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22nd December, 2015

Castries. St. Lucia

The passage into Castries harbour takes the ship literally past the end of the local airport runway, so it is not unusual to see a ‘Leave Island Any Time’ Dash 7 skimming over where we were just five minutes before. The approach to both port an harbour are controlled by the tower of Vigie airport and I love to catch the relaxed Caribbean accent when the controller comes over the radio to inform the harbour pilot how much time he has before the next aircraft approach.

We had travelled up overnight from Port of Spain and the ‘Christmas’ trade winds were relatively strong so that, as we passed through the waters between Trinidad, Grenada and St. Vincent we had enough ‘rock and roll’ to be noticeable. But once inside the sheltered natural harbour of the capital all was again calm. A ‘Magic Moment’ had been arranged for all the passengers that wished to participate, a beach barbecue further up the coast at Pigeon Point near Rodney Bay. Tom, the Navigator took the opportunity of popping by for a short while and wrote the following.

After a short 20 minute bus journey through the hilly roads of St Lucia, passing a tranquil marina and a long sandy beach, we arrived at Pigeon Island. The Island consisted of a sheltered private beach to the west, luscious green woodland and an open green grass area with marques and table seating, a huge lavish Caribbean barbeque spread dominated the grassed area and was surrounded by old weathered buildings.

A breeze came through the island from the Atlantic side to the east which we were glad of as the temperature started to soar early in the afternoon.  The Island offered a chance to relax, socialise and soak up the sun. The Christmas decorations, Caribbean music, BBQ food and entertainment made it a truly Memorable Magic Moment!’

There were also a variety of watery activities available, completely free of course, and I’ve been told by the Chief Engineer that he and his wife tried the ‘walking along the bottom’ experience. He explained it was necessary to don some sort of helmet which was connected to an umbilical that supplied the air. The additional weight belt was very effective in ensuring the intrepid ‘diver’ did not bob up to the surface again (apparently even when the experience was meant to be over).

Meanwhile I had just enough time to ‘escort’ Mrs R around the duty free shops in the terminal. Last minute Christmas shopping resulted in a rather fetching new necklace for her, a modest watch with big numbers for me. Now I can tell the time in the dark without grappling for my reading glasses.

Captain Philip Rentell

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