Sailing to St. Lucia

A Week Aboard S/V Sabado: 11/5/2023 – 11/12/2023

Good morning! Happy Sunday! Check out our latest YouTube video, we loved making this one. ⛵️

Last Sunday, we lounged around and got some boat work done. As Sabado ages, a few lower-quality bits have busted (i.e., tachometer bezel/trim ring, cabinetry buttons, etc.). So, Ray dug out the epoxy and cracked open a fresh tube of superglue… Later that afternoon, some friends came by to invite us snorkeling. I never turn down an opportunity to swim, so off we went! We snorkeled the same spot I explored last week, but there’s always a new fish to see and coral to identify. Check out this beautiful stoplight parrot fish!:

We parted ways for showers, then met back up for dinner and drinks at Paradise Beach Club

Monday morning, Ray and I took the dinghy to shore and waved down a taxi to take us to Customs and Immigration. The office is in a boatyard, so we filled out our paperwork with a chorus of hammers and drills in the background. Once we had officially checked out of the country, we returned to Sabado, ditched our mooring ball, and headed up to Anse La Roche. We motored the short distance, dropped our anchor, and got the boat ready for the next leg of our trip: I prepped some food and cleaned up, Ray did engine checks and planned our route. We had one last lobster feast with friends at Tim’s Sunset Beach Bar & Restaurant and left the next morning.

Using our main and jib, we happily sailed along most of the morning at 5.5kn. The sun was shining, and the crew was excited! As we neared the narrow cuts of Tobago Cays, we kept our eye on an ominous storm cloud off our port side. It was creeping up on us, so we preemptively reefed the main.

When the storm arrived, it brought far more rain than wind. We dug out our foul weather gear, started an engine, and motor-sailed while it poured for the next hour.

The storm made it increasingly difficult to see the other vessels around us, so we kept a close watch. If anyone has any insight as to why these six-figure boats don’t have AIS, we’d love to hear it! It seems like an insane oversight to me. There are three boats ahead of us in this photo… Can you spot them all?

We dropped our sails and anchored in Bequia for the night. Our batteries reflected the lack of sun that day, so we started the generator and made a couple of hot toddies to enjoy while we dried off. After a day of gray skies, the clouds parted just in time for a spectacular sunset! 😍

We departed Bequia for St. Lucia bright and early the following morning. We started the day with light winds, AWS 9kn, SOG 4.5kn. We thought about rigging up the gennaker but were ultimately too lazy (and in no rush!). A flock of boobies frolicked around us all afternoon, diving for fish. We took their queue and threw our fishing lines out. We desperately need to replenish our inventory of lures, but we figured there was no harm in trying with what we’ve got! As we passed St. Vincent, our wind died. Although the mountainous island was beautiful, its elevation blocked the breeze we needed to keep sailing. We reluctantly started an engine and motor-sailed the rest of the way.

Our approach was incredibly beautiful. We had skipped St. Lucia on the way down, so I had never seen the famous Pitons up close. They became even sharper and more dramatic as we got closer, and I was ecstatic when we picked up a mooring ball in Soufriere, right at the base of one!

Although the view was undeniably magnificent, a stench lingered in the air. I don’t know what was happening (or if the area is always like this?), but it STANK. I’ll spare you an attempted description; just know it was not good. We made dinner at home and watched the sunset. Suddenly, we were the only boat in the mooring field. We couldn’t squash our sense of uneasiness. There was a series of break-ins here last year that has deterred a lot of boaters (including us) from visiting. A group of men were boarding boats in the night wielding guns and machetes, robbing and traumatizing folks. The local police have since arrested the group responsible for these violent crimes, but we were still wary. You’re so vulnerable on a boat, especially in remote or empty areas. We were close to a beach that backs up to a road. We could see men just beyond the tree line standing around small fires. No one was doing anything threatening, but we let our fear get the best of us. Ray, a notoriously light sleeper, slept in the saloon with our chosen self-defense equipment. I slept down in our cabin. Given the circumstances, neither one of us got any sleep, and no one bothered us. We chugged some extra coffee the following morning, feeling a bit silly for being so scared. It’s unfair to let a few incidents dictate your attitude toward an entire island! We raised the sails and headed out.

We decided to make a short hop up to Rodney Bay, one of the more popular anchorages in St. Lucia, where we would stage for our sail up to Martinique. The wind started light, but picked up quickly, gusting up to 25kn as we moved in and out of the island’s shadows. We reefed the main, and Sabado performed great! We tacked back and forth, taking our time and enjoying the trip.

We arrived in Rodney Bay that afternoon. The rancid stench from Soufriere was replaced with the enticing smell of fried food. We were in tourist central! The beach was lined with rows of matching lounge chairs and blue umbrellas. Sunburnt vacationers zipped around on jet skis, and hoards of people packed aboard day trip boats clogged up the channel. We set our anchor and struggled to stay awake until nightfall in an effort to maintain a reasonable sleeping schedule. We slept better that second night. 

We woke up Friday morning to gray skies and a strong breeze. We checked the weather forecast: high winds and 8ft seas. These conditions were nothing we couldn’t handle, but it wouldn’t be the most comfortable ride. It was a ~20-mile trip to Martinique. We decided that we could manage 3ish hours of discomfort and planned to leave after breakfast. We were finishing our coffee when we saw a small boat with palm fronds fashioned into a sunshade pull up to our stern. Ray recognized the boat as Gregory’s, a local man who sells fruit, herbs, and juices made by his daughter. He sold to Ray when he was here with Sabado back in 2018!

We passed him a bucket and an empty water bottle and held a line for him while he hooked us up! We purchased some lemons, limes, pink grapefruit, plantains, baby bananas, passion fruit, cucumbers, some grapefruit juice, orange juice, two bottles of rum punch, and some coconut water. After paying and tipping, he gifted us two coconuts and two bags of “coconut cookies.”

It took me a while to wash, dry, and put everything away. By the time I was finished, we’d decided to stay another day. That’s the beauty of cruising: you get to do what you want, when you want (weather permitting😂)! So, we cozied up and did some computer work. As the sun went down, the music from shore got louder and louder- it was Friday night in St. Lucia! This area is full of overpriced bars and restaurants catering to tourists, so we opted to stay home. 

Saturday morning, we noticed some newly placed yellow buoys. We watched as four small monohulls raced around them. It was exciting to see them come within inches of each other when rounding the buoys! I’ve never participated in a race before, but it looks exhilarating. ⛵️

Later that day, we turned on the generator. It ran well for a little while, then began to die. We were nearly out of fuel, so we pulled our anchor and headed to the fuel dock, anxious to ensure that was the issue and not something mechanical or electrical. We arrived, tied off, and were told they were closed. We explained our situation, and they agreed to let us stay the night on the fuel dock so we could get fuel first thing in the morning. Since we were there, we decided to walk around town! We found a waterfront bar and a steakhouse and turned the evening into a date night. ❤️ We are fueling up as I am posting this, so keep your fingers crossed our generator runs properly after! 🤞🏼

I hope you had a great week! 😊

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