Monday, 18 June 2012

Smooth operators

Marigot Bay in St. Lucia greeted us and Saltwhistle in a spectacle of lush hillsides decorated with vibrant tropical flowers and posh homes. At the back of the bay lay an upscale marina complex with all imaginable amenities. Calm waters, serene surroundings and the presence of many other boats put us at ease about being in St. Lucia. From what we read the country can be rough, and instances of burglary are common. Injected with this feeling of confidence and security we moved anchor the following day to Anse la Raye. It was Friday, the day of Fish Fest in Anse la Raye, a town wide street fair that showcases local cuisine and music. This town was nothing like the bay we came from. It was shabby and grey, its residents clearly not the well-to-do folk of Marigot. We felt a bit uneasy when we first got to shore, but after we chatted with a couple of locals and guzzled a few glasses of rum punch we started to relax and really enjoy ourselves. We carried this feeling of relaxation with us back to the boat and well into the evening until we heard thumping along the hull. We paused the movie we were watching and listened. Another thump and voices came in from outside heightening all of our senses. We sprang up and flew through the companion way and into the cockpit where we saw two dark figures swimming at the side of Rodeo. We freaked. One of them had his hands on the rail and was about to pull himself up on deck. They startled us and we startled them. I don't think they were expecting us to be on board. We started to scream at them, me in English, Gabe in Portuguese. With a confused tone in his voice one of them exclaimed that they're just looking, but it was too late for explanations. Gabe had already called out for me to bring out the "gun" and was promising to kill them for the intrusion. The intruders scurried off at the point of our spear gun and it was then we noticed that there were four of them in total, two on each side of the boat. In just a few blurry seconds we had the motor going and were weighing anchor to get out of Anse la Raye. With his voice already hoarse and strained, Gabe continued to scream and point the spear gun at the lot of them as we turned around and pulled out of the bay. While under way back to Marigot Bay we called the coast guard and made a report of what just happened. They promptly sent a Police boat out to check on us and then to check on Gerard and Saltwhistle who stayed behind in Anse la Raye. We reunited with him the following morning and were happy to find that he had a peaceful night of rest in the same anchorage we escaped from. Our good impression of St.Lucia was now marred by our brush with the shark burglars and we wanted to get out as fast as we could. We sailed south along the coast to town of Soufriere, where we cleared out at customs then, barricaded inside our boats at anchor, we waited to depart in the morning. It is heartbreaking to have to take such precautions, but we continued to lock the boat up at night until we got to Grenada. We didn't enjoy much of St.Lucia, which is a shame, because the island is beautiful. We set sail from there just as the sun slipped out from behind Gros and Petit Piton, sending golden streaks of lights through chalky morning haze. Heat would burn through it later in the day, but at the time everything was hushed and soft, wrapped in cotton. It looked innocent and alluring and it was hard not to admire it, but we were happy to press on for Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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