Saint Lucia was the crossroads of major events. Here there is, on the one hand ended the second stage Meermowe Great Adventure, our first trans-atlantic crossing across the Atlantic, while on the other hand, it is the door opened for new challenges of another marine wastelands called Pacific. All our senses are poured into the pride that gave us the strength to continue and indescribable happiness eagerly anticipated encounter with our son Pedja and his beautiful partner, our dear Marika.
Journey to the Rodney Bay Marina was a mix of sailing passion, defiance and love of the sea, as well as the struggle for survival. Using stern winds, most of times we sailed part sails in a butterfly with the help of tangun. With enhanced wind and waves the first half of the travel was with no problems. The greatest thrill of why our heart almost jumped out of the chest, prepared us a huge fish that are caught on the hook, but unfortunately, with all the effort that the drag closer to the boat, we had no chance to draw it out. By all accounts, it was not a goldfish with three wishes, what it would she fulfilled if we would take her off from the menu. Rather than compromise, the monster began with all his strength haul nylon so fast until it was unrolled to the end and disappeared into the sea. In Peter’s hand is steyed only an empty reel. While we are confused and in disbelief looked at each other, we were able to say just WOW!! Can you believe it! We still very often talk about that fish as about the great secret without answer, which only the sea knows.
As the days passed, slowly we approached Saint Lucia. Weather conditions were rapidly changed. While the waves, like a monster, rised to the height of solar panels on the stern, hiding us from the horizon of other ships, the wind was blowing in some places up to 46 Beaufort. So descending down the waves in the evening, along with the sunsets, it seemed to perish in the fiery chasm of hell. It was a complicated part of the trip accompanied by problems that were popping in front of us like rabbits out of a hat. Many enjoyments have been replaced with duties and increased activities on the board. Six days prior to entering into Rodney Bay broke us the pin that connects the hydraulic cylinder automatic pilot with helm. We had to react quickly, take the helm and steer manually, which can not have been easy. Struggling with the enormous power of the waves and the wind, which caused muscle pain in the arms and back, we took turns every two hours. Original spare part we did not have, so we quickly thought about what to do. We still had two hours until dusk. I was not doubted Peter’s ingenuity and resourcefulness. While he is in the lower deck turned over the things, the lamp was turned on. With great hope and smile on his face he climbed into the cockpit carrying two new debt replacement screws. Wasting no time, regardless of the rolling and the risk of injury, my husband crawled into the back bunker. During this time I managed the boat and played the apprentice of Hlapich, adding a tool that he is sought. The operation was successful, the green light came on and the automatic pilot was again brought back to life. Now, it was only a matter of time and the uncertainty of whether and how long this screw will withstand the pressure. Everything that we had that moment was the belief in the soul and happiness in our hearts while we are together with Meermowe sunk into the dark not knowing what awaits us during the night.
Even as a little girl, the December long winter evenings in Split, I enjoyed get wet my feet in a basin with warm water, eat hot fritters, which is only mother knew to do and watch a good movie. I did not think that I’would have this image in my mind during the night when I got up to check whether everything is okay. Stepping into the salon legs were found in the water just like in the basin. The shock that I experienced bounced off the cold water and like a boomerang has alerted my brain systems I turned on the lights, immediately called my husband and by testing the water we found out that it was a drinking water, wich was somewhere widely seeped. Sink in the kitchen was the first of our investigation. When I opened the closet door, I had what I see. Through the cracked pipe was gushing water. Excluding water pump to supply water from the reservoir, we were able to stop the further influx of water. Great luck was the fact that the water had not poured in the rooms. Knocking out carpets onto the cockpit, we immediately began to pump water and dry space. In the meantime, we controlled the work of the automatic pilot and endurance of the screw. As the wind and sea mercilessly toyed with us, with minimal intervention all worked flawlessly. Morning has long arrived when we, along with the smell of coffee, sat in the cockpit to relax and rest. Just at that moment through my senses came the wonderful smell of warm fritters and who knows what would still remembered that I did not flinch at the seriousness of Peter’s voice.
That life resembles a mexican and spanish soap operas, serials without end, Rosa Salvahe, Emperatriz or Slave of Love ……., was demonstrated by the new mysterious episode whose solution we did not know where to look. Bow left cabin was completely wet as if we had a shower in it. With all this madness, I remembered the song “Shipwrecked”, which I began to hum while we browsed through all the potential sites that would eventually penetrated water. The song is very funny, and most importantly, has brought a lot of laughter and teasing among us. Since we did not find anything, we were left with only one solution, take off our decorative tapicirung from the wall, which was a real hit. Behind upholstery were hid the clutch to drain water out using bilch pump. Hose through which we were pumping water out of the salon and “thrown out into the sea”, it was separated from the coupling and hung in the air, so that the pumped water poured into the room, BINGO. We looked through the hole right into the sea as out the window on the island of Solta, through which the waves were also penetrated into the space. We immediately attached the hose to the coupler and secure it well. Everything happened as if in a bad dream, accepting the fact that there is always worse from worse. Once again, firmness and perseverance in achieving our dream life, have helped us to overcome everything that got in the way before us. Seeing the land of Saint Lucia, full of pride and happiness, our great success decent we celebrated with a glass of champagne.
In Rodney Bay Marina, which was the ultimate goal of our trip, we sailed in the early hours of the morning, where we were, after 2150 nm welcomed by the sound of ship sirens, cold rum punch and a large number of crew members, our friends, with other boats. Wonderful ARC staff handed us a large representative basket of tropical fruit with a bottle of the original rum. The comforts of meeting was also contributed to this guy of bright colors, who also welcomed us and wished comfortable stay on the island.
Saint Lucia is a beautiful and peaceful island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the crystal blue Caribbean Sea on the other. Life on the island is a relaxing at a slow pace while the locals very hospitable. Volcanic in origin while the climate and the natural beauty of wooded mountains, which stretch its entire length, described as a tropical paradise. The first inhabitants were the Arawak Indians, and was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse by the French, first inhabited by Europeans.
Due to the Christmas and New Year holidays, which were getting closer as well as Pedja’s and Marika’s arrival, time to waste really is not any, the more so we have to, to their arrival, along with repair the rudder and welding the fence, clean and washed the boat then inspect and prepare all for further journey. A list task by priority has already been made. Because of the bad experience with hydraulic automatic steering mechanism, we also decided to install automatic pilot to wind ordered from England, which it has, during further trip, proved to be the best and most valuable toy on board.
Rodney Bay is a small town with very organized shopping centers away from the marina for about fifteen minutes. On the way to the grocery store is Medical School and Aquatic Center. Chain of restaurants and cafes stretches along the marina, while every Saturday there is the market of fruit and vegetable as well as souvenirs and clothing. Everything is very expensive but the bargain purchase can be done at half the price. In those days was celebrated the National Day. The evening before it was held the National Festival of Lights in honor of Saint Lucia. That night, with quiet music and undertone singing, ceremonial procession slowly moved from ships passing through the docks of the marina, carrying on his head decorative lights and illuminated boxes of seafood, followed by fireworks. Sitting in the cockpit we enjoyed this unusual and very interesting scene.
The international airport is located in the south of Saint Lucia, Vieux Fort. It is an hour and a half away by car. Rodney Bay we left by taxi for four hours before landing, with the intention that, by the way, we visit some of the popular attractions of this part of the island. The road that we drove, led by the shore and even a little bit is not resembled motorway. It was very bumpy, winding and full of holes. We drove up and down through the mountain range and enjoy the view on small quiet villages, fertile fields of mango and avocado and everything that makes this world so different. Many houses were built of wood and corrugated metal sheets.
The first lookout point, at which we stopped, offered a view on Marigot Bay, the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean, where was filmed the original “Dr. Dolittle” movie with Rex Harrison in the lead role. This pristine beauty is certainly far more than the holidays for eyes. Most of the population of Saint Lucia is from Africa or is of mixed African origin with deeply etched history of slavery. Their hairstyles, way of dressing and noble qualities that adorn them, largely seem them interesting and different, therefore I was photographed them with particular interest to bring them closer to all of you who sail with us through Meermowe’s Great Adventure. How the way led us all to the south, the road was becoming busier. Soufriere, at the time of French rule, the capital city of Saint Lucia, now a small fishing village, is situated in the beautiful bay at the foot of two volcanic massifs. Twins Pitons, as they are popularly called, are volcanic ranges that rise directly from the sea and are a World Heritage of Island. Covered with trees and lush vegetation while its base is rich with coral gardens. Of course, we did not miss the opportunity to visit the Diamond Waterfalls and Botanical Garden. Our time passed quickly in the pleasant company of our friend the taxi-driver. Approaching the airport excitement was increasingly growing. Flights from Atlanta landed on time. Meeting with Pedja and Marika was more than cordial and happiness knew no bounds. In Rodney Bay we returned by new road that led us to the eastern coast of the island. It was nearly eight o’clock in the evening when we arrived at the boat and with the tray full of creme-pie we welcomed the new crew of the ship Meermowe.
Wasting no time, I helped Marika to accommodate the cab and after dinner we went to bed. A visit to Castrie, the capital of St Lucia, was a treasure trove of events. The bus stop was located near the marina. Old, rusty and musty vans, with no timetable, full of people, were driving every five minute. Some of them appeared to be ramshackled and seemed as though they would fall apart before arrivel to our destination. In less than an hour we stood near the main market, between Peynier and Jeremie streets that make up the heart of the city. Due to poverty and poor living conditions that characterize it, Castries is an energetic city beautiful colonial architecture which is dominated by vivid colors and smells of food. Finding in one of such environments together with Pedja and Marika is realy great experience and enjoyment. Great Market Hall was the first place that we have peeked into. From the abundance of handicrafts, garments and paintings that surrounded us, our crew is most enjoyed in its main attraction, the food. Luckily, they were not interested in buying eggs, otherwise we should, guarantee, and a peek into the chicken coop. From a large selection of Caribbean exotic spices, opted for medium spicy yellow sauce with peppers, from which my mouth and tongue were hot that I could play the roll of dinosaur Dino. It was unthinkable to leave this place and do not buy very tasty plunger coffee and Cuban cigars. Castries has a number of restaurants. With popular dishes made from fresh fish and lobster can be found and chicken dishes, pot stew and callaloo. The street food as well as and dirty and unsanitary holes filled with aluminum cookware, in which food are prepared, can be delicious and also served as in restaurants, although it does not look like that. We passed these narrow streets full of scents and tables, as Pedja says “if it’s more black and miserable that would be better because it is only way to experience the city.” At the end of the street we sat at the table of a small “restaurant” to kill thirst. While we waited for the order drinks, we ordered, Pedja went to the toilet. After a long time, we saw him in a hurry toward the fence and laughing to tears, carrying an enormous bucket to grabbed seawater over the fence and washed after using the toilet. “Do it yourself” system has always provided great satisfaction. The toilet was so unsightly and small that everything what could fit in, was the toilet bowl and that bucket. We choked with laughter looking at him, while the owner of the restaurant deeply thanked him. If we had a little bit more rest, “enjoying the city’s soul,” he might offer him the job, you never know. Wherever he goes, Pedja has alwalys something funny to happen, it was only a matter of time. The hours passed quickly in a pleasant chat and laughter.
The old town is full of interesting things. Picturesque streets are full of people, while Derek Walcott Square is decorated with colorful buildings and borders the largest church in the Caribbean, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Interior of the cathedral is dominated by paintings by local artists. Life city also gives cheerful rhythm of the songs performed by street singers. Late afternoon, happy, tired and cooked from the heat, squeeze we drove into the van to Rodney Bay. On the way to the place we passed local airport whose runway extends close to the cemetery. What enjoyment!! We got off the bus in the center of Rodney Bay with the intention to buy a few things for the boat. Before the entrance to the supermarket, black guy who was bearing the shirt of the Croatian national football team, attracted us. No, we were not dreaming, the
national shirt with red and white cubes in the Caribbean, it was a surprise miracle. The guy was cool. Jersey got from his friend from Croatian and was delighted to take a picture with us. The world indeed seems to be less than we can imagine. With several bags in hands we returned to the ship.
The next morning, we set sail for Martinique, French paradise in the Caribbean. The weather was hot and windy. Marika was outstanding sailor. She quickly learned all the jobs on the boat. While Pedja enjoyed the role of skipper, she was our little from deck. With great pleasure I watched how she worked with ropes, preparing the fenders, lowered and lifted anchor and with the same passion and a smile on the face was scrubbing the deck, which is, certainly not strode past. Palm trees, volcanoes, french bread baguette and a croissant filled with chocolate, about which Marika was dreaming since arrival, certainly is definition of this modern and elegant island. It abounds in beautiful beaches, turquoise sea, distinctive vegetation and friendly residents. The island was discovered by Christofor Columbo, while Saint-Pierre, first established a settlement on the island, birthplace of Napoleon’s wife Josephine. In the distant past here lived cannibals called “Wicked Caribbean”. Using crosswind, Meermowe carried us with wind full sails on the course to the capital Fort-de-France and the corresponding Marina Poudrier, about 40 miles away from Rodney Bay. Rough sea and strong wind were disturbed our sailor and spoil her biorhythm and after a slight vomit, she looked like a canary Leopold in the run from the cat Tom, so the salvation was found in the bed where she’d rather dream about croissants. In the marina we sailed in the afternoon. Scrubbing the deck and landscaping ship was more effective than rum and our navigator came back to life.
Fort-de-France is a commercial center and largest city in Martinique. It is located at the end of a huge bay. Colonial narrow “gallery” streets characterize it. Wrought iron balconies, attractive fortress, Cathedral of Saint-Louis and Schoelcher Library, reveal the historical, while flowers decorated Savannah Park, romantic atmosphere. Already the next morning, we drove a taxi to the city center and followed up on the morning of seductive scents that spread from the bakery. Our infallible compass led us right to the original french croissants, mmmmmm … filled with chocolate. By the way, we bought two baquettes, which we planned to bring to the boat what was remained just a theory. Like gingerbread, they were simply melted in the mouth. We bought a few items in the shopping center, and headed back with the intention to sail to the bay on the other side, where we anchored. The beach that had stretched some distance from the ship, was simply attracted us, so Marika and I were decided to swim that part while Pedja has followed us by dinghy. We felt like on Hawaii. The warm sea and white sand are completely conquered us. While Pedja and Marika enjoyed in their own little world I watched the turtles at the bottom of the sea and emerged a beautiful starfish. Enjoyment and happiness knew no bounds as well as comedy and laugh as much as you like when was Pedja taught Marika drive dinghy. She was hurtling rapidly as Nicki Lauder in Formula 1, leaving a large furrow. Where they went no more turtle was gone. It is wonderful to have them on board, Peter and I were thought happily. Christmas was celebrated with a gala dinner, drinks and cake, enjoying the romantic sounds of the saxophone. With lunch in the restaurant the next day, we planned our further journey to the far south of the island, in Le Marin. At anchorage of Marine Le Marin, we sailed late in the afternoon where we decided to spend the night. Left to fishing pleasures, my husband is, that night was speed caught 12 fish the size of 250 grams. Serial were coming out one after another, as if they are competing which will take the bait before. We are all looked forward to tomorrow’s lunch, which was finger licking. New Year, we welcome on board in a happy and singable atmosphere. Loud music, which echoed from Meermowea, attracted the neighboring sailors who were passing by, peering at us ship in curiosity to see what was happening. Marika and I danced until two hours after midnight, after which we went to sleep.
A seductive charm of the surrounding hills have inspired us, the next morning, rented a car and take a peek into their interior. A winding road led us through small picturesque villages, Gros-Morne, Saint-Joseph and Ducos, suitable for the cultivation of pineapple plantations, whose fields stretch as far as the sea, sugar cane and bananas. While the mountains are covered with tropical forests, the coast is decorated with beautiful bays. City of La Trinite extends to Caravelle peninsula and is the most beautiful part of the island of Martinique. On the way back we stopped in the small town of Sainte-Anne, which simply exudes french charm, to enjoy his most famous and one of, arguably, the most beautiful beaches in the Western Indis, Les Salines. We simply were melted like ice cream in the sun in this divine and romantic scene.
A visit to the Island of Martinique we ended up going to the diving, which was the crown of our tour. At that moment, I wished that time stops. It was the experience and excitement that will be long remembered. The next morning we set sail from the marina and a short time, we stayed close to one of the nearby beaches for a bit more swimming and enjoyment in the sea, after which
we left the island and sailed to Saint Lucia. In Rodney Bay we sailed in the afternoon. It was dawned the day of parting of our crew. It was difficult for us to look at their backs, while the taxi drove to the airport and increasingly more disappeared from our sight. Time spent with Pedja and Marika was, believe me, far more than this post. Upon returning to the ship, we continued with preparations for our next destination. Still we were only four days separated from start to Santa Marta in Columbia.