Please select your home edition
Edition
North Sails 3Di 60 - 728x90

Mission Ocean: Saint Lucia: Paradise? Not quite…

by Mission Océan 2 Sep 2018 08:04 UTC

The sail from Martinique to Saint Lucia was a treat. I was at the helm the whole way, with a light swell and nice breezes pushing us along, and we quickly caught up our friends who had departed a good hour before us. We were treated to a real show for the last hour of the crossing, with two boobies hunting flying fish within inches of Contigo's bow, using the energy in our sails to soar up and dive clumsily down over and over, with incredible speed and a comical sort of elegance.

As many do, we came around Pigeon Island in the north and dropped anchor off the sandy beaches of Rodney Bay. After a quick dash to Customs and Immigration before hefty overtime rates kicked in, we settled down to a rum punch in one of the marina's waterfront bars, and compared stories with the four or five other boats that had accompanied us on the sail down. We spent a couple of nights in Rodney Bay, getting the boat ready for a friend who would join us for the next week in Saint Lucia.

On departing Rodney Bay, we were immediately struck by the large amount of floating trash that we encountered. We initially thought that the plastic soda bottles bobbing around the boat were to mark lobster pots and other fishing hazards, as this is common practice in Martinique. But when we spotted a full black bin bag around 20m to port, we realized that the problem was much more serious than it had first seemed.

On pulling into Castries, the island's capital and commercial port, our faces fell even further. The little harbour was strewn with plastic bottles, polystyrene cups, and all manner of floating detritus. I spent the first hour on Contigo's steps with a boat hook, fishing out as much as I could. The dinghy trip in the dark to pick up our friend from the ferry dock proved very dangerous, and we were forced to crawl along with torches trained on the water to avoid catching plastic bags in the prop. Not the best welcome to Saint Lucia for our guest, nor indeed for the other ferry passengers and the clients on the small cruise ship that chugged into Castries the following morning.

In Castries' defence, we met a wonderful ferry worker there who showed us around and swapped a huge bag of avocadoes from his garden for some old fishing gear that we had on board. We also discovered a busy market in the backstreets (not the tourist market on the dock, although this maze of covered wooden stalls has its charm), where we stocked up with local fruit and vegetables, and spent a wonderful hour in a little café sipping cocoa tea and watching the formidable Saint Lucia mamas haggling and sucking their teeth at one another.

Our next stop was Marigot Bay, a stunning cut between cliffs, which could not have been further removed from Casties. A pristine haven, with a beautifully maintained marina village and a fancy hotel whose services (and pool) are available to any boats taking a Med mooring or a ball. Alternatively, as we did on the first night, you can drop anchor on either side of the channel in the first bay, and take advantage of some of the snorkelling straight from the back of your boat. We spent several nights in Marigot Bay, renting a car and using the neat little marina as a base. Be warned! The roads in Saint Lucia are not for the faint-hearted, and are in a terrible state. Huge potholes hide around each bend, and it would be easy to lose a wheel – or worse – in a matter of minutes. If you are not a confident driver, definitely opt for one of the minivan taxis that tout for trade all over the island.

We managed to survive the roads, and were rewarded with waterfalls, volcanic sulphur baths, lush forests and stunning coastal scenery, including the Pitons, a UNESCO heritage site of natural historical significance. We spent our last night on the island anchored between these two great green peaks, feeling very small and imagining the force that it would take to form such mountains.

Had it not been for the trash, Saint Lucia would have not been far off a paradise on Earth. But everywhere we looked – on the roadsides, in the woods, in the rivers – and every time we sailed or put our heads under the water, we were confronted with plastic pollution and traces of man's impact on the planet. We tried to photograph, note and collect as much as we possibly could, but there was just too much. Towards the end of our stay, our spirits were slightly raised as we came across various efforts to reduce this tidal wave of pollution. These included billboards in Castries encouraging reusable shopping bags, a hand-painted sign at a waterfall urging visitors to "keep the nature clean", and a café in Rodney Bay offering a discount on takeaway drinks if you brought your own reusable mug. The ideas are there, but the authorities in Saint Lucia need to wake up and recognise the island-wide issue, encourage clean up efforts and improve education if they want to maintain their image as a luxury tourist – and cruising – destination.

Mission Ocean is proud to be supported by: Boero, Doyle Sails Palma, Rotary District 1730, Navigair, OctoMarine, Battery World Service, Victron Energy, Monaco Marine, Aquatabs, Spade Anchors, Plastimo, Furuno France, Pejout Marine Services, Lyvio, Storm Bird, Aethic, Corsica Yacht Services, Astrolabe Expeditions, Asociacion Ondine, AGL Marine, and Sail-Worldcruising.com

Mission Ocean is Laura Beard and Henrique Agostinho. Their three year plus mission is to share their love and respect for the ocean with others, through education and scientific research. Neither is a stranger to the water, so they have combined all their skills and passions in this bold, courageous and inspiring project. Sail-Worldcruising.com is delighted to be with them for the journey of their lifetime. You can also find out more on their Facebook page and Instagram account @missionocean06

Related Articles

How to teach an old dog new tricks
Mission Ocean take in some training "Fiiiire! Go on girl, get on it!" I struggled clumsily over in my big fireman's boots, lugged the CO2 extinguisher onto my hip and aimed it at the fake TV that was burning with very big, very real flames in front of me. Posted on 29 Dec 2018
Mission Ocean: Microplastics in the Tobago Cays
Sampling based on techniques from an educational program You may have read our previous article on the fantastic flora, fauna and sea life that we encountered during our visit to the Tobago Cays Marine Reserve; we really did love our visit, and returned a further two times as we cruised up and down. Posted on 12 Oct 2018
Mission Ocean: Tropical Storm Kirk
Grave face, big serious eyes, a slow shake of the head "Have you seen what's coming? Watch out. Be prepared. Stay safe." Grave face, big serious eyes, a slow shake of the head; our new friend Henri (also owner of a Venezia 42 like Contigo) was full of words of warning in the run up to Tropical Storm Kirk Posted on 4 Oct 2018
The Tobago Cays: A Caribbean Galapagos
Mission Ocean visits this little cluster of islands I've always liked wildlife. I grew up in rural southern England, and my brother and I were forever outside, making a den in a bush in the garden and trying to inspect ants and leaves through a little plastic microscope. Posted on 24 Sep 2018
Mission Ocean: Why you should go to Saint Vincent
Our American cruiser friends were full of words of warning You're going to Saint Vincent? Wow... Be careful." "Yeah, we never stop there. Don't go to the capital..." Posted on 6 Sep 2018
Mission Ocean: Back on board after 4 months away
Back on board after 4 months away At some point in long-term cruising, every owner will have to leave their boat, be it for a few days, weeks or, in our case, months. Unless you intend to cut all ties with land and embrace life at sea to the max Posted on 30 Aug 2018
Mission Ocean: On taking a break from cruising
The very early stages of planning our circumnavigation The very early stages of planning our circumnavigation began with budgeting. How much could we afford to spend on a boat? How long could we cruise before the coffers ran low? Posted on 4 Jun 2018
Mission Ocean : Saving Water on Board
Today is World Water Day, and so it only seems fitting that we've been thinking about our water Today is World Water Day, and so it only seems fitting that we've been thinking about our fresh water consumption on board Contigo. Drinking water on board boats is always a big problem. Posted on 23 Mar 2018
Mission Ocean - Donating and Diving in Dominica
You're never too old to learn something new. You're never too old to learn something new. I passed my Level 1 diving certificate in Martinique, with some friends who run an dive company from their catamaran in Grande Anse. Posted on 12 Mar 2018
Here's the other side of crossing the Atlantic
It was to be my first ocean crossing, and I wanted to prepare myself Over the summer, whilst Contigo was laid up in the yard and I was averaging four flights a week for work, I read a lot about crossing the Atlantic. It was to be my first ocean crossing, and I wanted to prepare myself – and my boat – as best I could. Posted on 10 Feb 2018
Marine Resources BOTTOMVaikobi 2019 - Footer 2Zhik 2018 Hyeres 728x90 BOTTOM