|Emerald Seas on Aquamarine|
measure in the West Indies.
On the southwest coast of St. Lucia, the mountains sheltering Soufrière Bay rise from far below the surface of the water, so the harbor is precipitous and deep, encouraging even large yachts like Emerald Seas (right) to anchor so close to shore that we tossed a stern line to a pair of fishermen waiting in a skiff who ran 20 yards to the beach and tied it off to a tree. Afterwards Emerald Seas’ owners, Glen and Mary Lancaster, and their guests–a small group of charter brokers and I, chaperoned by LeAnne Morris Pliske and Anna Spurling of The Sacks Group–slipped one by one into the still, transparent water to loll between the stern and the shore. On the beach photographer Gary John Norman shot portraits of a pair of kids balanced partway up the trunk of a palm in the warm August evening. Above him the foliage on the steep slope hid a dirt road running from town to a cluster of nearby houses. You could hear the voices of locals passing homeward in small groups, and every few minutes the bushes behind Norman would rustle and another couple of curious children would emerge. Within 20 minutes he was at the center of a dozen gamboling youngsters. Those of us reclining in the cool water looked on with amusement.
This tableau unfolded in the shadow of the northernmost of a pair of natural wonders known as the Pitons–twin spike-shaped mountains rising spectacularly from sea level to more than 2,500 feet. In this embrace, our idyllic anchorage was charged with extra significance. Petit Piton loomed with the strangely inert drama of the monumental; it was as though we had come to rest beneath the Matterhorn or at the foot of a pyramid.
The Pitons are a breathtaking national treasure in a country just 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, but they are not the St. Lucians’ only pride. Soon after our arrival on the island the day before–once Glen Lancaster had met us at the airport, ushered us 15 minutes north to Emerald Seas at Rodney Bay Marina, and settled us in our staterooms–Norman and I jumped into a taxi for an improvised tour. During a two-hour drive that took us through the stop-and-go streets of the capital, Castries, and south along a switchback coastal mountain road as far as the fishing village of Anse La Raye at the island’s midsection, our driver Linus, a young, loquacious Castries native whose radio-taxi handle was "Intellect," guided our attention to a variety of sights conventionally worthy of a tourist’s interest. But he also gave weight to modest features of his tiny country that most visitors would likely disregard.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.