Socialising in St Lucia
Well here we are in Rodney Bay, St Lucia and we've just had the most active social week of our travels so far. We'd decided to take a few days in the marina here, tempted by hot showers and a swimming pool, plus easy access to services, cafes and internet, apparently.
After a rapid romp across from Martinique, three hours at top speed in big seas, we negotiated our way through a narrow channel into the Rodney Bay lagoon where there is space for boats to anchor and a few hundred marina berths. We were directed to a berth which was, sadly, around a corner and into a fairly tight space but we made it, with some help from the new neighbours who pop up as soon as you come within bumping distance of their own boats. Having survived the stress of getting into the space, we weren't all that keen to leave it so we stayed three days.
Next door was a small german boat crewed by a wonderful couple, Wolf and Elizabeth, who we got to know and shared a few drinks with. A passing dinghy stopped and asked 'are you a kid boat?' and so the kids spent an afternoon at the pool with the kids from Iceni, anchored in the lagoon. In the chandlery, I met a couple with their very talkative five year old, Beth, and we have since spent a few more poolside afternoons with them. Along the pontoon is a boat called 'Out on the Blue', who we have met before, and William, the owner, invited us over for drinks. We ended up staying for dinner and a few drinks too many - it was a lovely evening.
Today we motored a couple of miles to a bay with a holiday resort called Windjammer Landings, where some friends from London have come to spend a week on holiday. We've arranged to pick them up for a day trip later in the week (Ty Dewi excursions, first rum punch free for every customer) and spent a cople of hours on the beach with them today.
So this has been an very social few days, after a couple of months of pretty much just the four of us it's nice to get out and about a bit.
Getting out of the marina was even more fun than getting in. The wind has been blowing pretty hard all week, and we reversed out of our berth without bumping anything. But then we couldn't get the boat to turn and go down the line of berths. Every time I tried to turn, the wind would blow us back so we were across the channel. It was about 60 feet wide, we are 50 long, so we were in a situation where we could hold steady safely but to try to turn ninety degrees and leave risked being blown down onto three or four other boats - which we couldn't risk. After three or four tries, and a growing audience on the other boats, I asked Gesa to get in the dinghy and use it like a tug, to push our nose around whilst I motored the boat forwards. All credit to Gesa, she just grabbed the dinghy keys, jumped in, started the engine and did it. We, or more probably Gesa, got a heartfelt round of applause from one if not two of the boats that we avoided damaging on the way out!
This morning, I decided to look at a problem we've had with the alternator - this provides the bulk of our electricity so is quite important. It's driven by a fanbelt from the engine, and the two pulleys have become misaligned. I though it was wear in the joint between the alternator and the engine but it's turned out to be worse than that. The bracket that holds it is very heavy and hangs from four bolts in the underside of the engine. The forces on this arrangement are high, and it was now only secured by one bolt, the other three had sheared off due to the weight and vibration. Removing broken off ends of bolts is hard enough at the best of times but under the engine, with only a few inches of space, it is impossible for me to do. A trip to shore located a local engineer who also concluded that it was nigh on impossible without lifting out the engine, not something we're really prepared to do. However, we think we can make a different design of bracket to fix on a point on the front of the engine, so we need to see his boss to get a more experienced opinion and a price. We've also had the chance to fix some outstanding little glassfibre and woodwork repairs, which is good, and being in sheltered water lets me finish off the paintwork on these more easily too, so the job list is shrinking almost but not quite as fast as it grows.
Looks like we'll be in Rodney Bay for a few more days yet. There's worse places, I guess. We'll just stay here as long as it takes and sample a wider variety of rum punch.
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