05 July 2007 | Saint Lucia
Our next anchorage was tentatively Anse Chastanet at the north end of the Soufriere area. Soufriere is the name of the town on the north side of Petite Piton. Soufriere means volcano, more or less, and many of the islands out here have a peak named Soufriere or an area where volcanoes live (or lived) called Soufriere. In fact there's a Marigot on almost all of the French islands, and an Anse Mitan. The British had the same affection, you will not no less than four Georgetowns in the Caribbean. The early explorers weren't too creative.
Petite Piton is the northern Piton and it rises over 2,400 feet to a point summit. Jalousie cove lies between Petite Piton and Gros Piton which is over 2,600 feet in height. The amazing thing about the Pitons is that they rise straight up out of the ocean. The scenery in the entire Soufriere area is dramatic.
It was blowing today. We motored a couple miles down to Anse Chastanet and the anchorage looked nice but the beach wasn't up to snuff and the calm waters needed for confined water diving weren't in place so we moved on. As we came around Caille Point into the Soufriere Bay the wind was channeling down the draw and hitting us on the nose at 30 knots.
We cruised by the moorings at the cliff caves at the north end of the bay but they were right out in the howling wind. We moved on to Hummingbird beach to check things out there but stern to the beach didn't seem fun in these conditions. We continued on all through the bay vetoing anchorage after anchorage. This had incensed the swarm of boat boys trying to find something to charge us $10 EC for.
Just as the various pirogues zipped off giving up on us we came upon Anse Mitan. The beach was ok but the moorings there were park service maintained and very close to shore. Thomas and Kory jumped in the dinghy and tied us up to the ring at the top of the mooring float and we were home for the night.
As recommended by the cruising guide you would normally need to tie your stern to the beach here. This would eliminate the roll for some boats but also would be required to avoid collisions if boats were on all of the moorings. It was very tightly packed. As it turned out there was only one other boat in the anchorage at the end of the day so we swung free over night. We did tie up to a tree just for fun during the day. It made a nice transit line for the kids to go back and forth on.
Boat boys hassled us throughout the day and even the kids that, unsolicited, helped haul the line onto the beach hit us up for payment. This is probably the worst area in the Caribbean in that regard.
We paid the park service for the mooring and gained permission to do a training dive near the boat. Though severe in upholding their charge, the park service people were very reasonable and informative. Kory completed his second training dive and Hideko and Thomas joined us for fun. Thomas has an interesting diving technique involving wearing a hat underwater which was entertaining.
Fred had told us about the Bat Cave on the North side of the Bay. The Bat Cave is a large vertical crack in the shear cliff wall of Soufriere Bay. Inside this cave thousands of bats make their home. As darkness was falling Thomas, Kory, Maddy and I motored over in Little Star to see if we could catch the bats. As the sun faded away the bats began to squeak in a deafening chorus that we could hear even over the wind as we approached. We idled about the entrance to the cave waiting for the mass exodus. The bat chatter was running at a fevered pitch but we only saw one or two flying around.
After sitting on a mooring for fifteen minutes or so we decided to give up. Darkness was here and the bats were not cooperating. It was great just to hear all of them going nuts in there. As were motored back it became apparent that the flashlight responsibility had been neglected. We made our way carefully back to Swingin on a Star due to the danger of high speed skiffs blasting about with no lights either.
Hideko had made us a nice pasta dinner which was ready when we returned. After dinner we all enjoyed the beautiful evening out on deck amongst the towering Pitons.