05 May 2017 | Cumberland Bay, St Vincent
25 April 2017 | Portsmouth, Dominica
25 April 2017 | Iles des Saintes
09 March 2017 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
09 March 2017 | Mosquito Cove, Jolly Harbour, Antigua
Not Tobago then
30 May 2017 | Grenada
Plan A was to sail the 90nm to Man O'War Bay on Tobago - a favourite place. Hm. The wind conspired to stop our trip to Sandy Island and the same happened with Tobago - we were facing a beat of around 130nm in 25kts. Are we getting soft or lazy or both? At this stage of the season we did not want this so instead decided to go to Grenada.
We had been a bit negative about Grenada partly because we had spent a lot of time there in 2010-11 and other islands seemed, well, nicer.
However, friends Graham and Joan on Karma were there and keen to disabuse us of our negativity, and also there is a Yamaha dealer/service centre where we could get the outboard fixed.
The anchor was up at 0805 on Saturday 20th May and we had a cracking sail for the 40nm down the east (windward) coast of Grenada, anchoring in True Blue Bay near the McIntyre Yamaha people.
The outboard was collected on Monday and we motored into the current and wind to Clarke's Court Bay where Graham and Joan acted as guides extraordinaire and Grenada ambassadors, showing us around the area and leading us on a super trip to the north of the island, taking the bus to Sauteurs where the last Caribs committed mass suicide jumping off the cliff rather than succumb to the French (well you would, wouldn't you?), walking to Levera beach and on to Bathway beach for a swim in the natural pool.
The outboard was fixed and trips into St George's for provisions have been easy. Taffy's Bar is a great place to hang out, so we joined Taffy and Sue to watch Manchester United win the UEFA Cup.
We have revised our views of Grenada and know now that it has much more to offer than we realised.
So next to Trinidad for haul out, boat maintenance and prepare for flights to the UK.
30 May 2017 | Tyrrel Bay
The bay was busy with many boats on moorings but no people on board as well as others that looked as if they were there for the duration.
We met up with Steinar and Janne on 'Numa' - Norwegians first encountered in Antigua in March - and had drinks and a meal ashore with them. The latter was terrible at "Twilight" restaurant - awful service, undercooked chicken and somewhat dicky tummy afterwards.
We walked in to Hillsborough and also attempted an ascent of Chapeau Carre (945 ft) but the paths were unmarked and there was a lot of scrub on steep parts so we were not sure if we made it. The views were good from wherever we did get to.
In search of snorkelling, we motored round to Sandy Island but the wind was blowing 20kts straight into the mooring field and boats were bouncing in the sea that had built with the long fetch from Hillsborough, so we declined and returned to Tyrrel Bay. We enjoyed Carriacou though and will return.
30 May 2017 | Mayreau
Then on to the Tobago Cays where we anchored and spent two nights without doing much as the wind was blowing 25kts. So no snorkelling or going ashore – we were a bit pathetic really.
Anyway we cut our losses and went the three miles west to Saltwhistle Bay on Mayreau. This is a lovely sheltered bay with a find sand beach, a walk to the headland and a road up to the main settlement with its stunning views of Tobago Cays and nearby islands. The bay has lots of moorings but when we told one of the local guys who came out to meet us that we wanted to anchor he found us a very good spot close to the shore. He then persuaded us to eat at ‘his’ restaurant that night which seemed to be the right thing to do – we said we would come for 1800 and no sooner had we sat down than the food appeared. It was OK but we cannot recommend eating ashore here or indeed at the other Grenadine islands.
On Saturday 13th May we motored the 5nm to Chatham Bay on Union Island and chilled for a couple of nights, before going to Clifton for fruit and vegetables and outward clearance. Chatham Bay is nice with plenty of space to anchor, a slight katabatic wind effect and beach bars ashore. We had a drink with Richard and Shelley on ‘Ailsa’, fellow OCC members, so that was nice.
Clifton we did not like much … and ace outboard mechanic Roger in St Lucia had not properly fixed the 9.9hp Yamaha outboard which again lost power and we had to use the 2.5hp Suzuki which was not great in the 18-22kts wind blowing into the anchorage.
Why did we not like Clifton? There are some quite aggressive people ashore wanting to sell fuel, ice and so on, and apart from fruit and vegetables at the small market everything is geared to charter boats. However we had a walk to Ashton where the people were very friendly, wishing Norma “Happy Mothers’ Day” and giving advice on alternative routes to walk. Clearance is easy in the town of Clifton and then it was the 11nm to Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Musings in Mustique
30 May 2017 | Mustique
From Bequia south to Union Island, the Grenadines offer an excellent cruising ground with many islands and anchorages and short hops. So inevitably it is a popular part of the Windward Islands and what does popular mean? Not prizes but prices. The large numbers of charter boats encourage local people to lay moorings (use for a fee with possibly questionable ground tackle) and charge exorbitant rates for a beer or a meal ashore.
You expect this in Mustique which is famed for its celebrity visitors but elsewhere it is a bit much. Anyways enough of the cost grouse.
So, Friday 5th May we sailed the 13nm to Mustique and it is lovely. We stayed three nights – you have to take a mooring and pay c.£66 for one night with two free nights. We had been looking forward to a drink at the famous Basil’s Bar, home to jazz and blues nights with impromptu performances by such as Mick Jagger, but a new dock is being built so Basil now has a pocket full of loot and the bar has shifted to the store/pub and is known as Basil’s Pop-up Bar. Oh well.
We had some nice walks around the island which has a well-signed and explained lagoon and mangrove swamp. We splashed out on lunch at ‘Firefly’ restaurant with lovely views over Britannia Bay and without question the best rum punches we have tasted.
Basking in Bequia
05 May 2017
Then on Tuesday 2nd May, the 17nm to Bequia in 15kts ESE wind and anchor off Princess Margaret beach.
Wednesday we walked to Industry Bay and the Old Hegg turtle sanctuary where they raise Hawksbill turtles and release them after 6-7 years. Thursday was a walk to Friendship Bay.
Small cruising world though - we met up with Roberto, Daphne and daughters Bora and Tea on 'Brancaleone', who we first encountered in the summer of 2009. We had not seen Roberto since Alvor, Portugal in August 2009. A big WOW ... and a lot of catching up.
We will keep heading south now but ever so leisurely - via Mustique (we think it is our kind of place!). There are far fewer boats and people around so it is all very pleasant.
Myths exploded and rumours rebutted
05 May 2017 | Cumberland Bay, St Vincent
So Roger fixed the outboards – that was OK but we were left a bit iffy on what he actually did so we shall see in the longer term. We had some good craic in the marina with Charles on ‘Altair’ and James and Gillian on ‘Zephyr’, including a not-bad meal at Bosun’s, but ended up doing very little in Saint Lucia other than provisioning.
We were away from the anchorage at 0515 on Friday 28th April for the 51nm to Chateaubelair on the west coast of St Vincent. Despite some adverse current on the passage between the islands for just 3-4nm we had good winds and an average speed of 6.4kts with the wind mostly 15kts ESE, so a close reach.
The three bays on the west coast of St Vincent – Chateaubelair, Cumberland Bay and Wallilabou – are the most dangerous and insecure in the Caribbean, and you should stay well offshore when passing. Rubbish.
Graham and Joan were already in Cumberland Bay with ‘Karma’ and had sent us up-to-date info about clearance: usually Monday to Friday 0900-1600 in Chateaubelair, and Monday, Wednesday and Friday 1600-1800 at Wallilabou. So we anchored at Chateaubelair and went ashore where Graham and Joan were actually waiting for us – change of plan on this particular Friday as the officials were not there. So we all went round to Cumberland Bay to anchor and have a stern line ashore. Local “Boat Boy” Ivor is there to meet us and provided the long line to a palm tree. All snugged down and all well.
Clearance was completed at Wallilabou by taking the dinghy round. All good.
We had a fabulous time over the weekend and the local people could not have been friendlier or more welcoming. Ivor’s mother, Mummy Elma, has a bar and restaurant, and there are another four bars on the beach. So we had beers at Mummy Elma’s and Benny’s – seems there is a bit of local politics and drinking at all the bars doesn’t work.
We had a lovely walk to Spring Village for bread – excellent bakery – and on up the valley into the mountainous interior. We were advised to stay on the road as paths off may lead you to someone’s ganga plantation and they may not be too happy about that.
In the evening a few boatloads of fishermen arrived in the bay from Barouallie with a large net to catch small fish for bait. Interestingly when they closed the net in a circle they rowed the closing boat at high speed with four men on the oars. Very traditional.
It is likely that these are the same fishermen who managed inadvertently to upset a lot of passengers on a cruise ship. The latter had gone out whale and dolphin watching on 30th March, and while they were out they saw the fishermen hunt and kill two orcas. The Prime Minister has now promised to ban the killing of orca which are in fact the largest members of the dolphin family. Short-finned pilot whales are caught and will be caught in future – we saw a pod of three on passage from Saint Lucia.
On Sunday 30th April, Graham and Joan had arranged for Ivor to take us round to Wallilabou in his boat where we met up with Thaddeus Saloman for a tour of part of the island. Thaddeus’ car said Suzuki on it but we think it was designed by Dinky Toys. “Small” did not really describe it. Anyway we drove south along the west coast with grand views of the bays, through Kingstown, part way up Mesopotamia Valley (to be revisited), a lookout over the Marriaqua Valley (the breadbasket of St Vincent), to the new international airport (of which they people are enormously proud) and on to Blue Lagoon anchorage and marina. Then for the highlight of the day.
Back north to Mount Wynn Bay where hundreds if not thousands of people were gathering for the annual “Pork on the Beach” event. This is a competition between restaurants for the roasting of the best pork … and music … loud music (which is actually tautological as all music in the Caribbean is loud) … and drinking …
Well now, you thought you had heard of some strange drink concoctions but St Vincent takes the prize: how about Campari and beer? Or Campari, Guinness and Rum? Who would have thought that Campari had such a following in St Vincent? We tried the Campari and beer – just the once.
The pork was excellent, Thaddeus’ girlfriend Pat joined us and the event was very friendly and sociable – Phil got interviewed for local TV but it probably ended up on the cutting room floor.
Ivor collected us from Wallilabou and the trip back in the dark was delightful as fireflies darted about on the cliffs in a display of illuminated acrobatics. When we got back to the boat we found two large bags of juicy, fresh tomatoes delivered by Carlos, who also works in the bay.
A superb day.
On Monday we had a walk to the ridge overlooking Cumberland Bay and then BBQ on ‘Karma’ where we ate blackfish brought by Pat – we subsequently found out that this is pilot whale. It was very tasty.
So, how did we feel? As safe and secure as anywhere else and perhaps more so as in Cumberland Bay people live on the beach and there are dogs that bark at night at any unusual activity. Will we return? Without a doubt. The only good thing about the myths and rumours is that for us it keeps the place quieter, but then this is not so good for the people who live there and have little other than farming and fishing.