Today is Ferrogosto. I always thought it meant Fiery Hot mid-August Day. But no, it actually started out as a non-religious holiday on August 1 in what could be considered the original Labor Day. Emperor Augustus, 2000 years ago, gave the day off to the farm laborers after the long planting season and before the harvest. Christianity eventually moved it to August 15 to coincide with their holiday. Today it is a public holiday in Italy and Ferrogosto marks the height of the Italian vacation season when many businesses close. Years ago, when I worked for the Italian shipping company Costa, I was amazed at how all of Italy seemed to close for two weeks which turned out to be more like all of August. I think the Italians took pre and post vacations. Of course, now with the pandemic, who could tell the difference?
Well, since today is August 15 I should mark the day with an extra shot of rhum and rest extra hard. I’m exhausted after months of thinking of activities to keep active when being active was discouraged. It is not hard to come to the realization that 2020 has not been kind to anyone that had things to do or places to sail to. It made many forgo work or school. No one could go to restaurants, weddings, or even funerals. Airplanes didn’t fly and the ports were closed. Forget going to a movie, seeing a ball game or visiting your friends. Your neighbors might have moved to the moon for all you knew. For all I knew our cruiser friends sailed to Australia, or could have, since they were long gone. It was vacation time for everyone but without the joy, activities and sometimes money to accompany it. So how do you celebrate a day of rest when all you were allowed to do for the last 6 months is rest?
My way will declare that August 15, 12 noon will be the end of voyage #10 for Kalunamoo. I was waiting to end this voyage in Trinidad when hauled and put on the hard. It seems doubtful that will happen anytime soon. Voyage #10 began at 10AM, Oct 15 2019, when we launched from Power Boats boatyard in Trinidad. Voyage ten took Kalunamoo and us from Trinidad to Bequia, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia. Engine repairs, sail repairs, and other minor delays slowed us down and kept us in ports for extended time before the pandemic. A total of 695 nautical miles over 10 months! The voyage metrics will be entered into the logbook now that voyage 10 is finalized. Wow, was that a slow voyage or what! Since we are still in St. Lucia, we will reset the clock and commence voyage #11 when we depart St. Lucia. When will that be? I have no idea as travel restrictions still apply and the hurricane season is here.
The peak of the hurricane season starts now and extends for the next 30-45 days. As of today, there has been 11 named storms in the Atlantic, only two of which crossed the Eastern Caribbean islands near here with minimal impact anywhere. They were not hurricanes and were poorly formed; both storms had storm winds north of the center and very light winds south of their centers. One passed between Grenada and Trinidad and the other north of Martinique. But there is little incentive to move around, especially if you are in a good protected harbor as we are. Cruisers do sail around during the hurricane season, but it may be a bit like playing musical chairs. When the music stops, or the hurricane arrives, you hope there is an empty chair, port, to go to.
This is also the height of the “off season” on the islands. Few tourists are around which might make for great cruising opportunities but many things are closed. But mainly the pandemic’s restrictions have mostly quashed moving country to country. We are in the Caribbean bubble, and have wrist bands to prove it, so it is somewhat easier but we are now between voyages and “resting up”. This is a time for doctor’s appointments and taking stock of what is needed for the next voyage. A short haul for some bottom paint and cosmetic repairs would be great sometime between now and November.
We rented a car for a few days to get around. It was a small red car (see the blog entry about The Little Red Car Tour in Guadeloupe!). I needed to see a doctor for some skins issues and Maureen will get a medical checkup next week. We also drove down to the coast to the Pitons at Soufriere. It is not far mileage wise but takes over 2 hours without stopping as it is nothing but a twisting mountain road with steep hills. St. Lucia is the island with spikes for hills and mountains. Interesting drive but I would not want to commute.
As mentioned above, between the pandemic and “off season” there were very few “visitors” on the road. When we rolled into Soufriere we were greeted by independent tour guides eager to make some money giving directions or tours. Flies attracted to honey? Yes, we moved on. We’ve been there, done that, and we were just out for a drive. Unfortunately, many restaurants were closed there so we drove back to Rodney Bay to our favorite Indian restaurant. There are actually some sail charterers arriving here and some resorts are opening so there is some activity starting. The virus is basically not here, but all eyes are on the arrivals! As mentioned above the marina distributed blue wrist bands to us to identify that we are “nearly locals” and not to be confused with recently arrived visitors of questionable health! Masks, however, are still required in public.
Voyage #11 should take us to the U.S. Virgin Islands after the hurricane season and hopefully we will be able to catch a flight up to New York to see family and friends. That is yet to be proved, so we plan one voyage at a time and take advantage of favorable conditions when they arrive. For the rest of today, we will chill out and enjoy Ferrogusto!