After floating around Martinique for over two months we finally hoisted the sails for new shores and headed south to St. Lucia, just a short hop away. St. Lucia is a lush, mountainous island and best of all, English speaking, yeah!!!! It was such a relief to be able to speak to the locals after months of pointing, gesturing and mangling foreign languages.
We dropped anchor in Rodney Bay; an expansive bay on the western side of St. Lucia’s northern tip.
I can see why this bay and the associated marina has become the final destination for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC); it is huge, there is more than enough room for the 200 plus yachts that participate in the rally each year. The Rodney Bay Marina is set in a sheltered lagoon and has a vibrant atmosphere with its variety of shops, restaurants and cafes.
We chose to anchor close to Pigeon Island; a small island on the northern side of the bay, which is linked to the mainland by an artificial causeway. Pigeon Island was once the stronghold of the British navy in the area and its rich history has made it one of St. Lucia’s most significant cultural landmarks. It is now managed as a park by the St. Lucia National Trust and is well worth the visit at 6US$ a person. It is an easy climb to both of the peaks and the views are spectacular.
The snorkeling around Pigeon Island was not the greatest, but it did provide a sheltered spot to get into the water and cool off without the risk of being run over by a jet ski.
One of the drawbacks of being anchored close to Pigeon Island means you are also close to Sandals, a luxury hotel, which regurgitate a steady flow of jet ski’s into the bay during the day. At night their party music reverberate across the bay, competing with the party music coming from Gros Islet, the small fishing village north of the marina. This reaches a peak on Friday nights with the popular jump-up parties where the streets are closed and people party till the early hours of the morning, partaking in a plethora of local cuisine and off course, homemade spiced rum.
From Rodney Bay we moved south to Soufrière Bay and the towering twin Pitons, Gros and Petit Piton.
These spectacular volcanic cones have become iconic features of the St. Lucia landscape. The coastal area around the Pitons is a marine park and no anchoring is allowed, so we had to take a mooring ball at 20US$ a night. This limited our options, as we found the nicer spots to be occupied already and many of the mooring balls did not have pick up lines. We were also met, as warned, by over eager vendors who want to help us attach to the mooring ball, whether you want to or not, for a price off course.
Their ultimate goal is for you to go with them on a tour of the immediate area, the guy that “helped” us stated he would take us on a three hour tour for 250EC$. When we declined he got a bit upset and said he always gets something. So he was not happy leaving only with the 10EC$ we gave him for grabbing the pick up line. We don’t like this type of pushiness but understand that they have limited options for making a living and depend heavily on the trade they get from the passing yachts. At the moment our budget does not allow for a 100US$ tour especially with someone who did not inspire us with confidence in his tour guiding capabilities. We also had a steady stream of kids coming past the boat asking if we had something to share with them; I actually thought that was a nice way of begging. They all shared the same kayak, each getting a turn to make the rounds. They were a bit annoying but all were polite, did not board the boat and moved on when told that we had nothing to share. They especially wanted coke and cookies, two things we never have on the boat, it was clear that they did not believe us, so I assume that they are quite successful in acquiring coke and cookies on a regular basis from the passing yachts. The problem is that there are so many of them, if you give something to one, you have to give to the others, its not like they don’t talk to each other, they all share the same kayak after all. The town of Soufrière is a bit rundown and not very inviting, but the bay with its beautiful surroundings and excellent snorkeling made for a great stay.
After two fun days of snorkeling we left Soufrière for Vieux Fort at the foot of the island to clear out. Vieux Fort is a bit of a seedy town, definitely not a touristy place and seldom visited by yachts. On our first night there the wind was howling and it was really unpleasant, made even more unpleasant when a French yacht, the only other yacht in the anchorage, dragged into us during the night. We had to shout to wake them up, but they made quick work of disentangling themselves from us. Afterwards they just pushed off into the night, heaven knows where they went at that time.
The only touristy thing we did in Vieux Fort was to walk up to Moule à Chique lighthouse on St Lucia’s most southerly point.
The small lighthouse was apparently intended for Saint Lucia Cape in South Africa, but was brought to the Caribbean by mistake and ended up staying. Vieux Fort is not really the type of place to linger and we were soon off to Bequia.