We arrived on 10 December 2011 after a blissful Atlantic crossing of 20 days and 6.5 hours! The posts of November and December 2011 provide much more detail of the trip with the ARC.
The marina at Rodney Bay is spacious with wide, long pontoons, plenty of electricity and water plus a lovely boardwalk with restaurants, cafes, bank, chandlery, shops and even a hairdressers. Our refuse and laundry was collected from the boat and fruit and veg delivered. A load of washing is returned dry and folded for around 10 pounds.
With the ARC discount it cost us less than 17 pounds a night but water and power are metered. Immigration is done onsite but it is a quicker process if you use the online ESeaClear before you arrive and several other islands also use the system.
There are security personnel, taxis and marine engineers but the atmosphere is relaxed and secure. It seemed as if there was live music nightly but our pontoon was the further away from the action so not too much of a problem.
The nearby shopping mall has 2 supermarkets catering for all our needs, including Waitrose food! The dinghy dock is close by but you don’t need to pay the guy who sits there all day offering to watch your dinghy unless you are feeling generous. Just lock it up.
We did a day sail to Marigot Bay, anchored up for lunch without the offered help of the boat boys, bought some bananas from another fruit man and swam for a while. Pigeon Island in Rodney Bay has good snorkelling and anchorage with restaurants nearby and the south east of the bay has another anchorage close to the Yacht Club and more restaurants. There is plenty of room even when the ARC are in the marina.
Since our first visit we have been back to St Lucia countless times, either passing by or for weeks at a time to man the ARC Finish Line in December 2012, with guests in April 2013 and haul out in June/July 2013. Most of the time we anchored off Landings in sand, which held well throughout the ‘Christmas Winds’ and was clear for swimming. You just have to be very careful of the holiday makers on jet skis. Whilst we were there, a man out swimming, was literally chopped in half one early morning but by a local pirogue. Very sad. We also had our anchor chain caught by a charter boat who came ridiculously close to us.
The marina is still very quiet once the ARC fleet move on and we were also able to haul out for just 6 weeks, re-launching in mid July. A couple of the restaurants on the boardwalk had closed or moved but our favourites, Cafe Ole and Elena’s were still going strong! At Christmas time there are no queues in the supermarket, even on Christmas Eve and there is also plenty of choice for Christmas Day lunches and dinners. Another favourite is Le Jambe de Bois, on Pigeon Island and we spent many evenings there, enjoying good, cheap food and cocktails. We also celebrated New Year’s Eve there with a group of friends.
After so many days on the island, we finally did a tour in early June 2013 but mostly visited eateries again! The volcanic mud bath was great fun but there is much more to St Lucia and we need to take more time next visit to see the interior.
We stopped there again briefly in May 2014 but the island has been getting a reputation for crime and many cruisers are afraid to visit now. There are too many desperate people who see cruisers as easy targets and we haven’t been back since. It used to be a special place to us, the birthplace of our live aboard dream and arrival from the Atlantic crossing but there are better places to go, with fewer risks.