Discovering Hidden Gems of the Caribbean the Bareboat Way
Hectic schedules and formal dining aren’t everybody’s favorite way to see the Caribbean Islands. Some prefer a more intimate way to be immersed in the sun, sea and sand. Chartering a sail boat can be a very exciting and gratifying experience. The sail from St. Lucia to Martinique, (the largest of the Windward Islands), provides a challenge for both the well-seasoned and the novice sailor.
Located between St. Vincent and Martinique, St. Lucia has some of the most breathtaking scenery and exhilarating sailing in the Caribbean. Coupled with the warm hospitality of the English-speaking residents and an ideal year-round tropical climate, St. Lucia is the perfect place to start a bareboat cruise.
There are several charter bases on the island and the tranquil blue lagoon of Marigot Bay, (on the Northwest coast of St. Lucia), is a good place to start.
When chartering a sailboat most companies can have the galley fully stocked upon arrival with a combination of familiar treats and an intriguing and colorful selection of local fruits and vegetables. Once everything is stowed and a reconnoiter of the surrounding area and familiarization of the boat is complete, the adventure continues!
Exploring St. Lucia’s Unique Island Culture
The natural wonders of the island of St. Lucia come alive at Soufriere Bay. At dusk, watch the twin volcanic peaks of the Pitons embrace the last rays of sunshine as the native boat boys welcome visitors, coming alongside offering a rope to tie off on a palm tree ashore. Fresh coconut, mango and papaya are sold from floating boutiques along with beautiful, hand-made jewellery, fashioned from mahogany beans and bamboo shoots.
After a long day of sailing, a swim off the back of the boat is both refreshing and invigorating. Then a dinghy-ride ashore to investigate the catch of the day could net a sampling of some fresh conch. The locals are happy to demonstrate the fine art of extricating them from their shells. Continuing the journey north along the west coast of St. Lucia, the best place to make a final stop before the open water sail to Martinique is the cozy anchorage of Rodney Bay.
Sailing into Open Water Heading on to Martinique
The crossing to Martinique is a thirty-three mile adventure accompanied by schools of flying fish and dolphins, amid rolling swells and strong but steady trade winds. Upon entering the busy port of Fort de France, the pulse of a busy city just waiting to be discovered can be felt.
It is worth the trip ashore to explore Fort de France, the largest city of the Windward Islands. The European influence on this French colony is reflected in narrow streets and colorful markets, where sailors can re-stock the pantry and barter for treasures to bring home.
Some choose to escape the hustle and bustle and explore the island by scooter. Hidden behind Fort de France’s metropolitan mask is a cascade of lush green foliage and vibrant blossoms. A leisurely trek up the mountain to the Pitons du Carbet rewards visitors with the most beautiful vista.
From this mountain perch the shimmering white beaches that line the east coast of the island are in full view. The water is warm, crystal clear and inviting; a perfect spot to stop and do some windsurfing or snorkeling before heading back.
Bareboat Sailing: the Perfect Adventure Vacation
St. Lucia and Martinique are an adventurers’ playground steeped in history and natural beauty. From diving shipwrecks from 1902 to exploring the tropical rain forests of St. Lucia; all of this is possible when cruising the “bareboat” way. Researching possible charter destinations and companies is a good way to begin planning a bareboat sailing adventure.