Let Me Take You to the Beach

One of the great fears of St. Lucians critical of Cabot Saint Lucia — Ben Cowan-Dewar’s newest golf, resort and real estate development — is that they will lose access to some of the island nation’s best beaches.

Finola Jennings Clark, a sustainable travel writer and and vice-chair of the St. Lucia National Trust, has been monitoring Cowan-Dewar’s development since it was first announced. In a September 2020 blog entry, she said:

In early June 2019, I wrote to Cabot Links via Facebook asking for someone to contact me regarding the intended development in my area. I eventually, after many polite messages resulting in no action, got a response when I said I could no longer hold off going to the media. I sent a letter to George Punoose, the contact I was given. I got back assurances that I felt were hollow and meaningless and I said as much, again urging genuine dialogue with community.

By late June 2019, others had joined their voices to the chorus of concern, over what they saw as an impending disaster for the 375 acre-site at Cap Estate where for many generations, locals have been able to hike, swim, fish, horse-ride and in recent years, set up micro-businesses using the coast of a beautiful natural area, also home to an Amerindian burial ground and settlement of regional importance.

Cas en Bas beach, St. Lucia

Cas en Bas beach, St. Lucia (Photo by Finola Jennings Clark)

A petition — that, to date, has garnered over 13,400 signatures — makes three demands in relation to Cowan-Dewar’s sprawling new venture, which will cover about 375 acres on the northern tip of the island, the first of which is:

Preserving the access and rights of local users, which precede and should override those of any new, proposed development usage. These rights are enshrined in Queens Chain laws. We demand that the Government of Saint Lucia ensure local access and usage are preserved in perpetuity with minimal disturbance.

I am going to go into all the critics’ concerns in Part II of my Cabot Saint Lucia series next week, but I wanted to leave you with Clarke’s description of a protest, held in September 2020, in support of “a local entrepreneur Marjorie of the widely loved Marjorie’s Restaurant & Bar” who fears she will lose her “Heritage Tourism Programme-awarded spot on Cas en Bas Beach” when Cabot Saint Lucia is operational:

On Sunday 16th, hundreds of Saint Lucians came out to Cas en Bas beach to show support for the local restaurant owner Marjorie, and to claim their rights to beach access. The protest was good-natured and peaceful until the ‘anthem’ for beach access rights Barbadian Mighty Gabby’s 1983 hit song “Jack” was sung with patrons substituting “Chass” (short for the Prime Minister [Allen] Chastanet’s name) for “Jack”.


This made me think of two things: first, of local environmental activist Neal Livingston’s fight with Cabot Links for beach access. As the CBC reported in 2018:

Livingston tried — and failed — to get a court injunction stopping Cabot Links from building condominiums on land near Inverness Beach. As the CBC reported in June 2018, Livingston:

…applied to have the property “dedicated and accepted for public use as a park” and have the development of the condominiums permanently halted.

He claims the lands have been accepted as a park for recreational use by the public since the 1950s. He argued that the land had been used for years as a public park and parking area for people accessing Inverness Beach.

Livingston said he has no problem with the construction of the condos in the area, just not on the disputed property.

“Cabot owns tons of land,” he said. “This is the only piece of property that the public had long-term historical use of and, therefore, is really the only piece of land that the public has any claim to, even though it became privately owned,” he said.

This is very similar to the claim being made by activists in Saint Lucia:

The area from Cas en Bas, north to Pointe Hardy has been freely accessible to the public for well over 40 years, with paths, beaches, and open areas frequented by recreation seekers – locals and tourists alike and used by commercial and subsistence businesses.

In recent years, tracks created by the subsequently abandoned “Raffles” golf course development, enabled increased usage without restriction. Significant use was permitted and never challenged for decades, thereby not only cementing existing right of access to beaches and adjoining coastal areas within the “Queen’s Chain” (i.e., to 186.5 ft above the high watermark) but further inland.

Justice Patrick Murray dismissed Livingston’s application.

I was also reminded that it took Cabot over four years to build a promised second public access path to Inverness Beach — another thorn in Livingston’s side.


All of which made me laugh out loud when I heard the lyrics to the Mighty Gabby song, “Jack,” that Hughes’ said was played at the St. Lucia beach access protest.

According to the Caymanian Times, the Mighty Gabby, or Anthony Feteiit Carter, is:

…renowned in calypso circles for his sarcastic lyrics and cutting wit. He is an old-school calypsonian, preferring to sing about social issues and injustice and holding authority to account in parody.

“Jack,” written in the 1980s, was No. 1 on the Loop’s list of “10 songs a Bajan will never grow tired of hearing.”

Who better to start off this list than Barbados’ very own Cultural Ambassador, The Mighty Gabby. For those old enough to recall, the song was Gabby’s response to suggestions by Chairman of the Barbados Tourist Board, Jack Dear, that beaches could be privatized by hoteliers. What did Gabby tell ‘big guts Jack’? ‘Dah beach is mine I could bade anytime’.

The beach remained public.

The song sold 20,000 copies in Barbados.

Anthony (Mighty Gabby) Carter received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of the West Indies in 2012.

I found “Jack” on YouTube and I’m sending it out to anyone who has ever enjoyed a day at the beach:




Featured images (l to r) Inverness Beach, CB; Anthony “The Mighty Gabby” Carter, Donkey Beach, St. Lucia.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story said Cabot had built its beachfront condominiums, but this isn’t the case. The Spectator apologizes for the error.