Monday, July 26, 2010

The Pitons and the hassle of Boat boys

I’ve made my way from Rodney Bay on the north end of St. Lucia to Vieux Fort on the Southern end over the course of 3 day-sails. Short sails are preferable for me while I’m still having to sail alone without any steering aid. This will change in Grenada, as the steering gear is being produced in Canada now and will meet me there.

Much of this coast is a National Park, The Pitons, which is supposed to be beautiful. Unfortunately they don’t allow anchoring along the coast, so I enjoyed the beauty of the mountains from the comfort of my yacht as I sailed past, which is just fine for me. They want you to pay for moorings instead of using your anchor, and being forced to hand over cash always rubs me the wrong way. Everyone on these islands wants to squeeze you for cash, it’s getting tiresome. Even at anchor, twice a day I have to come topside and say to some boat vendor “no, I don’t want to buy any bananas.” Imagine having door to door salesmen come to your house or office twice a day.

My guidebook listed an exception to the no-anchoring rule, there is a restaurant that you can anchor in front of from 1800 to 0600. That’s exactly what I did on Friday night. A mile offshore, a local boat came at me full speed, and the boy at the wheel insisted he would take me to a mooring. You have to tell these people “no thank you” 15 times before they start to get the hint. Even if I did want a mooring, I really don’t need help picking up a line out of the water and cleating it off on deck. I motored to the restaurant, with the boy motoring beside me, getting more and more angry at me as I insisted I didn’t need his help nor a mooring ball. “The rules changed, you can’t do that, I know the rules! I’m going to tell the police!” “If the rule’s really changed, I’ll find out from an authority and move, but you want my money, yes? So no offense, but I don’t trust what you have to say.” He didn’t like that so much. I let Lexi sleep up on deck to alert me of any trouble that night, but left without incident at 0700.

I must say I’m “over” the Caribbean. The locals; many are kind, but just as many are pushy and aggressive, begging, drugs, and theft are rampant. Some other boats told me the only reason I haven’t had any “night-time visits” yet is because I have the dog aboard. Now I’m really glad I brought her. By next week I’ll be in Grenada, I will have sailed the entire Caribe! In September I’ll venture out into the Atlantic and cut back west to Brazil. I’m pretty excited to get to South America, especially to Argentina and Chile.

I can’t deny though, these islands are beautiful. Vieux Fort has one of the coolest beaches I’ve seen and the it is an excellent spot for kitesurfing, which I’m taking advantage of.

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