Hurricane Joaquin and the puppies on St. Lucia
03 December 2016
Uproar did the unthinkable. We stopped in Soufriere, St Lucia on our way north from Bequia. We left Port Elizabeth on a good weather window to sail north. About a dozen other boats left the morning we weighed anchor, all but one headed for Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.
“Soufriere is too dangerous. The boat boys are too aggressive.” We had heard a lot of bad about the southern part of St. Lucia but we sure enjoyed our time there last Summer. Soufriere means “sulfur air” in French. This is an active volcanic area and we did smell the Sulfur air as we entered port. Just part of the atmosphere. The beauty of this volcanic area is breathtaking.
The boat boys met us more than a mile out in their skiffs. “We will take you to a mooring.” Lisa replied, “No thank you. We know where we are going.” They replied, “This is our job, we will take you to a mooring.” I waved them off and was surprised that they left us alone. We picked up a mooring at the Bat Cave area of Soufriere, part of their national park. The bay is so steep due to the mountainous terrain that there is no chance of anchoring. The park rangers came by and collected the $20 for the night. This is something as full time cruisers we rarely do. We live on our boat. We bristle at the thought of having to pay to keep it from moving around.
But Soufriere has a convenient customs office and we needed to clear in. There were bays in this area we hadn't explored previously and we were bent on checking this forbidden coast out. We also wanted to meet the lads we befriended last summer. Donny, Scott, Peter and Charles are expatriates who we met during St. Lucia's elections in June. They are from the US, Ireland and Scotland but living on St. Lucia. We were confident we would find them at a waterfront bar and weren't disappointed. All but Charles were there and Thomas from Germany had joined them.
It was great to see them again. We caught up on each other's lives and had lively chats about the US election just as we had bantered about the St. Lucia's election in June. Nothing was resolved but the beer flowed. I was so pleased to learn that they have been reading Uproar's blog. I wrote about them and they still bought me a round! St. Lucia is a special place and we are still getting to know her.
There have been some crimes in Soufriere and with the internet, all are aware of the problems. Donny told us there was a theft from a cruiser several months ago. The thiefs were caught and they produced the computer with other goods they had stolen. The doctor whose computer was stolen said he wouldn't press charges if he could just get his computer back. It was returned and he left port. The police had no witness and evidence to charge the suspects and let them go. There was an angry mob that protested at the police station. They wanted the thiefs to be charged and jailed. Street justice won out. The other boat boys beat the crap out of the suspects!
My advice to cruisers is to definitely clear in at Soufriere. Lock your boat and dinghy and enjoy the colorful town and scenery. The famous Pitons are just a ½ mile south. This is an area of beauty that can't be passed by.
We then read in the cruiser's guide that there are small harbors just north of Soufriere. We paid a small amount to visit Anse de Cochon (bay of pigs) which is noted for its snorkeling. We were one of two boats anchored here. Guy and Nichole from France sailed here with us from Bequia. We both sailed another mile to Anse de Raye for their famous Friday night fish fete. Anse de Raye is a small fishing village who probably hasn't changed in 50 years. The houses are small and tidy and there is a real sense of community.
One local addressed me as “Captain.” There were only two cruising boats in the harbor. I asked how he knew I was the captain. He replied, “You have the appearance of a captain.” Maybe it is time to get a haircut. Not yet!
By now, those who are still reading are asking about the hurricane, Joaquin and the puppies. There were four sweet puppies, nursing from their momma just at the end of the dinghy dock. We went over to pet them and found that they were riddled with fleas. They looked healthy but were scratching and biting constantly. Lisa was in tears. I wasn't far behind. That night at the fish fete we fed a few stray dogs who were most respectful. They just gave us their sad eyes and took the food most gently. One sat under my chair and relished me rubbing him with my sandals.
The next morning, Lisa and I both said we had a hard time sleeping, thinking about those puppies. When we left the fete that night they were in a nice puppy pile in a depression in the dirt.
Let's go back a year to Hurricane Joaquin. Lisa and I were in the Chesapeake with Uproar when that uproar hit the Bahamas in 2015. A cargo ship sank carrying Frontline flea and tick medicine. We found the packets all along the beaches in the Bahamas. We had some extras on Uproar.
The next morning, I was armed with a packet to douse the puppies. They were most compliant as I rubbed the medicine around their necks. Lisa bought some food and made sure the momma had a good lunch. I believe we left them in better shape than we found them.
More importantly, we continued our mission of distributing children's books. We brought about 20 ashore and walked through the neighborhood, giving them out. The shy children received them with muted thanks. We also gave out some simple, model airplanes. I think of my OFB (old flying buddy) Mirko every time I do this. He always had these to give to kids who watched us fly our slope gliders. But Mirko always took the time to put the gliders together and help the kids fly them. Mirko, I do this in your memory!
We embark on the cruising lifestyle, not for comfort but for adventure. It concerns me when my fellow cruisers pass by an area that is a little out of the comfort zone. We have been so fortunate to enjoy the south bays of St. Lucia and hope our cruising friends join us in the future.