St. Lucia 2020
Note; You’ll see repeated reference to the “WARC”, that is the acronym for the World ARC, an around the world yacht rally that begins in St. Lucia and returns there 15 months later; this will be Skyelarks’s third time participating in the rally and completing the full circumnavigation once.
Friday January 3, 2020
Having retired at 2:01 pm on Thursday I arrived at the Buffalo airport for my 5:39 am AA flight t0 St. Lucia; this flight went through Charlotte which was an option I don’t remember seeing before. The flight was on time and Trendy was at the airport to meet me as arranged. My flight landed at 3:00, Fred’s was scheduled for 3:30 but was delayed and another woman was coming in at 4:00 that was riding with us.
We went to Uptown Liquors in Vieux Fort to stock up and get rum for the boat, Dan had agreed to let me put some rum on board for the World ARC rally which I will be joining later. Fred had emailed and said don’t wait for him so when the woman arrived, we left for Marigot Bay where she was joining a German yacht that Trendy occasionally does work on.
On the way we stopped at the Dennery overlook for a few and then had a couple more on the yacht. The owner had a trolly (moving dolly) he didn’t want anymore and gave it to Trendy; it would prove to come in handy later. We didn’t get to the hotel until 8:00 and Fred was right behind us, having arrived around 6:00. We have rooms at the Chez Marie Alish, a place small 7-unit guest house I found by fate a couple years ago. Perfectly located for us, its on the main road into Gros Islet just off the Gros Islet – Castries highway. The apartments have a full kitchen, complete bath and balcony on the top floor. A 10- minute walk to the marina and 15 to the beach, bakery next door, fruit stands across the street and the lady behind the building sells coals; there’s also a small shop to pick up eggs and such a few doors down.
The owners live on site and they apartments run about 65-75 a night booked through Expedia.
We dropped our luggage had some welcome drinks and headed straight for Dukes to get some dinner. The jump up is on Friday so the line was down to the corner as usual, we waited probably 30 minutes but got marlin fresh off the grill. They have one type of fish ready at a time so you take what is offered or wait until the type you want is ready, the sauce is what makes it and the line of tourist and locals is testament to how well worth the wait is.
Dukes Place, photo taken during the day
Well-fed we hit the jump up for a few; Marlyle and Celia stopped by to say hello, he’s filming music videos here and in Rodney Bay this week and they are staying at the Coco Palm, a very nice option on the Rodney Bay strip. Afterwards back to the room and nightcaps on the balcony; between what we put in our flasks for the jump up and the nightcaps we put a pretty good dent in the grabber of Chairmens.
Saturday January 4, 2020
Got up, made breakfast and got hold of Dan to coordinate a time to meet; he and Em were going kite surfing that morning so we met up at Café Ole beforehand for a coffee, Fred was already there when I arrived. It was nice to catch up with everybody after a year.
I went to the market in Castries to stock up on fruit and veg, they are doing some work there to improve it so getting around was a little tough. Second goal was to have a bite to eat and found a spot with pig tail bullion, using fresh tails like I get at home rather than the salted ones usually used. The soup was very rich and satisfying full of vegetable, provisions and dumplings. I checked out the offerings from the fish vendors but we weren’t going to cook out until Monday so I didn’t get anything.
Some fish at the market
I walked down to Pigeon Point and had a swim then came back up in time to see Marlyle film on the beach. There was a welcome party at the marina for the 2020 WARC fleet so Fred and I went to that, the boats all introduced themselves, it was the first meet and greet for everyone together.
Marlyle (Boomer) and Celia filming for his upcoming video You're My Lover (I Don't Want to See You Cry) Jah Marlyle
Children playing in the sea and fishing boats anchored in Gros Islet down from the Bayside Chillerz bar
Sunday January 5, 2020
This was just a chill day; I took my morning walk through Rodney Bay to the channel into the harbor and picked up some things for our cookout. I met with Dan to try to transfer the balance for the WARC, I’m doing legs 3-9, Galapagos to Indonesia. My old account with the transfer company was set up under my work email which I no longer had access to so we had to set up a new account and that had its own set of problems but no worries.
We hit up some local bars for drinks and then killed the Chairmens on the balcony that night.
Monday January 6
Fred and I went to the store to get the last few things for todays “trial run” BBQ. I pretty much packed a beach restaurant in an old army duffle bag; grill, table, 4 stools. 3 hammocks, place setting for 4, cutting boards, ½ gallon jug cooler, various implements and seasonings (along with a bottle of Prosecco and Flower City gin to stow on Skyelark for the South Pacific). This is where Trendy’s trolly came in handy, we loaded it all up strapped it to the trolly and wheeled it to eh beach, with a bag of coals hanging off the handle, I also had my roller cooler and backpack so we were well equipped.
The "beach restaurant" I brought with me
The BBQ went off well, besides Fred, Trendy and myself, Dan and Em came and brought Jeff with them, who I had mat on the 2017-2018 WARC and also Janet a retired nurse from the U who was trying to hitchhike on as many legs of the WARC as she could.
We had chicken marinated in sour orange juice with onion, garlic, ginger and curry seasoning (also my Cajun spice blend, which goes in everything) the pork was done in Barons green sauce with some added garlic; a roasted breadfruit and garden salad rounded out the meal. Janet brought a bottle of coconut rum and a carton of fruit punch and I had a bottle of Bounty Gold along with a case of beer so we were all feeling no pain.
Dan, Em and Jeff took the dingy back to the marina, the rest of us made our way back, trolly in tow, and stopping at some of the local bars. We finished the last of the rum and beers at the room and put Janet on the bus with instructions to the driver to drop her off at Rodney Heights then I came up and hit the bed.
One of the local specialtie
Tuesday January 7, 2020
Everybody was running a little slow this morning, I took my morning walk in Rodney Bay and stopped to check out Reduit Beach by Spinakers; I haven’t been to the beach here during the day in a few years, preferring my little quite beach. I was surprised to see the number of people from the cruise ships jammed in 3 deep all along the beach except for in front of Spinakers and the Bay Garden Beach Resort.
Stopped at the marina and tried again with Dan to make the transfer, we made some progress but still couldn’t send it through. Dan’s sister Deb arrived, she is doing the first two legs, and was as cheerful and lovely as ever.
There was another WARC party at the marina, this time at La Mesa, a new steakhouse restaurant that is in the former location of the Bread Basket. Drinks were by ticket, of which Dan had a handful, and the food was OK but only fired items. The party broke up early and we headed to Bosun’s for dinner; since I had lunch earlier I opted for the seafood salad, very nice light choice, Dan and Deb ordered Thai which they enjoyed and Em got chicken Alfredo, with ketchup.
World ARC 2020-2021, there's no time like the present
I made it an early night feeling pretty beat from the previous nights.
Wednesday January 8, 2020
One of crew on another WARC boat had mentioned wanting to go to Soufriere and check out the mud baths. I was going there later next week but have never been to the mud baths as I’m too cheap, I mean frugal, to spring for the taxi by myself. I figured this would be my chance to see then and would also give my liver and pocketbook a break getting out of Rodney Bay for a while.
We met up at the supermarket opposite Rodney Heights and took the bus to Castries, stopping at one of the food stands for a saltfish and bread. We had just missed the previous bus and would have to wait for the next one to fill up. The driver offered to leave right away if we paid $35 US, about half the taxi rate, but we were in no hurry and told him we would wait since the fare is only 8 EC each. The bus filled up within an half hour and we were on our way.
I had read on trip advisor about the “hordes of aggressive panhandlers” in the town lately so didn’t know what to expect, 10 years or so ago it was a real problem there. The two days were there we were only approached by the same three old men, a quick no or even just a wave off sent them on their way.
We stopped to look at the church, the caretaker gave us a brief bit of history on it and then headed to Hummingbird Beach where the government has recently put some infrastructure money into building some bars, restaurants, shops and Palapas same as they have done at Pigeon Point and Vigie Beach; you can even rent chairs and umbrellas. The town square is finally finished and they built a new bus terminal/ fruit market near the bridge. Hopefully this will bring more tourists to the town.
Statue in the new town square ( I don't know how to flip the picture, sorry)
A fishing boat at anchor
Petit Piton from the new facilities at Hummingbird Beach
We planned to split a room at the Downtown Hotel and asked at the desk if they could match the price online; the woman said she couldn’t and that a sea/Piton view room would be $91 a night, using their wifi we were able to book the same room for $54 and paid in cash. We stopped at Zaka’s, a coffee shop and live music venue to look up Simon (Zaka) who a friend knew, he grows his own coffee beans; skippers for internet and Petit View Creole Restaurant for lunch. Some familiar faces were at the beach so I chatted with them while my associate took a nap on one of the sun beds.
The view from our balcony, not bad for $54 a night
A beautiful Caribbean sunset
We checked out the sunset from the balcony with a sundowner and then went out for a while at night, the town was quiet but a couple of the bars were open. After a nightcap of Spice (house made spiced rum) we called it a night with plans to get an early start in the morning.
Thursday January 9, 2020
It was the right call to go early; we had saltfish on bread for breakfast from the lady on the sidewalk across from the hotel and found a taxi to take us to the mud baths, Andre Alexander, great guy and a lot of fun. There are 4 pools there, you cover yourself with the grey mud in the buckets, that’s the therapeutic one, there’s a special technique to doing it without wasting it on the ground. Once the grey mud was dry, Andre used his artistic talents to paint designs with the black mud; if we hadn’t had him with us wouldn’t have known what the routine was, a couple I met the day before who drove themselves came out of the pool to apply the mud after watching us. There were only about 10 people there so we had a pool to ourselves. As we were leaving the day trippers started arriving by the van full, it would have been a totally different experience than what we had.
At the drive in volcano with Andre, and yes that's his real hair
At the mud baths
The town of Soufriere from the overlook on the way back from the volcano
We grabbed our stuff at the hotel and took the bus back to Castries, having lunch at the market, curried lamb and a bowl of cow heel soup.
The final WARC party was tonight, so I stopped at Skyelark beforehand and we finally had success in transferring part of the charter funds, the service only lets you wire so much at a time and it wasn’t enough to cover a seven-month charter.
The party was at the Bay Garden Beach Resort, food and drinks were free and the food was fantastic. The rally provided free shuttles between the hotel and marina. We had a portion of the beach cordoned off and it didn’t look like anybody was at the bar or restaurant. Judging from the way everybody was dancing on the beach, this looks to be a fun fleet, there are 30+ boats in all this time around.
I left earlier than the others having to get an early start on our farewell BBQ tomorrow.