26 July 2007 | SVG
Hideko and I went ashore in our newly restored to action dink early this morning. We had breakfast at the Tamarind Hotel, which is a quaint little place right on the beach. Breakfast here was ok. I have yet to find a good omelet or pancake type spot in the islands.
After breakfast we hiked around the island a bit. There are some beautiful vistas up in the hills toward Friendship point. The south bay, oddly enough, named Friendship Bay seemed to have some fishing traffic at the dock. We also got a good view of the airport which was at the end of its expansion phase. The project involved dynamiting Glossy hill (which was "in the way") and filling in the bay (burying a good stretch of coral reef). Sad, but hey, now they can land jets here.
We bought a coke at a small shop on top of the hill for the walk back down. At many places in the Grenadines the coke comes in half liter glass bottles, giving me a flash back to childhood (except for the liter part).
Back at the boat we made quick preparations to set sail for the Tobago Cays. The Tobago Cays are the fist place in the eastern Caribbean that have been able to match the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos for pure sandy island beauty.
Part of the beauty is tied to the fact that there are reefs everywhere. You must navigate in and around the Cays carefully, especially on the south side. We tooled through the breath taking cut between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau and then made our way up to the edge of Horseshoe reef near the white sand beach of Baradel.
The water in the area of the Cays is crystal clear and easy to read in reasonable conditions. You can jump in the ocean just about anywhere and enjoy spectacular snorkeling. There are splendid beaches on all of the little islands in the area. We spent the day swimming, snorkeling and hanging out on the Jamesby island beach with Fred and Cindy (until a day charter catamaran expelled about 50 cruise ship clients into the water).
The area is a must see but you will not be lonely here. Three years ago Mayreau had no electricity, now there's power, lots of sub woofers and cruise ship facilities with ample excursions to the Cays. There are many merchants going boat to boat but they are far more friendly and happy to move on if asked to politely. The park rangers require a $20 fee to anchor here. I thought that they were another enterprising merchant and told them that I didn't want any. That didn't work too well.
Early morning or late afternoon would be the best time to visit the Cays to avoid the crowds. It was not too bad in the off season but I could imagine it being pretty crazy on season. The surrounding reefs knock down all of the seas here but you have no protection from the wind.
Hideko and I decided to anchor on the back side of Mayreau for the night, so we waved goodbye to Kelp Fiction, who were staying put, and set off to the north. We wanted to anchor in Salt Whistle Bay on the north end of the west coast, which is idyllic. As we rounded the point we found the place packed and with more charter boats coming in. That left Saline at the south end of the west side, or the large crescent Trios Anse bay between the two. Saline is the Cruise Ship shuttle harbor and the AIS system identified a cruise ship moored just outside so we decided to anchor in Trio Anse Bay.
We were the only boat in sight. It was a beautiful anchorage with a long stretch of palm lined beach. We could hear the loud music blaring from the main town near Saline Bay from time to time but it was a fair trade for the visual peace of the area. The bottom here is a little rocky but if you're careful you can hook up in one of the many sandy patches. It is better the closer to the beach that you anchor but a rocky shelf rises up right before the low tide line. It drops off to 25 feet and more fairly quickly.
Anchoring close to the beach is great and we often do. It is easy to swim to the beach and the depth around the boat is better for snorkeling. On the down side you have to keep an eye out for west winds on the back of the passing waves. Strong west winds are rare but even a light west wind with a little bit of beach bound swell and move you to the beach side of your anchor surprisingly quickly. An overnight stern anchor is not a bad idea if you're too close to swing east of your hook.