We have arrived in St Maarten after a great sail from Sint Eustatius. We booked into Simpson Bay Marina for a week as we need to have our diesel engine looked at. We have been seeing small air bubbles in our racor filters and when we try to start, we always have to bump up the rpms. The specialist came over yesterday and told us that there was air at the secondary filter which probably causing the hard starting. And he said the air is not normal. Of course, Caliber claims the air is normal and not to worry about it. So now we are not sure what to do….
We were thrilled when we arrived to discover several cruisers here: Mark and Velma on Kardia with whom we had spent several wonderful days with on St Lucia, and Steve on Broad Reaching. We have not seen Steve since the US Virgin islands last April and it was great to catch up with all his news.
Karen twisted her ankle the other night on the way to dinner. So a few days are required for that to mend before we can head off to the Virgin Islands, trying to catch up with Steve again! It will also give us a chance to update the blog. We have got our netbook working again so watch for updates.
We left St Vincent and planned on sailing to Marigot Bay or Rodney Bay in St Lucia. It was a strenuous beat close to the wind heading up and as we got near land we hailed a fellow cruiser on Broad Reaching to see if he was still in St Lucia. Mark on Kardia responded that he was on a mooring between the Pitons. We were tired so we decided to pick up a mooring ourselves at Jalousie, the bay between the Pitons on St Lucia for a few nights.
The Pitons are volcanic formed mountains that are now a marine park. Petit Piton is 771 m high while Gros Piton is 743 m high. It may seem that the peaks are miss named but Petit Piton is thinner than Gros, hence the names. We took the dinghy to the south wall of the Petit Piton where we snorkelled. We saw many types of fish and coral. One group of about 50 fish of at least 8 different species seemed to be co-operating – feeding on the vegetation on one rock, then just “hangin”, and a couple of minutes later selecting another rock on which to graze… Now I need to get a book so that I can start identifying them. I know we saw parrot fish, trumpet fish, yellow tail snapper, sargent majors. And if I actually take my camera perhaps my brother can help identify them!
On December 8th, Richard’s birthday, we rented a car with fellow Canadians Mark and Velma on Kardia. Mark was willing to drive which was good because they drive on the left side of the road. He didn’t seem to mind when we reminded him “left, left” when he started to drift over the line. The hardest part is when we stopped and then had to re-enter the road. We started at the spa in the Jalousie Plantation, not for a massage but for the great view it gave us of our boat with the Gros Piton in the background.
We then drove to the Sulphur Springs marketed as the “Caribbean’s only drive in volcano”. Nowadays, one has to park outside and walk in with a guide. They used to allow people to go out onto the venting area but one guide Gabriel fell into a vent. He is now a fisherman and the vent is called Gabriel’s Vent! Our guide, Angel. was very informed. She said that they had to do an extensive series of medical tests each year because of the concern of exposure to H2S. I wonder if the Canadian oil industry has talked to these people?
Our next stop was to visit the ScotiaBank and have lunch in Vieux Fort. We tried a local vendor and were disappointed in the ribs and fish. So we continued around the island to the Atlantic side, the windy side, and stopped at Mamiku Gardens, a lovely botanical gardens where they give you walking sticks (means there are some steep trails) and guides to the many plants.
Leaving the Atlantic side, we drove through rainforest to Castries, the capital of St Lucia. It is where the cruise ships come but it is the least attractive part of the island.
Our final stop was Marigot Bay where we had a lovely dinner at Cafe Mygo.