St Lucia ... Martinique

St Lucia at a Glance
Market Haul
Anchorage at Rodney Bay St Lucia
    We came in to St Lucia to watch the Old Year’s Night fireworks and were not disappointed. Once recovered from the rough sail up and a bit of maintenance on Celebration, we were off exploring. One of the first things for us is always a trip to the local market and St Lucia didn’t let us down. Lynn already mentioned the local food and we found ourselves getting a plate there every Saturday after.

Pitons and Soufriere

Volcano  at Soufriere
Always interesting to us is how many folks travel but fail to see or experience beyond the “touristy” spots. In this way our weekly food plate at the market turned into some great fun. While many tourist types and cruise ship passengers walked through, some even bought crafts and trinkets, we were among the few non-locals buying fruits, vegetables, and eating street food there. In every case we’d be sitting at our favorite vender with people walking by staring at our giant plates while we ate away. Sooner or later one would stop and inquire “Is it good?” or “have you eaten here before?” Our answers of “great” and “yes we eat here every week” would inevitably bring on the “and you feel OK after?” line of questions or the “you’re not from a cruise ship, are you” comments. Not many minutes later the vendor’s tables would be full of non-locals with the food and beer overflowing. Slowly we’d head on our way looking for the bus back or the next street over for another discovery.

Off to Martinique
Wine Tasting

Looking toward Martinique

    Almost a week ago now we left St Lucia and headed north about 25 miles to Martinique. The sail was sporty and the wind from the direction we wanted to go but the trip short so we tacked and tacked, eventually sailing up to the anchorage. We are anchored off of the southeast corner in front of Ste Annes.  The area is beautiful, shopping for wine, cheese and bread is exemplary. Of course as we arrived we saw old friends from other anchorages and we were soon over at s/v Jammin’ (Dave & Helen) for a small wine tasting. All the couples had gone into town and found several low prices bottles/boxes. So that night we each arrived with our new found bargain beverages and proceeded to taste them around the cockpit, compare thoughts, prices, and take thumbs up/down photo’s so we could remember which ones we liked. One of our favorites turned out to be the Grands Prelats Janfort…made even more favored with the $2.01 Euro price.
Anchorage at Ste Annes
So for around $2.67 (US) a nice red for cooking as well as the table. Sure went well with the seafood chowder and great company (Rod & Mary, s/v Sheer Tanacity) last night. So far we are loving Martinique; clean, friendly, great food shopping, beautiful beaches, and the US Dollar/Euro exchange rate is much better than our last visit. If there is a negative it is a distinct lack of free internet. But a coffee at a local shop will allow a connection as part of the bargain. Throw in a couple Pain du Chocolate pastries and it’s just about perfect. Now to get to work on my (currently lack of) French. We could be here a while…


Boat Repairs in Exotic Locations

Orriginal Delco 12si Layout
    Some say that is the true definition of cruising. We heard that many times before leaving on this journey so we tried to keep our systems as simple as possible. Regardless, there is always something. We minimize power consumption as much as possible but we do enjoy a large dose of ice with our small (ahem) dose of rum in the evening. We have a minimum of solar/wind power which usually does fine, but when the engine runs, I want as much power out of it as I can get. I set the plant up with two 100 amp alternators—one for the engine bank and a second for the house bank.  After arriving in the Caribbean heat the house bank was left wanting thus a conversion to a 200 amp for the house bank. The big alternator is built on a Delco 12si case and put out power as advertised. Unfortunately the builder had a smaller non-AGM battery bank and thus good success with the stock diodes. We proceeded to blow out sets of diodes regularly when we taxed the system.  Not good.

Stock rectifier shown but with new
holes already in the case
210 Amp rectifier
Trial Fit
    The fix: I found 210 amp bridge rectifiers specifically designed to “fit” the Delco 12si case and had a couple brought down with Hannah and Cameron. Well “fit” clearly means different things to different folks. Yes they would “fit” in the case and slightly (very slightly) clear the stator and rotor. But they really didn’t “fit” as in none of the holes or electrical connections lined up and lots of in-case mountings and ridges blocked the position. What’s to lose I thought and after some contemplation I busted out the dremel with cutting wheel and went to town. I removed all the pesky ridges and mounting studs, drilled and tapped new mounts, and reset the location of the main power connection. After a bit of aluminum fitting fastened down with JB Weld to provide additional support for the main power stud it all went together. Well almost. I also had to cut off the stock regulator connection so the brush and connections would clear the bridge rectifier. 
Aluminum fitting being "welded" to
case for main power stud
Final Assembly, Close but Functional
     With some trepidation I mounted it, wired it all up and it didn’t work! Aw crap. Bad news, I had to take it apart again, good news, the problem was simple. A small piece of the toothpick I used to retain the brushes during assembly had broken off when I removed it and was still keeping one of the brushes from making contact.  Now loving the power it produces, quickly pushes the bank into absorption stage so the solar and wind can easily finish the job. Time to buckle down and build the backup with the new kit as well. The only problem has been as Lynn referenced, the big stator as well as the electric refrigeration and watermaker clutches all spinning at once threw off the auto helm compass. Now repositioned, I'll report back on that some other time.


Starting a New Year,

Interesting, always colorful architecture.

this time in St Lucia.  We took advantage of what we thought would be a fairly good weather window and left Grenada for the 160 mile trip north to St Lucia.   Coming down through the Caribbean last summer, we only spent 2 days here and had put it on the top of the list of places to revisit.  Our sail turned out not-so-nice, with me, and Adjima, fetal position sick the whole way. Nothing like barfing for 30 hours to make me really glad to see Rodney Bay appear from behind the rocks. Steve had to single hand the entire day, in winds upward of 30kts and big confused seas.  It was one of 'those' sails: the nav computer quit, the auto helm wouldn't work while the engine and the water maker were both on (something about too many magnets spinning too close to the compass), it rained and rained, the sunbrella on the jib ripped and at 5am the fuel filters clogged from all the gunk getting stirred up in the wild motion. Steve was very kind when I dragged myself to the cockpit to stand watch while he changed the filters.  He said and I'm paraphrasing here, "Don't do anything. Just keep us on course."  And I did. Until I got just the faintest whiff of diesel...  We were only a mile or so off the rhumb line when he came back up an hour later.

We ran into some friends as we were leaving the grocery the next day and went along with them to the market in Castries, a few miles down the road.  It was a great outdoor fresh fruit and veg market, with lots of trinkets for the cruise ship people thrown in alongside. There was a restaurant row, with all local food and we of course had to sample.  On my plate, above, I had: fall off the bone delicious chicken legs, baked mac and cheese, lettuce salad, beans and rice over breadfruit, pasta, and plantains. Steve was the only one in the group to clean his plate. This lunch for 2, including beer, was less than $12. I was definitely over my sea sickness.

This is 'the season' in the Caribbean.  Tourists from all over the world come here to soak up the sun.  We're anchored off a Sandal's Resort and their guests are jet skiing, windsurfing, para sailing, diving, horseback riding, Hobie-catting, having funning all around the boat.  It's great to sit and watch.  The large sailing cruise boats come right up into Rodney bay and anchor for the day.  I love this picture of the old wooden La Graceau against the new Wind Spirit.

We have a few repairs to make here and some sightseeing to do, so we plan to stay a couple of weeks. Come on down.