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St. Lucia’s Hurricane Holes

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Since Dave and I began cruising we have always been concerned about not only our own but Swan Song’s safety – especially during the storm season.  By the time September arrives it is always advisable to know that there is a good hurricane retreat area near your sailing grounds.  St. Lucia falls directly in the middle of the Caribbean chain, and here’s a glimpse at two spots I investigated where boaters may seek shelter from the “blow” on this beautiful paradisiacal island.

Rodney Bay Marina is located well up into Rodney Bay and offers a great spot for hurricane escape.  Under new ownership, the marina offers a full service boat yard for out-of-water storage during the season. Cuthbert Didier, Rodney Bay’s Marina Manager, told me, “Our marina is located in the safe lagoon of Rodney Bay and can accommodate over 200 vessels on the docks. The lagoon offers protection during stormy weather with a small entrance limiting the wave action within the lagoon and marina. At the marina we provide the summer rate – get two slips free, allowing vessel to tie stern two in the middle of a double slip. At the boatyard we provide pits for deep keels and tie down straps with your own cradle. Cradles can be made and purchased from the boatyard, and our crews will assure you the best position in the yard based on the size of your vessel. However, in the event of a major hurricane, category 4 to 5, the marina reserves the right to empty its facilities.” www.igy-rodneybay.com

We totally enjoyed our stay at Rodney Bay where there are excellent stores for yacht supplies and food provisioning.  Their marina is really a village with almost every service imaginable – just the things that one needs during hurricane season.

Heading south and almost in the middle of the island is Marigot Bay. We stopped there for gas, as it is inexpensive, and liked it so much that we stayed almost a week. During that time I got to know Bob Hathaway, the efficient manager of the marina who told me, “Marigot Bay is a traditional and highly effective hurricane shelter. We have laid a field of 20 mooring buoys on behalf of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA), but in a way that St. Lucian owned boats, as well as itinerant yachts, can still use the mangroves as a hurricane shelter in the traditional way.”

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“While the regular moorings are not warranted for tropical storm or hurricane winds, the buoys and other mooring installations, including the marina and its associated ground mooring systems do provide a valuable mooring resource if correctly used. This particularly applies to the row of mooring buoys closest to the mangroves on the north side of the bay that delineate the required 45 metre navigation channel around the bay. As boats seeking shelter arrive, they will be given the option of: (1) Using a mooring buoy as part of their mooring system. (2) Using their own anchors and the mangroves. (3) Berthing in the marina. This applies only for the period of a watch or warning and for 48 hours thereafter unless it is clear that there is a significant risk from a named or numbered weather system due to strike within the following 7 days.”

Although we continued to head south we really enjoyed our stay in both places and will definitely put both Rodney and Marigot Bays on our “hurricane safety” list.

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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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