St Lucia Pitons

Sailing Vacation Attitude

Your Own Attitude Makes or Breaks Your Own Vacation

Southern St Lucia is known for the swarming and pushy “official guides”. Each one claiming that they are the official. Years ago when I visited by land and sea I was overwhelmed and was glad to leave. At one point we had a dozen “guides” pushing for us to hire them people whilst in the background men carrying machetes with 30 kids holding out their hands begging for money. Thus, this time around I wasn’t too keen to return – although they say it has become better.  Still we stopped over at the Pitons National Park because they are incredibly majestic and not to be missed in this lifetime.

The Pitons in St. Lucia

The Pitons in St. Lucia

About 2 miles out we spotted our first “guide”. With our research done, we already knew where we wanted to go and thus we didn’t need a guide to take us into the mooring field. We tried to wave him off. No luck. As we approached a mooring ball there he was holding up the loop. So we decided we’d get another ball. Nope – that didn’t work he just moved to the next one. Again we tried to wave him off. No luck. As we approached we clearly stated that we did not need help to lift the mooring loop 5 feet into the air and frankly I was wanting to document our aft pick up method for a NauticEd article. As we bought the ball alongside he put the loop onto our cleat then demanded $EC10 ($3). And his demand was insistent. This kind of extortion does not sit well with me and thus we refused to pay. This lead into a fairly heated reply from him with a lot of name calling at us making us feel very uncomfortable. He claimed we ripped him off because he had to spend money in petrol to come out to us. Within seconds another showed up trying to sell us fruit followed by 2 seconds later a jewelry guy and then a guy claiming to be the park ranger was demanding not very politely for $EC50 ($US15) for the mooring ball when we had already paid for ‘Rights to Moor in the national park” to customs in Rodney Bay earlier. It was all too much.

Upon reflection over a rum drink later on we concluded this: That we were there for our own selves to have a good time. Getting worked up over a few dollars is just not worth it – albeit it was extortion and intimidation tactics.  The right thing for ourselves to enjoy was to embrace the system that exists. We were not going to change anything by our righteous stance. There was no point in creating bad air on the boat over $20  when the charter cost plus airfares etc. was thousands upon thousands.

We decided thereafter we would embrace everything:
 The very next day a local sailor from Martinique somehow decided he was in a race with us.  In the wide space of the Caribbean, with both of us on port tack he bore up and parked his course exactly 100 meters ahead of us. We were both now on a broad port reach. He in a monohull and us in a cat. I decided to pass on the lee because I did not want him to get rounded up in the high winds at the passing moment. As I got closer I gave him plenty of room yet he began coming down again onto our track. Upon passing he was only 5 meters to windward. With both of our headsails luffing. I could not turn up to fill the head sail for fear of hitting him. To get away from him I would have had to gybe 90 degrees away from our course. Crazy.

As the overtaking boat I am obligated to give way yet he is also obligated to maintain course which he was not. As we completed our pass he began coming down further right in behind us with about 2 meters to spare. We pointed at our fishing line and held the rod up. He continued and gybed and went right in behind us catching our lure on his hull. All this with thousands of square miles of ocean. Go figure.

He then anchored in Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent – 50 meters away from our boat. In keeping with our new embracing ideology, I decided to take him a rum drink and have a talk. His claim was that we did not give him room and thus he had to do what he did. He did not have very many (none) apologies. I smiled and listened and wished him good voyages.

I left not to sure how, with land about 5 miles to port of him giving plenty of room to at least hold his course and how he was luffing us down off course gave him any room for justification. However, there seemed no point in arguing. I was sure however that in his own mind he felt wronged. He accepted the rum drink as an apology from me. The only explanation to that I can have is that he’s just a poor sailor and should take NauticEd courses. Haa Haa LOL.

There was no altercation and I moved on leaving harmonious feelings and me free to enjoy the rest of my evening knowing that I took the easy way out. Forgive and forget!

As we pulled into Cumberland Bay we also used our new attitude to interact with the locals constantly barraging us with stuff to sell.  Maurice our “boat boy” (it is a legitimate term used for people who help you handle mooring and anchoring your boat) was extremely helpful in helping tie our boat back to the coconut tree. We paid him $EC30 ($US10) and a few extra bucks for other help throughout the day.  With all the other vendors we objectively looked at their stuff and bought many trinkets etc. but also resupply of excellent fruit and locally caught fish (caught by a guy who acted in Pirates of the Caribbean (shot mostly in this area)). I even gave an onion some foil and some olive oil to a local who was cooking a fish for the sailor who cut us off earlier that day (Still no thanks were given to us from the sailor).

Just before entering Admiralty Bay in Bequia Island we read in the guide book about Kenmore- a local guy who races out in his small dinghy, not to greet you but to take high res digital photos of you whilst you are under sail (for a fee of course). And sure enough a few minutes later here he comes bouncing off the top of 2 meter waves holding up a very expensive camera and a whistle to warn you of his impending shutter finger.


Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer

Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer

Whilst you can decide to get sick of everyone trying to sell you something – again our new embracing attitude kicked in and we ran to the bow for the photo pose.

The next morning Kenmore arrives at our boat with very professional images framed print plus digital USB stick of us on our boat giving us a definite memorabilia of our trip. Which we gladly bought.

Hully Gully under sail

Hully Gully under sail at Bequia Island

What I’m presenting here is that you have the ability to make your vacation good or bad. You can embrace or not. You have already paid the thousands investing in this vacation, why not spend a few extra bucks on just having a good time. If you don’t think $us3 is worth a mooring loop lift of 5 feet  it is probably not – but just do it anyway. Chances are the local guy is friendly and can give you local information worth more than $3 anyway.

Have fun on your vacation.

My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen
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Last updated on March 29th, 2023