Saint Lucian Culture in Anse la Raye

15 December 2012

The locals call it 'bay of the rays.' It's a fishing village south of Castries (St. Lucia's capital), a sleepy place on the beach, quite the opposite of the hustle and bustle of Rodney Bay marina, where the ARC has taken over for a couple of weeks. It's crazier than ever in the ARC Village at Rodney Bay marina - just this morning, five boats crossed the finish line within minutes of each other, making for some excitement on the docks as the Yellow Shirts made space for them. With over 150 boats now in port, that space is getting hard to come by. But it's all in fun.

52 people showed up for the trip down to Anse La Raye, and boarded the Flying Ray ferryboat for the 45 minute journey south. The moon was low on the horizon to the west, a tiny sliver as it began to wax again. But following the squally first couple of days here, the weather has been crystal clear, enough so that though only a fingernail moon was illuminated, you could quite easily make out the rest of it, a lighter orb on the black sky. Jupiter was rising to the east, above Orion, and shooting stars rained on the hills over St. Lucia, making for a magical atmosphere. 

For the yachts offshore, it had to have been fantastical evening.

The Flying Ray arrived into Anse La Raye shortly after 1900. The village itself wasn't visible until after rounding a small headland. It's tucked in a horseshoe-shaped bay south of Castries, protected enough that another sailing boat was anchored there among the local fishing boats. But a swell was running into the bay, making for an exciting disembarking from the boat once secured to the modest concrete pier that the villagers had erected.

Fishing nets lined the pier and a local sat strumming his guitar, barely audible above the thumping beat of the speakers set up on the main street just behind the beach.

Stray dogs roamed the streets. Local families had local grills setup along the main drag, which was only a block or two long and backed onto the beach, where colorful local fishing boats were dragged up into the sand for the night. The people here depend on fishing and farming for their livelihood, and the Friday night Fish Fry is a big part of their weekly income.


The atmosphere was no altogether different from the Friday Night Jump Up in Gros Islet, the local village adjacent to Rodney Bay Marina, just a bit mellower. Music thumped from the wall of speakers setup at the head of the street while the locals marched to the beat. The ARC sailors were mainly onlookers (until towards the end of the night a group of young crew took to the streets for their own bit of fun).

"The Jump Up in Gros Islet has turned into a party for the French," who come down from Martinique just for it, said Thomas Wibberenz, the Parasailor rep who annually comes for the ARC finish in St. Lucia. "The fact is, places like Anse La Raye need it more. They don't get the tourist numbers like they do up north."

The evening concluded with the return journey north to Rodney Bay. The mate onboard also served as the enthusiastic MC. He queued up some Caribbean Christmas music and proceeded to march around the boat in step with the impossibly fast beat. There is energy in the music the locals create in the islands, and it's irresistible. It was to the mate anyway.

"You can't help yourself, can you?" someone asked him.

"No way mon!" he exclaimed. "Music is in our bones, it's in our veins, it's flowing through us. It's who we are."

He wasn't dancing so much as flowing, floating around the deck, smiling wide with that certain spark in his spark in his eye.