Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bequia to Rodney Bay Jan/Feb 2007

Picture: Using the dinghy to propel RAFT

We were motor sailing along the northwest coast of St. Vincent, when the high temperature alarm started screaming. About the same time the wind had picked up, so once again we became a sailboat. Bev on the helm in 20 knots of wind, mostly close hauled we were making good time toward St. Lucia. Ross put on his mechanic’s hat, to search out the source of the alarm. He expected a water pump issue, and determined it was the Yanmar engine one, (not the cooling system pump) but it was not the impellar, instead the pulley had sheared off the shaft. Ross had seen replacement pulleys in Budget Marine (Grenada) and had a fleeting thought about getting a spare, but hadn’t, and now Murphy’s law was haunting us. (If you have a spare, the original won’t break)
But RAFT was sailing in the right direction, and quite quickly the Pitons were coming into view. We weren’t concerned until four miles southwest of the Pitons, the wind died right down, we were becalmed and the current was moving us toward Mexico. So close, but we can’t sail, and we can’t motor…..or could we. Down went the dinghy and it became a tug. Lucas, one of the boat boys from Soufriere came out to see what we were up to, and stayed with us for the entire 3 hours that it took to get into the harbour where he helped us get onto a mooring ball. It was a comfort knowing he was behind us all the way.
Next day, Ross was off early, to get the bus to Rodney Bay, where he hoped he could buy a new pulley. That was not possible but he was able to get a welder to repair the existing one, and once again we were in the motoring business. Can’t have a cold beer but at least we can make our way to Rodney Bay where we hope we can get the fridge fixed.
We had skipped Rodney Bay on our way south, so we were off to new territories. But getting the fridge running was highest on the priorities. After 3 days, and visits from 2 refrig technicians, we decided to bite the bullet and go for a new system. Fortunately Island Water World here has everything in stock and the price was acceptable. Ross decided to use one of the techs, to extend the piping so he could locate the new compressor in the same position as the old one. (the new kits don’t come with sufficient copper pipe). We figured, that if Ross took out the old system, and installed most of the new one, it shouldn’t take the tech very long to put in the longer pipe and recharge the system. How could we forget about Island Time!! The tech didn’t weigh out the R134A gas (as Bev’s brother had done on the old system) he prefers to slowly, and we mean slowly, add the gas while he talks about everything and bill you by the hour.
Ross of course, sat with him for the entire process, trying to learn as much as possible about the new gas and its properties. He didn’t think that there was enough gas in the system and when water hadn’t froze the next morning, we called him back. To his credit, he cheerfully returned and spent another afternoon slowly adding gas, but at least we were not charged for the second session. Still our time in Rodney Bay is wreaking havoc on our cruising budget.
So now, we have a new refridge system, chocked full of meat and we need to get to Martinique, as Ross’s parents are arriving there next week. But the winds and seas intend for us to stay a couple more days in St. Lucia. Now it is time for exploring. We went by dinghy out to Pigeon Island intending to climb to the fort, until we found out it was $5 US per person to sweat our way to the top. Did I mention that the cruising kitty is dry!! So we walked the beautiful Redoit Beach instead and had a cold beer for less than the admission to the National Park.
Picture: Square rigger used as Black Pearl in Pirates of Caribbean -- stationed in Rodney Bay

Next day, we took the local bus to Dennery. Why? Just to see the other side of the island. Dennery is a small fishing village that doesn’t get many tourists, and the locals are happy to see some. The bus trip over took us through the banana plantations, up into the rain forests, towering high over deep valleys, before bringing us back to sea level. Really there is not much to see in Dennery, but the bus only costs 4EC from Castries and we had a good time.