Sunday, April 2, 2017

1980 (12) - St. Lucia

The Pitons, St. Lucia - Internet photo.

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

The next morning, with a favorable wind, we again headed for St. Lucia.  Tropic Moon was pointed southwest, with a southeast wind.  We had a beautiful beam reach, doing the 25 miles in 4-1/2 hours.  We sailed to Castries, the capital of St. Lucia.  Our anchorage was outside of town at the St. Lucia Yacht Services in Vigie Cove.  It was a Friday afternoon, so we hurried by taxi into Castries to take care of our business.  When a boat plans to stay at an island less than 72 hours, it can be cleared in and out of customs at the same time. 

Our afternoon in Castries was a good example of what it was like to take Ed anywhere.  By the time we finished at Customs, Ed was already limping.  We went a block down the street to American Express.  Ed plopped in a chair to massage his leg, while I took care of getting more travelers checks.  We then walked a couple blocks to a large department store.  I was picking out Mother’s Day cards; when I looked around, Ed was on the floor.  We moved to the book section, shopping for paperbacks, and did our selecting with Ed scanning the lower shelves from the floor.

The next stop was the supermarket.  I left Ed sitting on the front steps, writing out the Mother’s Day cards, while I did the shopping.  When I came out of the store, I piled the groceries around Ed.  He waited there while I walked to the post office.  I got there just after it closed, but ran into a helpful postal employee.  He told me about a stamp machine in the wall, and explained that 50 cents in local stamps would send a letter, airmail, to the States.  I fed quarters (EC currency) into the stamp machine – and emptied it.  I ended up with only two stamps – enough to mail one card.  The man came up to me, and I told him my problem.  I had two Mother’s Day cards to mail, one to my mother, and one to my mother-in-law, and could only mail one.  Which one should I send?  He threw up his hands, as if indicating this was a problem too difficult even for Solomon.  I opted to mail the card to my mother-in-law.  I explained I was on a sailboat leaving the island.  I asked him if he’d post the other card for me on Monday.  I gave him the card, and the fifty cents.  (Both Moms received their cards.) 

I headed back to Ed, and babysat the groceries, while he hobbled across the street to a hardware store.  A taxi driver had his eye on us.  When Ed came out of the store, we took the taxi back to Vigie Cove.

The motor yacht, Kalizma (Elizabeth Taylor’s old boat), was also anchored in Vigie Cove.  We talked with Sam, the boat’s agent.  We asked about Jonathan, Kalizma’s first mate, whom we’d known in Grenada.  Sam told us that Jonathan had died in a scuba diving accident, at the Pitons, on Easter Sunday.  Altogether, I think we heard three different versions of Jonathan’s death, but it seems he dove with only half a tank of air, and ran out.  He either suffocated, or had a heart attack, or maybe both go together.  As Sam said, the women were all crying - Jonathan was quite the lady’s man.  Jonathan’s body was sent to Trinidad, to be cremated, but then the government in Trinidad refused to release the ashes.  We gathered that the Trinidad folk didn’t like white South Africans, and claimed there was some problem with the passport….  A couple months later, we heard that Sam was still faring, unsuccessfully, in getting Jonathan’s ashes back from Trinidad.


The only stop, other than Castries, that we had planned for St. Lucia was a visit to the Pitons.  We sailed there the next day.  The Pitons are a famous tourist attraction.  They’re a pair of impressive mountains, nearly 2700 feet high.  They seem to rise almost vertically when you’re close under them.  The bay, Anse de Piton, is tucked between the two peaks.  The water in the bay is very deep.  The method of anchoring is to go up close to the shore, drop the anchor, and swing the boat around, backing in, to tie a stern line to a palm tree on shore.  Some local kids were earning money by taking stern lines and tying them to palm trees.  We had two helpful young fellows who, when asked, provided their own version of Jonathan’s death.

Normally, Anse de Piton would have been packed with sailboats, anchored side by side.  But, as it was race week up north in Antigua, there were a total of three boats there that night.  Winds howled eerily down the mountain and through the bay.  I was very uncomfortable there.  While standing on deck that night, I felt like someone was looking over my shoulder.  I quickly turned, but only saw the dark mountain looming above me.  Perhaps it was the thought of Jonathan dying there that had me spooked.  I was very glad to leave the next morning.  We took several slides of the Pitons, but none of them came out.  The battery on our light meter also died at the Pitons.  Those were the only pictures from our travels that we lost.

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