We really lucked out on this trip. Our flight was scheduled just after one snowstorm ended, and just before another was due to arrive. When I checked in the night before, the seat next to us was empty as were a number of others on the plane. I gave myself one of those mental fist pumps and a yahoo as well! I love having some elbow room. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I chose to live in the country while raising the kids, and retire on the open ocean. I was stoked for this trip, and getting even more excited about it.
When we got on the plane, I found this husky guy in the seat next to mine – yikes. Why did I pay sixty bucks for an extra room seat again? Well, it’s only a four and a half hour flight I said to myself. At least Anna Marie will be comfortable.
So I sit down, and I come to realize right off the bat it is going to be one of those, you know, “I’ll keep the left side of my body tucked in” deals, “so you can be comfortable” situations…!
But he seemed to be a nice enough fellow, and I’m super excited for the trip, so everything is cool. We chatted the whole flight and he told me all about his kids, why he was visiting NY, and about his work life in Saint Lucia – giving boat and land tours to tourists in the Soufrière area. We exchanged contact information and told him that if we sailed south to Soufrière, we would give him a call.
Landed. Here we go!
Peter, our favorite local cab driver was enlisted to take us to the marina. On the way, we had to stop at Beatrice’s Hangout for some awesome barbecue chicken!
We got to the marina, settled in nicely, and had a lovely dinner at the Bread Basket, where we were able to be reunited with the great staff – some of which have become friends.
We got up early the next day, and started in with preparing for travels. First on the list was replacing a leaking main engine exhaust wet elbow. Using the procedure recommended by our friend Mark on s/v Cream Puff, the project went quickly and smoothly.
While I was working on the engine, Anna Marie was sanding our flag pole. Later we applied some fresh teak oil and hung our ensign. This flag was given to us a number of years ago by our oldest, Bryan, while he was on tour in Iraq. This flag was flown over the Baghdad green zone during one of our more active periods in the country.
Next up was a trip to the mall for a SIM card, some provisioning, and possibly a paddle board.
We eventually got the SIM card, provisioning was easy, but the paddle board looked like it might be a challenge. We ultimately found one at the local dive shop/instruction school, located so close to the marina that Anna Marie paddled home. Happy Valentines Day!
That night, we got together with Tracy and her boyfriend, Jr. I had met the two of them during my four week stint at the marina before Christmas. Tracy and I had become good friends. She was leaving for St. Martin the following day for some new work opportunities, so this was our only chance to get together for a while, and for Anna Marie and her to meet. We had a fantastic evening. Tracy is a sweetheart. When we greeted each other, she hugged me so hard I thought she might hurt herself. It is truly amazing the bonds we have been able to make in such a short time. It is a large part of why we are doing this, and it was a night we won’t soon forget.
We were now ready to head out of the marina. We got up the next morning, had a hearty breakfast, and headed out to Rodney Bay after Anna Marie replaced our tattered courtesy flag with a new one, courtesy of Mary the local flag lady (pun intended).
We got into the bay and Anna Marie lost no time getting out on her new paddle board.
We enjoyed a wonderful day and a picture perfect ending.
The following day we planned on sailing down to Soufrière, however, the morning chores took longer than anticipated. Plan B, sail to Marigot Bay, overnight there, and head to Soufrière the following morning. All we have to do is weigh anchor.
Hmm. The anchor seems a bit heavy today….
Getting that large chain off delayed us another 45 minutes or so, but we are starting to learn to deal with unforeseen problems and arrive at successful solutions.
We had a beautiful sail down to Marigot Bay.
The last time I was down here on Intreped Bear, we encountered a problem using one of the mooring balls near the entrance to the bay. The Captain, Stephan, had agreed to pay $25 US to two young men in a dinghy that approached us. No sooner had they tied us up and were paid, but another dinghy arrived asking for $30 US to use the mooring. He claimed the money we paid was for the “tying up” service, but the balls belonged to him, and he wanted his money. A fairly heated verbal argument ensued, and this local’s point man untied us while Stephan wasn’t looking. Stephan was furious. He wasn’t going to pay any more money, so we ended up anchoring in the shallows. Later, Stephan dinghied into the marina and filed a complaint.
Unfortunately, some of the locals don’t realize that doing business that way is bad business for the whole area. To avoid any issues, we opted to go into the inner bay and pay for one of the marina moorings. For $30 US, we had use of their wifi, pool, showers, and spa. We never got to utilize any of the extra services, but I thought it was a fair price.
While I messed around on the boat, Anna Marie got in a tour of the bay on her board. When she got back, we had sundowners and got ready for dinner.
We dinghied over to the Rainforest Hideaway, where we had a truly amazing dinner. Some of the ratings sites named this restaurant the best on the island. It is certainly the best place we have come across so far. Anna Marie said it was the most romantic place we’ve ever been.
We started the next day with breakfast at the Capella Resort Restaurant, where we were treated to a beautiful view of the bay and a special breakfast. Our $30 US overnight seemed pretty reasonable compared to the $500-750 US you have to pay for a room here, depending on the time of year.
The facility is quite impressive. I can’t remember the last time I was in a rest room with a stack of soft, cotton, terry cloth hand towels for drying your hands.
All right. Time to head to Soufrière.
There are quite a few things that I am good at. Some things I’m very good at. One of those is being a putz at times. Well, this was one of those times.
When I went to open the main sail, I unfurled it too quickly. This resulted in the sail getting fouled in the mast.
I made an initial attempt at rectifying the situation, but found out quickly there was not going to be a quick fix. The sail was only out a smidgen (old nautical term for ‘a bit’), so we sailed south and figured we would deal with it when we got there.
We had a beautiful sail south. We were even accompanied by a large pod of dolphins for 5 or 10 minutes of the trip. We had seen dolphins before on some of our sailing excursions, but this was the first time we had them surrounding the boat and criss-crossing the bow while playing. It was quite the experience.
We got tied to a mooring ball by a nice young man – John. He didn’t ask for any money so we tipped him $20 EC.
Once we got settled, we began the task at hand: freeing up that main sail.
I started by standing on the highest winch and trying to tuck the fold back into the mast, but this wasn’t working, I couldn’t get to the highest point where the foul began, and it really didn’t look like it would help anyway. So, I searched the Amel Owners Forum – nothing there. Google? Found some suggestions but after trying them all, it was four hours later and the sail was still where it was when we started.
The sun was getting low in the sky and I was beginning to think we weren’t going to be able to fix this problem on our own, without breaking something else. However, before we called it quits for the day, I decided to break out the bosuns chair and go to the area where the foul began. This was a great opportunity for Anna Marie to learn how to hoist me.
She got me up there, and much to my surprise, the sail was cooperating. As I began to push the top part of the fouled sail into the mast, the lower sections followed as easily has the top area had. Soon enough, I had successfully pushed the fouled and folded main back into the mast. We pulled out the slack with the outhaul, and we were back in business with no harm done to the sail.
We put everything we had taken apart back together again, and cleaned up our mess just in time to catch another great sunset.
Now that we knew we didn’t have to spend the next day working on the sail, I gave King Nigel a call and asked him if we could do a quick tour in the morning. We told him we only had until about noon and he said that should be enough time to do the walking trail, the mud baths, and the waterfall. We signed up.
A water taxi picked us up later that evening and took us to town. We were headed to Petit Peak Restaurant for dinner. It was recommended by the Marine Ranger who had collected the mooring fee, and although quiet and almost empty, the food was very good. We were almost done with our meal when King Nigel showed up. We had told him earlier we were going to be eating there so he decided to stop in. He joined us for a few beers while we finished dinner, and asked us if we’d like to go to a party. One of his good friends was having a birthday party and we were welcome. We said we would love to.
The next morning, we dinghied to shore where we were picked up by Nigel’s brother-in-law, Connolly (aka Red Lion). Connolly got us some coffee, and we headed out to the Tet Paul Nature Trail. Along this forty-five minute to one hour excursion, our wonderful tour guide, Toriann, educated us about the local history, culture, and exotic horticulture. The views from this location were spectacular.
From here it was off to the mud baths.
The waters flowing through this area are world renowned, and ranked as highly as other famous baths such as Baden Baden in Germany, Yellow Stone Geysers and Hot Springs in Wyoming, USA and Onsen Ryokan, in Japan. You can read more about them here at The Soufriere Foundation.
We first entered the hot Black Water Pool. We were instructed by Connolly to completely dunk our heads. The water was pretty hot, but it felt really good.
After a few minutes in the pool, we headed out to slather the sulfur mud all over us and proceeded to let it dry in the sun. At this point, I was feeling a bit buzzed. When I mentioned it to Anna Marie, she said she felt it too. We cooked in the sun for a little while, and then headed back to the Black Water Pool to rinse off. We both felt rejuvenated when we exited, and our skin did feel very smooth and soft.
It was time to head over to the Toraille Waterfalls. We walked into the pool where the water was quite cool, but not cold, and proceeded to have our bodies pounded by the falling water of the waterfall. Connolly called it a “power shower” and I would concur with that description. The impact of the water was quite impressive, and bordered on painful.
We headed back to the boat, and put the Pitons behind us for a wonderful, close hauled sail back to Rodney Bay.
Later that evening, we dinghied into the marina for dinner and made a short visit to the street party.
The following day we prepared the boat for our departure, and brought her back to the marina where we cleaned, tidied things up, and prepared the boat for being unattended for a while. I will be back in a couple weeks to introduce some of our boys to the RK and sailing the area.