It was time to visit legendary St Lucia, and we decided to sail directly to Marigot Bay, a well-known piece of paradise and reliable “hurricane hole”, completely protected from sea, swell and wind.The place would indeed qualify as heavenly were it not for all the… people! A luxury resort opened there in the last decade, the very chic marina has expanded and added commerces, and the worst part? Boatloads of Carnival Cruise partiers come cruising through on large catamarans, whooting, whooping and hollering, music blaring, camera phones in hand, and creating large wakes as they pass. Every half hour or so they cruise in, go up to the head of the bay, turn around and come out. Paradise Lost? Hell is other people? A bit of both. There are no two ways about it: it is a gorgeous spot, and has naturally been exploited for tourism. We were welcomed by the ubiquitous local welcoming committee, a couple of boys in an old boat who lead us to our buoy (30$ a night!)
Our buoy was just in front of a modern house that was home to a very impressive fishing boat called Maverick, a 74 foot Viceroy fishing boat . Peter and I both thought of Marc Meyers when we saw her. Normally, not my kind of boat, but you have to admit, she has beautiful lines! We got out and about in the late afternoon to do the customs and immigration routine. Kind of a drag, each time you change islands, you have to find the right offices do paperwork for the boat, and then customs and immigration services. Sometimes it costs extra. Now I understand why a lot of French sailors just stick to the French Caribbean islands – much less hassle and paper work. Payment in euros. Free buoys and anchoring. Relatively affordable food and wine. And your French phone plan works! After immigration, we stopped for a drink some wifi. Peter wanted something “fruity”, so I got us a couple of mango daiquiris. Standard bar fare, mixed cocktails, nothing special.
The wifi didnt work, so we hopped the ferry to the other bank, to a place called Doolittle’s.
Peter went to order this time. We got wifi going, and Peter said he ordered some “wicked” drinks. The waitres served me a nice, daiquiri-ish drink that was opaque and tasted of melon, while the one she served Peter was more transparent and less fruity. Now Peter enjoys a drink or two, but he’s kind of a lightweight. While catching up on email amd messages, he drank his drink pretty quickly. Before I knew it, his glass was empty, and he looked at me with an odd expression on his face and said something like “I’m so pissed.”
I asked the waitress and she said it was the strongest drink in the house. It’s called “Hurricane David” after the eponymous storm of 2003… Needless to say, Peter was seriously sloshed, unintentionally, and not enjoying it. He rowed us home from the ferry stop, and motor skills were an issue! Luckily, I had lots of potatoes and cheese on board (a life-saving tartiflette) and made him a hearty meal to soak it up.
The next day we moved down to La Souffriere bay, home to Lucia’s famous pitons. It was early, so we motored around Petit Piton to Jalousie Bay, which lies right between the Grand and Petit Piton. It was fantastic! The bay is a shallow, well-protected horseshoe, once dominated by the Jalousie plantation. The beautiful plantation house is still there, but in more recent years, a luxury hotel has taken over the beach under Petit Piton. More on that in a minute!We grabbed a buoy and took in the spectacular view. Snorkeling in the crystal-clear water was a real treat, lots of fish and healthy coral along the rocky beach, including beautiful purple sponges. Early that day, local fishermen came by asking if we’d like some fish.
Naturally, Peter asked about Lobster! They took the challenge, and we watched them to-ing and fro-ing all day working on it. Finally, they came back to us with not 1, but 4 lobsters, of which 2 were undersized. We bought two, and a beautiful little yellow-tailed snapper. We spent about 60$ all told on this indulgence, and those guys worked really hard for the money…Now, back to the hotel. The Viceroy hotel chain has constructed a huge and sprawling hotel featuring private villas of all sizes that cover the hill side. Their “private beach” occupies about 4/5ths of what probably used to be a gorgeous and unspoiled public beach. Deprived of wifi, we got the motor on the dinghy and went in to have a drink at the bar. On shore, we tried to bring the dinghy up into the beach, but were quickly chased away by a serious-looking dude in a white uniform with a walkie talkie. Told us we had to tie up to the public dock (which was very high, and quite difficult for our little dinghy).To the right, the hotel. To the left, occupying a tiny sliver of the beach, a spot where we’d noticed people milling about all day. Plastic chairs, thatched beach umbrellas, etc. A large Carnival Cruise catamaran pulled up and blew its horn, and an outrageously motley crew of my fellow countrymen started ambling towards their ride, styrofoam to-go containers and big drink cups in hand. I’ll leave the visuals up to your imagination, but it wasn’t pretty. This must have been their fun-filled excursion to glorious Jalousie Beach (or the sliver of it still open to the GP).
We then ambled into the cool shade of the beautiful Sugar Beach Viceroy Hotel garden bar. Ample daybeds, sofas and armchairs, covered in crisp white linen awaited us under the most gorgeous shade trees. “Yes!” I thought. “This is just what I need!” I climbed onto a pristine white-cushioned sofa, tucked my feet up under me, ordered some Pinot Grigio and got my wifi on! Peter did the same, with a cool glass of Piton beer. Next thing you know, I’m googling prices for the place thinking perhaps we needed a night or two in the lap of luxury. That cake fell when I saw that the cheapest rooms go for about 1,100$. A bit much, thought I, as I ordered a second glass of the perfectly chilled Pinot. Dommage et tant pis! Well, all good things must come to an end, and we knew it was time to leave the beautiful beach garden paradise, and Peter went to pick up the tab. At 15$ the glass (plus tax and service charge, mind you), you better believe that Pinot was the bomb! We left, dazed and confused, and a little irked. You see, prices on the menu were in USD, not in EC. 15 EC is 5$. A fine price for a glass of vino. 15$ (45EC) is not. I felt very stupid for not asking!Back on Opsimath, the Marine Reserve rangers dropped by to collect their fee – 60EC (20$) for the night. In just 2 days, we’d dropped over 200$, everything included!
Peter wanted to do a dive of the Lesleen shipwreck, but that was another 120$, even with his own equipment. Sadly, we will have to leave the luxuries of beautiful St Lucia to the rich and famous (and the Carnival Cruise crowds). After just two nights, it was time to move on, and so we did, towards St. Vincent.