Monday, March 08, 2010

St. Vincent and the Pitons, St. Lucia

As we left Rodney Bay it was very calm but as we rounded Devil's Table, the steep hill guarding the north end of the bay, the wind increased considerably as predicted. We had a really hard time getting our main sail out and in fact only part way. That and a double reef in the genoa still had us moving at 7 knots an hour. That's fast for a sail boat by the way. So it was a pleasant trip over and sailing close up the St. Vincent coast is really beautiful.

This island has rugged green mountains and lovely bays. One main road goes most of the way around the island and not through the middle - at all. It's rugged territory. This first picture was taken as we sailed north off the west coast.
This island was the last to be subdued in the Caribbean. Not until the late 18th century were the Carib/African peoples conquered by the British. We really hope one day to explore it's interior and hike the mountains.

Our destination this day was Wallilabou (shown in the next two pictures), the main set for the filming of the first Pirates of the Caribbean. Some of the sets built remain and it is one of the few real tourist destinations on the island. That said, not a lot of tourists visit St. Vincent.
We've been to Wallilabou Anchorage on St. Vincent before and although it's a beautiful place, there are concerns. Boat boys approach you from way off shore and more clamor for your patronage there. Then the few moorings are close together and often full. Anchoring is difficult as it's deep close to shore and there are swells coming in.

Incidents in Wallilabou have been confined to cat burglery (with people sleeping on board) and dingy theft. Last time we were here the boat on the mooring next to us had his dinghy stolen the night before. We knew about this because while eating lunch in the restaurant our "boat boy" approached us to ask for the loan of our dinghy to bring the policemen out to the victim's catamarin.

The sight of the impeccably uniformed officers alayed our natural concern and we said yes. We should add that the "boat boys" have boats that can barely hold themselves and need constant bailing. Most have no outboards. Everyone returned our dinghy with thanks. Still we were a little nervous spending the night there again.
The recommendation is never to choose a boat boy off shore. Not remembering anyone we employed Julian - a young handsome fellow. He tied us to the only remaining mooring and attempted to manually fit us between two other boats. It didn't work and we came much to close to a bow to bow encounter with another boat.
Next was anchoring in deep water and backing in toward shore while Julian took three of our lines tied together and made the end fast to a tree. We've heard about this form of anchoring but hadn't done it before. It took two tries but finally we were set. This cost $50 EC dollars (about $20) with the promise he would return at 7:30 AM and untie the line. After a swim we tied up the dinghy again and locked it. Our outboard is kept on the rail and it too is locked on.
NOW for the first time we felt the need for our new security system. After traveling all the way to Panama and back we finally decided to have stainless steel grates made for our master hatch and the companionway in Trinidad. Pictures of both are included here. So that night we locked all the hatches down except ours. I felt a little claustrophobic, but safe.

The next morning was idylic as the sun gradually ulliminated the beautiful hills around us. But our 7:30 date with Julian came and went, finally an older man stopped by and offered to assist. We were off and headed north again for St. Lucia and the Pitons.
The Pitons are two volcanic plugs in a World Heritage Site in Saint Lucia. The Gros Piton is 771 m, and the Petit Piton is 743 m high; they are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge. A volcanic plug is a landform created when magma hardens within a vent on an active volcano. When forming, a plug can cause an extreme build-up of pressure if volatile-charged magma is trapped beneath it, and this can sometimes lead to an explosive eruption. If a plug is preserved, erosion may remove the surrounding rock while the erosion-resistant plug remains, producing a distinctive landform. (Wikipedia)

These are spectacular and have eluded my attempts at photography. These two shots were taken arriving and leaving the anchorage both well off. We took up a mooring between the Pitons off the Jalousie Hilton beach. The sheer wall of the Petit Piton rose up above our boat pretty vertically. Gardens of small trees and vegetation cling to terraces and every nook & cranny. On the other side of the small bay Gros Piton is more gradual but an enormous pile of rock. These peaks rise straight up from the sea and cause williwaws of wind from odd directions. It's usually a little noisy in this anchorage from the wind - but Wow, is it beautiful. We spent a night here with our good friends Carole & Bill Fonvielle and their son Jonathan. That night we had pretty constant winds in the 20's with gusts upwards. It was wild. We had a calmer night this time and a lovely peaceful morning - no need for those security devices here.

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