Monday, May 30, 2005

2005: Martinique & Saint Lucia

Getting to the windwards was a bit more involved than our previous trips. After much searching, it looked like the best way was to layover on St Lucia enroute. We extended the trip to 10 days to allow for the extra travel time. The night before we left, Air Jamaica threw us a wrench by cancelling their flight and putting the group on two different AA flights. Mel and Laurie took the early flight, while the rest of us waited for an airport restaurant to open. After meeting back up in St Lucia, we discovered the advance party had done a bangup job, securing a taxi service and two hotel rooms near the airport. There weren't any open restaurants, but we had enough snacks to feed a small third world nation, so we got by. The next morning we left in a puff of blue smoke and hopped the flight to Martinique. Two taxis later, we were in Le Marin at the Moorings base. We created enough noise and confusion they let us go early and we took "Fabi" out of the warm, still harbor to the offshore breezes at the anchorage in Saint Anne. Rich, armed with "plongee=scuba" for translation, had secured the services of a dive operator for the next morning, so Saturday morning we did a single tank dive outside Saint Anne off Pointe Borgnesse. Luckily the divemasters' English was better than our French, and we enjoyed the dive, as well as the swimming and snorkeling in the clear water off Ste Anne. The next morning brought a sail past Diamond Rock on the way up to Anse Mitan, where we enjoyed exploring the city and a dinner at Fanny's (but not the white rum punch). Monday we were off to St Pierre. Past the fish farm and continuing up the coast with a little diesel wind, we finally got a fresh breeze just before getting to St Pierre, so we tacked back and forth across the harbor before setting the anchor and heading in for some sightseeing and dinner. Tuesday morning we saw someone on a surfboard heading towards a dive boat anchored nearby, so a quick intercept in the dinghy set up a wreck dive on two wrecks right in St Pierre harbor, one from the turn of the century volcanic eruption of Mt Peleu. We re-provisioned in the afternoon, then set out early on Wednesday for St Lucia, making Rodney Bay before sunset. We dinghied through the harbor to tie up at a recommended restaurant, only to find it full and the owner sending us to his other restaurant a block away.

Thursday we headed for the Moorings base in Marigot Bay to refill the water tanks and get some charcoal to go with our starter, and got our introduction to the famous Windward Island boat boys. This one's name was Tiko, although I wouldn't call him a boy. While I cleared customs and Tiko cleaned a new dinghy for us, the ladies returned with charcoal and rum punch. With Tiko never far away, we continued to Soufriere in the shadow of the Pitons and moored (with Tiko's help, of course) in the marine park. Rich set up a dive for the next morning, and we swam and snorkeled the afternoon away. The ribs enjoyed our new found charcoal and we enjoyed a great dinner onboard. Friday after our dive we returned to Rodney Bay to anchor off the beach and dine at another restaurant.

Saturday was a great close hauled trip back to Ste Anne, where we had our final swim before returning Fabi to the dock. Our final dinner was in town at a restaurant over the water, and then we packed for the Sunday flight back to Chicago. Little did we know it would take 14 hours, a cab ride across St Lucia, and 4 separate airlines before we would unite at the transportation center! No more Air Jamaica for BBS, we're sticking to American...since only 2 of the current crew had been on the original 1999 trip, we decided on a return to the British Virgin Islands for 2006. The adventure continues!