You can't miss St.Lucia if appoaching from
the south; the two Pitons
are the island's national trademark and even the beer is named after
them. We anchored in Marigot Bay and suffered from a complete culture
shock. This is the first spot we met in the eastern Caribbean where the
white “civilisaton” has established itself. Marigot Bay is a kind of
watersport-swimparadise-beautyfarm-amusement park-resort and
stopping-place for charterboats. Around the picturesque bay several
fancy restaurants have drawn up, expensive residences and even an
(according to the sign) gourmet-supermarket where they sell typical
Caribbean products such as smoked salmon, marinated herring and
Chassagne-Montrachet. The English southcoast, though magnificent, seems
suddenly terrifying close.
According to our information Marigot Bay is one of the easiest spots to
clear customs, and this appeared to be true. But we didn't feel very
much at home so we left already the following day for Castries, the
capital of St.Lucia 3,5 miles further north. We take back earlier
praising words that sailing in the lee of the islands is ALWAYS a
pleasure, because sailing along St.Lucia's coast is totally hopeless.
The wind seems to come from every possible direction, with speeds
varying between 15 and 30 knots and there is a considerable chop.
The port of Castries is actually meant for commercial shipping and not
specifically for yachts. This suited us perfectly as we were quite fed
up with overcrowded bays and nagging boatboys. Next to the cruiseships
is a small harbour for locals (fishing boats and some cruiser
catamarans) and we anchored in the middle of the fairway. It was tight,
but it fitted and upond asking around nobody had a problem with us being
there. Least of all the captains of the ferries, as we bought them a
couple of beers when we went with by ferry to the town's centre.
Castries is a bustling town with a beautiful park/square next to the
church, which was recently declared a cathedral when the Pope came to
visit. Narrow streets and many, many people. Friday is market day
thus even busier. Along the streets and focused on where the pubs are
(they are everywhere) stand market stalls, or the vendors just sit on
For the tourists there is a large market
hall which is even open on Sundays if a cruiseship is in; crammed with
souvenirs and all the vendors sell more or less the same: woodcarved
animals, braidwork made from palm leaves, T-shirts, necklaces and
bracelets made from shells or coconuts and nicknacks like refrigerator
magnets and keyrings.
By the way, the Lucians are not very happy with the “overtaking” by the
whites, as in those pockets the large profits disappear, leaving only a
few crumbs for the local people, while ruining the authentical character
of the island. They consider Marigot Bay the ultimate disaster. For that
matter the real loss of this place seems to be dating from only
September 2006, so we were only just to late to enjoy the beauty.
Making a tour around the island by bus was a huge success on St.Vincent
so we repeated the trick on St.Lucia. With the same type of bus drivers:
road hogs. St.Lucia is much less rugged than St.Vincent and the roads
are much better, so they can drive (if possible) even faster. The island
is for a large part cultivated and bananas are the second product for
export. Tourism is obviously number one.
The bus took us across the island through the rainforest, where the
ferns grow like trees: on trunks.
Funny and beautiful. From there we went along the eastcoast to the
south, passing Hewanorra International Airport. We asked ourselves where
the name came from and it appears that Hewanorra is the old Carib-Indian
name for the island, “there where the iguana is found”. We continued to
Vieux Fort, the second town after Castries. Completely not worth to stop
there! So as soon as we could we climbed into an other bus to
Soufrières, which is a really nice town, nested under the two Pitons. We
had seen those already but it was good strolling around in this
Many homes are painted in cheerful colours
and sometimes decorated with jigsawed rims or painted advertising signs;
or a combination of both.
We finished the tour by returning to Castries along the westcoast.
Generally speaking, we didn't find St.Lucia very special. Where
St.Vincent has impressive mountainst, deep valleys and beautiful bays
one after the other, St.Lucia was a bit disappointing. Soufrière is
pretty with those two large looming pustules, we already talked about
Marigot and furthermore...
So we headed north. Rodney Bay. This is where
the ARC has its finish, with a huge marina and accompanying shops. JW was here in 2002 (with
the ARC on Innovision with Henk) but he didn't recognise ANYTHING! The
beaches are crammed with brand-new luxurious looking buildings surrounded by
young coconut palmtrees and beach beds, so it is clear what's going on and
that these are not new fish market-halls.
Saturday evening was like in Los Cristianos (Tenerife) with live bands
covering only trivial white music instead of playing swinging reggae. Though on Sunday afternoon there were
quite good bands playing on the beach,
probably inspired by the little jazz festival that was going on in Soufrière
on Friday and Saturday (Al Jarreau and George Benson, ca they make it more
humourless?). But all in all the masstourism was enough reason to distance
quickly from St.Lucia; literally.
The return passage to Suriname. Distance 600 nm, easterly winds 15-20 kts (mostly
20), current 1 or 2 knots NW and the bearing: 155-160°. We definitely didn't
want to point higher to windward than 60 degrees, because we wanted to sail
as comfortably as possible and also have enough speed, because otherwise
the current would set us too far west. According to Visual Passage Planner (computer
software) the optimal route from St.Lucia to Surinam leads via Tobago,
but if we would have started in Barbados we should have sailed a direct course.
It started great as we started the engine and it said just: “Click.” JW
said something completely else and this came from out of his toes. Electrical problem in the circuit
of the starter engine. The electrician came, saw and conquered the problem within two
seconds so in the end things turned out better than anticipated.
The wind was more against us, continuously E-SE 20 kts, quite the wrong
direction and also a bit much with 8 feet high seas. So we first sailed 70
nm south back to Bequia, because that is a much nicer place than St.Lucia to
wait for better winds.
The wind shifted only slightly, so next stop was Tobago. Normally in that area
the wind is slightly north of east, and should be good enough to
take us home. We left twice from Bequia to Tobago; the first time we returned
after 5 miles because the wind wasn't favourable enough. The second time we
were more lucky and covered the 110 miles plus 60 miles of current in 28
We stayed for a couple of days on Tobago to get some rest and wait for a new
weatherwindow. Immigrations in Charlotteville was temporarily out of order
so we had to travel to Scarborough. No problem, this renewed acquaintance with
this beautiful island that climbed the charts in our top 3. We wanted to
check out the same day to save us another busride the following day (getting
on a bus is quite a bother) but this was bureaucratically speaking
impossible. So the next day an
Immigrations-officer came to Charlotteville, especially to see
us out. This is really red tape!
The second part. The rastaboys gave us banana's, mango’s and a papaya
and JW prepared two meals to avoid a bit of the heat in the galley
during the trip.
The passage was heavy because of ever changing winds from the wrong
direction with the sail
changes that go with it (we now know that May is not the best month to
undertake the return passage), and all the current against us so the trip
lasts much longer. In short: we sailed 6 days on the traject of 450 nm
which we covered on the way to the Caribbean 2.7 days. With an average
current of 2 knots (and this is not exaggerated, on the contrary) we
have sailed another 300 nm. One doesn't get merry about that.
Check the movie for full details (8.58 Mb)