The World ARC Check In - (Is this really happening?)
January 2, 2012, 1:36 pm, Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia
We had our week of fun in the sun, and a special week it was, thanks to Tony and Eileen. Now it is time to get back to the more serious side of this trip and prepare for the next big passage to Panama.
We checked in today with the World ARC office. The rally includes thirty-three boats from 14 different countries. USA, Great Britain, and Germany top the list at eight, six and five boats respectively. This is the biggest fleet ever for the World ARC. There are 11 other boats who, like At Last, will be will double handed or sailing with just two people aboard. The boats range in size from 38 feet to 67 feet. We are right in the middle of the pack at 49 feet. Two of the boats have children on board, both two girls ranging in age from six to ten. A handful of people like us have taken a break from work to do the trip while many more are retired. Surprising to me, quite a few boats have all male crew and the wives will be joining the men for different times during the fifteen months we are at sea. How do these men do it? I cannot imagine having Mark go without me! Although my guess is that by the end of the trip I would be willing to forgo the three week passages and meet up with him at the next tropical island! Also surprising, there are a handful of boats that will be meeting us at some other port along the trip, mostly in Australia. Many of these boats started a previous World ARC and left the trip to spend a year or two in the New Zealand/Australia area and will be rejoining the trip to make the return. Oh, if we only didn't have to return to work!!!
We wanted to let everyone know that we had our swim platform fixed by a fantastic carpenter, Tyson. We also had two gentlemen refinish our teak. Mark just did not have the time and they did a fantastic job. It was 1/3 of the price we would have paid in the United States.
Best of all, Tony and Mark installed the companion way doors which Mark had purchased prior to leaving the States. Mark said that without Tony it would have taken him at least twice the time and at least twice the amount of frustration.
We will spend the rest of the week doing other needed maintenance projects and getting the boat ready for our trip to Panama. From what we have already heard, the trip to Panama may be the most challenging of the trip inlcuding the Caribbean 1500. We will be leaving on Sunday at noon for a seven day trip to the San Blas Islands located just off the coast of Panama. Once there, our good friend Andrea will be joining us for the transit through the Panama Canal. We will begin the canal transit on January 26th. We are really excited about this portion of the trip! This adventure is starting to get real. We will update the blog again before we leave and along the way.
Happy New Year’s from the Edge Restaurant
December 31, 2011, 1:30 pm, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
After all of our crazy adventures in St. Lucia, no one minded when we had a lazy Saturday on the boat. We got dressed for a special New Year's Eve at The Edge Restaurant, one of the best if not the best restaurant on the island. Chef Bobo who runs the restaurant is an award winning chef who owns three restaurants in St. Lucia. We ate at all three! There was a special menu for New Year's which came complete with a pre dessert - a basil cheesecake. Tony and Eileen enjoyed this the most. I had an appetizer of duck and my main course was sushi - I surprised even myself. There were fireworks on the beach and tons of people walking the streets to get there but we opted for a quieter New Year's celebration back on the boat. Actually, we were all asleep by midnight if the truth be known.
The next day, Tony and Eileen left. We are incredibly grateful to them for being the first guests to join us on our travels. We love you both very much and are thrilled with all we were able to do together. It was a magical week and I only cried a little bit after you left. We cannot believe we never took you out sailing. I guess you will have to come to Australia to go sailing!
Zippin' through the rain forest canopy
December 30, 2011, 1:18 pm, Rainforest Adventures, Daughin, St. Lucia
We were picked up at Eileen and Tony's hotel, Harmony Suites, at 8:25 am to go zip lining through the rain forest. This was Tony's idea and he thought if anyone would go with him it would be me. This seems remarkable given both he and I are afraid of heights. We all signed on for the adventure with some level of apprehension. Mark quickly asked one of the guides if anyone had died zip lining. I quickly informed him that the question was like "the number we don't talk about" while playing craps.
We were instructed to "empty our tanks" and get harnessed up. The harness reminded me of the ones we wear boating but I was happy to see that there was no crotch strap. We got to practice zip lining on one small line and then we were on our way. We took a tram to the top of the mountain and again got excellent information regarding the rain forest trees and flowers from our guides, Terry and Jibri. There were ten zip lines through the forest. All the zip lines were from platform to platform and all were off the ground at least 100 feet. The last zip line was the longest at 500 feet and landed you safely back to the ground.
During the last three zip lines, we were allowed to go hands free and what the guides called free style. We were given some excellent suggestions for this such as playing dead, bicycling, doing the back stroke, etc. By far the most creative was Mark who grabbed his ankles behind him and began flapping his knees in and out. Now, that was a sight to see. Mark quickly stated that Jibri had given him the suggestion. Eileen thought Terry, the rather serious guide, was going to fall off the platform laughing. He stated quite clearly that he had NEVER seen anyone do anything like that before.
We all thought the zip lining was very worthwhile. Tony and I were relieved that it was not as scary (height wise) as we thought it would be. We were also unaware that we would have to hike as much as we did during the trip. We really zip lined around the top of the mountain and took the tram up and then down to the base of the mountain.
The Long and Winding Road
December 29, 2011, 12:58 pm, Soufriere, St. Lucia
Multiple people had recommended that we visit the town if Soufriere during our stay in St. Lucia. There are many attractions there including the Pitons, which are two steep mountains seen in the picture above. No one intended for us to actually drive there ourselves. It is approximately twenty miles from Rodney Bay but about a 1.5 hour drive due to the winding roads up and down the mountains. You have never seen switchbacks and hair pin turns like these. And of course the road was barely wide enough for two cars to pass. most of the time just a few feet from the edge of the road was a sheer cliff of a hundreds of feet.
Eileen was our brave driver given that she had lived in Australia for three months and had some experience driving on the left hand side of the road and with the steering wheel on the right had side of the car. We had to get a minivan because there were no other smaller cars available. Not a good choice given the width of the roads.
Remarkably, when we were almost to Soufriere, a gentle man stopped his car and waved us over. He asked if we were going to the Diamond waterfall and the mud baths in Soufriere. Apparently, this is the only place four Americans in a rental car would be going to on such dangerous roads. His name was Charlie, a National Park Guide, and offered to give us the tour.
We hiked through a rain forest to the Diamond Waterfall. He instructed us what shoes to wear and that we would not be swimming on this portion of the tour. We had told him we wanted to quick tour because we were not anxious to drive back in the dark. Much like Alexis in Dominica, he named all of the trees and the flowers we were passing along the trail and told us more about the history of St. Lucia. We saw the waterfall and hiked back to the car.
We then went to the Sulphur Springs. It is the site of the only volcano on St. Lucia which is now dormant. Charlie instructed us that he would be provided us with white mud that we would rub all over our bodies which would make us look 10 years younger. He told us that many people don't know which mud to use and end up putting a black mud all over their bodies. When we got there Eileen and I quickly got into the sulphur spring - yes, it did smell a bit like rotten eggs - but the water was warm - yes, the water had a bit of soot in it. We encourage both Mark and Tony to take a dip and with some coaxing Mark got in. Once we were in the spring, we waited for Charlie who went up the river a bit to find the right mud. Sure enough, we saw a group of five people coming down the river covering in black mud - the wrong mud - according to Charlie. The bucket of mud from Charlie was white and he said its main ingredient was zinc. He was happy to cover each of us in the mud and by the end we were helping each other get completely covered. Tony was happy to be our official photographer.
After the mud dried and we tried to get as much of it off in the spring, we were back in our respective cars to drive to the final destination The Jalousie Plantation -which had another hot water spring which Charlie noted would get us all cleaned off. We took a short hike into another rain forest and came upon a beautiful hot spring fed pool with a waterfall. Eileen, Mark and I quickly took a swim and stood underneath the waterfall. The water was a bit cooler than the sulphur springs but sure smelt better and looked cleaner. We went quickly back to the car because given the time we had spent in Soufriere, we were quite certain we would be driving the long, winding road back in the dark.
When Eileen returned the car the next day Mark asked if they said congratulations when it was returned safely. Mark was reminded of what we said when we had reached Tortola. We had made it, no one was hurt and the car was in one piece.
Eileen Can Sure Pick a Spa
December 27, 2011, 12:43 pm, Body Holiday Spa at LeSport
Eileen, Mark and I headed to the Body Holiday Resort & Spa in the morning for a few treatments. We arrived after a 20 minutes taxi ride and were astounded by the beauty of the resort. We had about a half an hour before our treatments so we walked around and looked into which restaurant we would choose for lunch. The grounds were beautiful. There was a huge chalk board detailing all of the activities for the day - tubing, sailing, golf lessons, water aerobics, etc. They had everything.
We went up for our treatments which were fabulous and then met for lunch. The lunch was a Mediterranean buffet with alcoholic drinks included. I found it very difficult to determine how many glasses of chardonnay I had when they kept filling my glass every time it became half empty. When the waitress tried to take our utensils thinking we were ready for dessert we objected as we headed back to the buffet for second helpings. Yes, it was that good. Then, it was time for a bit of dessert - I had two.
Eileen and I were lying on the beach while Mark went up to have another treatment. While on the beach, they brought us complementary Pimm Punch (a delightful rum drink with lemon and limes). We also were given a face cloth which was dipped in ice water to cool ourselves off. Eileen and I went swimming in the ocean and met a delightful woman from Scarsdale, New York. She indicated that this was only a four star resort and for the life of me I cannot imagine what a five star resort would be like. Due to the all inclusive nature of the resort, we each got two treatments at the spa and were allowed to use all of the facilities while we had our treatments. The treatments were very reasonable and well worth it. We would highly recommend a little pampering at the Body Holiday whenever you are in St. Lucia!
We felt we had hit the lottery with the spa and quickly felt that we owed a bit to the karma gods. We began to pay our dues when Eileen fell into the water while getting into the dinghy to pick up Tony. She commented while laughing hysterically that she was now soaking wet for the second day in a row due to the dinghy. I had to lie down on the swim platform because I was laughing so hard I thought I might fall in the water (only after I knew she hadn't hurt herself, of course). Mark paid his dues, when after we dropped off Eileen we proceeded to run out of gas in the dinghy and he had to row us back to the marina which took about half an hour. We did get an offer of dinghy fuel or a tow from a lovely couple in the mooring field, Jack and Rachel (I hope we got that right). We talked with them for a bit since they were from Mystic, CT. Rachel had actually read our blog and knew about the details of our trip thus far. Small world.
We went to an incredible dinner at Antoine's at the Baywalk Mall which is a quick dinghy ride from the boat and from the hotel room. We went to the casino in the mall after dinner. The craps table was empty so Tony suggested we play. Mark and I knew nothing about how to play. For example, I was quickly admonished for yelling out "come on seven" on the first roll. The number seven quickly became known as "the number we don't talk about." Apparently, this was not much of an improvement. We also each had a die go over the lip of the table and fly across the casino floor. The pit boss was quite patient with us and tried to teach us as much as possible before our money ran out (which was not very long).
On Time and Ready To Go
December 26, 2011, 12:27 pm, Rodney Bay Marina
Our day was spent getting ready for Eileen and Tony to arrive. They told us through email that they would be at our boat at 6:00 pm. We spent the day cleaning and cooking in anticipation of their arrival. As we sat in the cockpit at 6:00 pm, we thought it was silly to think that they would be on time considering their travel from the United States, having to drive much the length of the island to the marina, and then find our boat in a marina with about three hundred other boats. At 6:30 pm, there were Eileen and Tony strolling down the dock like they were knew exactly where they were going.
Tuesday morning we took the dinghy over to their motel room. They got a room right in the lagoon where the marina is located. They even had a dinghy dock right outside of their room! We had a delicious breakfast at Rituals (the local coffee shop) where the plans for the week began to take shape. It being the holiday much of the island was closed so we took a dinghy ride around the entire lagoon and out into the bay. We ate lunch at a delightful restaurant at the Pigeon Island Park called Jambe De Bois. It took a rather lengthy amount of time to be served but the food was delicious. The dinghy ride back became quite eventful as the winds and waves began to increase. Eileen, Tony and Janet took much of the abuse while Mark seemed to be tucked behind us avoiding all of the water. By the time we arrived back at the boat we were soaked but laughing about it.
Merry Christmas from St Lucia
Janet beautiful weather
December 25, 2011, 10:11 am, Rodney Bay, St Lucia
We finally made it to St Lucia on Christmas eve. We were able to leave Martinique on Saturday morning. The winds and waves had settled down and the four hour sail was quite nice compared to our experiences the past week. We arrived at the Rodney Bay Marina around noon. By the time we were able to check in with customs, it was late afternoon.
At last, St Lucia in site.
We ran around trying to get our rather hefty bag of laundry to some kind person who would be willing to do our dirty laundry over the Christmas holidays. I will have to do a blog about laundry once we get the laundry back because it is a fascinating and somewhat frustrating process. We also needed to get to a grocery store. Of course it is now Christmas Eve and the store will be crowed so it is not good timing. The store was packed but it was the largest store I have visited since grocery shopping in Tortola.
The marina is nice but again, we have limited internet access from the boat. Looks like we will have to spend more time in the internet cafes (bars) sipping coffee (martinis) to keep our blog current.
Our good friends, Eileen and Tony arrive here Monday and we will be celebrating the Holidays together. They come bringing gifts, our important mail picked up from Janet's brother Darryl (serving as our forwarding address and chief mail handler), cookies, and a shower head (replacing the one Mark broke). We can't wait to see them.
We spent the day cleaning the boat, inside and out. We will be skyping this evening with any family we can reach on the internet. Tomorrow we put lights on the boat and celebrate Christmas a day late. But as cruisers, "you have to learn to roll with it". (name the movie with the quote - think Cruise)
We wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday. A special Merry Christmas to the Trajkovics aboard Sea Smile from Canada! Thank you so much for the early Christmas present that you left for us in Tortola! We wish you an enjoyable vacation in the BVI and please stay in touch.