St. Lucia isn’t technically located ‘below the belt’ when it comes to risk for hurricanes. However, this Windward Island does offer several natural and manmade features to keep yachts safe in bad weather. What’s more, the traditional Caribbean off-season provides many advantages in the form of uncrowded anchorages as well as special attractions and seasonal activities.
The natural topography of St. Lucia creates many sheltered bays allowing for safe anchorage. Plus, all anchoring and marinas in St. Lucia are on the west, which is the protected side of the island during hurricanes. What’s more, explains Sean Devaux, boat yard manager at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina, “the design of our marina along with St. Lucia having small tidal changes, protects vessels from most ground swells during any bad weather. In addition, the landmass which surrounds the lagoon makes Rodney Bay Marina one of the safest moorings in the southern Caribbean.”
The quiet of the summer season is a great time to get boat work accomplished. Rodney Bay has a full-service 4.5-acre shipyard complete with 75-ton Marine Travelift and services that span from fiberglass, gelcoat repairs, antifouling, and hull detailing to sail making and sail rigging. The yard is also a dealer representative for name brands such as Yanmar and Volvo. This time of year is ripe for special discounts. For example, annual Rodney Bay Marina customers with vessels from 38- to 50-foot can receive a free power wash (USD $175 value) with a haul-out at 3 p.m. and launch at 7 a.m. the next morning.
Beyond the yard and 253-slip marina, which can accommodate yachts up to 280-feet with a 15-foot draft, other service amenities on the Rodney Bay Marina property include a duty-free chandlery and full service electronics company, as well as a bank, bars, restaurants, florist, laundry and a tour desk.
When it’s time to play, St. Lucia has an abundance of beaches and waterfalls to choose from which are not crowded, says Portia Mogal, Rodney Bay Marina’s marketing, events and sales manager. “There’s also some of the best diving sites in the world here, and great tours from climbing the world famous Pitons, to visiting the world’s only drive in volcano. There’s more – botanical gardens, great spas, sports fishing charters, fantastic cuisine and it’s a kits-surfing and wind-surfing paradise. If you stay at IGY Rodney Bay Marina you will receive great discounts for several of these activities.”
St. Lucia is certainly an island that doesn’t sleep during the summer. The low season kicks-off with the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival from April 30 to May 13, which takes place on Pigeon Island, right across from Rodney Bay Marina. The festival features several icons in the world of jazz. Those anchored around the island have the pleasure of listening to the festival in the comfort of their vessels.
From April to November, IGY Rodney Bay Marina hosts the J/24 sailboat races in the marina, says Mogal. “This is always a fun time for sailors to come and enjoy the atmosphere in the marina. It has become a popular hang out on Thursday afternoons with tenants cooking casual cuisine like beer batter fish and chips and watching the races.”
St. Lucia’s Carnival celebrations take place in July with costumed parades, live bands and street dancing. The Rhythm and Spice Festival in September showcases some of the best cuisine on the island. Anglers get their chance to catch a big blue marlin at the St. Lucia International Billfish Tournament, set for September 30-October 4. The Creole Day in October features traditional foods, exhibitions and folklore, and November is Chocolate Heritage Month. Finally, as the season starts in December, sailors arrive on the World ARC.
St. Lucia is easy to reach by air with direct flights from major markets. After arrival, the island is the perfect home base for exploring St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the south and Antigua to the north. This makes St. Lucia a yachtsman’s paradise winter or summer.