With crew changeovers to be done, we caught a ride across the island to the airport in the south of Saint Lucia. Once Webbo and Moni had checked in, almost to the minute, Buckos friend Mikki, had landed from Australia.
Mikki had spent 2 days flying to get to the Caribbean, so we thought the best way to get her over any jetlag, would be a 6 hour hike to the top of one of the Pitons
There are 2 ways to climb the Gros Piton. 1. Pay the money through the correct entrance and get a proper guide, or 2. Pay a local bloke who only speaks Creole to take us up the back way, saving a few bucks. Little did we know that this added about 2 hours onto the round trip. Hindsight probably would of led us the correct way up the mountain…
The task ahead, at 2600 feet its no small walk in the park ..
Girls setting the pace through the rainforest. The pace certainly slowed down towards the top.
This dog followed us along the trail at various points. Immediately I said to the others that I know this dog..
This was me almost 3 years ago to the day, climbing the same Piton, with the same dog.
After a slow and painful 3 hours, we hit the peak, with amazing views over Soufriere and Petit Piton.
Andre, our local goto Rasta, tagged along for the walk
We were totally unprepared for the hike, I didn’t even have a water bottle and lunch would of been nice. This guy was destined to become lunch. I wished.
The boat boys in Saint Lucia start young. All you need is a big bit of Styrofoam and you’ve got a solid family business
Mikki had to cart with her a new water tank sender all the way from AUS. After a few modifications, we once again know how much water we don’t have in the tanks. Cheers Sam Allen
Not wanting to alarm anyone, but we had a little bit of an incident at 2am one morning. I awoke to the sound of someone trying to open the locked cockpit door using the winch handle. I promptly went up to confront the would-be-thief, but he quickly jumped into the water and swam away… gone before I could even get a torch…. and who would mess with a piece of Duncan Fernley Willow. So security precautions have been stepped up…
Bucko relaxing after a short slog up to Marigot Bay
Afternoon beers in a nearby bar.
The local fruit and veg delivery man in Rodney Bay
We met a bloke on the beach who owned this clapped out Hobie 16. We shoved a few bucks in his hand and put it through its paces.
There isn’t a simpler pleasure in life than a Hobie 16 in 20 knots.
So we raced back and forth behind the boat yelling out to Mikki “Take a photo, look one hull!!!”… The girls just didn’t get it…
They do get rum punch
The Friday night Jump Up in Saint Lucia is one of the biggest parties on the Island. We swung by and picked up Josh and headed into the party
I think everyone there would agree that it was the best fish any of us have ever had.
The party draws a big crowd of both locals and tourists.
The girls losing their shit
“Get out of it Fergo”
High fives from Ollie as this bloke gets a good twerk from one of the local working girls…
Dinner number 2
The next day we invited Phil, Robbie and Josh to watch the start of the round the world ARC rally.
These 30 something boats, from all around the world, travel in company for the next couple years as they circumnavigate the globe.
The guy up the mast drew the short straw on photographing duties
We cleared out of Saint Lucia, and continued our push north. Next country, Martinique.
The French sure know how to send out a welcoming party. He may have a tanned arse, but his crews giving him the cold shoulder.
Exploring the streets of Grande Anse
No one can do Moules et Frites like the French
Nice snorkelling around the bay
“What the fuck you looking at?” Shut up Moray
What better way to fill a BBQ then with 10kgs of Pork
We left Grande Anse and headed to Fort de France. Our expected nice sail turned into an upwind slog with 40 knots across the deck. The boat shook it off as we powered towards the anchorage.
Cruising the old cobblestone streets of Martinique’s Capital, Fort de France.
The coffee drinkers endless pursuit of a great coffee. Drink your Instant Roast I say.
We headed up to the north of the Island to the town of St Pierre. It was formally the capital of Martinique, until Mont Pelee blew its top back in 1903. Killing all bar 3 of its 30,000 inhabitants, with a force 40 times stronger than the blast over Hiroshima.
One of the survivors was this poor ol bloke who was locked up in the local prison. The foot thick walls are what saved his life. He was retrieved from his cell a few days later suffering massive burns. He went on to become a side attraction in a travelling circus showcasing his horrific scars. What a turn of events for that bloke…
Ruins of the Prison
We rented a car to prove to ourselves that we can still drive…. also to explore the island
First stop the Rum Museum at the Saint James distillery
Straight into the sampling
The Distillery dates back to 1765. That’s before Cook had even charted the east coast of Australia. Around the same time England won their last Ashes test match.
The girls put the stills into perspective. St James were at the forefront of distillation technology.
Forget rums that have been aged 5, 8 or even 21 years. How bout a bottle aged 129 years?
Even Australia gets a mention in it all. If it was to occur again, Bundaberg Rum wouldn’t be worth the bottle its stored in…
The purchases from the day out.
Next stop the Musee de la Banane. A museum dedicated to the life of a Banana, from start to finish. The girls enjoying some of the finished products.
“Stupid French phone doesn’t work”… Just like their stupid keyboards.
Overlooking the plantation.
They had hundreds of different species of bananas from all around the world. Forget your Cavendish, how bout these pink pearlers…
Another screamer of a sunset as we relax on the boat and get ready to leave Martinique.
Ollie riding shotgun as we have our best sail yet, powering towards Dominica. As we start to lighten the boat up, carrying less diesel, water and food, cruising at 10 knots is becoming more common. All we need to do now is drink the rum, and we’ll hit 15…
Mikki flatout on the tanning deck while the lazy fishing rod observes.
We put the French flag away for the time being, as we enter our next country. Dominica
After clearing in, the next day we caught some local taxis around to a couple of the islands many attractions. Not too far away is the natural phenomenon of Champagne reef. Note the Iguana hanging out in front of the sign.
Bubbles emerge from beneath the sea floor, giving off the sound of a distant jet plane.
Mikki and Bucko enjoying the sensation of being inside a glass of Champagne
The reef around was well stocked with fish and coral
Tongue dart fish
We walked up the trail to Trafalgar falls. Even after a morning swim in Champagne, Bucko was in need of a topup.
A quick clamber up the rocks gets us to the pools at the base of the waterfall for a quick dip
Mikki first in. This place is normally crawling with tourists, but the cruise dock was empty that day, meaning we had this slice of paradise to ourselves.
Self timer gets a workout.
It was Mikki’s turn for a drink.
The next day we hired a guide to take us to the Boiling lake. Not because we needed one, but learning from experience, they’re worth their weight in gold.
Sea Cat has been hiking this trail for the last 400 years and was an excellent guide.
The 5 hour round trip takes us down through the aptly named Valley of Desolution.
Ollie the Goat resorting to 4WD for maximum traction.
Sulphur and gases roar through vents in the ground which can only be described as a Geologist’s wet dream
Sea Cat raced ahead to put the eggs on to boil.
But first a quick mud mask
The girls already looking years younger..
And Voila!… “Who ordered over-easy” The hot springs are plenty warm enough to hard boil an egg.
Add a little salt and you got a great mid hike snack
The final push up to the boiling lake
The lake itself is a 207 foot wide hole, where hot gases vent from the molten lava deep below. It causes the water to boil like a giant saucepan. Its the second largest boiling lake in the world. The largest is in Mordor in NZ, just near where Gandalf lives.
We had a nice lunch on the rim of the lake, before setting off for the 2 hour hike back.
On the way back we took a dip in these naturally occurring, warm water, mineral baths. Complete with private waterfall and no one for miles.
You couldn’t design something this wicked for your backyard.
Afternoon rums at the Anchorage Hotel and somehow Bucko managed to get swallowed by a Sperm Whale skeleton.
The following day, we cruised up to Portsmouth for the famous Sunday night BBQ, which is organised by the local tour operators and boat boys.
We met this French guy while at the BBQ. As if this bloke isn’t a splitting image of what I’ll look like in 15 years. Crime stoppers couldn’t even come up with a better futuristic photograph.
BBQ Tuna and Chicken
The local crowd enjoying the girls.
The next day, still drunk I’d imagine, Ollie and Mikki had Alexis pick them up in the morning and row them up the Indian River. Bucko and I had been up last year so we stayed in bed.
This national park was a major set in Pirates of the Caribbean 2
The view from Fort Shirley with the anchorage of Portsmouth to the left. The stupid Star Clipper cruise ship had been stalking us for days… Ready the cannon.
The next day, once the livers had dried out, we pushed back into French territory… Guadeloupe.
There is a massive difference coming from Dominica (one of the poorest Caribbean Islands), To Îles des Saintes in Guadeloupe. Where even the street dogs ignore you. We went for a walk to the windward side in search of a deserted kite beach and a nice place to have lunch.
Mikki enjoying a post lunch power nap in the shade of a coconut tree
While I tried to bash my way out of the dead onshore, 5 foot swell.
The runway could be described as hairy at best. A sharp drop over the mountain… and if you overshoot the landing, it’s straight into the surf on the beach
After a couple nights in Îles des Saintes, we left for Pigeon Island, half way up the west coast of Guadeloupe. This nature reserve was named after Jacques Cousteau after he declared it as one of the worlds top dive sites in the world. So we illegally picked up a mooring…
While the Park Rangers were trying to find the absent owner of SS Cowabunga, we enjoyed the surrounding reef
The statue of Jacques Cousteau, at a depth of about 15m. Rubbing his head is believed to bring you good luck. Shaking his hand is believed to be difficult.
The water is the clearest I’ve seen anywhere in the Caribbean and the schools of fish are massive.
Barry the Barracuda never far away
Fish eyes view of the boat.
We left Guadeloupe in our wake and made our way for Antigua. Fishing has been slow, real slow. In fact the number of birds or even tenders we’ve caught has been higher, but that all changed on our way to Antigua were we managed to bag a few… Some good..
Some not so good…
We have been on the move a lot of late, mainly due to the fact of trying find somewhere good to celebrate Australia day. And we found probably the most cliché Australia day party, on the other side of the world in Antigua. Beach, Sun, Beach cricket, JJJ, BBQ, Fris and even a tug of war… More on that next time