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Monday, October 29, 2012

Never on Saturday Afternoon


Ok, there will still be more retrospectives on St. Lucia, and photos,  thanks to purchasing a new camera today as well as prior downloads to my Mac, taken in St. Lucia.

Still, another quick update on the here and now.

If you have the good fortune to arrive in lovely Martinique, do it on a Monday afternoon, or at least not on a weekend.

Ready to get all sorts of stuff done, we arrived in Martinique’s capital city, Fort De France, at about 1 pm on Saturday.  Bad move.  Saturday afternoon, all day Sunday, and often Monday morning, any time before 8:30 am or after 4:30 pm are not good times to get any business done here, as very little is open.  Surprising for a population near 100,000

By this Monday afternoon, we discovered Ft. Louis, one of the major attractions in the area was closed for construction.  The museum we waited until its opening at 1 pm to visit had signs outside in English, but little inside in English.  Ironically, the exhibit was about South American culture, mostly Venezuela, as many of Martinique’s cultural roots apparently hail from there.  It is much easier to get through a museum more quickly when you can only guess at the written descriptions.

We were also having a bit too swell-y of a time as the rollers are big enough the local yacht club told its members to remove their boats from their docks. 

We know because we asked about docking there as we were hoping for something a bit calmer.  We’re fine with the swells for the most part, though it made for yet another dinghy misadventure….

We crossed the bay to Anse Mitan, a nice little town where the swell was a tiny bit calmer.  We searched in vain for the several internet access points mentioned there in our guidebook.  They all belonged to businesses which apparently no longer exist; we encountered the same thing in nearby Trois Islet after much walking around on a broiling hot day asking for directions in my abysmal French.  This was similar phenomenon to what we experienced in Desolation Sound, British Columbia, Canada, click here for the “Ed’s Dead” blog about that.

When we returned to the dock where we locked our dinghy, we saw the cable but not the boat.  To our dismay, we quickly surmised the surf went backward to suck our dinghy beneath the dock.  Wayne pulled the cable, and out came our dinghy, full of water, the engine lid popped off, bobbing violently in the surf.  We dragged it through the waves up to the narrow strip of beach.  Wayne got the motor lid on, whilst the dinghy filled with more sand and water.

We got the dinghy back into the water, and, miraculously, Wayne got the finicky motor started, and we quickly hustled back to our boat, and tied up.  I bailed the water and sand out of the boat.  The dinghy motor is still leaky, but can be improved, fixed and is manageable.

We finished in time to catch the most spectacular simultaneous full moon moonrise and tangerine sunset I’ve ever seen. You’ll have to take my word for it, as both cameras were dead, and we determined unfixable. 

Today I bought a lower end but still overpriced waterproof camera (which I do not plan to put to the test as the other “waterproof” camera failed when I took it in the water) today and have little doubt we will see and capture many more beautiful sights well worth sharing.

We may have our challenges, but we have not lost our sense of humor or our sense of adventure….  Tomorrow we are renting a car, and doing a day trip of some of Martinique’s highlights in the Northern part of the island.

If I get reincarnated, I would like to return as a Trustifarian in the French territory of Martinique, which is almost the same thing.  The island is beautiful, a natural wonder. The weather fabulous. The culture vibrant.  The standard of living very good even with a huge trade imbalance, and over 20% unemployment (of those still officially looking for work).  No wonder the people seem in general much happier here than in St. Lucia.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pondering Foreign Food Mysteries


One good consistency – the promotion of locally
grown and produced food and other
products. Here’s one of the more popular
markets in St. Lucia displaying local products.
Why in a relatively small Caribbean town like Vieux Fort are two of the busiest restaurants are… Chinese?

Why is chicken from the Unites States cheaper than local birds?

Why is styrofoam so popular in markets for prepackaging produce on an island where waste is a problem?  Why is there so little evidence of recycling?

Why are peppers sold everywhere, pepper sauce more common than ketchup, but most Saint Lucian food is notoriously bland?

Inquiring minds want to know!  Your theories are welcome.

Martinique! Land of Not-Much-WiFi & No Camera

Quick update.

We sailed to Martinique from St. Lucia October 21st.  The island is lovely, however internet access is a rarity. As a result, will post a few quick retrospectives from St. Lucia.

As access improves, and hopefully my cameras are working again (both! not currently), will return to a more regular posting schedule.

Ironically, this is getting sent from a McDonald's, as it's where we were able to find WiFi.  We'd very rarely go to a McD's in the U.S.!  Wayne, out of courtesy, is drinking a Diet Coke.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

What’s VAT? New in St. Lucia

VAT sign in IslandWaterWorld chandlery.  While VAT did impact
prices, all businesses in Rodney Bay Marina enjoy the
price advantage of being duty-free.

St. Lucia’s VAT or Value Added Tax began implementation amid protest October 1st 2012; they are the last independent territory in the Caribbean to implement it.  It’s primarily a business pass-through tax, and a replacement to a host of other taxes

Alien Invasion: Weird Wonderful Fruit

Soursop is at 12 o'clock, in the same basket with passion fruit,
five-finger, orange and  papaya also known as paw-paw
 in the Caribbean.  Note the size of the avocado
in the top of the left hand basket!  All local produce from the
Castries open market.

Spiky soursop, grenade-like custard apples and five fingers…. these are my new favorite fruits. 

Soursop looks like half a yin-yang symbol, armored in a leathery, spiky green skin.  Sneaky.  It’s a perfect disguise for an alabaster white, peachy-but slightly-slimy succulent interior flesh.  Soursop’s name is also a great subterfuge; it’s very sweet and fruity-floral…. Earl Gray & jasmine meet mango-peach.  Best way to eat it is simply split it open like a watermelon and eat with a spoon.  Be prepared for lots of seed-spitting. As a labor of love,

Friday, October 19, 2012

No Yellow School Bus – Mass Transit St. Lucian Style


One of the less full busses I rode in St. Lucia.

Schoolkids in St. Lucia may not walk barefoot, through the snow 10 miles to school but they might have good excuse for being late.  Their bus system is the same one everyone uses; 15-passenger vans which seem to come by every 5 minutes or so.

It’s an efficient system, though students, obvious in their school uniforms, may sometimes get passed over by unscrupulous drivers who prefer to fill their vans with full-fare passengers. 

As the crow flies, it’s less

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Culinary Corruption


Tomaz and Lili, neighboring cruisers (in Rodney Bay St. Lucia, on their 47' Beneteau sailboat, Heron) and fabulous friends introduced us to refreshingly affordable French Lordson’s gin ($28.50 EC or ~$12 USD for 750 ml or about a fifth) lime and tonic, garlic aioli dip (mayo with enough fresh garlic added to be genuinely appealing) with French mussels and generous slabs of a locally baked fruit bread. While Lili claims to be lazy in the galley, back home in Slovenia, she and Tomaz made their own fresh butter, cheese and ricotta. The fresh milk they used hailed from less then 500 meters from their house.

Wayne at work in the galley, caught on camera!
Despite this, Galley Wench shamelessly foisted upon them American Cuisine, shocked that they’d never experienced our most frequent passage-making meal, peanut butter and jelly (aka PBJ).  They liked it, and even better, our tropical but also classic alternate rendition of it, peanut butter and banana (aka PBB).

PBB, a Wayne favorite,
and not just in the Caribbean.
As if that déclassé wasn’t enough, I regaled them with one of my favorites even “Tater Tots” Wayne considers too lowbrow, canned spritz cheese (albeit cheddar flavored rather than American – even I’m not that lowbrow).

Ahhh... all done!
Wayne calls this Cheese Whiz
but it is not! Cheese Whiz
tastes plastic, like wet Velveeta.
Marvelously good sports, Lili and Tomaz took it in stride.  After all, Tomaz was even eventually willing to not write off Mexican food, after recovering from his first underwhelming exposure to it in the U.S. via Taco Bell.  We all agree, though, it’s fine if years go by before revisiting one of the biggest bastions of American cuisine, McDonald’s.

Alas, Lili and Tomaz are Northbound sooner than us, to meet friends in Guadeloupe.  We look forward to sharing new culinary discoveries when we meet again.  More than that, we’ve enjoyed learning about their adventures, and more about living in Slovenia ….. Its economic roller coaster after Tito’s death, the choking bureaucracy that makes direct access to local food almost impossible and the protection of private voting rights, among other things.  Meanwhile, we’ll miss their warm and witty company.

Lili writes a well-crafted blog and is especially clever at capturing historical irony and natural wonder.   Check it out at http://heronsailing.blogspot.com.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Papaya As Big As A Baby’s Head

Papayas are Wayne's favorite; he's clutching this baby
n our cockpit.

The battle rages on…. Mango or papaya?  Which is better?  
Papaya tree in Diamond Baths Botanical Garden, Soufriere.


Split, seed, squirt with lime juice and eat.
Papayas are pretty danged easy for something so good.
We’ll just have to keep trying them to decide. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Poverty in Paradise: Splendor & Depravity of Soufriere

Petit Piton, as seen from our cockpit.

The Soufriere area, with its surrounding inlets, bay and the two volcanic peaks, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, is literally and figuratively the high point of Saint Lucia.  Hot springs, waterfalls, rainforest hikes offering spectacular views, the best snorkeling and diving on the island, plus lots of high end accommodations, complete with culinary delights and pampering in paradise.... There is no shortage unique activities.

View of Soufriere from our cockpit from our
more comfortable mooring, further from town.
However, despite the area’s lush, wonderful and wild volcanic beauty, in my personal opinion, Soufriere is still “the wrong side of the tracks.”  While we’re glad we saw the area, we curtailed our exploration in our frustration with the Disneyland attitude, where the best things in Soufriere are far from free, especially freedom of movement. 

Arriving pre-season, despite traveling and dressing modestly, we were a very visible target for starved tourist-dependant locals.  It took several minutes to shake off aggressive unwanted offers of help whenever we or our boat came in striking range.  A few offers were pleasant, but most seemed to take a page from the phrase, “Salesmanship begins when the customer says ‘No.’”  In our case, “No” really does mean “No” and further pushing dramatically decreases rather than increases our interest.  Help took the form of bringing our boat in, buying fruit, local handicrafts, guarding our boat, our dinghy, taking us on tour, providing a boat taxi, eating at a particular restaurant, smoking a joint…

Without Dave’s encouragement,
we probably wouldn’t
have snorkeled in Sourfriere….
Savvy areas might consider ways to minimize or at least coach and organize those entrepreneurs interested in basing any of their livelihood on tourism, especially if the area is interested in growing their tourist economy.  Then again, maybe I’m just not their ideal customer.  Still, it’s hard to believe telling visitors they need to pay a total stranger to guard their dinghy so it won’t get stolen will make an area more appealing to visit.  Yet given their gaunt figures, the general decay and the crumbling shanties many called home, it was easy to understand their desire for a piece of what we possessed.

Enjoyed the Petit Piton Falls and its hot
waterfall shower…

$3 @ USD
Soufriere is the first place, even though it was hot and humid, that we felt compelled to lock ourselves into our boat to sleep at night, and close up all the hatches.  I don’t regret locking ourselves in, but do resent feeling the need to do so.  There are of course exceptions…. We were incredibly relieved Petit Peak restaurant, where we stopped for a(n expensive) draft of Piton the day before, still had and quickly proffered the backpack forgotten there the day before, fully intact.


Or eaten at Big Yard, where Dave treated us to lunch and we
provided the Pitons.
  We’re glad we met Dave
in 
Marigot Bay and hope to meet him again in our travels.
We still enjoyed the snorkeling at Anse Chastanet (despite getting our prop fouled in what looked like a mooring buoy and paying $18 USD to avoid getting stung by jellyfish to untangle it) and nearer Soufriere, Diamond Baths botanical gardens ($10 EC each), built by Louie the 16th, its waterfall, and Petit Piton hot! waterfall and baths ($3 USD each).  

We did not go to the Sulpher Springs, hike the Pitons, tour the Hotel Chocolat, though I’d have liked to. I did not spend time photographing the locals or the Soufriere architecture in its sad but colorful state of Venetian decay. It struck me as unwelcome; I respected that. Nor did we pamper ourselves at any of the spas, eat at any lofty high-end restaurants or stay in any hotels, resort or otherwise; we just stuck to exploration by foot, fin and dinghy and took in the view from our mooring ball.

What would I tell someone considering the Soufriere area?  If you’re comfortable opening your wallet and your heart, it’s a wonderful though not entirely safe place to go.  For the rest of us?  A scenic sail and snorkel, admiring the Pitons at sunset from a distance falls far short of what the area has to offer, but frees up time and money to explore elsewhere with greater ease.  For hiking, I was happier with our morning hike at Pigeon Island Park (than our long-cut hike to Petit Piton Falls), a lunch at Jambe de Bois and back to our boat in Rodney Bay and am maybe a bit spoiled in my volcanic explorations in Hawaii (VolcanicNational Park), and hot springs in Oregon (Breitenbush and Bagby).









Steamy View In Marigot Bay


Despite the mosquitoes, Wayne detained this
crabby hermit crab long enough for a photo op.
It’s not every day viewpoint trailhead signs warn you to “watch out for hermit crabs... what looks like a stone or an old shell may suddenly move under your feet.”  Nor does your average trail provide ropes for a mostly 45 degree incline.

Marigot Bay vewpoint was heavily
overgrown, yielding more of a slice
han a vista.
There are advantages to being
the only folks foolish enough
to hike up a hill pre-tourist
season at the hottest part
of the day.
 It took us about ½ hour to climb up to the ridge point.  We were hot, sweaty and stinky but did make it to the viewpoint. It poured on the way down, which was not unfortunately enough to dissuade some hungry mosquitoes who had no other hapless hikers to feast upon. 

On the way down, the Mango Beach Inn Ridge Trail offered
a great view of the valley to the East and
a partial peak at Marigot Bay, though not our boat, moored
near its entrance.
Later that eve we feasted on fresh caught a fabulously cooked barracuda, generously shared by some Canadian cruisers, Jason, Laurent and Dave.  “Chef” Laurent cooked the barracuda in olive oil, sweet red pepper, with onion, garlic, cinnamon bark, and a little rum. 

We brought some home-made salsa,
tortilla chips and tuna ceviche and
an appreciative appetite to accompany
the barracuda.  
We wish we had something more fitting, though the chips and salsa were a hit and provided some veggies.

Makin’ Bacon from Skinny Pigs


Trim ponies munching
grass in a Gros Inlet
yard, St. Lucia.

Saint Lucia seems to be the land of lean, if not mean, animals.  Not much in the way of fat cats, plump puppies or ponies, big-gutted goats, heavy hens, Rubinesque roosters or curvaceous cows.  These four-legged folks are very much part of the landscape.  They wander, sometimes freely in yards, across sidewalks and roads, on the beach…. 
Goats trimming grass at an industrial
site on St. Lucia.

Honestly, we haven’t seen the pigs but we’re guessing they too are more petite that porky, especially since we’ve discovered Streaky Bacon.

While much of Saint Lucian food doesn’t seem to concern itself with low sugar or lean protein, we’ve become fans of Streaky Bacon, a Saint Lucia product.  We’re not sure exactly how lean it is, as Saint Lucian labels don’t appear to require specifying nutritional content.  We’re guessing we won’t get Streaky Bacon elsewhere, as they’d include fat content along with the other nutritional info if they were exporting.


$8.51 EC with tax for 9 slices.
In U.S. dollars that's about
$3.50 or 3 slices for a buck.
What I do know… when cooking Streaky Bacon there’s no need to have a jar to drain the fat.  I still give the pan a half-hearted wipe with a paper towel if I’m cooking a full package and sautéing something compatible with a little bacon grease in the same skillet. I do put the cooked bacon on a paper towel before serving, but then I blot the grease of pizza slices, too. Unlike likely even leaner Canadian bacon, 

Notice no fact content or percent is listed; good 
not-for-export indicator.
Streaky Bacon is not cloyingly sweet.  I’m betting I’ll be Jonesin’ for Streaky Bacon much more than I would for an American burger or even pizza. The bummer is, once we leave St. Lucia, that’s the last we’ll see of Streaky Bacon.

Runaway Dinghy

To the the right, a very undesireable and unusable dinghy.
To the left, not that appealing a theft target that gets us around.

A short walk on a well-populated beach seemed a reasonable place to haul our dinghy onto its sandy shore.  Normally we bring a lock along and find something solid to secure it to from the metal cable we keep in the dinghy for that very purpose.  We didn’t as we figured a good pull up for a short walk on public beach would be fine.

Fifteen minutes later Wayne noticed a dinghy that looked remarkably like ours, bobbing some distance out in the bay.  Indeed, it not just looked remarkably like ours; it was ours.

Whether it was a rouge wave (unlikely -- there is little wave action here and only a 2’ tidal range all day) or an unconcerned, mischievous or malicious individual we’ll never know.  We believe the latter is more likely. Dinghy thefts are relatively common in this poverty-stricken country with high unemployment and a thriving “used” dinghy motor market. Ours would be far less appealing with its older, battered off-brand motor, but if opportunity presented itself, well….

Regardless, of more urgent importance…. Who would swim out and get it?  I am the stronger swimmer, by far, maybe because I really like it.  But the dinghy’s motor is temperamental and Wayne is a mechanical wizard and the dinghy was some distance out, moving out further, quickly.  Plus, it’s tough to get into a dinghy from the water when it’s bobbing in above waist deep water.  Both of us going was not a viable option as we were carrying some items that would be best kept dry, so someone needed to hang out ashore with them.

Against my better judgment, Wayne swam to the dinghy.  The swim was a exhausting for him, and getting into the dinghy, especially when tired, more so.  Knight that he is, he did eventually clamber aboard and safely motor our chariot to shore.

What we learned…. Climbing over the back of the dinghy by the motor is the easiest way in when it’s bobbing in more than waist-deep water.  We will not likely consider leaving it unlocked in the future.  We may argue about it, still, but it would make more sense for me to swim out and row (we keep oars in our dinghy at all times, though now just one oar but still row-able, but that’s another story) in if unable to start the motor.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sea Moss … “for Reproduction”

Some might consider the shape of this
bottle ... suggestive.  Appropriate.

Most markets carry this… “lead in the pencil” elixir. 

While it’s certainly not anything we “need” my Momma raised me forge bravely ahead when it comes to culinary oddities.  Maybe it was those chocolate ants (just like a Nestle’s Crunch bar -- really!) we ate as kids (for real – Mom bought ‘em).

Sea Moss drink's texture feels like a cross between a pudding and jello.…Ironic.  Its texture is not unlike a certain something some men would wish their women to swallow.  “Cold semen,” as my better half puts it far less coyly.

I bought a second bottle, after trying the first, so I guess you could say I like it.  And the second one didn’t have rum.  Now I swear, we didn't need this, and that doesn't have anything to do with my going back for seconds!

Sea Moss elixir ingredients:
water, seamoss, milk, sugar,
assorted roots and spices. 
 
There are a variety of brands and flavors, though I will likely quit while I’m ahead on this one; too little time, too many new edibles to try.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Grapes of Bath: Manual Laundry

The setup:  one fine for
soapy water, one for
an agitated rinse, one
for a clean rinse.  All use
fresh not sea water, currently.

Back in the days of yore, when Wayne went cruising in Mexico, laundry services were only a buck or two, almost as good as going to Mom’s. We whined when we sold our high efficiency washer and dryer two years ago, and used the coin-op washer and dryer, for $1.50 for the mediocre washer and $1.00 for dryer.  “Oh, we’re paying so much for laundry!”  We also thought it was so expensive to pay $4.50 for the washer and $3.00 for the laundromat washer and dryer on our Desolation Sound trip.  Little did we know how spoiled we were.

Amazing how quickly the
water gets dirty even if our
clothes aren't that dirty!
Rodney Bay, like most places in the Caribbean, laundromats are not an option.  Laundry service (they wash, dry, fold and deliver) here cost $16 / load USD ($90 EC for 2 loads).  We did that our first 2 loads, but given our intended total daily expense budget is $50 / day, there’s other things I’d rather spend the money on, like food.

The "agitated rinse" and wash bins
water may need a rinse and
refresh themselves before a  "load"
is done.
We're still sussing out the best places for our
laundry lines.  Regardless, we love the fresh scent
and feel of line-dried laundry.
Gone are the days of “set it and forget it.” Welcome to the world of hand, or in my case, foot, washed (some cruisers use toilet plungers) and line dried laundry. It’s the nature of budget boating, where time is more plentiful than money, and our energy footprint is smaller, though it did take a little extra creativity when the first load was 36 items and I had only 13 clothespins. Most days a sunny 87 degrees Fahrenheit makes it pretty do-able, watching out for the occasional rain shower, or an extra freshwater rinse, but longer dry cycle.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wetting Our Whistle

This gentleman was located just across
the street from
Rodney Bay Marina

We tried the much-touted local favorite (besides Bounty rum and the local beer, Piton, which we’ve also sampled … more than once), coconut water.  It’s not hard to find someone selling out it of the back of their pickup truck, parked at some high trafficked spot.

Once you hand over your money (about $2 USD), before you can blink they’ve slashed open the top of a coconut with a knife of machete and handed it to over, straw inserted.

Our verdict?  A good cool quench on a hot day.  Wayne found it a bit too sweet, but I liked it as is.  Won’t likely replace a cold Piton as our “beer-o’clock*” choice of beverage, but a nice change of pace.

If you want to learn more about coconut water, there’s always Wikipedia…

*credit to Gary for “beer-o’clock” though I suspect he stole the phrase from someone else, too

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nearly Powerless Cooking: What Made the Galley Cut

More or less, this is all that came from my kitchen for
Journey's galley.

If you could only bring 10% (or much less!) of your kitchen’s food prep and serving implements, and nothing that requires plugging in, what would make the cut? 

When it comes to galley selections, inches, amperages (low-to-no power consumption) and multi-purpose items rule.  Mix in your best wild guess of what someone else’s kitchen (galley) would be left behind for your use.  You’ve never met your galley benefactor; and are utterly clueless as to whether their normal fare is purely peanut butter and jelly or Martha Stewart.

The Boat Galley was a great resource. I knew I’d want a set of nestled non-stick pots & pans and Wayne bought the set they recommended, though I hated to get rid of the set I had at home.  That was a good call; it gets used daily.

Fortunately Kathy, the previous owner, left behind quite a few useful goodies, particularly
  • silverware
  • various tupper-esque containers
  • mugs
  • Corning dishes
  • teapot
  • can opener
  • tongs
  • rubber scraper
  • loads of little plastic stackable / nestable organizing “baskets”


I brought my:
  1. favorite knives, the long meat and long serrated ones that my Dad brought back from Switzerland decades prior, and one cleaver, all recently re-sharpened, with new plastic sheaths, one smaller serrated knife and a grapefruit knife (indulgent, but I love grapefruit and it doesn’t take up that much room)
  2. non-stick nestled pot & pan set
  3. cutting sheets
  4. measuring cups
  5. 8” x 8” Pyrex cooking baking dish with rubber storage lid
  6. silicone muffin “trays”
  7. several lidded Pyrex containers for leftovers
  8. French press for coffee
  9. hand-held, battery-operated rechargeable mixing wand
  10. 3 plastic drinking tumblers
  11. 4 plastic rectangular plates with a respectable lip around their edge
  12. medium-sized wooden salad bowl and tongs
  13. corkscrew / bottle opener
  14. vegetable peeler
  15. plastic spatula
  16. strainer
  17. spatter guard
  18. “orphan” silverware, a few unsold pieces from my decades-old set
  19. crab-eating accoutrements (crackers and diggers – not sure of their correct culinary names)
  20. turkey baster
  21. lots and lots of ziplocks in quart, gallon & 2-gallon sizes – for more than just galley use
  22. 2 plastic egg cartons to buy fresh eggs, direct

What do I wish I’d brought? 
  • grater (bought here)
  • silicone loaf pan (bought here)
  • ladle (bought here)
  • (more) Pyrex containers
  • Melitta cone and filters
  • colander
  • plastic serving bowls (bought here – after one of the glass set left, shattered rather dramatically)
  • BBQ (the propane one on board was corroded enough we left it behind; it’s on our “buy when back in the U.S.” list)
  • drinking glasses for serving guests


Impractical, but really miss…



Don’t miss…
  • my garlic press, which once upon a time that was one of my most essential tools.


Our 3-week sailing trip to Desolation Sound was invaluable for helping me make the right minimalist choices (only about 25 items!) for my galley.  While there are a few regrets, so far, so good!  At least, no complaints from Wayne.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cattin’ Around After Dark


Gary, and Dorasett, our host did, well – there were about
70 of us aboard.  Photo courtesy Gary Horton.

Our friend Gary is an enterprising sort. When he invited us to come along for a sunset cruise on a Rodney Bay Marina “Endless Summer” catamaran (“cat” for short) at a killer price, with 50 or so other folks, even though we’re here on a sailboat, we jumped at the opportunity.

Thanks to calm seas and the renowned stability of cats, we weren’t
too concerned about the scent of herbal campfire emanating
from some VERY LARGE “you wrap ‘ems” from what
appeared to be our crew well before we left the dock.
 








Apparently normally these soirees go for about $200 EC (~$80 USD), though they include nibblies and booze.  We were happy to pay about $8 USD and BYOB (bring your own booze).  We were the only non-locals (long-term “yachtees” like Gary included as “non-locals”) on board.



Wayne, happy to relax with
someone else behind the
wheel, for a “date night;” his first
catamaran ride on something
other than a Hobiecat.
We got folks moving when I knocked my red wine cooler (sangria-like coolers, with cola and red wine – seriously – it’s a legitimate “club drink” in Spain)… over on a long bench, which quickly flowed down the line.  Folks hopped up while, I sheepishly wiped, fast and furious. No more red wine drinks for me without a sippy cup at public gatherings!  Wayne figured party attendees just needed to wear red bottoms, like the red-shorted fellow seated to our right.

Even though it was BYO (bring your own) food and drink, some folks brought food to share.  Sue the owner of RazMataz Indian restaurant shared delicious curry chicken balls with a yogurt dipping sauce.  Jill, who runs the local yoga studio, Yoga on the Bay, brought two silky vegetarian dips, one carrot-sweet pepper-curry and another lentil-mushroom-cashew.  Another lesson learned though was to watch out for sharp-edged light-weight plastic plates, which can become near-lethal Frisbees in the breeze a cat generates motoring, much like the wind outside a speeding car window.

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, just South of Rodney Bay and Castries.
It's the safest hurricane hole (safe port in a bas storm)
in the Caribbean.
Though we arrived nearly 4 weeks ago, this was the first time we’ve been on a boat leaving Rodney Bay.  The “sail” (despite a nice breeze, the sails never came out – we motored the whole trip) was a beautiful ride down the coast, past Castries and into picture-postcard-perfect Marigot Bay, its coconut palms silhouetting against the setting sun.

Perfect first foray out of Rodney Bay; it doesn’t get any better….
Stunning scenery, spectacular sunset, magical full moon.
 
As the sunset became burnt orange, the music shifted from calypso to dance. Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” brought to mind hilarious scene from the “Full Monty” where a bunch of tough blue collar men twitch, attempting, in vain, to repress their rehearsed dance moves while hanging out in the unemployment line. When “Nothing but a hound dog” and “Great balls of fire” played, who could resist howling at the now full moon, dancing?”  Surely, not us!  And who knew Gary had all the moves and would take center stage grooving with “The Macerena?”