Tag Archives: St. Lucia

HURRICANE MARIA (SEPTEMBER 2017)

Hurricane season has arrived in full force. As cruisers, we spend an inordinate amount of time monitoring weather systems. The latest shows Hurricane Maria intensified into a catastrophic Category 5 storm Monday, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph), as it surged toward islands in the eastern Caribbean.

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Hurricane warnings have been posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Lucia (where Pilots’ Discretion is currently located), Martinique and Anguilla. Many of these islands are still recovering from direct hits from hurricane Irma. (See http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/cat-5-hurricane-maria-threatens-storm-battered-caribbean/ar-AAs6sKy?ocid=spartandhp.) We are continuing to keep all those affected in our thoughts and prayers. We will post additional updates after this storm passes.

Hurricane Irma (photo from Marine Weather Center's post)

HURRICANE IRMA – 2017

First, thank you, to everyone, for reaching out to see how Pilots’ Discretion, and her crew, fared as Hurricane Irma tracked through the Caribbean. In preparation for the storm and in accordance with our hurricane plan, we spider tied Pilots’ Discretion, with doubled lines, in a double slip, on a floating dock, alone with no other boats, in St. Lucia. Irma was set to track north of St. Lucia, however, to be on the safe side, we left the boat in St. Lucia and flew to Florida to stay out of harms way!

As predicted, Hurricane Irma passed north of St. Lucia. We were incredibly grateful to learn that our pre-hurricane preparations were sufficient, and that St. Lucia was spared from the ferocity of the storm. The island received some rain and wind from the outer bands of the storm, but on the whole, the island and our boat, weathered the storm and are fine.

Having flown to Florida, we then holed up with family in Spring Hill, just north of Tampa, on the west coast of Florida. Having just gone through the hurricane preparations drill in St. Lucia our crew was ready and able to  assist with preparations for the “high impact” potential hit headed for our relatives in Spring Hill.

We listened to reports, and observed, painfully, the pictures of the devastation from the direct hits on Barbuda, St. Barthélemy (St. Bart), St. Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have travelled to all of these islands in previous cruising seasons, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storm.

Paraquita Bay, British Virgin Islands (Before and After)

Nanny Cay Marina, British Virgin Islands, post hurricane Irma, 2017

Isleta Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, post hurricane Irma, Sept. 2017

Foxy’s before (2016) and after (2017)

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma, Sept. 7, 2017

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma originally had her skirting up the east coast of Florida, Sept. 7, 2017

In Florida, the original forecasts had the storm tracking up the east coast. Slowly, the storm edged west with the later predictions indicating she would run up the middle of the Florida peninsula. Finally, within the last day prior to Florida landfall, the forecast consensus had Irma tracking up the west coast of Florida. We weathered the storm just north of Tampa. The eye passed just to our east during the middle of the night. We were extremely fortunate that a slight variation in the actual track of the storm placed us on the weak side of the circulation at the same time the storm was beginning to fall apart. We had a few hours of heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds mostly in the 40 knot range. Like most, we lost power and had a few downed trees to deal with but for the most part we came through the storm wiser for the experience but without taking any direct hits. We are all very aware of the potential devastation that just barely sidestepped us.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those affected by the storm. Florida, the islands, and those living and cruising in Florida and the Caribbean islands, are a resilient bunch. Communities have already banded together to address immediate needs and start the lengthy rebuilding process. Click here for additional photos, and to see several prominent business owners (including the infamous Soggy Dollar, Foxy’s, Corsairs, Willie T’s) who have already vowed to rebuild!

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

SUMMER IN ST. LUCIA – PART 2 (by Theresa)

AQUATICS CENTER

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center

With school out for the summer, we enrolled the boys in a summer swimming camp at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, located just outside Rodney Bay Marina. The Aquatics Center has an Olympic-short (25 m) sized pool, a karate studio, a gym, a soccer field and weekly field trips to various fun places on the island, including horse back riding and Splash Island Water Park! The boys are looking forward to the end of August, when there will be an island wide swim meet with competitors from all over the island.

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, St. Lucia

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, St. Lucia

OPEN WATER DIVER SCUBA CERTIFICATION

While the boys were in camp, I decided to finally take the plunge and get my Open Water Diver Scuba certification. Fortunately, Dive St. Lucia, one of the nicest dive facilities that we have seen throughout the Caribbean, is located right next door to the marina. My instructor for the course was “Mary,” and my dive buddy was “Dwight.” Coincidentally, Dwight is also one of the Captains of the Dive St. Lucia dive boats, who, like me, decided he wanted to see what life was like under the boat.

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

After completing the preliminary online testing, and confined water diving exercises in the pool, we set out to complete the open water diving portion of the course.

"OK" signal, Mary, Theresa & Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

“OK” signal, Mary, Theresa & Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

The first day we completed two tank dives and multiple underwater exercises.

Theresa & dive buddy, Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa & dive buddy, Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Our second day open water diving was extra special since Ryan, who already has his open water diver certification, came along with his Go Pro to dive with us.

Theresa & Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa & Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Mary, Dwight & Theresa preparing to dive, St. Lucia

Mary, Dwight & Theresa preparing to dive, St. Lucia

Ryan diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Dwight, Theresa & Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Dwight, Theresa & Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan & Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan & Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

SEGWAY

Since Ronan was still not cleared to go scuba diving (due to his recent tonsillectomy), he and Randy opted for a land based Segway adventure. Since Ronan had been sewaying on the island before (See, This is How we Roll, February 24, 2017), he had fun showing Randy around the trails.

Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Nigel, Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Nigel, Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break at beach side cafe, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break at beach side cafe, St. Lucia (2017)

As the day came to a close, both sea and land adventures intersected on the bay!

Randy & Ronan Segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Randy & Ronan Segway in St. Lucia (2017)

As the end of the summer and hurricane season approaches, we are continuing to monitor the Caribbean storm systems, all while enjoying all that the beautiful island of St. Lucia has to offer.

Patton, Loblolly Beach, Anegada, BVI

Happy 15th Birthday Patton! (by Randy)

imageYesterday was a pretty important day aboard the Pilots’ Discretion. Patton, our intrepid, world traveling Cocker Spaniel turned fifteen (15) years old. Way back when we initially left the comfort zone of our home marina in Tarpon Springs, Florida (2 and 1/2 years ago) we had some concerns with how well our then 12 year old buddy would adapt to a life at sea. Our concerns were completely unfounded. Patton is the first one up every morning and the last one to turn in each night after surveying the boat to assure himself that the entire crew is accounted for.Patton Kindle

Patton crew

Patton crew

He loves excursions in the dinghy and he has his favorite spot picked out under the Captain’s helm chair for long passages.

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Randy & Patton in front of Tthe Indians, B.V.I.

Randy & Patton in front of the Indians, B.V.I.

The story would not be complete without acknowledging there have been some concessions made due to the decision to cruise with Patton. We do not patronize places along the way that are not dog friendly. We have on rare occasions had more difficulty clearing immigration as a result of declaring Patton as part of our crew but all in all, he has been a very positive addition to our crew and we would not consider having it any other way.

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Reupblic

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Republic

 

For those of you following our blog who are not dog people, I am sure you just scratch your head when you see me acting like a very proud papa when talking about Patton. To the dog people following us, I know that I need to say no more.

Happy birthday Patton, the crew of the Pilots’ Discretion loves you❤️

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

 

Ronan, Theresa, Roland, and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

This is How We Roll – Lucian Style! (by Ryan)

Capt. Randy on the bow, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Capt. Randy, arm in a sling,  on the bow, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Two weeks post-rotator cuff surgery and the Captain seems to be recovering nicely. Tethered to an ice machine, watching the sun set over Rodney Bay in St. Lucia, is not a terrible way to navigate the post-op rehabilitation process. The hardest part has been keeping the arm immobilized. Anyone with a boat knows that there is always some project that needs to be attended to. Luckily, we have a capable crew willing to take care of, or assist with those never-ending projects. Mom, Ronan and I are becoming ever more familiar with the engine room and various boat systems!

SEGWAY

Roland and Ryan, Segway training in St. Lucia

Roland and Ryan, Segway training in St. Lucia

In the meantime, with the Captain resting and recovering on the boat, Mom, Ronan, and I decided to take a field trip to explore more of the beauty that St. Lucia has to offer. Friends of ours, Rita and Ralph off S/V Calypso, suggested a Segway Tour that sets out from Rodney Bay (http://lucianstyle.com/featured-tours). Just a short walk from the marina, we mounted the Segways and received initial maneuverability instructions. Having never ridden a Segway before, the motion control was initially unfamiliar. After a few minutes of practice, circling around the practice track, we all seemed to get the hang of it and set off!

Roland, Ronan and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

Roland, Ronan and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

We rode along the well-maintained nature trails on Mount Pimard until we arrived at our first stop where our guide, Roland, let us smell the spice of Bay leaf off of a local tree. He also put flowers in all the ladies’ helmets. Next, we stopped at Pebble’s Point looking across Rodney Bay. Roland explained some of the island’s history while his assistant took our Segways out of beginner’s mode and switched them into advanced mode.

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Rita, Ryan, Roland, Ronan and Ralph, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

In advance mode, at a top speed of 14 mph, we kept gliding along the trails (built by the U.S. military during WWII) and stopped to check out a WWII bunker 30 feet underground.

We then proceeded to fly on a straight away dirt trail at about a 40o angle as fast as the Segways could go! We got to an opening with spectacular views!

 

Rita, Ralph, Ryan, Ronan, Theresa and Roland, Segway in St. Lucia

Rita, Ralph, Ryan, Ronan, Theresa and Roland, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan, Ryan, Theresa, Ralph and Rita, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan, Ryan, Theresa, Ralph and Rita, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan and Ryan, St. Lucia

Ronan and Ryan, St. Lucia

Although not mentioned in the Segway tour brochure, we took a small hike up to a pond. We fed bread to the fish and then came back for Roland’s surprise! Just in case anyone reading this decides to do the tour I will not tell you the surprise. You will just have to find out for yourself! Hint: it came out of a WWII bunker and it was not dust. After that we flew back down the hill and visited yet another spectacular view point. It overlooked Rodney bay and you could see Pigeon island in the background.

It was literally all downhill (the trails) after that. We next visited the South end of Reduit Beach and got sodas at a beach front restaurant.

In the end, we did a victory lap and then returned to the track. We all got official Gliders Licenses for mastering the skill of gliding on a Segway X2. With the license if (probably when) you decide to do this 5-star tour again they put you in advanced mode from the beginning. By far this is the best tour I have taken in the Caribbean! We are hoping to do this tour again, but with the Captain when his arm is better, so he can enjoy this excellent tour as well!

VIDEOS

Click image below for GoPro video of our Segway adventures.

Ronan, Theresa, Ryan and Patton, Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

Hiking to Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia (by Ryan)

After viewing Pigeon Island from the sea, by both boat and kayak, and by land from our marina, last week we decided to take a hike over there to check it out. Taking a left out of the marina gate, it is approximately a 40-minute hike to the island. We had so much fun over there that when our Uncle Jim came to visit, we took him to the fort to explore too.

Ronan, James and Ryan departing Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

Ronan, Uncle  Jim, and Ryan departing Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

Pigeon island is actually connected to mainland St. Lucia (i.e. it’s more like a peninsula). Wondering why they call it an island, I looked it up and learned that “once isolated from mainland, St. Lucia, in the Caribbean Sea, the island was artificially joined to the western coast of the mainland in 1972 by a man-made causeway built from dirt excavated to form the Rodney Bay Marina. “Pigeon Island (Saint Lucia).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2017.

Pigeon Island land bridge (red roof tops are Sandals Resort), St. Lucia

Pigeon Island land bridge (red roof tops are Sandals Resort), St. Lucia

After arriving at the Pigeon Island National Park, we paid the admission fee and started up the first hill to Fort Rodney.

Patton and James, hiking to Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Patton and Uncle Jim, hiking to Fort Rodney, St. Lucia[gallery type="square" size="medium" ids="2904,2903,2902"]

Fort Rodney is named after a renowned British Admiral. Admiral Rodney is most famous for defeating the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782. The French originally settled St. Lucia but they fought the British for it three years after signing their peace treaty with the Caribs in 1660. Control of the island switched back and forth 14 times, seven times to the French and seven times to the British. The British won control the fourteenth time and they had control of the island until St. Lucia gained their independence on February 22, 1979.

We first arrived at a platform overlooking Rodney Bay (also named after the Admiral). The views were spectacular!

Theresa, Ryan, Ronan, James and Patton, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Theresa, Ryan, Ronan, Uncle Jim, and Patton, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

On a clear day looking north you can see the island of Martinique, approximately nineteen (19) nautical miles across the Martinique/St. Lucia channel.

Looking north from Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia (Martinique on the horizon)

Looking north from Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia (Martinique on the horizon)

When it was initially built in 1778, one of Fort Rodney’s purposes was to spy on French ships up in Martinique. The lower fort had a couple cannons and more great views. We even got to climb down a ladder into the gun powder room.

There was a sign explaining the system they used to bring cannons off of Admiral Rodney’s ships up to the fort. Using a pulley system, they hoisted the cannons off the deck to the top of the mast and then over to the fort.

Patton and James, hiking Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Patton and Uncle Jim, hiking Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

We went back down half way and then scaled the next hill. The trail up to Signal Peak was a little steeper than up to Fort Rodney. The signaling peak was used by the United States during WWII as a naval communications signal station until 1947. Flags were hoisted up a large pole to send signals to vessels at sea.

The views at the signaling station were just as good if not better than the views from the lower fort.  

U.S. Signal Station (1941), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

U.S. Signal Station (1941-1947), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

 

 

 

Ronan, James and Ryan (Martinique on the horizon), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Ronan, James and Ryan (Martinique on the horizon), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

 

The hike down from the upper peak would be difficult for people afraid of heights. On our way down we saw a strategic fort on the side of the hill for armed soldiers to fire down on the enemy while being protected by the stone wall.

Ryan, James and Ronan, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

Ryan, Uncle Jim and Ronan, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

We really enjoyed hiking around Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island with our Uncle Jim. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone on St. Lucia. If you are staying at a nearby marina or anchorage, and you do not like hiking, there is a dinghy dock right on Pigeon Island.

VIDEO

Click image below for additional pictures and video of Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia hiking adventure.

 

Theresa on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ringing in the New Year with Rain Forest Zip Lining Adventures in St. Lucia (by Theresa)

For Christmas, Ryan and Ronan found in their stockings, certificates for a day of Rain Forest Adventures in St. Lucia, including an aerial tram, hiking, and adrenaline driven zip lining, high atop the rain forest canopy. Rainforest Adventures aims to promote environmental consciousness and conservation awareness while striving to provide world-class eco tourism. (See http://www.rainforestadventure.com/st-lucia/). Putting aside my general distaste for heights, I strapped on the required safety helmet and gear and set off into the rain forest with the boys.

Ryan on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ryan on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ronan on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ronan on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

After a few practice runs on the training low/short zip lines, we graduated to the aerial tram. The aerial tram took us from the forest floor, through the understory, and over the rain forest canopy. Our knowledgeable guide provided an encyclopedia of rain forest facts along the way. The panoramic views were nothing short of majestic.

Rain Forest Adventures tram, St. Lucia

Rain Forest Adventures aerial tram, St. Lucia

Aerial Tram, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Aerial Tram, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

At the top, we hiked through the rain forest viewing and learning about the many different plant and animal species.

Hiking through the rain forest, St. Lucia

Hiking through the rain forest, St. Lucia

We then spent the next couple of hours zip-lining from one tree top platform to another.

Tree top platform, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Tree top platform, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ryan, Theresa and Ronan, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ryan, Theresa and Ronan, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

VIDEOS

The system of automatic brakes, double cables, triple redundancy clasps and chest harnesses made us feel secure while whizzing through the tropical paradise.

Click image below for GoPro videos of zip lining adventures.

Wishing everyone peace, prosperity and many adventures in the new year!