus info was provided on what things cost, customs ext. I felt well prepared for the trip.
Day 3 Rodney Bay to the Pitons
We did not get as early start as I intended, I had checked the propane level late the previous night and it was very low. Turns out the guys had an issue changing the bottle which required a trip to the Chandlery for a new part by the Moorings mechanic. We depart at about 10:00AM. It is 23 miles to the Pitons, the winds were useable but could have been stronger. I sailed 3 or more miles off shore but the island seemed to turn that ENE wind into more of a following wind. On arriving at the Pitons we see a Cat approaching from the south but we are significantly closer to the area between the pitons to pick up a ball. We see one open ball and head that way, a boat boy approaches and prior to getting to say hello he quickly turns and heads to the other Cat, I think what did I do. It took me a minute to figure out his business motives, he makes a deal with the second cat to secure that mooring ball prior to our arrival. Even though I figured it out pretty quickly and brought the power up to cruise rpm, he beat me to the ball. I would have never guessed he could beat us with the distance he traveled both out and back. Fortunately there was one other ball we found closer in near Sugar Beach. FYI, there are plenty of other good spots to moor just north Petit Piton, I just wanted to be between the two Pitons. The mooring looks good and survives a good backing down to test strength.
Time for a beer and some of the crew goes snorkeling north of Sugar Beech. While swimming to the snorkeling area the crew finds a submerged mooring ball. We also see boat boy tend to another submerged ball near our location. My speculation is the boat boys are creating mooring ball shortages and building the mooring securing business demand by hiding some of the balls. So my advice when approached by a boat boy into the Pitons unless the area is not very full is to give them 20EC to save you a ball. They will have better luck finding them than you.
On the trip down I noted the boat’s steering was pretty stiff when the rudders were having to do work. The autopilot had also gave up and would not work for the last 10 miles. We dove the rudders upon arrival at the Pitons thinking we may have snagged something along the way but no luck. We called the Mooring service guy and we answered some basic questions, he sends a Soufriere based boat mechanic to access the situation. His diagnosis was “it’s bad”, he called the Moorings base and they immediately round up a crew of 3 and send us a brand new boat. We have several hours warning on the swap so we packed our stuff and load it out to the back of the boat. Upon the new boat arrival, the other Captain and I head to Soufriere to meet a Customs officer at 9:00 PM to square away the boat papers. Moorings arranged everything and covered all the overtime cost. By the time I returned, the swap was complete, stuff put way and the crew having a well-deserved beer. The Mooring crew broke out the emergency tiller, just in case, and headed back north that night. While we had a problem with the boat, the Mooring’s response to the issue could not have been better. We did not miss a beat with what could have been a disaster for our aggressive plan. The boat was so new it did not have a name so we spent the week on “Hull #206”.
Near the Pitons we came upon a pod of dolphins working the water and many took a break from fishing to come swim with us, how cool is that. We also saw the “Green Flash” at sunset and I have a picture to prove it. Two firsts for the entire crew so we had a pretty great first day.