Farewell to Cumberland Bay
At 6.30 AM on 25th February, Ratty untied our long line from the tree to which we had been attached for almost a week. And to the sound of Ratty singing ‘When will I see you again’, while waving his arms from the shoreline, we gathered in the line, raised the anchor and motored out of the bay just behind two other boats. Kenny stayed with us in his dinghy until our anchor was up, to make sure all was well, insisted on one more fist bump to say farewell, then he went back to shore and we went out to sea.
We felt quite emotional. Spending one week here, cowering from the wind, we have come to know and really like the local characters. And what a fantastic bunch of people they are: friendly, funny and genuinely helpful. One of the guidebooks onboard Lady Jane said that the island of St Vincent gives you a flavour of the unspoilt Caribbean. It seems to, and we love it.
Downwind for gentlemen, upwind for thugs
As predicted by the gurus at PredictWind, the wind and sea state eased to something more manageable by Sunday morning. But after days of high winds, the sea wasn’t exactly flat. And with the current pushing us west, we had no choice but to point the bows high and thump through the waves all the way from St Vincent to St Lucia.
To get a good angle on the wind for Lady Jane, we stripped off her skirts and let her bloomers fly, and she did fly. We might have lost the motoring contest with a similar sized boat, but with full sail out we certainly won the sailing one.
We had the fishing lure out all the way to St Lucia hoping to recreate our Grenada near-catch but with a better end result. Unfortunately, the only thing we caught this time was weed. There’s weed everywhere out here in large brown clumps, wherever you cast your eyes. Better luck next time – again.
Approaching St Lucia.
The most striking feature of St Lucia when arriving from the south is the Pitons – jutting out from the verdant landscape like Madonna’s pointy boobs. And after staring at them at a distance for over six hours, we were thrilled to find they are even bigger and better close up.
A boat boy – actually three boys in a boat – came speeding up on our port quarter as we approached the Pitons in a vessel called ‘Jah Is My Saviour’. We had a chat while sailing along, but he sped off after we told him our destination is Marigot.
After that, the wind died. Motoring along the coast past exotic-looking coastal towns and villages and less-exotic tourist boats shuttling holidaymakers to the Pitons, we arrived at the entrance to Marigot Bay at 3.30 PM.
The berths here are part of the Capella hotel resort. I phoned ahead to book a space at the dock, and a Capella employee met us on his launch in the outer harbour to guide us in.
Unsurprisingly, the berth that Capella allocated was not an easy one in which to park. To starboard sat a very expensive yacht with an immaculate blue hull; to port, an even more expensive yacht with an equally immaculate hull. Hitting either of these would bring tears to the eyes of our insurer. And to compound the challenge, a stiff breeze was blowing from our starboard side – pushing Lady Jane’s bow to port each time we tried to reverse. After several attempts, each with ever-decreasing success, I drove the boat to the other side of the marina and started a run backwards from almost 100 metres away. That did the trick, and once in the shadow of the large yacht, we were able to reverse back and tie up without incident or insurance claim.
The hassle of parking the boat here was worth it. We have one of the best spots here, and it is undoubtedly the most convenient. Just behind Lady Jane are the marina office, the port office, and customs and immigration. And we are within 30 steps of the Hurricane Hole bar.
Capella is a very different kind of marina. Because it is part of the hotel complex, we are free to use the hotel facilities. The pool and restaurants are all at our disposal and anything we buy we charge to our boat. This also means that we can order room service to be delivered to Lady Jane. You don’t find that at MDL Marinas.
Fortunately, the customs and immigration office was closed by the time we had sorted the lines out. It’s fortunate because the overtime bill for clearing in on Sunday is $100 EC, and I can think of several ways of putting that cash to better and more enjoyable use.
The sign on the door said that they open at 0800. So at 0815 on Monday morning someone opened up. Our direct view of the Customs and immigration office allowed me to time my entrance when the customs guy was free. So, in I went, said a cheery hello, received a grumble in return and announced that I wanted to clear in. He pointed to a stack of paper forms on a shelf to the right of the door. “I used Sailclear,” I proudly stated. “Not here. Only in Rodney Bay,” was his staccato reply. And that set the tone for the entire transaction. Cheerfulness is not in bountiful supply here at the Marigot Bay Customs and Immigration office. On a positive note, I was dealt with quickly.
Next step was the port office, one door down to the left. Here you need to hand over the clearance papers to the guy reading the sports news on his computer, then after he has finished reading an article, you hand over $40 EC tax. At least he almost broke into a smile.
At 1000 the immigration officer rolled up, so I went back to the Customs and Immigration office, said that I have already cleared in with this lovely gentleman, and would like to clear immigration – please. And after an equally surly couple of minutes, I stepped back into the sunlight with new stamps in our passports.
We are now officially in St Lucia and free to roam the streets.