Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Latitude 14o 05’ N
Longitude 60o 57’ W
Rodney Bay Marina
The chart plotter has a feature that indicates the boat’s ETA for a selected route, in this case the path to the Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia. As we approached the island, that estimate would vary between midnight of the 23rd to early morning the next day. The thought of entering the harbor at night was not appealing, but we didn’t need to worry since Mother Nature made the decision for us. The winds shifted slightly and slowed our progress. By 3 AM we still hadn’t rounded the top of the island. Under a cloudy sky with filtered moonlight the lights of St. Lucia could be seen about 10 miles off to the left and the lights of Martinique the same distance to the right. Around 5 AM we jibed, putting us on a course directly for a point a mile from the harbor entrance. When we got there the sun was already up. We furled our sails, raised the yellow quarantine flag, and motored the last mile.
As we approached, we tried contacting Rodney Bay Marina via the VHF radio and the two phone numbers listed in the guide book. This effort was unsucessful so Dwight resorted to homeland support and called his wife Wendy back in Maine. With the help of the internet, she was able to rundown a contact as we motored through the short canal serving as the entrance of the marina. While Lillian circled off the end of the marina docks, questions were relayed and answered. How long is the boat? How wide is the boat? Did we want water? Did we want power? 110 or 220 volts? 110, but no thank you. We’ll put you on a slip with 110 just in case. G Dock slip 15. Starboard or port side tie up? East or West of the dock? Given our slip assignment, the crew hung fenders over the starboard side and prepared the dock lines. Three dock hands hurried out to receive us. Right turn into the slip and we throw them the lines. Within a minute they have the boat securely tied followed by a warm “welcome to St. Lucia.” The time was approximately 10 AM.
The entry procedure for St. Lucia, as is standard with many countries, is for the captain to go ashore to check in with customs, with the strict restriction that the crew remain on board under the yellow quarantined flag until everyone is cleared in. Anxious to get ashore, we started collecting the passports, COVID documents, and ships papers needed for entry as soon the dock hands left. This process was delayed by a small parade of individuals who came to the boat to offer services ranging from washing clothes to fiberglass repair. We took names and cards and said we’d let them know. Then I optimistically marched off to the customs office with documents under my arm.
Of all the countries and island where Lillian has made landfall since June of 2021, St. Lucia is the most bureaucratic and expensive. The Customs office said I could not be cleared in until I’d talked to the Health Department downstairs. Fair enough. But then the health department did not accept the antigen test that we’d had immediately before leaving Cabo Verde. We would all have to have a PCR test. The fact that we’d been at sea for 17 days made no difference, despite the fact that quarantine for those who’ve had COVID is only 14 days. The next step was for a doctor to come out to the boat and give us PCR tests for $175 US dollars each. Any freedom that I felt to order a pizza at the café next to the entrance to the dock was quickly taken away when two ladies came with clipboards and put red bands on our wrists. We were instructed in no uncertain terms that we were not to set foot from the boat until the bands were removed.
The test results came in via e-mail that evening but it wasn’t until the next morning that a nurse returned to set us free, replacing the red bands with white ones that we were told to wear at all times. Walking back with her to the health office, I enquired why most of the people sitting in the cafés weren’t wearing a band. Her reply was something to the effect that her job was just to put them on. Then, after getting our clean bill of health certificate, I went to customs, where their first question was why hadn’t I cleared in when I arrived. After forty minutes of filling out forms, we were in.
The Rodney Bay Marina caters to super yachts, bareboat charters, and coastal cruisers. It’s nowhere near as interesting as Mindelo, Cabo Verde, but it is none-the-less very nice with several good restaurants and cafés and the usual services from laundry to showers to a well-stocked chandlery. And now that we are in, we have taken advantage of the local vendors, including Gregory who will bring fresh fruit directly to your boat.
Epilogue: Now that Lillian has made it back to this side of the Atlantic, we begin transitioning for the last leg up to Maine. Crew member Dwight Leeper left for home the Saturday after our arrival. Burke Mungers heads home tomorrow, the 2nd of March. Friend and frequent crew member Dick Hiatt comes down the same day for a sail around the island, then all three of us, Dick, Brimmer and I fly back to Alabama. The boat will remain in Rodney Bay until my wife Kay and I return along with Denise and Burke Munger in late April to take her up the island chain to St. Maarten. From there a new crew will help take her to Bermuda where she’ll stay for part of May and June after which she’ll make the final leg from Bermuda back home to Rockport. By then she’ll be ready for her well-deserved Spa treatment at Johanson Boatworks.