Our stay in St Lucia, which lies between the Islands of St Vincent and Martinique, was rather different to our usual cruising experience. Normally we would either anchor (this is free), sometimes picked up a mooring buoy (not expensive, but does add up), very occasionally we would stay in a marina (expensive).
But, because my sister and her family were coming for a two week visit, together with Tanya we hatched a plan – we found a lovely marina in a place called Marigot Bay. It is a lush hotel complex with gardens and swimming pools – all accessible to us yachties! And it was not too much when divided by 7 people…J. We stayed in a marina for abput 15 days in total!!! Unheard of really.
So how do different options compare? This is of course my personal opinion.
Advantages of staying in the marina are many. So are disadvantages, of course.
- Easy to get on and off the boat – oh the lovely pontoons. That means loading of shopping is easy, children are more independent, scooting or roller skating? No problem!
- Normally there is a free WIFI!!
- It feels safe when the weather turns – windy or a big swell. While we were in the bay there was a big storm in the Atlantic that sent huge swell down the leeward coast of the West Indies. Most of the anchorages have been affected – in Bequia the wooden walkway was destroyed by the huge swell. In Mayrou our friend's boat was on the mooring buoy - the line broke and the yacht just floated away, luckily rescued by a loclk fisherman!
- You can have shower in a fresh water everyday
- Kettle and toaster work as we are connected to mains power
- Did I forget something on a shopping list? Easy to fix – there is normally a small shop near by
- You get to meet lovely people
- In a bay lined with mangroves there are always more mosquitoes and noseeums ( pretty much like Scottish midges!!)
- Not much wind so it gets very hot inside the boat
- You can not jump into the water straight from your boat
- Normally you can not swim/use paddleboard or Optimist in the marina’s water as it is full of all sorts of chemicals from cleaning the boats and who knows what else!
- Easy to spend money as the lure of coctails (adults)/ ice cream (children) right on your ‘pontoon step’ is huge!
- Expensive – normally 40-50 USD/EUR per night. Multiply by 30…
- You can also meet unpleasant people…
What about anchoring?
- The main one is that we are really close to the nature
- The choice for anchoring is huge – there are bays with only a few boats – you feel close to nature, watch the stars, swim in the water with turtles and sting rays, you can dream, it is a dream come true!
- And there are busy bays to drop your anchor, where yachties organize BBQs , bands play in small local bars, meeting people is easy – just say hello
- Swimming pool is all around you, fish and the sea creatures come to say hello (or munch on the bottom of our boat)
- Snorkelling, sailing, paddle boarding is easy
- Simon and me work well when anchoring, I helm and he drops the anchor in the right place. It normally works fine. Unless there is a silly French boat that dropped their anchor right over our own anchor and refuses to move.
- Sometimes we do not get much sleep when on anchor – especially if the wind is coming down the hills in gusts and we need to keep an eye on the anchor to ensure we do not ‘drag’. That is when the anchor is not set properly and keeps moving the boat – normally towards the boat behind us! The winner of anchorage that is worst for anchoring would definitely go to Admirality bay in Bequia ( St Vincent and the Grenadines) – in approximately ten days of our stay there we had to re anchor 4 times. Once in the middle of the night after a jolly night out…not nice!
- Our dinghy is the smallest dinghy in any anchorage, a fact well known among our friends. So when it gets very choppy, it is not comfortable and we can not fit huge shopping in it very easily.
- I cant not drive it very well especially when it is windy (and it always is in West Indies) – so Simon has to take us everywhere, to his delight! Although Caspar has come to my rescue a few times now!
Mooring buoys are more like anchoring.
Normally in a anchorage, mooring buoys are placed in a more sheltered positions within a bay and closer to the shore. If they are well maintained, they also ensure that if the wind is strong you should not have any issues with dragging your anchor in the middle of the night… If we are on the buoy, Simon and Caspar will dive down to check in what condition they are, as some do not get maintained well. There is always a cost to them, for example cheapest are about USD10 per night in Grenada, but in Dominica or Bequia they can cost USD25 per night.
To sum it up:
Rubicon in Lanzarotte, Canaries Islands
We met most of our sailing friends there
Great surroundings, with excellent swimming pools and service and my sister with us for two weeks!
Probably some of the French marinas in mainlad Fracne – they are too full...
Best and Worst Anchorage
Admirality bay, Bequai
Worst because we dragged so much there.
Time we spent there with Granny, Grandad and Uncle James – playing cricket on the beach, dancing to calypso with Grandad! It is one of the most beautiful places to spend time in.
And so we keep sailing to the next best place.
ps wifi is not good here in BVIs - no photos this time!