ST. LUCIA – THE PITONS
I have often though that The Pitons are one of the most spectacular sites in the entire Caribbean so it was only natural that we would anchor between them in St. Lucia. The trip from St. Vincent to St. Lucia had been calm and enjoyable, as predicted, and was a delight when compared to the day before. The seas were laid down during our channel passage – Dave had made sure we were out and on our way by 6 am when seas are at their lowest. We are also two days away from a new moon and that greatly affects, not only the tides, but the flow of the current.
We arrived at the Pitons a little after noon so there was ample time to check in and out with immigration in Soufriere, the closest customs dock, and enjoy the afternoon. The boat boys were out in full force but were most helpful as we moored for the first time in ages and they went ahead and secured a mooring for us for use by boats of our weight. We then dinghied into the Soufriere dock where I hired a sweet young man, by the name of Tyson (below) to help me shop while Dave went through immigration. He was able to check in and out at the same time which is always helpful to cruisers.
I must interject my opinion here. St. Lucia is one of the many islands in the Caribbean that was a colony of various European countries. England was the last mother country. I visited the island during that period and found it so perfectly beautiful. There were well manicured gardens everywhere and the town of Soufriere was particularly beautiful. When the St. Lucians voted for independence they naturally lost any funding from the UK. Since that time, because of the European embargo on their banana crop, this beautiful country has fallen into a sort of unspoken chaos.
The last time I was in Soufriere was in 1997 when I made an extended cruise on Largo Bay, a Whitby 42, for a few weeks. Dave had several closings at his brokerage and couldn’t sail with us so I went with friends Chris and his new wife to sailing, Sharon. At that time I couldn’t believe the change – drugs had taken over the island and it was a total mess. The doorways, of what had been a once beautiful town, were filled with old men asleep and younger men with vacant stares in their eyes. I was so disappointed and unhappy because the Lucians, by nature, are a beautiful and friendly people.
Fortunately this visit, a decade later, the problem has been addressed and the island seems to be putting their best foot forward. A most efficient Park Service has been put into action and the results are startling. The boat boys are courteous and helpful, if plentiful – but you expect that when cruising the islands so change is always available to purchase something from them. I no longer buy fruits or vegetables from anyone but them as they are so fresh.
Rodney Bay, on the northwest coast, has certainly put yachting on the map as it has become one of the better marinas in the Caribbean. And the beautiful Pitons, which fall under the direction of the Soufriere Park Management Service, are a must on anyone’s agenda. A lovely resort Jalousie Plantation has been built and is open to the public, which in my opinion is an excellent move. They do not mind at all if you tour their grounds, swim on their beach or enjoy their facilities. Of course, the pool area is only for guests, but that is always the case as it should be.
Therefore, Dave dropped me at their pier and I spent a delightful afternoon touring the grounds, visiting the boutique, and sketching from their lawn chaises. The Pitons are an artist’s delight as they constantly change in color and shading as the sun moves across them. As it was the afternoon, and they face west, I really had the advantage of this light. Just before sunset Dave picked me up at the dock closest to our anchorage and we returned to Swan Song to enjoy a perfect sunset – something we do every night. One of the reasons cruising in the Caribbean is so delightful is that the prevailing winds usually come out of the east; therefore I am able to enjoy a sunrise each morning, as the bow always faces east, and a perfect sunset each evening as our stern is always to the west. This simple fact makes such a difference to nature lovers like us; we try to never be off Swan Songs during these daily events. Sunrise is the perfect way to awaken and tropical sunsets are an exquisite way to wind down from a day on the water.
We pulled up our anchor at dawn and I took one of the best pictures of The Pitons I have ever photographed. You can see it here with Leda, our dinghy which we tow, behind the boat and The Pitons in the background. I was so impressed by the Park Service that I plan to write an article on them this summer.