Chartering in Saint Lucia means you don’t have to be a sailor to enjoy this corner of paradise.
Asking someone to name five reasons to start chartering in Saint Lucia is like asking them to give five reasons they like dessert. I mean, what’s not to like? That said, if you’re looking for points why to choose this jewel over other places in the Caribbean, here are a few that will have you packing your bags in a hurry. Best of all, the Moorings/Sunsail base offers a selection of yachts that includes large new powercats which are becoming the fastest growing segment of charter fleets around the world.
Because rum drinks and sunsets aren’t all there is to cruising, it’s best to check on the practicalities of your destination prior to departure. Consider things like the base facilities, provisioning, and selection of available yachts. IGY’s Rodney Bay Marina is one of the most attractive, safe, modern, and friendly marinas in the Caribbean. Originally constructed in 1985, this 220-slip facility offers onsite cafés, gift shop, pool, and showers. Every December, the marina hosts the finish of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers that attracts more than 250 boats and 1,200 people who have just crossed the Atlantic and are ready for a little pampering. You won’t be roughing it here, either.
Provisioning is easy with staples and delicacies available in every grocery store—there’s a large one in Gros Islet. We particularly enjoyed our time sampling the excellent restaurants of Gros Islet as well. Strolling along Reduit Beach looking for an appealing eatery, we couldn’t resist popping into the St. Lucia Yacht Club for a rum punch and the requisite hat.
Any Time’s a Good Time
Choosing the ideal time to charter is simple with St. Lucia, which is south of the typical hurricane belt. That’s not to say there is no hurricane season here; it’s just that St. Lucia is less likely to be impacted than the Leeward Islands. Our last trip that took place in the second half of October was without incident.
The weather is delightful year-round. From December to May, temperatures range from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and from June to November you can expect 75 to 95
degrees. There will be less rain in the winter, but you’ll likely experience rougher seas while Chartering in Saint Lucia. In the summertime, the ocean lays flatter and the trade winds are milder, typically around 10 knots rather than 25 knots. In other words, you can consider a charter for nearly any time of year. The payoff is that you can take advantage of shoulder seasons that offer not only lower rates, but also fewer tourists to compete with for anchorage space and restaurant times.
Stunning Vistas, Stellar Cuisine
The mere mention of St. Lucia evokes an image of the stunning Pitons, the twin conical peaks (volcanic plugs, actually) that are the iconic landmarks of this lush island. The
town of Soufrière just below them is chock-full of colorful, camera-loving Creole buildings with gingerbread trim and New Orleans-style balconies. Anchor in Piton Bay to visit the
village, or rent a car and drive the entire island for remarkable views and delicious cuisine that’s the best mix of French, Caribbean and Creole you will find anywhere. You’ll never
want to cook on the boat.
We braved driving on the “wrong” side of the car—shifting with the left hand—and stopped off at Ladera Resort, a picturesque hotel built into the side of a mountain that overlooks the Pitons and serves inventive (if pricey) delicacies. Giant ferns and wild orchids greeted us at every stop around the island and although we ran out of time, I’m definitely returning to hike Soufrière, the extinct volcano that you can drive a rental car into. (Yes, all volcanoes in the Caribbean seem to be named Soufrière.) St. Lucia is the “honeymooners’ island,” and many people visit for strictly land-based vacations. Chartering offers an experience on both land and sea, taking paradise up a notch.
History Buffs Rejoice
Like most Caribbean islands, St. Lucia survived skirmishes between the French and English on numerous occasions. For a glimpse of this, we visited Pigeon Island, a 44-acre national landmark that is the site of the ruins of Fort Rodney. The fort was built in 1778 and named for Admiral George Brydges Rodney. In its time, the fort offered strategic views of Martinique to the north and provided the British with a peek at what the French were up to. The views of Gros Islet and the harbor below to the south are worth the climb to the top where cannons still point at the horizon, sentinels of days gone by.
Today, the site is a park with a lovely beach where one enterprising young woman cruises the shallows with her portable bar. She loads up a brightly decorated panga with fresh fruit and gallons of rum and then walks in the waist-deep water pulling the barge behind her, stopping to serve fruity cocktails to beachgoers as they lounge in the warm waves— like a St. Lucia version of UberEats.
The Perfect Jump Off Point
When chartering in Saint Lucia, you can spend an entire week along the western coastline, stopping off to snorkel at Anse Cochon or tucking into Marigot Bay with its red-topped homes and fun stores. But one of the glorious reasons to charter a powercat from St. Lucia is that you can go north to Martinique or south to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on a one-week charter and never feel rushed. (If you visit the Grenadines or Martinique, you’ll need to check in/out with St. Lucia’s Customs & Excise Department.)
Traveling at a cruising speed of 15 knots, you’ll reach Martinique’s Grand Anse d’Arlet in just three hours and enjoy bars, restaurants, and a postcard-worthy beach. Or run south
along the length of St. Vincent and tuck into Admiralty Bay on Bequia in the Grenadines in less than six hours. Catch a mooring in the bay and order up fresh baguettes to arrive via
the “bread man” the next morning. This lovely baker rows around the harbor every day at 6 AM to deliver still-warm loaves and croissants to early risers.
Visit the turtle sanctuary here and stroll along Belmont Walkway in search of the perfect lunch stop. Then cast off for the Tobago Cays, desert islets manned by “boat boys” who will arrange a fantastic beach barbeque on request. This is a Robinson Crusoe fantasyland that served as
a backdrop for the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. Lounging on the flybridge with a chilled glass of anything, you’re bound to see turtle heads popping up all around.
Chartering in Saint Lucia means so much more than just one island, especially on a powercat, so why limit your choices? Cruise near or far and enjoy the best of the Windward Isles. I know I’ll be back for more sun, beaches, Creole cuisine, and history. After all, when dessert is as good as the best chocolate you’ve ever had, you go back for seconds.
Eastern Caribbean Dollar
(U.S. dollar widely accepted)
Hewanorra International Airport (UVF)
The Landings Resort & Spa Marina, Gros Islet
By Zuzana Prochazka, Southern Boating April 2018