Christmas in the sun
The first month in the Caribbean
all the hullabaloo of arriving in St. Lucia, the parties, the people, the sun;
our friends and crew flew back to their families before Christmas and we moved
out of lagoon marina to the anchorage off Pigeon Island in Rodney Bay. It was
much quieter and cooler out there and we could swim off the boat in clear blue
water whenever we wanted. We took the long dinghy ride back to the marina once
a day to buy provisions and deal with anything else that couldn’t be done
from the boat.
had decided to go south to spend Christmas in Bequia and talking to others it
was obviously a popular choice. A few days before Christmas we sailed down to
the anchorage between the two amazing Piton mountains down the St. Lucian
coast. There are only a few moorings available (anchoring is not allowed as it
is a National Park) and as we approached there appeared to be only one left. We
were met by a local boat boy, Clitus, in his outboard-driven pirogue and when
we said where we wanted to go he sped off to hold the mooring for us and fend
off any other yachts that may have had their eye on the buoy.
Clitus and his pirogue
moored up and sorted out the boat Cletus came over and asked if we wanted to go
for a tour around the Pitons. We said we would like to see the thermal springs
and waterfalls and he said a taxi would be waiting for us at 4 o’clock.
However, a few minutes before four Cletus turned up and said there was a change
of plans. So we jumped in his boat for a fast ride to the town of Soufriere where Cletus
arranged for a taxi to take us up to the volcano. Through the town and up the
hills we proceeded towards a growing smell of sulphur and to the hot thermal
springs and bubbling mud. From there we went to some beautiful waterfalls where
the water was hot and the locals use the pools to bathe. Back at Soufriere a friend of Clitus took us to a little mid-town
bar where we got chatting to a chap from Elephant & Castle!
Sailing away from the Pitons
Hoy, sulphurous, volcanic springs
several calm days the sail from St.
Lucia direct to Bequia was a boisterous affair,
covering the 60 miles in just over 5 hours. Knowing the main anchorage in
Bequia, Admiralty Bay, was going to be very crowded we went instead to Friendship Bay on the south coast. Here there were
only 4 boats, which was just fine until we realised that the boisterous
‘Christmas winds’ were coming over the top of the hill and
producing local squalls sending the anchored boats spinning in all directions!
spent 4 quiet days in Friendship
Bay. We wandered over to
admiralty bay a couple of times and spent a few happy evenings at the bar in
the one hotel in Friendship
Bay. The hotel is Swedish
owned and most of the guests were Swedish. We made friends with one particular
man, Per Morburg only to find out that he is, apparently a famous TV
personality in Sweden
– the Swedish equivalent of Jamie Oliver! Come to think of it,
wasn’t there a character in the Muppet Show called Swedish Chef?.
Friendship Bay, Bequia
‘Christmas winds’ outside Friendship Bay
Christmas we made our way back north to St. Vincent
and took a mooring in Blue Lagoon. It was blowing ‘old boots’ and
the crossing between Bequia and St. Vincent
was very rough with far larger seas than we had experienced anytime on the
Vincent does not get a great number of tourists – there is nowhere flat
enough to build big hotels and there are only black sand beaches, but we like
it because it is very much the Caribbean of 20
years ago. It has a bit of a reputation for mischief, but we have never had any
trouble there and once again enjoyed our stay. The high spot was a visit to the
in the Mesopotamia valley in the centre of the
island. These gardens have been laid out and tended by Tim Vaughan, an English
landscape gardener who resides half the year in France
and half in St. Vincent. The magnificent
gardens are located high up un the hills just below the rain forest. The location
and the wonderful flora make for an idyllic visit.
St. Vincent does not always get the best of press and there have
been a few incidents with boats in bays on the west coast over the years, but
that should not deter visitors. The island is incredibly hilly. Some wit once
said that is St. Vincent were rolled flat it would be as large as Australia.
As it is so hilly and also because it has no white sand beaches, main stream
tourism has by-passed the island. St. Vincent therefore remains much more like
the Caribbean of 20 years ago and none the
worse for that. The people are friendly and go about their daily business
without hassling you. Kingstown,
the capital, has a wonderful market and taking a ride on the local buses is an
experience not to be missed.
stayed a few days in Blue Lagoon, whilst the winds continued to blow hard and
then made our way (still windy!) back up to St.
Lucia and to Rodney
Bay for the New Year
celebrations. We met up with Lawrence from
‘Papillon’ for and excellent dinner ate very nice restaurant (Lawrence has checked out all the best restaurants on St. Lucia),
then sat on the deck watching all the fireworks from all the hotels whilst
drinking some form of rum nightcap! This incidentally was the 3rd
time I had seen in the New Year in Rodney
Bay – just