Everyone told us about the big party. The security guard at the marinator. The laundry man with his laundry boat. The fruit man. The taxi drivers. The bus drivers. The bartender. Everyone is talking about the big one Friday night party in Gros Islet. It is in all guidebooks. We have to go there.
We wait for the bus in front of the marina when a taxi driver comes by and recommends a taxi. It was difficult to get to the party by bus because everyone would go there. The bus comes after two minutes and has space for all of us.
We walk along the party mile from the bus stop. Music can be heard from afar, we saw the large loudspeakers a few days ago. It smells delicious of grill. It is about 8 p.m.
I immediately notice that I no longer have to feel alone with my light skin tone in Gros Islet. There are no white tourists here during the week, everything is full on Friday evening. That must be due to the travel guides.
It is nicely done. Everywhere on the side of the road are stands with a grill (chicken, ladder, lobster, skewers) or rum punch or knick-knacks. The stalls are heavily frequented.
An artisan has also set up his sales booth. Here the rush is quite clear. Will that change in the night?
First of all, everything is very clear. The rush is quite limited until 10 p.m. We eat dinner from the freshly grilled food and let ourselves drift a bit through the streets.
Not only the two-legged residents of Gros Islet are looking forward to the party and the money that is washed into the cash register every Friday. The four-legged residents also seem to enjoy the barbecue orgy.
We decide around 11 p.m. that we want to go back to Sissi. In the meantime it has become really full. People dance on the street. There is a Ballermann mood. Drug sellers make their way through the crowd. There is even open cocaine, which I have never seen in this form.
I made a few small videos to better convey the mood.
Instead of entrusting me with Jens' driving skills, I prefer to test public bus transport. The buses go between all major cities on the island for prices between 1.50$ (XCD) and 8$. They are minibuses, and there are so many of them. Line 1A from Castries to Gros Islet passes the marina and the vehicles come every two minutes, sometimes more often. It is probably the busiest bus route on the island.
In Castries I change to line 2H to Vieux Fort. During our short visit with the rental car, I had the impression that I really wanted to take another look at this place.
I arrive at a central bus stop. First of all, I'm happy that I found the central bus station right away. There are over 100 minibuses in a huge parking lot, a queue of minibuses stands on the roadside and rolls forward meter by meter. Then I see that it is only the stop of line 1A
Line 1B has its stop on the opposite side of the street. A few intersections I find buses on lines 3H and 4C. I just don't find the stop of the 2H. I ask a passerby. He explains to me that I have to walk halfway through the city to find the 2H stop.
I set off on the path that leads past the cruise terminal. On the way I see one bus stop after the other. There is always a more or less large number of minibuses ready for departure and waiting for passengers. At some point I realize that the entire city of Castries is a huge bus station with thousands of minibuses that swarm to the island from here over several dozen routes.
The line 2H will start soon. The buses drive much faster than Jens. And the bus drivers know all the potholes with their first names. So the ride is more like a smooth glide with a constant change of direction when the potholes are avoided. The bus driver also takes the travel time very carefully, he has worked for an airline and is now doing everything he can to transport his passengers at top speed and with maximum comfort.
Reggae music is of course played on the radio.
At second glance, Vieux Fort is no longer fun for me. I find practically no contact with the locals. In principle, there are only two types of locals. The very, very poor people who scare every tourist for a few dollars. And those who are doing quite well and have a job. I am ignored by them. It is very, very difficult to get into conversation. Can it be because of the many cruise tourists? When I got into a conversation and my boat is located as a sailing boat, the conversation partner is suddenly much more open-minded.
However, the preacher is remarkable. We have already seen that in Barbados and now I see it here. A woman who uses a powerful loudspeaker system to tell everyone about God. Corn cobs are grilled.
I take the next bus towards Souvriere. The route goes along a beautiful coastal road, I already know that from my rental car tour. This bus driver also gives everything. Buses overtake other vehicles. Buses will not be overhauled.
In Souvriere I notice the church that is so different from the other churches on the island. Most have the appearance of a garage, on which a tower with a bell and cross has been placed. This one looks more massive.
It is also one of the few churches that are open outside of the service. I do not miss this opportunity, it is the first church that I photograph on this continent.
The walk takes me further through the town and I am amazed when I see the badge of the German Honorary Consul. In the middle of Souvriere. And not findable via Google, at least not quickly. You can already find the nail salon.
The bus ride continues through greenery on the island. St. Lucia is much more forested than Barbados. This is of course also due to the fact that a large part of the soil cannot be used for agriculture at all.
The bus driver gives everything again. The journey is fast. Suddenly he puts on the seat belt. Then a police car comes along the roadside, which looks like a control. Then he takes off the belt.
Shortly before the capital it goes over the banana plantation. I couldn't take a picture of the plantation myself because of the fast pace, but I got a stall. It is afternoon, the crusaders are all gone and most of the stands are orphaned.
On the last few meters before Castries we pass a school that is just finished school. The children are all waiting for buses. Our bus is full, so it doesn't have to stop. The children are used to waiting.
In a traffic jam on the last few meters, the bus driver asks me if I will get back to my ship in time. I say yes and explain to him that I have to go a few meters to the ship. The sailboat makes me interesting again, suddenly he wants to know my country of origin and what it's like to sail across the Atlantic. The people here are completely normal, just curious. Just not interested in the crusaders. Except for a quick dollar.
We got a rental car for two days. An optically distinguishable 8-seater from the local taxis, especially due to its indentation. So for eight Japanese. In St. Lucia there are practically only Japanese vehicles. However, all well-known manufacturers are represented there, from the Suzuki small car to the large Lexus.
Our tour should take us around the island. Jens has agreed to take the helm. None of us really feel like driving the car. The path first leads us to the capital, Castries.
In the rental car we struggle through the traffic jam in the city center. The crusader towers over all buildings and looks out of place. The road winds out of the city again, it is slowly turning green and then there is another view over the Bay of Castries - with three cruise ships.
Then we drive through banana plantations (Jens refuses to stop) and stalls for knick-knacks. Will they sell to the cruise tourists? So many sailors are not on the island, they could not make a living from it.
We stop in the middle of the jungle, actually to photograph a fern. A friendly bracelet dealer tells us about the beautiful view of the Pitons. All he wants to do is sell a few bracelets, scrounge cigarettes, beg for dollars and tell us a great deal. Here there are advantages of not having to wait for the bus.
Jens steps on the gas. He gets everything out of the rental car. It hits every pothole in the street. Unfortunately, on St. Lucia they cannot keep up to repair the frost breaks and potholes caused by the strong frost. The Japanese car is the perfect search device. Our intervertebral discs screech. Regular buses, private cars, horse-drawn carriages and snail races pass us every few minutes.
The pickup truck also overtakes us with a high speed difference. The view of the loading area makes me laugh almost loudly and quickly pull up the camera. This photo just wanted to be taken.
In Souvriere we come back into a heavy traffic jam, try a bypass and get stuck. A local resident takes the opportunity to tell us about the accident that has occurred. Then he guides us step by step out of the tangle of streets. He does all of this for us, a few dollars and cigarettes.
The wealth on this island seems to be very unevenly distributed. It was different in Barbados. There the poor didn't seem quite as poor to us. Here they pounce on every tourist to beg for a few dollars. At the same time, the number of Japanese luxury sedans on the streets is surprisingly high.
We go on, on and on. All the way south to Vieux-Fort. We see cows chewing under palm trees, but don't stop for a photo. In Vieux-Fort we accidentally get into a one-way street. The wrong way around, of course. It turns out lightly, Jens can turn the car before the first oncoming traffic comes. At some point a grumble spreads in the car, we want food, we want a break. Cold drinks.
We drive off the main road into a small village. First we find the fish market, then there is no open pub anywhere. Then the road is half blocked with a jeep, of course we get stuck with the fender. The damage to the jeep doesn't matter, a local tells us that the car was abandoned. The damage to the fender of the rental car - we learn a few days later - is a little bit higher than the deductible of the car insurance.
We finally find a kind of village pub in this village, which of course has chicken legs on offer. And pizza. We quench hunger and thirst. The local cat is not ready to cooperate.
Jens finds a few potholes on the way back to the marina, otherwise we get back safely to Sissi. On the second day of renting a car, I no longer want to go. It was too much driving for me and we didn't meet any locals.
“Gros Islet” is just a kilometer from the marina. This is where the shared taxi buses go that connect the marina to the capital. We go there to eat something in a restaurant outside the marina. We also want to see where and how the locals live. In the marina you are pretty much on your own.
We don't have cash on our first visit. We landed in St. Lucia the evening before and have not yet been able to find an ATM that would have worked with our cards.
There is a lot going on on the street just before sunset. We enjoy the walk, even the homeless who wants to show us the place get a dollar. Since we only have a few dollars left in cash, he gets one dollar. So three East Caribbean. He gets a drink from it.
We went to the only bar with a MasterCard symbol with our credit cards. The landlord said that it is not a problem to pay for a few soft drinks on the card. Even the homeless now get a drink. It is becoming increasingly expensive for us and senses its chance of selling knick-knacks. In vain.
The paper roll in the card reader is empty. The device reveals this on request. The host is a little overwhelmed. He makes a video call and gets the machine explained. Then he first puts the paper roll the wrong way round. We drank long ago. Then he puts the roll in the right way. He prints several meters of receipts and at the end we can pay. Then the landlord spends another round.
The next time we visit Gros Islet we want to go out to eat. We find a restaurant that smells delicious and sit down. Everything is correct, the food is delicious and the price is not half as high as in the marina. We'd love to go back here. We then invest part of the money saved in the cash with the credit card reader.
In a mood we let the host recommend a rum that must be from St. Lucia and should taste good. The host immediately understands what we want. We get four plastic cups with a little warm rum and a slice of lemon in it. At the first sip, everything contracts. I'm afraid to leave the shop blind. With a little cola and ice, everything is somehow bearable. I never drink rum again in such a pub.
Nobody in our group is blind. The next day we take a look at the fine spirits in the marina's own duty-free shop. The rum tastes better there.
We have been lying comfortably in the Rodney Bay Marina for a few days. This is really good, we have access to country showers, supermarkets and the bus stop. Afterwards we will explore the island with a rental car. So far so good.
Unfortunately, the old cross-country driver rule applies again. “Repair the boat in the most beautiful places in the world.” A diver cleaned the ship from below, such services are really affordable here. Although ... but they are comfortable.
You should only agree on the currency with the service provider beforehand. Dollars are not the same as dollars. I think the price would have been in XCD (East Caribbean Dollars) but the diver wants USD (US Dollars). But the USD has three times the value ... We then agreed again.
When the diver comes back to the surface and says to me that the sacrificial anode has to be replaced, I can't believe it at first. Does the guy want to fuck me? Does he want to land another job?
I press the GoPro in his hand and let him take a picture. I want to see that for myself. After all, the anode is not a year old and was only replaced in the last winter storage. However, the picture says that the anode is definitely due.
There is everything in the local Chandlery. It is well sorted and has a large assortment. The prices look good until I find out at checkout that everything is in USD. Pffft. € 25 for a sacrificial anode. I buy four. After all, there are these and our wear and tear is high. And all of this is duty free when I register the ship there. I register. And buy. The credit card is sacrificed at the checkout.
The laundry goes into the laundry. The empty gas bottle too. There, however, it is filled and not washed. The Watermaker gets maintenance. Our parasailor is at the sailmaker. The boat is being cleaned. Everything will be desalinated, we have a water hose. Screws are tightened. At some point the heat gets too big. We have made enough sacrifices and hide our glowing bodies in the shadows. Tomorrow is also a day.
Note: If you are in the Rodney Bay Marina with your boat and need or want a diver, look for the freelance divers. They come to the marina as registered day laborers. There are also permanent divers at the charter companies who take on orders from private individuals on the side. This in turn costs the freelancers income and is perceived as unfriendly. Unfortunately I made this mistake. And when it comes to price negotiations, you absolutely need to know what currency you are speaking in.
I wrote this post on December 14th. before departure in Santa Cruz. It was one of the articles that should appear during our Atlantic crossing. For various reasons, I have so far refrained from publishing it, but after the experience tonight, it is a need for me to express my opinion about cruise ships and their cargo.
December 2019, Santa Cruz, Tenerife: The day before yesterday Jens and I pulled up the new Genoa. It was a good opportunity right now because the wind had just died down. Then the easiest way to change the sail is because the sail will not fidget wildly in the area. I stood at the winch to crank the sail up, Jens the day before to thread the sail into the furling system. Suddenly the air stayed a little, I felt like I was taking a deep breath of air directly at the exhaust of a VW Diesel.
The Queen Victoria is in Santa Cruz today. There is a different ship in the same place every day. Everyone runs their diesel generator in port. Everyone leaves this fat soot flag, which can be seen in the picture taken from the foredeck of the Sissi. That is one side of the cruise industry. I can understand very well that the Venetians, the Hamburgers and actually all residents of the cities overrun by cruise ships want to stop this environmental pollution.
The soot is driven into the Sissi salon by the wind. We breathe in the soot when working on the ship, we also get it off in our free time. He pulls into our bunk. Only when the crusader says goodbye to his ship's blight in the middle of the night does fresh air slowly draw through our boat.
In addition, hordes of people invade the place with every cruise ship. They stand in line in front of us normal boat tourists in the supermarket and often carry out the groceries and drinks that we actually wanted to buy ourselves. The supermarkets here are small, and most of the time, they are only supplied and replenished the following day.
We cannot change it. We have to live with that. If they almost drive me with their e-bikes on the way from the boat to the shower, then I would like to push them into the harbor basin. Thank you, AIDA, for taking so many e-bikes with you and lending them to your passengers. Can't you at least tour the area on tour buses like the other crusaders? The buses also make noise, but they don't drive right through the marina.
January 31, 2020, 1:50 am, between Barbados and St. Lucia: I am lying on the couch and dozing a little bit to myself. My watch is almost over, I'll wake Jens up in an hour. The guard has been fairly uneventful so far - as almost always on the Atlantic.
A penetrating beep quickly brings me back from my twilight state to the waking state. The AIS collision alarm sounds. In less than half an hour it will be Britannia run over us or happen very close. Huh? Our AIS sends. Our AIS receives. They can see that we are a sailing boat. They can see our course. I am not particularly worried because many crusaders go to Barbados.
I sit in the cockpit and look at the bright light that is getting closer and closer. I can't see the position lights in all the bright lights. Our wind pilot controls his normal zigzag. Sometimes we will have the next meeting point 30 meters, sometimes 300 meters from the Britannia. In 20 minutes. I try the night photo mode of my cell phone, you can even see something.
The cruise line's course line on the AIS doesn't change an inch. He is heading towards us. First of all, I decide on our obligation to stay on course, which we as sailors finally have. The guy at the helm of Britannia must know that too. However, I support the wind pilot in his zigzag. I allow him to do the zig, not the zag. A quarter of an hour later it is certain that we will pass the crusader approximately 100 to 200 meters away. A welcome SMS for the Britannia electrical system appears on the cell phone. Ultimately, the shortest distance was less than the length of this steamer.
So far, cargo ships have always changed course for us, including the 300-meter-long chunks. Ferries have always avoided us. Only the cruise ships are a danger, because in our experience they don't do anything.
The bastards just stubbornly continue their course. When passengers are booted out in front of the ports, the dinghies also follow a straight line, whether a sailor comes by or not. This is not meant to be a generalization or a prejudice, this is my judgment after 6000 nautical miles of our world tour and a conclusion from several dozen encounters with these shining rubble.
Now I've let off my steam. We still have 10 miles to go to Rodney Bay, and will probably arrive in daylight. Then shower for two hours and then a huge steak in the marina restaurant. That's how I imagine the evening.