Well it has now been confirmed , the weather has gone mad . This being our first full season in the Caribbean , who were we to judge but the strange weather started showing itself while we were in Grenada over Xmas and then again when we returned after sailing to the Grenadines to drop our daughter off at the airport. Officially the rainy season was over but we continued to get frequent rain squalls which even had the local Grenadians totally baffled . The positive feature was that our boat was regularly rinsed down keeping the salt off our topsides and deck gear .
During our inter-island crossings of which we have now done quite a number back and forth , the weather has been boisterous to say the least with our weatherman Chris Parker mostly referring to the conditions as “brisk & salty“ or “very brisk & very salty“. One charter skipper with many years of Caribbean sailing experience under his belt stated that this “ Christmas Winds “ season was the roughest that he had ever seen and referred to the inter-island passages and l quote “ like a washing machine on rinse cycle “ . This strange weather of strong winds and big seas is a hot topic amongst locals and cruisers alike .
Our 62nm passage from Bequia to Marigot Bay , St Lucia was no different particularly the crossing from the northern end of St Vincent to the south coast of St Lucia with the wind hard on the nose , blowing 20-25kns gusting to 30kn and a fairly decent swell to boot . Thankfully our boat goes well to wind but we have seen some cats really struggling , motor sailing into these confused seas . Chris Parker's description of “ very brisk & very salty “ was very apt but we made it in good time and Windward with her new genoa performed really well albeit she was covered in crusted salt when we arrived at the entrance to Marigot Bay . Having woken up at 3.00am and setting sail soon after our first cup of coffee , we were knackered that evening and after an early dinner at the Bayside Restaurant we hit the sack .
Our first glimpse of St Lucia while still well south at sea was awesome . The majestic , spectacular Pitons rose out of the sea in dramatic fashion . This pair of volcanic spires namely Gros Piton and Petit Piton received global recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are the island's most iconic natural wonders .
Gros Piton stands at 786m and has a 3km diameter base and Petit Piton is 739m high with a smaller base of 1km diameter . With its steeper sides Petit Piton appears much taller than it's bigger sister but these two eroded remnants of lava domes provide a distinctive landmark for seafarers . While gazing at these natural marvels l couldn't help thinking about how many sailors had seen this sight centuries before me and were just as grateful for having seen them in all their glory . The pics l took with our little Canon do them no justice at all .
Arriving at our approach waypoint off Marigot Bay our first sight of the place was quite deceiving in that there is a lot more of the bay tucked away than initially meets the eye . The bay lined with mangroves is completely sheltered and is famous as a hurricane hole . A palm fringed narrow sandspit juts out creating a narrow entrance to the marina and mooring field which is all part and parcel of the ultra-luxury 5 Star Capella Marigot Bay Resort . The bonus is that with our yacht berthed in their marina we got the full use of all the resort's facilities and if your pocket is deep enough you could easily get hung up here for a while sipping complimentary fruit punches while lazing at one of the three pools in the resort or attending free yoga and pilates classes each morning before breakfast . Cool spot no doubt .
We enjoyed a unique dining experience at the Rainforest Hideaway waterfront restaurant where we contributed to relieving a huge problem by ordering Lionfish which are decimating the local indigenous reef fish . This fish species which has no natural predators is flourishing here in the Caribbean but the more we eat them the bigger the demand and local fisherman will be encouraged to target them in their catches . Fortunately they are slow moving and easy to catch.
Marigot Bay is idyllic and made for cruisers with it's perfect backdrop of mangroves lying at the foot of steep surrounding hills providing perfect protection. Legend has it that a British Admiral hid his fleet in the secluded bay from the pursuing French fleet of warships by getting his crew to tie palm fronds up in the rigging as camouflage to disguise his ships . Apparently the French sailed by without spotting them , smart move .
After a relaxing time spent in Marigot Bay we sailed north to Rodney Bay where we had arranged to collect out UK Transit Visas . Obtaining these visas became a major issue but that story could be a post on it's own . Fortunately perseverance paid off and they were finally delivered to our boat . Three months of frustration and aggravation to enable us to sit at Heathrow Airport for a couple of hours waiting for our connecting flight back home to Capetown in June .
While in Rodney Bay we met Naitram who took us on a tour of his island . Fellow cruisers Tony and Connie joined us for the day visiting St Lucia's sites including the Diamond Botanical Gardens and the active volcano which falls within the Soufriere Volcanic Centre . The iconic Pitons are St Lucia's famous landmarks .
While visiting the Sulphur Springs our chatty guide told us of a tour guide who while walking amongst these bubbling springs fell in but fortunately although badly burnt survived to become a celebrity guide telling people about his experience of being boiled alive .
St Lucia is home to lush tropical rainforests , beautiful beaches and volcanic mountains . Much of the island is still undeveloped which endows it with it's natural beauty .
Now with our passports stowed onboard we were ready to sail to Martinique , a totally different French experience .