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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our Last Chick Flew the Coop!

Morgan headed back to San Diego on Monday, leaving us behind with nary a backwards glance...happy to be off to the real world :)  I think she was most ready to get home, so she could celebrate her 21st Birthday with all of her friends (and her brother).  Somehow, spending a milestone like your 21st with your parents lacks a bit of the "fun factor" that such an occasion warrants....we gave it our best effort, however.  We hopped a bus to Castries, where we spent a couple of hours wandering about the market and town.  Morgan was able to finish her "gifts for friends shopping".  Not sure what makes Castries a good cruise ship stop, as it was not a very inviting place, but we have fun wherever we go, so no harm, no foul:)   Morgan's first official, legal, drink was a frosty, blended concoction of  Baileys, Amaretto, Spiced Rum, and Coconut Cream, with a lovely swirl of chocolate. 

Notice the Twinkle in Her Eye....
I waited until she finished it before I told her that every ingredient in it was alcoholic.....she was tad bit horrified!  Then it was back to the bus stop & off to Rodney Bay.  We arrived just in time for the heavens to open up, so we ducked into Cafe Xavier for a snack; the Honey BBQ Chicken Wings were quite tasty!  Morgan had her second legal drink there, a very pretty Blue Kamikaze (Just the name brings back some interesting memories, but that is a different story....) that she did not like at all, so Bill & I came to the rescue and finished it for her. 

The Blue Kamikaze
Unfortunately for Morgan, the Patriots game coincided with her Birthday, so after I made her Birthday dinner (Cream of Shrimp Pasta) we headed up to Bosun's to catch the game.  She lasted about a quarter, before bidding us adieu. To compensate, we stopped at Elena's on the way back to the boat (Go Pats!) and got her a big Coffee Gelato.  She was happy :)

No more people on the boat meant back to work for Bill & I.  Our "to do" list is fairly lengthy, with plenty to keep us occupied for while.   Number one on the was tunes, and it took Bill three days to get the new radio and speakers all wired up....but for the first time in a year, we have music that we don't have to turn  the computer on to listen to-yay!  

Sometimes You Need To Make a Mess First

Before You Reap The Reward!
Our toe rails took a beating during Mañana's time on the hard, and clearly needed to be sanded down to bare wood, the redone.  Since we had already done this ourselves once, knew how much time it takes to do properly, and had so many other things to do, we contracted this job out.  Kelly had a few tricks up his sleeve, and the toe rails look great!  Now, he gets to polish the hull :)

Meanwhile, Bill moves on to the new alarm system he is installing: a dang fancy thing, if I do say so myself! It will have pressure sensors on the deck and in the cockpit, which will turn on deck lights & sound an alarm if anyone steps on the deck (Forward, Sides, or Aft).  Hopefully deterring any would-be intruder before they get too far, and send them running...

All this, and a myriad of small jobs, will keep us busy for another 4 or 5 days, but our plan is to be Martinique bound by Monday, January  21st.

We shall see.....
I had to add these last two random pictures that I took-the first was taken from our dockside table in Castries (too funny!) and the second was on the way to the airport.
Cruise Ship Dock Line Guard in Castries
The Blue Bags Keep The Bugs & Birds Away
We passed grove after grove of Banana trees, and most has these bags over the Bananas...can't imagine having to bag each bunch by hand, day after day!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Adventures in Dining & Christmas Winds

Dining out here in the islands can be quite interesting at times. Some dishes are unique to each locale,  and some  share common roots, such as Saltfish Accra, Ground Provision, Roti, and Pelau.  I try as many as I dare (I am often accused of being a wee bit perspicacious....but I am not nearly as bad as some think!) and find I enjoy many (Goat Stew is a winner), and downright detest a few. (Saltfish Accra takes top award in this category)  Every chef puts their own spin on things as well, so you are never quite sure exactly what will show up to the table, even when ordering what appears to be a familiar dish-take for example, our dinner last night:  Bill ordered Fish Roti, and I ordered Chicken Roti. Roti is a curry dish that arrives wrapped in a "skin" and looks like a big burrito.  We both dig in happily and munch away for a minute or two, and then Bill asks (with a puzzled expression) "Did you get the Fish?" I contemplate this for a moment, because honestly, if they had used Tuna in the Roti, it could taste pretty darn meaty...and then tell him, nope, pretty sure it's the chicken.  We go back and forth for another minute or two, and then decide to switch meals, as maybe I did, in fact, get the Fish.  I take two bites, realize that my original plate was the correct one, and want my dinner back.  Why the confusion?  This particular restaurant deep fried the fish before sticking it in the Roti, which made it seem an awfully lot like they used leftover chicken fingers in it...and, again, Tuna is a pretty darn meaty fish!  So we swap again. Of course, Bill ends up having some of mine anyway, since I can rarely finish my plate :)

How does this relate to the Christmas Winds?  The Christmas Winds are what locals call the sporadic, high gusty winds (25-35+ knots) that can kick up in the winter months, typically in late December and January.  The wind can last for days, and can really drive up some big waves over time... making passages interesting, to say the least.  Rain may or may not accompany the wind.  The last week or so here on Saint Lucia has been pretty wild, so we spend a lot of time opening and closing hatches as the wind and rain drive through!  It is amazing how loud the wind is; you can hear it long before it reaches you, as it starts literally roaring down out of the hills.  Think of a train speeding towards you, getting louder and louder as it closes in.  When it finally hits the boat, you can hear everything creaking and groaning as the boat strains against the dock lines, sailing about in the slip.  The backstays "sing" as they vibrate, making interesting pinging, almost whooping noises (ever heard the sound sheets of tin make when you wobble them?) and the entire vessel shudders and sways.  Any line, halyard, or other potentially airborne item not securely fastened down (on any boat in the Marina!) will bang about, adding more noise to the already cacophonous din.  Sleep much?  Nah. Not really.  But hey, living the life, right? *Laughing*  Fortunately, this is not a long term thing, and makes for great story telling!  Anyway, getting back to how this relates to Adventures in Dining...

With only spotty periods of sunny weather, getting off the boat to do things has been a bit of a challenge, so dashing into the Marina during breaks in the weather for a meal out has been pretty much our only time off the boat in the last couple of days....the good news?  We are getting lots of "boat projects" done, and Morgan discovered the Gelato at Elena's Cafe Italiano-yum!  We also found that The Bread Basket makes good sandwiches for lunch, while the Ocean Club has the best Happy Hour, and the Pizza joint (part of Elena's) is outstanding!  Who could ask for more?

Saturday, we are taking the bus into Castries, the capitol of Saint Lucia, so we will soon have more adventures to report....


Sunday, January 6, 2013

All good things must come to an end

We spent Ryan's last day relaxing on lounge chairs at Reduit Beach.  The surf was up, and it was highly entertaining to watch people get rolled unexpectedly!  You would think that folks would learn from the mistakes of others, but that didn't happen on this particular day...

Living the Life...

Morgan Contemplates Her Entrance Strategy    
Bill, Ryan & Morgan Enjoy the Waves
Ryan was scheduled on an afternoon flight back to the States, so we decided to make a day out of our trip to the airport, as it is located about an hour and a half away on the southern end of the island.  We left at 11 am, and managed to see a fair bit of the island on our way; we went through Castries, the capitol (and the main cruise ship port), wound up through the rain forest (yes, it rained!), stopped at the top of the island (overlooking Point Dennery & the Atlantic Ocean), passed Banana groves, and saw how very different the East & West  sides of the island are. 

Point Dennery Overlook
Despite our "tour", we arrived at the airport early, so grabbed lunch in the restaurant.  Ryan, looking forward to home & his own comfy bed, left us with hardly a backward glance-his words were something along the lines of "I love you, but I am really ready to sleep in my own bed!"....and off he went.  Love you  too, Bubs! 

Old Mill Works at Fond D'Or
On our way back to Rodney Bay, we decided to stop at Fond D'Or, the site of a former Sugar Mill, now a national Heritage Site and Nature Preserve. Our guide, Paul, was quite an interesting gent, with a rather unique array of facial tattoos.  He gave a very animated tour of the property, and was veritable font of information-just we were looking for!  I am going to paraphrase a bit of the information I looked up on the internet (found here), to add to what we learned from our guide, as we had a very abbreviated tour: 

Entrance to the Boiling Room
Nestled in the heart of Mabouya Valley on the east coast of St. Lucia, the beautiful Fond D'Or Nature Reserve and Heritage Park is steeped in history, culture and mythology. The park was first settled by the island’s indigenous inhabitants, and was later used by European sugar planters to establish a sugar cane plantation.  Various historic plantation buildings dating between the 17th and 19th centuries are located here, including the ruins of two cattle mills, a windmill, boiling house, steam mill and various other relics.

Fond D'Or Nature Reserve is renowned for its natural beauty, and you will discover many hidden gems during your walk. Following a hiking trail through an estuarine tropical forest, mangroves and dry scrub woodlands, you will see various flora and fauna. The trail ends at a secluded, white sandy beach, which is a nesting site for leatherback turtles each year between April and October.

Inside the Strangling Fig Tree
I took some beautiful pictures (if I do say so myself) of the ruins, and also got a nice shot of the resident Boa Constrictor resting on his tree branch...I will remember to look up for nasty surprises from now on!  Our guide informed us that in all of his years at Fond d'Or, he has never seen a poisonous fer de lance (snake, in patois) on the grounds, as the Boa likes to eat them, along with the occasional Opossum and other critters.  

Boa on His Branch
Back in the day, the Sugar Mill was run using the indigenous people as slave labor, which, for obvious reasons, was not very popular.  Local lore says the slaves, in an effort to escape, retreated deep into the Rain Forest.  The Mill owners brought poisonous snakes to the island and released them into the wild, to kill the slaves.  After a few years, the snakes became such scourge, that Mongoose were imported to kill them....unfortunately, as is often the case, the Mongoose became a problem!  Never seems to be a good idea to introduce non-native species to ones environment....

The Preserve is also a venue for Weddings, various events, and the home of the annual St. Lucia Jazz Festival.  A worthy stop☺

Then it was back into the taxi and headed "home" to Mañana.  We are planning a day trip to Castries soon, so, as always,

We'll keep you posted ♥

Run to Rodney

Our trip up to Rodney Bay was a tad rough.  We had 4-6 foot seas, with an occasional 8 footer, so we were doing a fair amount of bouncing about.  Of course, Ryan and Morgan managed to sleep through a lot of it!  We even had a couple of minor casualties; lost our boat hook overboard at some point, after one of the many waves swept over the bow, and most heinously, our coffee maker took a header, breaking into many pieces!.  We normally remember to stow the boat hook AND the coffee maker, but alas, failed miserably this time. *Hanging heads in shame*  A new boat hook will be procured during our next chandlery run.  As for the coffee maker, I reassembled the parts that could be assembled, and glued the rest.  Time will tell whether this was an adequate fix, or if we will be shopping for a new one....

Rain over St. Lucia
Our intrepid Captain decided to try a new docking technique, so the scurvy crew was given a lesson on proper procedures shortly before our arrival at Rodney bay Marina.  As we pulled up to the dock, we all assumed our positions, and while it was not the most perfect entrance the dock boys had ever seen, Mañana was soon tucked safely into her slip.  Success!  The docking program Bill bought might actually be helpful :)

Our New Years Eve was spent at the Ocean Club (the Big Ass Fan place mentioned in a previous blog), where we had a late dinner and enjoyed some music.  There was a band scheduled after dinner hour, but if they were there, we never saw or heard them!  The duo that preceded them was entertaining, though....I never know there so many pop tunes you could turn into Reggae!

Our Dinner Guest
Then we moseyed off to watch the fireworks, of which there were five different displays to see, all viewed from the deck of the boat.  The people just down the way in Gros Islet sent up lit paper lanterns, something I have only seen in movies-very cool! I would not recommend sending up those lanterns in populated (or high fire danger) areas, however, as it would be impossible to predict where they will land, and whether they will still be smoldering when they do....headed out to sea, though, they were pretty spectacular! A good start to the new year ☺