s/y Nine of Cups
The Windward Islands - St. Lucia
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St. Lucia

The largest of the English-speaking
Windward Islands
Population: ~120,000
Area: 230 sq miles
Language: English
Capital: Castries
Currency: EC$
Highest point: Mt. Gimie, 3,145 ft.
Member of the Eastern   
Caribbean States
Since we’d been to St. Lucia before, we opted to
anchor overnight in Rodney Bay and “Between the
Pitons” one night each, but not go ashore. We
spotted the Pitons, at 2400’ (Petit Piton) and 2500’
(Gros Piton) from more than 10 miles away.  
"Between the Pitons" (sung with gusto)
(A rhythm & blues tune written and composed
by Marcie & David on site…sing along if you
like...the louder, the better!)

Well, we’ve got Pitons on our left
And Pitons on our right
Pitons on our mind
Because they’re everywhere in sight

Between the Pitons
An- chor – ing
Between the Pitons (ooh, ooh, ooh)
We sailed from Martinique
Just to groove on these two peaks
Between the Pitons.
Les Pitons...5 miles away and then....
We had anchored “Between the Pitons” once
before and it was magical… almost surreal.  
This time, we lay out in the cockpit till the full
moon rose and gazed around us. The ambient
light was enough to illuminate the Pitons and it
was spectacular.
Because the water is so deep right to shore, the traditional way to anchor between the Pitons (prior to mooring balls)  was to drop a bow anchor then
tie two lines from the stern to palm trees on shore. A local tradition of welcome was to give each new cruiser a “hand” of green bananas which they
hung in the cockpit eating them as they ripened. According to local legend, the eccentric English Lord Glenconner (Colin Tenant) once brought an
elephant to the island which he let roam free on his land by the beach.  The elephant was pretty intelligent and happened to like bananas. He caused
quite a commotion because he got into the habit of grabbing the stern lines of boats and pulling them closer into shore so he could eat the ripe bananas.
Getting there
Common questions we’re asked by non-cruisers are “How do you know
where to go when you’re out of sight of land? How can you be so sure you’ll
end up where you want to be? Aren’t you afraid you’ll get lost? ”.  

Navigation is an essential part of cruising and even with all the modern
gadgets we have aboard, it  still requires time prior to each passage to review
the charts and plot the course. Rodney Bay, St. Lucia chart at right.
The major tools we use are the compass, charts, cruising guides and pilots,
and our GPS.  Depending on the area, tides and currents are also critical. In
the Caribbean, these are a major issue.
Cruising guides are available for all
the areas we’ve cruised so far.
They provide regulations, navigation
and pilot info, chartlets of
anchorages and photos, as well as
services and sights ashore.
The GPS (Global Positioning System) is without a doubt, one of our most used navigational
tools. Above is a handheld version (we have two of them).  With the use of satellite
communication, it provides us our exact location within a few feet … no matter where we
are. The closeup photo of the screen above is our location at anchor between the Pitons.
Some information the GPS  provides:
  • Current track or bearing (which way we’re headed)
  • Our speed (land speed not thru the water)
  • Our maximum speed since the last reset
  • Our total trip mileage in nautical miles since reset
  • Our position in longitude and latitude
  • The current time

We can also input certain waypoints and destination  coordinates and it will automatically
provide a heading for us. Of course, if we plot a course through land or rocks, it doesn’t
know the difference so “user beware!”
Charts are maps for cruisers.
They provide a significant
amount of information
including water depths,
obstructions like rocks or
known wrecks and shoals,
navigational aid locations and
blow-ups for harbor
entrances and  bays showing
approved anchorages and
danger areas.
Time to move on. Moving down the
Windward Island chain, the next port of
call is
St.Vincent and the Grenadines.
Click here to follow along.
Always time to sample the local brew.