Devrim made us very happy by buying a ticket for St Lucia (the first time during our four years of the odyssey) for the 2nd of February. We wanted to be there a couple of days before, so we started our preparations at the end of January. We wished to spend a few days in Le Marin, to give moral support to Guylaine, who was to shoulder the responsibility of serving hoards of kebab customers during her husband Levent' s absence.
On the morning of weighing anchor at St Anne, the starboard battery started acting up. Rather did not start when tried; however after the port engine ran about an hour, it collected enough juice to work sputteringly. I could not understand how that was possible! That battery was fine at the other side for the last two years, and as soon as we changed its place, it lost all its power. Anyway, we did not have time to deal with it, it was obvious that the engine was fine, but the electrical system needed some adjustment. We decided to get looked at at Rodney Bay, where the mechanics are reputed to be cheap.
Al started running the starboard engine every night to get the battery filled, so that it was reluctantly started to work when we needed it.
The weather had been quite pleasent for a couple of days, and the forecast was favorable, so we set sail for Rodney Bay on 30th of January. We did not know how to get to the airport in Vieux Fort, which is dead south of St Lucia, but decided to ask around when there.
The sail was great (only three hours to Rodney Bay, st Lucia from St Anne, Martinique), winds, although mild, was from east, so perfect on our south westerly route. We made good time, and anchored in front of Landings resort.
Al changed his telephone SIM card, and decided to give a call to our friends Ken and Diane. He had sent an e mail previously, but had not heard back from them. Ken answered, and indicated that they also were anchored at the bay. On our way to the marina to get cleared in, we dropped at their boat, Lost our Marbles, and had a chat about our options of transportation.
It was so good to see them again after a year! Since they live in St Lucia, they had great connections. They suggested taking a taxi from Vieux Fort after collecting Devrim, and gave us the number for Elvis, who was Ken's neighbour, so somebody trustworthy. The price was to be US$85.- , apparently less than the going rate. All and dandy, but how are we going to get there. Ken suggested taking the minibus from Castries, which was very cheap, but a bit scary with the driving practices of St Lucians. We were used to it, so no problem (as Ken is Canadian, he is not comfortable in fast cars.) But at least we had a plan. Since we did not want to leave the boat unattended all day, we thought of tying at the marina the day before Devrim was coming, so that transfer of luggage etc would be easier.
On 1st of February we tied at a slip around noon for two nights, and got Internet access etc. The first message we got was from Devrim; there was a major snow storm in US, and his plane was postponed to 5th of February. Nothing to be done but wait at the bay on anchor. Marina life is both expensive and dull. We went back to the bay, and decided to get our electrical system to be checked in the meantime. Ken was instrumental also in getting a mechanic, who spent several hours tinkering with the batteries, but could not determine the source of the problem. He was adamant that the battery was at fault, and should be changed. After some further consultation with Ken, who came to visit, no other cause of the drain could be found. Oh well, we could buy a battery, but was it going to solve the problem?
When we asked Ken and Diane about the crime incidents in St Lucia, they downplayed them. Of course one had to be cautious, but recent reports did not show an extraordinary increase in the problems. They suggested we anchor close to their boat, so that they could keep an eye during our absence to pick Devrim. Aren't they great?
We found the bus stop for the bus to Vieux Fort airport in Castries (after several inquiries), and got into a minibus, which was comfortable (as opposed to Grenadian buses filled to the rim with additional half seats). The trip took about one hour. To tell the truth, the driver was much tamer than our dear Grenadians, and the road was decent, so we were not scared one bit!
It was great seeing Devrim. We had a good visit; after the first day, we set sail to St Anne. The weather was calm, so the three hour sail was smooth. As a matter of fact, weather cooperated during Devrim's stay, hopefully he was not scared from repeating the exercise in the future.
As suggested by the mechanic, we bought another gel battery from Mechanique Pleasence. It turned out that a much inferior battery in St Lucia was almost US$300.-, so European prices do not look too high anymore. Especially after the recent hike in US dollars, and dive of Euro, Martinique gets better and better for Canadians. Lets hope Greeks et al will keep up the good work of bringing down Europe.
After a couple of days in St Anne, we returned to Rodney Bay to send Devrim off. This time we decided to sail south to the Pitons for the last day, and call Elvis to pick Devrim up at the Jalousie Plantation resort located at the southern foot of the Petit Piton.
Three hours of motor-sail south was unevenful, we got there about noon, and grabbed one of the few mooring balls with the help of an islander. It was a nice enough day, so we all jumped into the water; however both Devrim and I were quite scared of drifting out into the ocean by the force of the current and wind. We stopped at this place 6-7 times in the past, but had never seen a wind coming almost from the foot of the huge conical mountain. I could swear that it was not coming from around or the top, but from the bottom, as if from a huge fan installed there. The experince of swimming in it became fun, after Devrim tied a line around his waist, and I held on to the rope, while the waves pushed us back and around the boat.
Next morning, Al called the resort to ask if we could use their dock to get Devrim to the shore, and they said no problem. However, I wanted to be on the safe side, and have our last breakfast there. Good decision! When we got to the dock (completely drenched from the five minute ride in the dingy towards the wind), the guy in charge reluctantly let us tie, despite our intention of spending money there.
The resort is five or more stars, but its employees have the attitute and pride of owning the place, looking down on the sailor riff-raff, who can't afford to stay there. Boo-hoo for them. The meager breakfast cost a pretty penny too, but it was worth it; we spent a couple of hours in the cool breakfast lounge on the verandah, while our clothing dried off. Then the driver came, and Devrim was off! A week is so short for a visit, we missed him terribly just after he left.
As soon as he was gone, we returned to Rodney Bay for the night and next day we were back in St Anne. We thank our lucky stars for the only window of good weather. The wind at St Anne started and kept on howling for a month and a half, with maybe a couple of days of respite here and there. Hopefully the week of March 31st is going to be calmer, when we will be on our treck back to Grenada. It is hard to beleive that this season is coming to its end!