Sampling some goat roti may not rank high on your culinary bucket list, but I’m here to tell you it’s a very underrated dish—especially when eaten off a tin plate, with a tree stump for a table, at a street kitchen beside a winding mountain road in St. Lucia.
Besides being blessed with one of the Caribbean’s most iconic views—the twin peaks of the Pitons towering over a gorgeous blue anchorage on the island’s west coast—St. Lucia is an underrated charter destination-cum-starting point. From the big marina complex in Rodney Bay at the island’s northern tip to the laid-back surroundings of the hurricane hole that is Marigot Bay, St. Lucia embodies the mystique and beauty of the Lesser Antilles.
You aren’t likely to want to beat 100 miles to windward to reach St. Lucia’s southeasterly neighbor, Barbados, but go north or south and you’ll strike gold. Heading south from Marigot Bay, it’s an easy daysail down past the rugged coastline of St. Vincent to Bequia, gateway to the Grenadines and the fabled Tobago Cays. Turn to starboard out of Rodney Bay and you’re aiming at Martinique, which offers a taste of French culture and some rewarding sailing experiences of its own. From there, you can head past poor Dominica, ravaged last August by Tropical Storm Erika, to Guadeloupe, another Gallic outpost with some beautiful islets and anchorages.
If you’re a maritime history buff, these islands will attract you like a magnet. The British and French navies harried each other mercilessly up and down the island chain right through the 17th and 18th centuries—each country took possession of St. Lucia no fewer than seven times apiece, until the British finally assumed control in 1814—and many bloody battles were fought both on land and on the water.
In Rodney Bay, you can anchor on the very spot where Adm. Rodney’s flagship was warped right up to the beach and lines were run from her deck to the top of Pigeon Island so cannon could be hauled up the steep hill by hundreds of sweating sailors. More than 200 years old, Fort Rodney’s fortifications are still in excellent condition, and you can only marvel at what sailors can accomplish using nothing but rope, determination and ingenuity. It was a steep climb on a hot afternoon, but at least I didn’t have to lug a cannon there, and the view was a fitting prize—Martinique to the north and the mountainous green interior of St. Lucia to the south.
It would be a shame not to rent a car for a day. The scenery looks beautiful enough from the deck of a boat, but from the mountain passes much of it is spectacular. You can comfortably circumnavigate the island in a day, stopping off to see the “drive-in volcano” at Soufriere, admire the extensive banana plantations, and—as we did—stop at one of the many roadside barbecue stands for lunch. One thing we didn’t get into, the roads being challenging enough when sober, was the enticing array of small-batch dark and light rums we found at another roadside eatery. Just one more reason to come back...
Fancy a charter in Brazil ahead of the Olympics? Don’t worry, the new Dream Yacht Charters base in Angra dos Reis, on the picturesque Costa Verde, is a long way from the polluted confines of Guanabara Bay, where the Olympic sailing will take place. You can choose from bareboat or skippered cats or monohulls to explore the vast bay with its more than 360 islands. dreamyachtcharters.com
Jeanneau’s updated Sun Odyssey range is finding its way into Sunsail’s Caribbean fleets this winter. The 389, 479 and 519 (respectively, the Sunsail 38, 41 and 51) will be available at most Sunsail bases. Sunsail is also offering 20- to 25-percent discounts on Caribbean charters starting up to and including December 17. sunsail.com
TMM Yacht Charters is offering free 4G Wi-Fi on its Tortola-based boats. Each boat comes with a 4G modem that will provide unlimited Wi-Fi for the duration of your vacation. It will surely be tempting to unplug it and just enjoy the wonders of the BVI, but it’s great to have the choice. sailtmm.com