Christmas was just a couple of days after we arrived. It was awesome to see my parents, but I was terrible company, wanting to just sleep and enjoy some air conditioning after our travels.
We saw the New Year in at the Spinnaker Bar with my parents. The following day they left and flew home. Next time we’ll see them will be June when we have to fly back and work like normal people.
We kept extending our stay in Rodney Marina and settled into our new life in the Caribbean (smug gits I know). The benefit of having a small boat is that the mooring was relatively cheap. We gave all our washing, including all our wet weather gear and saloon cushion covers, to Bubbles (a laundry service), which cost us a small fortune. We paid about $90 US for admittedly quite a lot of bags of washing. In Bequia recently we got one bag of washing done for $20. The time saved hanging around in a laundrettes was worth it over Christmas, plus getting back neatly folded clean clothes that smell like spring rates highly on Excalibur’s pleasure index these days.
Trina went hell for leather and sanded and varnished Excalibur’s toe rail and cockpit lockers. Cosmetic jobs didn’t even appear on the jobs list back in the Canaries, so it seems fitting Excalibur has now been rewarded with some shiny teak after getting us to St Lucia in one piece.
Aquila gave us all their tinned and dry goods as they were leaving the boat for some time. We never turn down free food. I got chatting to a guy on a small boat who was putting his boat on the hard and going back to Canada to work. A week later he came knocking and asked if I wanted any food. I ended up taking 3 granny trollies worth of canned and dry goods back to Excalibur. We’ve now got more food on the boat than we had when we left the Canaries!
The food from the Canadian guy came from Martinique, which is the place to go to stock up on food. The food is subsided by the French government, and the selection is bigger and better than elsewhere we’ve heard.
We also started thinking about getting a bigger boat, having only just sailed to the Caribbean. Don’t ask. We’re in love with Hans Christian boats after hearing about them one evening. We saw a Tayana for sale and had a look at one in the marina. We later had the owners over for dinner. They were lovely people and gave us lots of advice. Apparently there’s plenty of deals to be had down in Trinidad. Excalibur is a fantastic boat, and life on a 30ft boat isn’t as hard as some might think. Though we much prefer living on a boat to in a house, so it might be the right time to upsize to something bigger and bite the bullet now. We’ll see.
We went to a Jump Up two Fridays in a row in Gros Islet which is a street party down the road from Rodney marina. The advice was that it was generally safe but to be mindful and to stick to the main street. We turned up at 6pm before the party got into full swing with enough money for just a few drinks. The vibe was fine and we didn’t feel unsafe. There were tourists with their children, and plenty of cruise liner, Hawaiian T-shirt wearing chumps with massive SLR cameras swinging from their chests, so we felt pretty safe in the knowledge there was plenty of mugging fodder waddling around. We did stray from the main street, and found a bar called The End of the Road. We sat and chatted with the bar staff, got the lowdown on what music people are listening to, and were bought drinks by fellow drinkers. We tried out sorrel rum, and the food was awesome, huge plates of food (cheap too). I can’t think of many places back home where strangers would buy you a drink and walk off. We only expected to stay til 9pm, but the night flew by and even when we tried to leave a street seller cracked open a bottle of beer and gave it to us for free when we said we’d run out of money and were heading home. We could have quite easily missed out on the Jump Up having read mixed reviews online, so I’m glad we went and took a look for ourselves.
We left Rodney Bay and spent a week in Marigot Bay having some down time. A guy called Jah Come rowed over most days and sold us massive grapefruit for $5ec each. Not much else to say. We chilled, and did buggerall.
From Marigot Bay we headed to Jalousie Bay.
We got ripped off in Marigot Bay when ordering a meal at one of the shacks on the beach that was listed in Trip Advisor. We then also got ripped off in Jalousie Bay when buying a couple of juices.
The scammers are super friendly and have a nice conversation with you, but the problem arises when you go to pay up. The first guy gave us a price of 28 dollars, we figured it was 28EC but instead he argued with us it was $28 US for two small takeaways. The second guy just charged us a ridiculous price for two juices. There’s nothing you can do in this situation. I had a staring match with one of the juice guys, but they don’t care. I just told him we wouldn’t be needing anything off him in the future. So his greed did him no favours. We didn’t buy any bread off him, or use his boat taxi. Stupid really. We paid up and made sure that however nice the person we speak to is in the future, we get the price confirmed first. The stupid thing about the juice guy was that it wasn’t even his stall!
As Trina put it, it’s shaking your hand whilst pissing in your pocket. Too much piss has poured into these pockets now and that’ll hopefully be the last of it. We understandably felt a bit stupid after these two incidents. I’d say we’re pretty street smart, but after the generosity we experienced at the Jump Up we let our guard down.
After both of these incidents we stayed on board and didn’t want to hang around the beaches. The juice guy came up to us the day before we left Jalousie Bay asking if we wanted a taxi to Soufriere. Cheeky git!
After Jalousie Bay we went to Soufriere with the intention of checking out and heading to Bequia. How could a 30 minute motor be at all stressful?!
A boat boy came flying across the bay in his rib, literally flying, and we told him we’d give him $5 US to take us to a mooring buoy. He agreed and then sped off the opposite way and disappeared. We shrugged our shoulders. As we got closer another boat boy came out and we told him we’d spoken to his mate. ‘Well he’s not here I’ll take you’. Couldn’t argue with that logic. We followed the new guy and as we came up to the buoy the first guy came back angry as hell. I just knew this was going to happen. I told him to sort it out with the other guy.
Once on the buoy a kid came up and offered to take our rubbish away for 10 EC, I said we had 5EC, and that if he came back later we’d pay him the other 5, but he was insistent we give him 5. A little later two more kids on a surfboard came up asked for food/money etc. This was the first time we’d been asked for money like this and our introduction to Sourfriere was already pretty stressful. We were also very close to a small village which looked a bit rough and ready. Our preconceptions were proved wrong later on.
We tried organising a taxi to shore with the boat boy we’d annoyed earlier, but he never came back. We then saw him later on the shore sat down. We did try to make things good.
I’m not sure how to describe Soufriere. It’s probably been a bit rough and ready in the past, a bit wild wild west. Now there’s boat loads of tourists walking around with Hawaiian t-shirts and massive SLR’s draped over their chests (we just can’t get away from them). We spoke to a guy selling beads, he pointed out these tourists get off the boat and are then loaded into a minibus and packed off around the island without taking any time to look around Soufriere or spend any money there.
We found a guy originally from London but who went back to his ancestral home in St Lucia called Zaka. He runs a cafe, makes painted masks, his own coffee, repairs people’s starter motors and fishing rods, pretty much a one man band, quite literally as he has music nights at the cafe too. We sat with him whilst he worked on fixing our fishing rod for some time and got an education on the island.
Later we started making our way back to the boat as we’d read not to leave the boat unattended at night time.
We walked to the village which overlooked Excalibur, the boat was about 60ft from shore.
I’ve never been to somewhere like Baron’s Drive before. Pigs were rummaging along the shoreline. Kids were walking goats through the street. The hub of the community was a bar, where people would ride up with their jeep and blast reggae music out. Couple of guys fired up their 2 stroke scramblers and screamed off down the road. One guy came up and shook our hands, introduced himself and walked off. No hard sells, no ulterior motives, just genuine friendliness. We sat down next to the bar whilst an old lady cooked chicken over a bbq made from a old car rim. The place has a seriously strong community vibe. There’s a small building which is the shower for the village where people lined up to take their evening showers. A kid was washing in small tub in the street. A couple of guys gave me the run down of how the drinks are priced at the bar, 5EC for everything, so they advised to pick the nicest rum as it was just as cheap as the low value stuff.
We chatted to a guy who gave us a run down of the country’s history whilst trying out some ganja rum. We questioned what the deal was with the country music we kept hearing whilst we were walking around earlier. The older generations prefer country to the dance hall music that preaches violence was his response.
Spending the evening listening to music and drinking in Baron’s Drive was the highlight of St Lucia for me personally. We don’t aim to travel to new countries and sit at bars drinking with other sailors for the entirety. Though we do do a fair bit of that too. Perhaps the challenge with St Lucia is that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but if you read all advice which sometimes is a few years old you’d never go anywhere.
We left at 6am from Soufriere and soon remembered we hated sailing. The first half of the trip was like a rubbish cold and wet day in the Solent. We listened to music and watched a flock of birds fly around the boat, they’d slide across the sky and hover just in front of our rigging before wheeling right and dive bombing for fish. Sounds silly, but we were mesmerized watching these birds fly just inches from the boat to this playlist…
As we approached Bequia the clouds parted and the sun came out and we soon remembered we love sailing. The wind died down and the boat became perfectly balanced. When the sails are balanced you can handle the tiller by just using a finger and thumb. This is more luck than judgement, but when the conditions suit the sail plan I can just let go of the tiller and watch Excalibur sail herself for a time, until she rounds up a bit and needs a little correction.
The vibe in Bequia is a lot different to St Lucia. There’s no hustling, no boat boys racing out to get your business. You’re left to your own devices here. One guy motored out after watching us for 10 minutes whilst we were deciding where to anchor. ‘Do you need any help?’ ‘No we’re good thanks’ and that was the end of it. In St Lucia we learned the boat boys get annoyed if you don’t pay them to take you to a buoy. Being such a small boat we’ve never needed help picking up a buoy, you can simply lean over the side in the cockpit, so I begrudged paying for the service the first time. But it’s their country, and that’s how they make their living. We enjoyed our time in St Lucia, but the hustling after a while becomes a noise you want to get away from, find a quiet place and chill.
I wasn’t going to write a travel guide to the islands we’re visiting, but I feel we’re collecting memories already and that I’d like to get them down now and not forget. I don’t always take a phone with me to take pictures, either it’s not working that day or I don’t want to be intrusive and take pictures of a moment.
So now we’re in Bequia. There’s a fringe festival going on which means there’s music every night around town. We went knocking on a boat in the harbour to invite them out to a gig, but turned out they were the gig. Mice in a Matchbox, a couple who play in bars around Bequia for a living. We saw them play at a bar that evening. Great guys.
The next day we went to the sailors’ bar and watched a jam session which comprised local musicians and wandering sailors. The variety of instruments was impressive. 2 sax, trombone, guitars, bongos and steel drums. The guy on the steel drums was amazing, and could pick out whatever tune the guys came up with and played it flawlessly. I’ve never seen a musician do that. Later on when all the customers left we hung back and the chef came out, picked up a guitar and started playing country and western songs with the voice of Johnny Cash.
We went on a hike in Bequia, saw a tortoise, we also saw two guys skip across the road swinging a machete and a 3ft long iguana. I’m not sure how Trina didn’t spot the swinging machete or the iguana. I remembered reading in a sailing blog about the first time the couple had come across someone carrying a machete so I wasn’t too alarmed.
In other news, the Merlin Smartgauge is working well. The 20ow of solar and wind gen keeps the fridge, fans and mobile phones charged all day long. The main drain comes from charging the laptop, which drains the batteries a bit if we charge it at night. Every few days I put the engine on to top them up.
We still need to get parts for the fishing reel, which we’ve ordered to Grenada. For the time being we’ve bought one of these…
Which is a ready made line with a metal leader and a squid, plus some rubber gloves. We’ve been watching a YouTube channel called Life in a Nutshell, and watched an Aussie guy pull in some good sized dorados with the same bit of kit. It’s simple and there’re fewer moving parts to break. The DIY parts of their vlog are worth watching.
Finally. There’s a few stories which I’ve put in another post called interesting encounters. If anyone would like to read them just send me a facebook message or email me and I’ll give you a password.