This is part of the ninth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Barbados
27/2/03 St Lucia was sighted in the distance at dawn, it taking till 10 am before we were anchored in Rodney Bay on the North West side. This bay was created by joining an offshore island to the mainland and along with the 250 berth marina can accommodate 1000 yachts. Away from the capital it has formed its own infrastructure around yachties. Fruit and vegetable boats, and laundry boats visit your boat on arrival. There are haul out facilities, internet, bars and restaurants. You never need to leave the area and many yachties don't. A friendly bunch, we had drinks on the aft deck of a marina yacht and listened to the problems of boats which even more cemented the idea of not buying a boat and how lucky we were to be able to charter the "Monsoon", any problems being the captain's responsibility.
28/2/03 A delay in unloading the motorcycle as the wharf was occupied but by 1.00 pm it was again on land and we were riding to Castries the capital. Back to a volcanic land mass, peaks rising sharply and covered in dense vegetation. The people also different, friendly but lacking the old worldly charm of the Barbadans.
1/3/03 Each morning we wake to pleasant temperatures knowing the day will start at about 24 degrees, rise to 28 and finish as it started. The strong winds have eased and a steady 15 knots blows, enough for sailing but not a problem at anchor or wharfing. We awoke to look out over a bay of sandy beach, treed hills and crystal clear waters, where yachts anchor and locals fish. A comfortable routine has developed with the captain who will take us ashore in the dinghy and while he continues the boat's refit and minor maintenance we sight see being collected after happy hour in the evening to relax on the boat at night. Today was such a day and on riding a loop of the island we stopped at many viewpoints, had a swim under a small waterfall in sulphurous hot water downstream from bubbling mud pools. This remnant of an old volcano, surrounded by rainforest, discharges boiling water, steam and sulphur gases. The Hilton hotel lies between the island's prominent landmarks, the Pitons. Two volcanic cones rising from the ocean bottom and attached at the edge of the island. A secluded beach lies between. The hotel allows day visitors, they shuttle bused us in from the car park to enjoy the beach and views. Back to the boat via a good twisty mountain road along the west coast.
2/3/03 Many international movies are made on this tropical island. Marigot Bay, a small inlet with steep sided rainforest covered slopes dropping down to a sandy coconut palm covered beach, where the movie "Dr Doolittle" was made. Other, not so picturesque bays have hosted more recent movies. Two cruise ships were in harbour and it was easy to follow the stream of taxi's to find the most interesting or picturesque areas. Back to Soufriere and a snorkel in the marine reserve, many fish but the corals were a bit sparse.
3/3/03 It surprises us just how many miles of roads there are on these small islands. We rode a ridge where we could see both the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts. Martinique off to the north is where the production of rum was first perfected. Each island now produces its own version, with varying success. St Lucia used to grow its own sugar cane but bananas took over in importance and the raw product molasses, for the rum is now imported for the lone surviving distillery. The rums from Barbados and Jamaica are said to be the best.
4/3/03 It's great to be on a 73 ft (22m) boat unless you have to clean it. Bigger than a truck and with more corners it took most of the day to remove a couple of months of rust stains, docking scuff marks, polishing the stainless and cleaning windows. We managed to squeeze in loading the motorcycle and saying goodbye to friends as we are off to Martinique tomorrow.
5/3/03 Again a strong easterly of 25-30 knots allowing a beam reach where we averaged 10 knots under sail for most of the way to Fort de France, Martinique's capital. You get a lot of spare time sailing, unlike riding a motorcycle there is little to see along the way. Looking for other boats, judging wave height and trimming the sails is about all there is to see or do. Where riding a motorcycle you can look at the scenery, people, places and even stop if there is something interesting. We were lucky to arrive for the final parade of Carnival. A black and white theme with the men cross dressing, something we couldn't understand not being able to speak French. The blend of the petite French and solid Africans has given an appealing look to the inhabitants with some extremely stunning women. This is the last of the Windward Island chain we are visiting, the Leewards are next.
6/3/03 The motorcycle is not being unloaded as we are only here for a day. The captain is looking for a refrigerator pump which broke a few days ago while we wandered the strange mix of French Caribbean. The supermarkets are full of French products at dearer than French prices while the restaurants serve Creole dishes next door to McDonalds. French is spoken but English is widely understood, the island being surrounded by English speaking countries. Not as tidy as France nor as rustic as its Caribbean neighbours it has high rise buildings and modern facilities mingling with dilapidated parts of the city. Not quite Europe, not quite the Caribbean.
7/3/03 A late start after the captain bought some things for the boat and we were sailing north at 1.00 pm, just 12 miles along the coast to St Pierre. It was here, 100 years ago, that the volcano behind the town erupted hot gas which killed all but one of the 30,000 inhabitants. Once the capital of Martinique and known as "Petite Paris" of the West Indies. Many of the old ruins still exist with new buildings on old foundations and floodlit at night giving an attractive view from the boat.
8/3/03 8.00 am and we were up anchor but motored in light
winds till the passage between Martinique and Dominica where winds freshened
and we sailed. This pattern of strong wind in the passages and light variable
wind to the leeward side of the islands where mountains deflect its course,
has become the routine. "Monsoon" performs well in the stronger winds but
at under 20 knots we move slowly in the heavy boat. It's great to be close
to the islands to watch them pass but the better winds are further offshore.
The next island is well in sight before we leave the last one.
Move with us to Dominica
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,