St. Lucia’s Carnival, Poker Runs and Maritime History in Bequia

Enjoy island-style partying during St. Lucia’s Carnival celebrations taking place throughout the month. The fun kicks off on July 2nd and runs through July 19th, with shows, events and parades filling the streets of St. Lucia’s capital city, Castries. In between the festivities, the Kings and Queens of the Band competition entertains with dancers wearing huge, extravagant costumes that take an entire year to construct. This competition is held at the National Cultural Centre, inland from Castries Harbor. If you appreciate steel pan music, head further inland to the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium for the National Panorama Competition on July 15th. Located near Gros Islet, the stadium is only a 5-minute drive or 30-minute walk from Island Global Yachting’s 253-slip Rodney Bay Marina. The official event website ( is a great resource, but be sure to call the Carnival Planning Management Agency (758-452-5646) for the most up-to-date event information. For tips on yachting navigation and anchorages, browse avid Caribbean cruiser Frank Virgintino’s free online cruising guides, particularly the guide to the Lesser Antilles, Vol. III: The Windward Islands, which has a wealth of up-to-date information on St. Lucia.

Multi-island poker run

Hands down, powerboating rallies called Poker Runs are surging in popularity throughout the Caribbean. This month, the second Annual SXM Poker Run takes place on July 24th out of the Port de Plaisance Marina, a 90-slip facility in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten. “We expect 30 to 50 boats coming from St. Maarten as well as the B.V.I., U.S.V.I., Guadeloupe, Martinique, and [we hope], the U.S. mainland,” says event organizer, Colin Conner. The five-stop run begins with the first card pickup in Great Bay, Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Next, the fleet cruises north to Grand Case, St. Martin. Watch the sleek powerboats roar in and join the crews for a chicken, ribs and lobster lunch at the famous beachside barbecue shack, Lolo’s. Next, card picks three and four take the fleet north to the breathtaking Rendezvous Bay and the village of Sandy Ground on the neighboring island of Anguilla. The fifth card stop is back in St. Maarten at Mullet Bay, and then everyone returns to the Port de Plaisance Marina for the prize announcements and a party. A total of up to $5,000 is designated for the winner. “Next year, we plan to add a land race division as well so [that] more people can participate,” says Conner.

Maritime history in Bequia

The seven-square-mile island of Bequia, the second largest island in the Grenadines located south of St. Vincent and north of Grenada, is a treasure trove of nautical history. It’s known as the model boat capital of the world, and is home to several boating workshops around the island, including the Sargeant Brothers Model Boat Shop in Port Elizabeth. Here, with handheld tools such as chisels and machetes, the Lawson brothers convert locally grown white pine into extraordinarily detailed vessels, including a 5-foot replica of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Models at the shop are for both show and sale. Nearby, the Bequia Maritime Museum boasts an intriguing collection of art and artifacts, including aged photos of the island’s whaling past. If you’re up for a hike, explore the ruins of the 18th-century Fort Hamilton where old cannons rest and a panoramic view of the harbor reigns.

By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating Magazine July 2016