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The Voyage of Spectacle Thoughts on St. Lucia

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Thoughts on St. Lucia

Much like Martinique, St. Lucia is a place we were very excited to visit and very much predisposed to like.  With its famous Pitons and its abundance of high-end resorts (including the world’s #1 hotel in 2005 according to Conde Nast), we had high hopes.

We tied up at Rodney Bay Marina, which is the obvious choice.  Located on the northwest coast of the island, it’s well protected and reasonably organized.  It also has a decidedly better-than-adequate great (albeit quite pricey) marina bar, Scuttlebutt’s.

By now, you have probably surmised that we have become immersed in the Cricket World Cup.  Scuttlebutt’s had all the games on TV, as well as all the high-alcohol-low-flavor beer and fried seafood we’ve come to expect from the Caribbean.  This had a way of cutting into our sight-seeing.

Another thing that cut into the sight-seeing was the craziness involved in getting around the island.  The roads are very treacherous (think Positano) and the other drivers are the most reckless we have ever seen.  Indeed, throughout the Caribbean, the whole “island time” thing just doesn’t translate into the behavior of the drivers.  Everyone appears to be in quite a hurry to get somewhere and in absolutely no hurry to do anything once there.

St. Lucia’s Spectacular PitonsThe island is also deceptively large, which is to say that driving can be quite time-consuming.  Our only trip to the southern part of the island took fully an hour and was nerve-wreaking enough to deter us from a second attempt.  As a result, we never made it to the much-celebrated Ladera, although we did stop at Discovery at Marigot Bay, Ti Kaye, Anse Chastanet, Stonefield Estate, and, most importantly, Jalousie Plantation.

The Beautiful Sunset on the Beach Between the PitonsJalousie Plantation has what might be the most fantastic beach in the world, thanks to the setting — smack between the Pitons.  We managed to spend a sunset — with our mouths agape — standing on this one-of-a-kind beach.  The photos page has a few shots.

During our stay, we ran into Faye and Gary Hussion from Hullabaloo.

We had actually seen them for the first time at the Caicos Marina and Shipyard at the conclusion of the infamous Tale of the Twin Fiascoes.  They live part time in St. Lucia and part time in Virginia.  We ended up having two very fun dinners with this uproariously fun couple, and enjoyed cocktails over at their beautiful Rodney Bay home.

We also had the second truly outstanding meal since our departure.  Although not easy to find, The Coal Pot is quite well known and, for good reason, highly touted.  We went twice — the first time we ordered from the menu.  It was merely good.  At the end of our meal, we had the chance to sit and chat with the chef, Xavier Ribot, who, sensing our serious interest in food, invited us to come back and said he would just “cook for us.”  The second visit was tremendous – easily one of the best meals we’ve yet had in the Caribbean — and on the house.  Of course, it’s cheating just a little bit that we got such customized (and free) fare, but we’re not complaining.  It was outstanding in every way.

OK, — so far, so good.  Fun friends, beautiful scenery, even a downright great meal.  It sounds like St. Lucia is pretty great.

Sadly, that’s only part of the story.  Much like Martinique, St. Lucia has a palpable menace to it.  The racial tension is barely disguised, and the amount of violent crime is completely out of control.  There’s absolutely no way an island of 160,000 people should average about 40 murders per year — that’s a murder rate approaching that of notoriously violent places like Jamaica or Venezuela, and about six times the U.S. murder rate (or, to put it another way, about 60 times the Japanese murder rate).  Indeed, this first came to our attention when our googling of ”The Coal Pot” article this article first.

St. Lucia is a significant drug trafficking center, and certain areas of the east coast that are considered “no go” zones for visitors.  To be honest, we didn’t feel altogether comfortable walking the streets at night, and we had multiple “sketchy” situations in which the quick use of street smarts was required.

So, should you visit St. Lucia?  That depends what you are after.  Do you expect to spend your visit locked up behind the walls of a luxurious resort, content to sip umbrella drinks while slowly baking in the sun?  If so, then go for it.  But if you want to “get out” and go exploring, I can definitely think of better places.


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