compass rose

 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Vote 'n Go
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia 11.18.08

Construction at Rodney Bay Marina
Construction at Rodney Bay Marina
However the election might turn out, we were ready. In the best case, we had a suitcase full of Obama T shirts to give as presents to our sure-to-be-jubilant friends in St. Lucia. In the worst case, we would be snugly out of the country on our solar/wind powered boat ready to witness the final collapse of the American empire at a safe distance. By the time we left the San Francisco airport, we knew. Crowds around the only functioning TV made it clear we were not fleeing but just departing. A red-eye to Dulles. An early flight to San Juan and an afternoon puddle-jump to St. Lucia and we were standing in the capitol's tiny airport, clearing customs and standing on the road's edge in the late afternoon heat and humidity. Foxy Johnny was late and the plane was early but it is a short ride in from Castries to the marina and we were soon in. Johnny was not the first to congratulate us on our new president.

Bigger than congratulations, it was an island-wide jump up. Foxy Johnny had been up all night celebrating. "Africa is on fire." "They will have to rename it the Black House!" Everyone is ecstatic and fully confident that Obama will straighten things right out. West Indians are so polite, they generally wait for your lead before betraying their joy and hopes for the new president. The Europeans don't wait to find out where you stand; they just express relief that Sarah Palin is not a feeble heart beat way from the presidency. She would not win a popularity contest anywhere she is not actually handing out oil money. Bush is already a bad memory.

We got to see the boat that night and it was not too horribly dirty. We moved back into Chez Marie Alish, our guest apartment. We got a bite to eat from the corner store and had warm bread and papaya for breakfast. There are great advantages to coming back to the same place every year. We know the drill. People know us. The boatyard, however, is a mess. Construction proceeds apace on Rodney Bay Marina and much of it seems to involve huge tractors and trucks right next to the boat. Billowing clouds of dust would rise in the air as they made the turn at the boat and ground noisily away. Cleaning was beginning to look like a Sysiphusian task. We also learned that the dock where the boats are launched was to be converted for the new wider travel lift and the travel lift to be reconfigured for the new wider dock and that if we didn't launch before the weekend, we would have to wait two weeks. This we learned on Thursday. Entertaining our children while the boat was up on stands in a filthy, noisy boatyard did not seem viable. This calls for a little checkbook cruising. We hired the bottom scraped and painted and just threw the boat in the water late Friday. By dark we had the engine running but it wouldn't produce cooling water. We were so tired from the frantic operation, we just left it in the dock, hoping the through hulls were ok and we wouldn't sink. We fell into bed back at our guest house and slept very well indeed. After a little flailing around in the morning (made much easier because it needed no flashlight) we got the engine running sweetly (pee'ing like a horse as my brother would say) and bravely set off for the new docks just 100 yards away.

freshly clothed dinghy
Freshly clothed dinghy

The new owners of the marina, IGY, are apparently readying the marina for the use of the US Navy - or at least a major Coast Guard base. They are purchasing marinas up and down the island chain and readying them for fleets of megayachts that are apparently circling the globe in search of parking. To add to the chaos, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is supposed to arrive in early December and they must be accommodated. The place is a vast construction site 7 days a week and our little corner of the boatyard was not the messiest.

Hanging on the new floating docks (spacious enough for three of our boats side to side with a fourth parked across the back) we did all the work that we usually do in the boatyard. Much scrubbing, organizing and minor repairs have occupied us since. Strange things happen to boats left for long periods at rest in the tropics. Our dinghy spent the summer lashed upside down to the foredeck. A coating of liquid rubber designed to protect the fraying hypolan skin and applied by yours truly some years ago lived up to its name if not its purpose. It reverted to liquid. The foredeck and dinghy were covered with an extremely thick sticky white goo which stubbornly clings to everything it touches. Gregory, the fruit vendor in the flag covered craft greeted us enthusiastically and ran one of his flags into the wind generator. Missing one blade, the generator lurched and vibrated alarmingly

St. Lucia Yacht Club
St. Lucia Yacht Club

Susie learned from the manual that the generator will run with an even number of blades. We removed one blade and were back to producing power. We learned the white goo can be coaxed off the deck and into the fibers of a clean rag. With much elbow grease applied. We decorated the dinghy with clothing from the rag bag and can safely sit on it. We are now glistening and gleaming and bobbing happily at anchor out in the Rodney Bay. Everything important works. We are hanging about, reading books from the yacht club and waiting for the kids to arrive. The sails are on. The tanks are full of water. The hold is full of food. We are ready to sail. Next stop Martinique.

And if the Obama thing doesn't work out, we're ready for that too.


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