Thursday, January 10, 2013

st.lucia - the door to the caribbean

Happy 2013 everybody!!!!

now, what a few of weeks!
arriving in st.lucia was definitely a highlight.
never, after having left turkey, have i met so many truly friendly people and colorful characters.
so colourful the people, so colourful is the island.
on the west coast you find this lush dense green, a mixture of palm trees, mangoes etc. and the greatest conditions for sailing: 15-20kn of wind on 90° and no waves!
the east coast is windblown and not as lush, the sea is rough and colder but never the less Mark and I felt reminded of the NSW coast around Byron Bay.

after a great week of welcoming parties and getting togethers sharing stories of the great crossing, my Mami arrrived and we did a wonderful island tour getting to see the highlights and eating great local food. the remainder of the volcanic activity on this island is a hot mud bath. with a strong sulfur smell we preferred to just look at it from far though. Mark and I have seen (and more importantly smelled) similar things in Vulcano... and my Mum - well, you can't impress someone who's been to Iceland recently with a bit of boiling mud;)
Christmas was relaxed with a nice dinner with family and friends in Marigot Bay on the 24th and a beach bbq on the 25th. one outstanding present i got from my sister in law Barbara and my brother! as if they would have read my mind, they picked the perfect gift! - before leaving las palmas i was desperaty looking for a small nativity set for christmas - but the spanish like it biiiiiig when it comes to that kind of stuff. so having limited space i missed out!
a few weeks later i open one of my presents and what do i find? a wonderful nativity a snow ball - and now comes the best: it plays "silent night"  - just wonderful!!!!
and with my mum bringing a glowing chistmas tree with her - the 24th was picture perfect!
we also tried to discover the beauty of the capital city of St.Lucia called Castries -having arrived too late for the local market we unfortunately failed tragically. the only thing that was left was heaps of people on the street listening to ear-defening loud music, which was fun but not pretty as such. The only restaurant open served us pig-tail-soup for Michael and Mark and cold (not sooo bad) cheese Macaroni for my Mum and me.

the St.Lucians love their loud music! so many times have we seen massive stereos on the porch of houses ready to blast the soul out of passing-bys ....i suppose you can't file a complaint at the local cop-shop about that;)

even though it would have been rather tempting to stay in a beach chair and get carried away by rum punches and cold beers we have to move on - there is so much more to see!

our next stop was Bequia where we had a lovely New Years and relaxing days swimming, snorkeling and eating good food - sitting on the beach in one of these comfy beach chairs was also not too shabby.

we did a short trip to Kingstown for a sad sad good bye to my mami, who proved to be absolutely seaworthy and able to climb into any dinghy around!
we had moved our boat to a mooring while away just to make sure maloo would be safe. when we came back we got approached though by the owner of the bouy asking us if we could move as a volvooceanrace70 would need the buoy. they had moored in the marina the night before but with 4,5m draft were touching the bottom (which is not too nice, especially if you have a canting keel) surprisingly we draw much less ;) and therefore had no problem giving up our buoy and take their marina spot instead....we thought!
at first we struggled getting the anchor in as there were no mooring lines on the ground....and once the hook was in, there was such a surge from the beach that our poor maloo was thrown about almost hitting the dock and being launched into the ropes that we were fearing the cleats would break out.

so we moved again in complete darkness onto another buoy.

the guys on the Volvo however made up for it big time by taking us out for a sail the next day. "true north" was originally "green dragon"  - the chinese-irish entry for 2008-09 volvo ocean race.

and even though it was the slowest boat in the race...what a machine! it just takes off with 20kn like an airplane! - and the best thing: mark and i got to helm it!!!! - unfortunately our maloo felt terrible slow afterwards!

the day after we moved on to the tobago cays - loosing the clew on the mainsail just coming out of bequia. lucky as we were it ripped out with little wind and in bright daylight allowing us to furl the sail away without any other damage. i hate to think what would have happened if this had ripped in the middle of the night with a 35kn gust (like those things usually do) - we probably would have had big damage as the sail would have caught on the rigg surely...but for some reason we seem to sail under a bright lucky star that so far has prevented us from serious damage....and i hope it will shine our way in the future too!

snorkeling in the cays was just amazing! lots of turtles to swim with, beautiful corals and the most colorful fish. unfortunately it was a bit blowy...nevertheless we had the best lobster dinner toghether with our friends from Senta. Karen, John, Finn , Lizzy and Nathan - thanks again for a wonderful night on the beach!!!! - truly to remember
so with the view of Petit Tabac (the island Jack Sparrow go deserted on in i think the second part of " Pirates of the Caribbean")  Betsy from Union Island cooked us the freshest and best lobster i ever had and let me sneak peak in her pots.

we then moved to Chatham Bay on Union to spend another couple of great days snorkeling....a highlight was to swim in what would have to be the biggest swarm of fish i've ever seen - just an amazing experience.

we currently are in Clifton on Union and will move on to maybe Carriacou or straight to Grenada....wherever the wind takes us :)

I can only say: different to a lot of things I've heard about the carribean - i love it!!!! - people are friendly and even when they try to overcharge you, you can still meet in the middle. after all they are just trying to make a living too - the landscapes are stunning and the islands all have a different character. the sailing is great and i can only recommend to come here - no matter if on a boat or without - there is lots to see and great places to also do nothing and just enjoy life! 

St.Lucia, Anse La Raye

St.Lucia, Soufriere

caribbean building style

the famous two Pitons

sailing Mami - on the way to Bequia (mind the speed - bottom right....yes,8.8kn and still relaxed)

"true north" alias "green dragon"....with a great helms(wo)man

Tobago Cays - the caribbean paradise

Petit Tabac ( the Jack Sparrow Island) just after the daily rain

learning how to cook from Betsy

very fresh lobster soon to be found....

....on the bbq!

sunrise with waves breaking over the outer horseshoe reef of the Tobago Cays

happy new year every body! bussi karline&mark