St. Lucia

Mar 12, 2018 - Sea Cloud

We awoke to a heavy rain at 5 a.m. The sea and the sky merged on the horizon in dappled shades of gray. The Sea Cloud sailed southerly into a stiff breeze of 25 knots from our port bow. By 8 a.m. the sun was shining brightly, and the sky was a brilliant blue. Later that morning, Tom Heffernan gave a lecture on the creole languages of the Caribbean.

Our next port of call was St. Lucia. We dropped anchor in beautiful Soufrière Bay. The sea was extremely deep and we dropped more than 500 feet of the massive anchor chain, each link of which is the length and breadth of a human thigh. The physical setting was very dramatic as Soufrière is actually situated at the west end of an ancient caldera—a volcano blew the western ridge of the mountain chain away about 39 thousand years ago.

The great green Pitons—UNESCO world heritage sites—rose majestically at the starboard. The lush green of St. Lucia was spread out before us like an emerald canvas. We arrived in the town of Soufrière after lunch and boarded our minivans to begin our tour of the “Helen of the West Indies.” Our first stop was a scenic overlook of Soufrière Bay with the Sea Cloud sitting majestically at its center. The majestic Pitons were just on our left. Our next visit was to the active volcano. Our guide took us to a vantage point overlooking the caldera, where we were able to see and smell the sulfuric gases and experience the seismic activity that created these Lesser Antilles. All of the islands that we will visit are the product of volcanic activity (with the exception of Barbados). We then returned to our vans and went to the Diamond Botanical Gardens, begun during the reign of King Louis XIV of France. There were heliconias of every color, bamboo that grows a foot a day, blooming jade vines, and hummingbirds and bullfinches flitting about. These magnificent gardens need to be seen to be believed.

Our next stop was snorkeling at Hummingbird Beach. The sand of the beach is a dark grey color from the volcano and its cliff walls rise straight up from the shore. The best snorkeling was at the base of these cliffs. An added treat was the Zodiac ride directly back from the beach to the Sea Cloud. After we showered and emerged refreshed, our wonderful captain motored the ship until we sat directly below the majestic Pitons. Simon, our hotel manager, had prepared a surprise evening of local beers and our wonderful Swiss pastry chef baked pretzels accompanied by small sausages. What a setting!

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About the Author

Tom Heffernan


Tom, a native of New York City, who has had a life-long passion for travel and exploration, is the Kenneth Curry Professor of Humanities at the University of Tennessee and the founding Director of the university’s Humanities Center. His areas of interest are anthropology of religions and historical linguistics.

About the Photographer

Ian Strachan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

One steady constant in Ian’s life has been the ocean. Born by the rocky shores of mid-coast Maine, his family repatriated to far north Queensland in Australia early on in his life where he became a dual-citizen and sparked his passion for exploring new environments. Living only an hour away from the Great Barrier Reef served to direct, if not focus, the exhilaration of discovery and set him on his current path. Returning to native soil for education, Ian was fascinated by altogether too many subjects, leaving him with a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in Psychobiology, focusing on animal behavior and perception, and with minors in Astronomy, History, and Environmental Science.

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