St Lucia to Grenada
09 March 2010
Log reading 12,058 nautical miles
Yes, it's a turtle!
Marinas have effluent discharged from boats staying more than a few days, especially when shore toilets are dysfunctional. Growth on the hull is accelerated by this "food" and the fact that ablative antifouling needs hull movement through the water to work.
Glad to be away from marinas, Fandango moved down to Harmony Beach at Soufriere with a good view of the famous Pitons. In the clear water of this bay, the barnacles can be seen all over the prop and drive shaft, which cannot be treated, as well as the rudder and some parts of the keel. The last antifoul was applied less than five months ago using International's new top of the line Micron 77. So much for that!
Equipment malfunction occurs on a regular basis because manufacturers design things for the summer weekend sailor. We bought four Hella (supposedly a good German brand) expensive cabin fans in St Lucia but two were faulty and had to be returned while we were there. One of Raymarine's replacement parts fitted in St Lucia was discovered to be faulty and the plotter is on the blink yet again. Either Sterling's fast battery charger, fitted last October, was on the blink or the engine's regulator had failed. Care was needed not to cook the batteries. Oh, and the sixth tin opener died on a can of olives.
However, back to paradise. A speed boat arrived to collect us for dinner at the only restaurant. They even have wifi. Joseph has big plans to expand.
St Vincent had been portrayed as the Badlands. Avoiding trouble spots, we thoroughly enjoyed the next stage that would take us from the main island and down through the Grenadines.
Cumberland Bay was delightful. The locals, sick of theft and violence by outsiders now kept an eye on this haven. A few colourful shacks and some new buildings amongst the palm trees make this look more like what you would expect on a Caribbean sailing trip.
A man sat on the beach at sun up, chanting and talking to his god. We bought fish caught a few hours earlier and miniature mangoes. A young boy guided us up to his village inland from the bay. We walked through streams. People smiled and say hello. Livestock grazed by the roads and on derelict allotments. Things were slow and we stopped to examine a tamarind tree. We chatted to a farmer tending a bull. Suddenly a hoon sped by in a car with little room to spare on the narrow road. The boy told us that this was normal and stuck with us until we got back to the bay. Not wanting to reward him with money, apples were offered from a backpack and gratefully received. They are a delicacy here and the following morning found him perched on our stern line asking for some more!
Sailing past Wallilabou, the binos were used to scan the small harbour for leftovers from the filmset of the first Pirates movie. It wasn't worth stopping. What a wasted tourist opportunity.
On to Bequia. No rainforest here because the island and those that follow lack the peaks that attract rain. Port Elizabeth on Admiralty Bay has a nice feel and but I noticed two beachfront resorts that had been left to the elements.
Sailing around to the south of the island we stopped at Friendship Bay. Not a lot here to explore, a bit rolly at anchor but pretty and restful.
Next stop was a bit posh. Britannia Bay on Mustique was the only place you could anchor or moor. The island is owned by a development company that has a maximum of 140 allotments. One was a present to Princess Margaret in the sixties and then the other high profilers followed. No rubbish, manicured and very private. Us mortals can hire a buggy and drive around but almost every laneway had a "Private Property" sign.
We could visit Basils, an over-rated restaurant bar where we could mingle with the rich and famous. The rich and famous must have had better things to do when we were there but we enjoyed a "jump up" dinner and sat next to the restaurant boss' table. He and his fellow dinners, four men and one woman who left as soon as she had finished eating, were served first, drank wine from decanters and smoked big cigars. They looked like mafia and a few people came over to pay their respects in the usual mafia way.
There were some breathtaking beaches with spotless carparks and picknick tables. Firefly was a place to eat at or for a pampered stay, if you could afford it. Perched on the side of a hill, it was very cute indeed.
To protect the boat from the big mooring buoys, we had tied four fenders around ours. When we got back to the boat they were missing. The jerking motion of the buoy was believed to have loosened one of the many knots. A reward to a local fisherman secured their release.
A short sail to Charlestown Bay on Canouan. A lovely big anchorage area with a sandy bottom that provided the turquoise sea that was becoming more commonplace. Not much ashore but we bought a live lobster that was cooked for us by the fisherman.
A fully kitted out (wetsuit, speargun, net, fins etc) spearfisherman swam to the back of the boat from shore, with his dog! He showed us his problem and asked for money to get a new spear gun part in exchange for fish. We doubted if we would get any fish but asked about snorkelling sites. I don't normally give to beggars but this guy had a brilliant act and an amazing amphibious dog. It has been suggested in yachting articles that those boats that buy from or give to locals avoid getting a visit from "tieves".
And now for a star attraction - Tobago Cays. Being in serious coral country, the MK1 Eyeball must be engaged at all times. At least this bit of equipment wasn't installed by Jeanneau. The water colours were stunning although visibility was impaired a little by stirred up sand. We moored near Turtle Island. Turtles were everywhere and tolerated snorkellers hovering above them as they grazed on the seagrass. On the island were iguanas that also seemed little concerned by your presence. Elsewhere there were good fish numbers and variety. The coral reefs were a mess, having been destroyed by a hurricane. I also suspected that the high water temperature may also be hampering recovery.
Stopping for lunch at Palm Island, formerly Prune Island, an expedition ashore took us around an upmarket resort set on dazzling sand fringed with the brightest turquoise water you can imagine. I am sure a few brochure shots came from here.
A short hop away was the last of the Grenadines, Union Island. We needed to clear customs etc here on Monday and a couple of nights anchored by this quaint village were very enjoyable. We had been warned that boatmen would try to rent moorings that were unsafe or commercial and from which we would be thrown off when the usual occupant came back.
Janti's Happy Island, about thirty meters across and built from conch shells left by the fisherman, sat on a coral reef in the harbour. It is a mandatory drink stop for yachties using a tender. I wondered how it would go in the Whitsundays back in Oz but the Bureaucracy and the crazy Health and Safety Gestapo would prevent it.
Exploring around some ugly buildings near the wharf, I came across a small derelict wall with a 1994 plaque from the Japanese Government. It commemorated the support given to them by the fishermen of Union Island. This referred to the international votes bought by the Japs to secure their right to kill whales.
Next was Mopion near Petit St Vincent. You may not find this island on Google as it measures not much more than 30 metres across. Golden sand surrounded by reef and, offset to one side, a sturdy palm thatched wooden umbrella for about six people. This also must have featured on many brochures and was erected by a yachtie in 2002. Fortunately we got there first and had lunch just as others were arriving.
The late afternoon was spent at anchor on Petite Martinique, which is part of Grenada. Anchoring here was a bit of a problem. We caught first an old tyre and then some fishing net. Crew on a nearby fishing boat laughed at our misfortune and said we could use any of the moorings. It was very windy and the thick warp gave us some assurance. We soon had some fresh tuna from other fishermen and ate on board that night.
The following day we motored over to Hillsborough on Carriacou. Whilst spending an hour doing customs and immigration, I noticed a policeman's flat hat on a shelf with an EIIR badge. They must be hard up to keep the old hats after independence in 1974.
In the village, the usual inspired names and messages appear on boats and cars. A feature common with other islands, the words often have religious beliefs and ideals. "God is Love" looked OK however "Come see the Lord" on one boat would seem a little disconcerting for passengers.
Stopping to snorkel around Sandy Island, we saw pelicans dive for fish. Round the headland was Tyrrell Bay where we anchored. The village was a pleasant place in a colourful rundown quaint rubbish strewn sort of way, as is normal. Tracy, the barmaid at the Carriacou Yacht Club had a severe stutter but the pace was so slow that it didn't matter at all. We chatted and her smile was warmer than the sun outside. The beers were very cold and tomorrow's lunch was pecking around in the sandy stubble below the balcony. It was delightful but somehow, I didn't think there would be a long wait for membership at this club.
It was a gusty trip down to St George's Bay on Grenada where we anchored. On the way we passed close to "Kick em Jenny" an active underwater volcano. Whitecaps would have made the bubbles hard to see.
We checked out the fort, museum, market and back streets. Later, a bus took us to the Friday Fish Feast at Gouyave. Two streets joined at right angles are closed to traffic so that the stallholders can cook and serve everything from lobster to fishcakes. Some drummers added to the atmosphere and we had a good time eating, people watching and toe-tapping.
We moved around to the bottom of the island and examined the pretty bays. Now it was maintenance time at anchor in Prickly Bay, with so many things that needed fixing. Raymarine, Selden, Yanmar and Lewmar were among the usual suspects.
Ted Joins Trevor, Heather 2 and me later this week and the following week we start our westerly trek to Panama via several islands.