The Ty Dewi crew, having spent a while on St Lucia, turn northward and start the slow journey to the top of the Windward Islands…
Our final couple of days in St Lucia were generally very enjoyable, in tune with our experience on that Island. We spent a lovely day on Pigeon Island, packing a picnic and walking across to the Atlantic side, where the waves crash on the shore. Here, the waves have piled up old boulders and coral to form a slight wall, behind which are rock pools – the first we’ve really seen here. Since there is very little tide in this part of the world, you don’t get the daily covering and uncovering of shoreline that gives many parts of the world their great rock-pooling opportunities.
Anyway, here we took the chance to explore and turn over a few rocks. At first, it looked a bit barren, but as ever, the more you look, the more you find and perseverance was repaid. We found brittle stars, hermit crabs, sea snails, urchins and some chitons – curious limpet-like creatures that look a bit like big bugs, move pretty quickly but stick hard to the rocks when touched.
We collected various shells and broken coral and brought it up to the picnic table, where we had a science / art lesson, sketching what we’d found and talking about how they have arisen. I sometimes wonder what people near us must think. It’ll look like we’re just normal tourists so “hey, these poor kids come on a week’s holiday to St Lucia and their parents make it like school”.
After lunch we returned to the beach and I picked up the swim and snorkel kit from the boat and we went for some time in the water, very nice. That evening we ate out at the little cafe, Jambe de Bois, where there was good live jazz and free Internet, so not only did we get fed and entertained, but caught up on email and the kids played on the cbeebies website for an hour, the first time since leaving England. A rare treat and it certainly kept them quiet!
On our last day on the Island, we needed to pick up a Fedex package. This should have been easy, people we know got stuff from England sent direct to the Marina via FedEx and just collected it after a few days. If only. The call centre in the UK told my parents that they didn’t deliver to Rodney Bay (patently wrong) but it would be held at the Castries office. OK, that’s a fifteen minute bus ride and we haven’t seen Castries, the Capital, before. So we look up the office on the FedEx website and head into town. It goes pretty well at first, bus is fun and cheap, but it’s a hot day and tempers are a little short all round. We get across town to the office listed, to find that it’s for sending only, collections are from an out of town office that the bus went past two miles back. Grrrr.
We complete some other errands: sending postcards, buying fruit, but the place is uninspiring to say the least, and full of cruise ship passengers and taxi drivers trying to win their business. We are constantly harassed to take a tour of the Island. We get fed up after an hour and get the bus out to the place where the FedEx office is. We are there by midday. Yes, they have our package, but Customs are holding it for clearance. We need to come back between 1430h and 1530h, when a Customs officer is there. Grrr and double grrr. We all head back to the boat empty handed. I’ll come back in later.
Later is much easier, Max and I treat is as a jolly adventure and he loves riding the bus. We go, wait in line for thirty minutes, the Customs officer waves us in, looks in the package and says fine, you can go, all without breaking his mobile phone conversation. So we now have our new bank cards and a few other goodies from England.
The next morning we clear out with Customs and irritation (Immigration), fill up with water and leave for Martinique. We have a lovely six-hour sail in near perfect conditions, arriving at Fort de France just in time to clear in with Customs there and get some shopping.
We’re northward bound now, after three months of travelling south. The wind comes from the west, so after always being on port tack, with the wind coming from the left of the boat, we now find ourselves on starboard. This gives us automatic right of way over boats coming south, according to the rules, but it also means we lean over the other way, and all the things that seemed well stowed for the last three months, slide to the other side of their cupboards and show up our stowage failures! The logbook now slides off the chart table if I leave it there, but cooking’s a little easier as dishes don’t try and leap off the counter towards you. Max, “asker” of continuous questions, noted from the bus window that new houses always start with flat concrete. Why do they make it flat, Daddy? Well, if not, it would be like living on a leaning boat all the time. He understood the problems of that right away.
Onwards, to the Virgin Islands in May. Oh, so little time!