Grown Ups Gap Year

Now the girls have finished University it is our turn for a gap year! #grownupsgapyear

Vessel Name: Mirage
Vessel Make/Model: Moody 38CC - 1993
Hailing Port: Poole, Dorset, UK
Crew: Sally and Paul
Extra: After the girls had finished university we decided it is our turn for a gap year.
13 February 2020
06 February 2020
01 February 2020
24 January 2020
11 January 2020
10 January 2020
06 January 2020
04 January 2020
12 December 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
06 December 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
04 December 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
02 December 2019
27 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
26 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
25 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
24 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
23 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
22 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
20 November 2019
Recent Blog Posts
13 February 2020

St Lucia

We left St Vincent just after first light with the plan on sailing to Vieux Fort on the South West corner of St Lucia as this is the nearest anchorage to the international airport, for collecting Becs, Sally's daughter, from the airport. However, with the wind direction and 3 knot side current and sailing [...]

06 February 2020

Bequia

Bequia, pronounced Becway, is the second largest island in the St Vincent Grenadines but it still only 7 square miles (18 km2). Bequia means "island of the clouds" in the ancient Arawak language of the original Caribs. Bequia has two major busy periods, the Easter sailing Regatta and the Bequia music [...]

01 February 2020

Union Island to Bequia

Union Island

24 January 2020

Grenada

Our first stop in Grenada, also known as the Spice Island, was Halifax Bay and we used this anchorage to explore some of the central area of the island. This is the first anchorage in Grenada from the north and is a sheltered inlet between two forested hills. The anchorage had only one other yacht anchored [...]

11 January 2020

To Grenada

We left the anchorage at Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, just before 10am with the hope of sailing to Grenada and heading to an anchorage about half way down the West coast. The wind was quite strong and we initially set the sails to have a 2nd reef in both the main and the genoa to be on the safe side. We were [...]

10 January 2020

Carriacou

Carricou is all you would expect from your mental images of a Caribbean island with white sandy beaches, mangroves ending at the water's edge, lush vegetation all over the island and wonderful friendly people. With a population of just over 8000 people the island is not yet spoilt by mass tourism as [...]

St Lucia

13 February 2020
Paul Kember
We left St Vincent just after first light with the plan on sailing to Vieux Fort on the South West corner of St Lucia as this is the nearest anchorage to the international airport, for collecting Becs, Sally's daughter, from the airport. However, with the wind direction and 3 knot side current and sailing as hard into wind as Mirage can we were unable to cross to St Lucia and Vieux Fort without motoring into the wind and tide for most of the journey, so we made the decision to make the detour to Sourfriere further down the west coast to ensure we were able to meet Becs on time at the airport. Sailing along the west coast the scenery was fabulous especially the dramatic scenery of the tall mountains and the imposing Pitons as we approached the moorings. St Lucia is the largest of the windward islands in the Caribbean so it can generate it's own weather system and the lushness of the island bears this out along with the larger number of crops that we can see being grown on the sides of the extinct, hopefully, volcanoes.

Fact of the day is that St Lucia is the only country in the world named after a woman. I did not believe this when I first read it, but it is true! There are some countries named after legendary figures and goddesses but Saint Lucia is the only one named after a real life person. It was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse. (Saint Lucy was a young Christian lady from Syracuse, Sicily.)

Sourfriere is inside the St Lucia maritime natural park and UNESCO World Heritage Site and the use of mooring buoys is mandatory for all yachts and the first time we had to use a buoy on this entire trip. Being old hands with mooring buoys this is not a problem, however as we approached to moorings it became apparent that the use of a mooring buoy required the use of a local 'boat boy' and then his continued 'support' for the whole visit! Although we don't mind using the boat boys we would rather use them on our terms and not theirs! However, with time at a premium, needing to pick Becs up we were a bit at their mercy. So after a lot of bartering we finally agreed on a price for the mooring as well as the help mooring (even though I re-secured us), being taxied ashore and shown where customs were, arranging a return taxi trip for us to collect Becs up and the return boat taxi upon our return. Clearing customs and immigration went smoothly and in the meantime Sally readied the forward cabin for Becs arrival.

The trip to collect Becs went very smoothly although 15 mins after the agreed time. From the moment we got in the boat taxi and then into the actual taxi it was a continuous sell to book an island tour.... guided hike up the Pitons, visit the mud springs, have a swim in the hot waterfall .... etc. which became a bit tiresome as time went on. Becs flight had landed early and she was already on the ground before we even left the anchorage. As we headed to the airport we received a few messages from Becs saying that immigration at the airport would not let her into St Lucia until they knew where she was going and giving our boat name was not enough! Poor thing this was quite a stressful start start to her holiday, finally after we had told her where we were moored she was then initially told she had to wait for our arrival. We suspect that they get suspicious of young people arriving here and never wanting to leave! After a change of shift the staff allowed her to meet us outside the arrivals terminal. So with much hugging and a quick luggage load we were underway again back to Mirage still with a bit of the hard sell but this time with Becs as the target!

Once on board we introduced Becs to the delights of cruising. Refreshing her on the use of heads, water and power conservation, movement around the boat, need to secure door and cupboards, gas safety, etc. Becs had brought with her a few goodies and small value spares and upgrades for the boat such as a cooling fan for the fridge compressor, better fuse for the solar panel (I have done some wiring upgrades on the Solar Panel regulator output to reduce cables losses) and more solar lights for use in the boat. The first solar light was a present from friends Sally and Phil and has been a god send, so we decided to get a couple of extra ones. With a tired Becs we didn't have a late night but as the sun set we did have a fantastic view of the Pitons. It was a beautifully calm evening so we fortunately had no swell but we suggested she had a sickness tablet just in case. After supper she retired early as she was still on UK time 4 hrs ahead of us and had an early start from London that morning.

We had an early morning wake up call from our boat boy asking about trips and bread. We had already decided that the next morning we would head off to Rodney bay and do our island exploration without the hassle of the boat boys and look at using the local buses. We agreed to him delivering us fresh bread which turned out to be the most expensive small, stale baguette we have tasted costing the equivalent of £7! He was most insistent that we take his mobile number, so we could contact him if we returned there. We understand why they are so persistent, they have to earn a living some how. Its a very competitive environment and the boat boys organise everything. They have a pecking order and its agreed that nobody else approaches your boat once you have one. We had two arguing over us as we arrived into the bay and although young he did look after us well.

We sailed north to Rodney Bay, only 13NM away. With Becs helming us out of the mooring we soon set sail and sailed the remainder of the western coast of St Lucia to Rodney Bay on a starboard tack. We had near perfect sailing conditions with beautiful blue skies and good winds. We passed the islands oil terminal, then the capital Castries which at the time had 4 cruise liners visiting, as well as a couple of the smaller anchorages on this coast. Again the scenery was very lush and mountainous and with a fast sail to Rodney bay we had arrived in no time at all and anchored securely overlooking Pigeon Island to the North, the main bay to the east and Gros Islet to the South. After all three of us had a swim to check the anchor and then lunch we dinghied into Rodney Bay Marina and the shops. Rodney Bay has one of the largest marinas in the Caribbean built in an artificial lagoon as well as being a hub for tourism in general with hotels and resorts, duty free shopping malls, etc. The bay was named after Admiral George Rodney RN who built a fort to protect the British Navy when anchored in the bay from the French ships 30 miles north in Martinique and to enable him the spy on their activities. The ARC arrived here after their race across from Gran Canaria before Christmas.

Whilst in St Lucia it was my birthday and after opening my cards we had arranged to visit the near-by Pigeon Island with fellow Moody Owners Tracy and Richard. So with a fully loaded dinghy we made our way to Pigeon Island for a days exploring. Pigeon Island was originally an island, hence the name, however, the island was artificially joined to the western coast of mainland in 1972 by a man-made causeway built from dirt excavated to form the Rodney Bay Marina. Pigeon Island is a 44-acre (180,000 m2) nature reserve islet on the northern side of the bay so would give us plenty to explore, as well as use one of the two beaches whilst there.

We motored our dinghy over to the little dock on the fort grounds, tied up and was greeted by a park official who then walked with us to the main gate entrance where we purchased our tickets and we were off on our way to explore. The buildings and ruins were similar to some of the forts we’ve visited before and we read that Fort Rodney dated back to around 1750 and had a main fortress, barracks and now some rusting cannons. The grounds are beautiful with lots of flowers and big shade trees. There are two peaks to hike up to on the island. The highest point for Fort Rodney is 225 ft and for Signal Peak it is 330 ft. Signal Peak required a bit of a rock scramble to reach the top but once at the top the views were absolutely amazing enabling you to see the majority of the west coast as well as the north coast. The photos don't really do it justice. With suitable photos taken we headed to the fort and missed being at the top of Signal Peak when a short sharp shower hit the island but using trees for shelter we missed getting too wet. The path to the fort although uphill was an easy walk, nice and smooth for most of the way with a a staircase for the final climb to reach the top.

In 1937 Pigeon Island was leased to Josset Agnes Hutchinson, an actress from England but when the US established a Naval Base at Rodney Bay in 1940 she left the island not returning until 1947 when the navel station was closed. When she returned she helped to establish a thriving yachting industry that is very obvious in the area as well as entertaining many guests and giving the island the reputation of being a paradise island. She relinquished the lease in 1970 to go back to England and retire. Remnants of her house still mostly stand on the property but are crumbling away. The island also had a whaling station established on it in the early 1900's and one of the RN lime kilns was modified to process whale oil in the 1920's. When world wide whaling legislation to control whaling in 1952 came into force the whaling stopped and we found very little evidence of this as we walked around.

We had a great day exploring every nook and cranny that we could not wanting to miss out on anything. At the end of our hike we stopped for a picnic and then were rewarded with a beautiful beach to swim, cool off and rinse all of the grime off from our explorations, followed by a fresh water cool shower near the beach. What a fun day! Finally returning to Mirage with our friends for late surprise afternoon Birthday tea. Sally had made me a Birthday cake, flapjack and rice crispy cakes, whilst I had gone ashore early that morning for water and fuel! She was disappointed that the icing had melted with the heat whilst out and the sparklers didn't want to light but to me this all added to the charm and excitement of a 50th Birthday, at anchor, watching a spectacular sunset, surrounded by my wife, Becs and friends as the sun set directly behind a small rocky outcrop that sits in the bay.

The following day, with an earlier start than usual and with our friends Tracy and Richard, we headed ashore to collect the hire car we had ordered for the day. St Lucia is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble a mango and the plan was to see as much as we could rather than do as much as we could! Tourism and bananas are the main industry earners for St Lucia and during our day we passed many many many banana plantations on our drive!

The main road on the island is a bit like a '6' with us starting on the top of the '6'. Our proposed route was to head down to the capital then cross to the east coast and follow the road down to the south and the airport before following the road on the west side back to Rodney Bay, so essentially a whistle stop tour of the island stopping as we went. With all the formalities completed we were off along the busy roads heading south to Castries, the capital and as we passed the port we could see the PO cruise liner Britannia alongside dwarfing everything else in the harbour. You are able to anchor right up in the harbour, as one small cameraman was but the noise and pollution would have put us off. The roadside as we drove through the capital was lined with local market stalls selling everything including the kitchen sink and no doubt the target of cruise liner passengers!

As we drove around the island we went over one of the higher passes with views of banana plantations all around. The bunches of bananas are covered with plastic bags for three reasons: to provide a suitable micro-climate for the bananas to ripen more quickly, to protect the bananas (at least to some degree) from insects and other pests, and to prevent the bananas from being bruised when it is windy and leaves may brush against the bunch. We hoped that they then harvest them with the plastic bags intact to prevent them flying elsewhere in the strong trade wind.

We stopped for our packed lunch at Latille Waterfalls not planned as we came across this place by accident. Latille waterfalls and garden is a 20 ft waterfall that cascades into a deep pool, in which we could have swum but the clarity was a bit off putting as we had the rest of the day still exploring. We did notice a pump and pipe work from the pool at the bottom back to the top and we wondered if this was switched on when cruise liners were visiting to make the whole scene more dramatic, but maybe I am just a cynic! There were further smaller waterfalls and pools further down the water-course and we were able to spot a lot of different plants and insects around the area along with a net hammock that Sally tried. Becs spotted humming birds and we also saw bright red dragonflies and there are supposed to be three species of Hummingbird and Dragonfly in the garden. The final feature we tried was the small pond with toe nibbling fish that crowded around your feet to nibble the dead skin off, very ticklish when it was only a few fish but more bearable with the 20 plus that came for their dinner, needless to say mine seemed to attract the most! We were joined by a young Kiwi family whose father was working locally and they were living aboard on their cameraman in Rodney Bay Marina.They were fascinated by the fish and claimed that my feet must be the dirtiest as they liked mine so much!

Again during the afternoon we stopped at various places including a small fishing bay, the large sandy beach on the southern coast by the airport (very popular with the locals) known as Sandy Beach for a very obvious reason as well as Vieux Fort and Laborie which were two smaller towns on the south west coast.

One of the last stops, whilst it was still light was to view the two Pitons. We had previously seen both from the sea and this gave us the other perspective. The walk up the smaller Piton takes around 5 hours so we didn't do it this time and an official guide is mandatory. There is always next time! There are two Pitons, Gros Piton and Petit Piton. Gros Piton is the second-highest peak on Saint Lucia, after Mount Gimie and we had a great vantage point from an observation point by the road and this is the Piton that can be hiked. Petit Piton has been closed to walkers due to erosion and rock falls and is the more northerly of the two. Both are within the UNESCO World Heritage Site previously mentioned and as we drove further along the coast we came across other view points of them. To round off the great day we had a celebratory belated birthday meal at a restaurant at the Rodney Bay Marina, pizza of course as I was choosing.

We do have days off so one of the days we simply caught up on chores on Mirage, including a small repair on the dinghy, before heading ashore in the late afternoon for a walk along the local beach and a drink at the local beach bar and listening to the music as nearly every bar seems to have a budding DJ.

I have also helped Tracy and Richard upgrade their solar panel from 2 x 50W panels to 1 x 250W panel as they were having difficulty keeping their batteries fully charged without running the engine. They moved into the marina for a few nights to make full use of the utilities whilst they performed the necessary upgrades. This was fabulous for us too as we were able to blag the shower facility codes and enjoyed the use of hot showers for several days! Whilst I was helping them Sally and Becs visited Castries Port, St Lucia's capital by local bus and found it heaving with cruise liner passengers. Everywhere they went they were asked how long they were staying and if they were from a cruise liner. Once it was established that they weren't, the market traders were more friendly as the general consensus from locals were that the cruise liners do not bring money to the local economy. Other than some who take in tours or purchase a few tourist trinkets they generally don't spend much money. This is understandable as they don't need to buy food and may not even be allowed to take fruit back on board for risk of infestations. This is resented as the comment was that the cruise liner passengers aren't interested in the culture and history of the island and their people but again if you are visiting 6 islands in a 7-day period they can become a bit samey when viewed in such a short period due to the small amount of the island you can actually get to see. We were all then treated to a fabulous evening on board Zephyr, with Tracy and Richard hosting us with rum cocktails, a delicious chilli supper and lots of laughter!

We have also had to repair the slip ring in the wind generator as we noticed a change in sound by the wind generator. Usually when we short the output if the wind generator, a switch I put in, it stops the blades from rotating however this was also no longer the case. After removing the wind generator I found that the contacts on the slip ring were no longer being made on the positive output and there was also noticeable carbon build up on the negative, probably as a result of electrical arcing. So after cleaning the carbon from both slip ring groves and using a couple of cable ties to ensure the slip ring contacts remained connected to prevent future arching we re-assembled the wind generator. In the fading light we remounted the wind turbine and the testing proved successful and lets hope it continues to function for the remainder of the trip.

On Becs final evening we went ashore for a lovely meal at a small restaurant called 'La Mesa' where we all had a fantastic Argentinian burger and chips. A good indication to the quality was when we were asked how we wanted the burger cooked! Needless to say the portions were so large that we struggled to eat it all and sadly for us we had no room for dessert.

As Becs flight home wasn't until the evening we tried to make the most of her final day. We dingied into the marina fully loaded with Becs suitcase, flight bag, our beach bag, shower bag, two 25L water containers and fuel can. As you can imagine with wind against tide gusting above 20 knots this was a slow and choppy ride. We were very impressed with how well Becs adapted to life at anchor and giggled her way through most of our adventures ashore wrapped up in a shower curtain to keep her dry. Leaving Becs bags on Zephyr we walked from the Marina into the town and along to the far side of Rodney Bay for her final swim and sunbathe. After a picnic lunch we returned to the Marina to shower and meet up with Tracy and Richard for a cuppa. We had arranged for a taxi to collect and take Becs to the airport from the Marina and it was an emotional farewell for the girls. The 9 days passed us by very quickly and we hope that she enjoyed her Caribbean adventure!

Our thoughts are with Debbie and Martin who we met in Porto Santo.

Bequia

06 February 2020
Paul Kember
Bequia, pronounced Becway, is the second largest island in the St Vincent Grenadines but it still only 7 square miles (18 km2). Bequia means "island of the clouds" in the ancient Arawak language of the original Caribs. Bequia has two major busy periods, the Easter sailing Regatta and the Bequia music festival and we were fortunate to be here during the 5-day music festival. Bequia is yet another one of the islands in the area that has been under the control of the French and British at different times and the buildings again showed a French feel to their architecture especially through the use of gingerbread style wood work on the fascias around Port Elizabeth tourist areas.

The anchorage we were in was in Admiralty Bay by Port Elizabeth and is a large secure anchorage on the leeward side of the island served by plenty of bars, market stalls, hotels and the many dinghy docks that are often outside a bar to encourage you to use them. We, of course, made use of the one by the ice cream shop! With the music festival on there was a large number of yachts anchored in the bay but also the occasional cruise liner that comes in for a day and we had two visit during our stay. The cruise liners fortunately do not discharge all their passengers in one go as the island would not cope, but appear to unload a set of passengers every 20 minutes and give them 2 hours before picking them up again when dropping a later lot of passengers off.

We arrived early afternoon and after, of course, diving to check the holding of the anchor, we headed ashore with the main sail to find the local sail repair shop, Grenadines Sails. Google maps helped us to get almost there but we required local knowledge to get us the final 50m. Dropping the sail off we were surprisingly told that it would be ready the following afternoon after discussing how the repair would be done. A new 3" piece of sail was sewn on to the rear of the sail but inside the luff rope pocket for strength. This required the luff rope pocket to be unpicked on one side completely, the new strip inserted, and it all sewn back together using a three step zig-zag stitch. There are a couple of photos to show the repair and sail back in place.

Whilst on the island we have done the usual exploring and visiting the places the normal tourist will not visit. The first day of exploring we initially walked past the sail makers and onto the fort that overlooked Admiralty Bay and Mirage. Again it was an obvious reason why the fort was here with the panoramic views. Fort Hamilton was a British fort, a seemingly modest stronghold constructed in the 1700s atop a 300 foot-high hill that rests at the extreme northwestern arc of Admiralty Bay. There are literally just a handful of old cannons here, propped up against a short stone wall - probably three feet in height - with a stone patio not more than a few feet wide itself. A small wooden gazebo gives shelter from the sun but also provides space for a tourist trinket seller to lodge. No towering walls or parapets; no ancient dungeons or other old artefacts, besides the aforementioned artillery. Really it's just a few cannons by a patio on a hilltop... but what a hilltop! Ironically Fort Hamilton is named after Alexander Hamilton, an American, though he never actually set foot in Bequia! According to local tradition, during the late 1700s, a misfired cannon aimed at an enemy ship split the island's south western tip in two smaller cays but I can't see a cannon from that period doing that level of damage!

Port Elizabeth is the main port on the Island with at least 2 ferries coming in each day as nearly everything has to be imported into the island from St Vincent. This makes the island an expensive provisioning experience, but we are convinced, more so on this island than on others, that there two tariffs for food from the market stalls. Trying to support the locals we try to buy fresh produce from them and not the supermarket chains. However after being charged almost a £1 per tomato on a stall we weren't too impressed, whilst we don't mind paying slightly more we dislike being blatently ripped off!

"Front Street," as the main road along the Port Elizabeth waterfront is known, is the centre of activity: from the island's administration building, that we used to clear out of customs and immigration, and post office to the vegetable market which is also known as the Rasta Market. We walked along the "front Street" passing the historic St Mary's Anglican church which was rebuilt after a hurricane in 1829 and the usual Caribbean mixture of food, bars, hardware and tourist shops. The walk from Port Elizabeth to the beach, Princess Margaret Beach, is along a mixture of concrete paths and wooden bridges built over the water as the rock face prevents a single continuous path. Princess Margaret Beach is the island's most famous swimming spot and had good snorkelling on one side along rocks. When you walk along the footpath you pass many different street vendors definitely aimed at the tourist trade and visiting cruise liners, selling the typical Caribbean Island tourist fare such as shell necklaces, wooden turtles, tee-shirts etc., but often with a slight Whale bias of the island. Princess Margaret Beach was renamed after the Queens sister, Princess Margaret, who was a regular visitor during the 50's and 60's as she often stayed on the adjacent island of Mustique.

Bequia is one of the few places in the world where limited whaling is still allowed. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) classifies the island's hunt under the regulations concerning aboriginal whaling and Bequia fishermen are allowed to catch up to four humpback whales per year using only traditional hunting methods of hand-thrown harpoons in small, open sailboats. These are big island events and when we walked to Paget Farm, which has the airport and the fishing port nearby, there were signs of whaling with a museum dedicated to the history of whaling, as well as small wooden box trailers with Japanese writing where the whales are probably exported to. One of the bars on "Front Street" called "Whale Boner" uses very old vertebrate from whales as stools and other whale bones as decor. The Bequia flag has a whale character on it. Further on our walk we spotted an island with what could only be described as a pair of garages with a slip way to the sea and after talking to a local fisherman were told this is where the whales are processed after catching.

Unfortunately because we had stopped for lunch when we returned past the fishing port we had missed the opportunity of getting some fresh fish directly from the fishermen as they sensibly had gone home after no doubt being out before dawn. My fishing attempts have not proved overly successful. The boats the fishermen and the boat boys use are made from sheets of plywood that are cut to size, nailed, glued together and then painted in the brightest colour possible complete with motifs and boat names and are pretty much universal across the Caribbean. The final 'piece de resistance' is the biggest outboard motor they can fit! These boats are often no more than 8m long and when talking to the fishermen go 40 miles offshore to fish in some places.

One of our walks we walked to the turtle sanctuary, unfortunately closed, but again it allowed us to find a completely empty Caribbean beach all to ourselves for a swim but the big bonus was the coconut palms complete with freshly fallen coconuts. With only a small penknife with us, and not the machete the locals carry, it took a while to get at the fresh coconut water and then onto the flesh within the nut and Des I hope you recognise the knife! The photos show my efforts!

We ended up staying in Bequia for a week and during this time we were very fortunate to meet both new and old friends. This included an impromptu BBQ on the beach arranged by a South African chap originally born in Dorset (so the complete reverse of me who was born in South Africa and now lives in Dorset!) where around 25 people turn up each bringing a dish to spare along with their meat.

We also met up with a couple we had originally met in Barbados who came for Christmas dinner, as well as the great couple from Australia/New Zealand on Quokka2, the cameraman. Julian and Debs not only invited us on board for yet another fabulous meal cooked by Julian but also informed us they had been making fresh water on the way over so were could use their washing machine and have a shower on board!

Whilst in the anchorage we were introduced to fellow Moody owners, Tracy and Richard from Barrow-in-Furness, who were very similar in age to Sally and I and are doing a very similar type year away as us who were great company as they have a very similar outlook to us.

As mentioned previously the Bequia music fest 2020 was on with a complete mixture of music and the majority of venues within a short dingy distance of Mirage. The festival started on the 28th Jan and went through until 2nd Feb, our final full day. Although we didn't go to all the events, as many were ticket only, we were able to listen from the anchorage quite easily. After the impromptu BBQ Sally and I went to watch "The Elite Steel Orchestra" a 14 piece band at the Frangipani Hotel over looking the anchorage. The Orchestra are from St Vincent and is a band that teaches the local kids steel band music, they have to practice every day throughout the year and to get into the actual orchestra they audition via feeder schools. The youngest member was 14 and the oldest was 22. They played a 2 1/2 hour set with almost no break in between renditions which included dancing whilst playing. They played a complete mixture of music some that was recognisable such as Ed Sheeran and Adele to others that may have been there own speciality tunes to show their ability to the full. You can't help but dance to the music and we spent a lot of time on the sandy dance floor and Sally was a popular partner to the local dancers as the photos show, all her inhibitions left on Mirage!

We used Bequia to clear out of customs and immigration for the St Vincent group of islands as it was an easier place than anywhere in St Vincent, however we did anchor in St Vinscent on our way through to St Lucia to pick up Becs. The anchorage we chose was around two-thirds up the island at Chateaubelair, a large fishing village flanked by the tropical forest of the island and just south of the volcano of Soufrière. St Vincent is the "Garden of Eden" island and produces much of the fruit and vegetables for the local islands as due to the height and size of the island it is able to produce it's own weather system with plenty of rain. Soufrière can produce strong winds in the anchorage but we were fortunate on the night we stayed unlike our friends, Tim and Julie, who had 50 knot gusts. Unfortunately St Vincent has a bad reputation for yacht crime over the last decade so puts cruisers off visiting the Island.

Union Island to Bequia

01 February 2020
Paul Kember
Union Island

After our night at Sandy Island, Carricou, we had a early start to move further up the Grenadines, moving from the Grenadian administered islands to the St Vincent Islands. Our first island under the jurisdiction of St Vincent was Union Island with a sail of just over 6NM to our chosen anchorage off of the town of Clifton.

The entry into the anchorage was through a gap in a reef and then around 'Roundabout Reef'. It was an extremely busy anchorage and took us a while to find a suitable gap amid the mooring buoys to anchor securely. Like us, many yachts use this island as a customs/immigration point of entry or exit and we watched many yachts simply arrive, visit customs then leave, which was a shame as we felt Union Island was a beautiful, authentic Caribbean destination without the frills and visiting cruise liners but with all the charm of the real deal.

Clifton is the busier of the two main villages on Union due to the ferry wharf, the airport, and the popular yacht anchorage at Clifton Harbour and the entry to the dingy dock was through a small tunnel complete with a painted wooden sign. Ashton was the other large village on the Island further along the same coast.

With our packed lunch and plenty of drink ready we cleared Customs & Immigration and this was the first office we went into where crisp ironed uniforms were not being worn, but a simple 30 minute visit saw us through both customs and immigration, ready to explore. We decided to walk the length of the west coast (remember the island is only 3 miles long so don't be too impressed) visiting the other major village of Ashton. The views along the road were exceptional looking back towards Carricou and Grenada. Yet again we passed the Island school, every child was immaculately dressed with creases the military would be proud of! The road we were walking was a fairly new concrete road. We followed the road along the coast, eventually reaching a steep incline and ever hopeful of yet another great view we climbed and climbed along the forested road until we got to -------


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----- the dead end of the road with forest all around so no views! When we looked at the map and back at Mirage it looked as though a road to circumnavigate the Island was planned but currently not finished as the funding probably ran out. Taking advantage of the shaded forest we found a suitable spot to have a picnic and recover! We then simply turned around absorbing the wonderful views as we came back down the hill and treated ourselves to a drink in a bar on the way back to the boat. We occasionally get approached by old people looking extremely unkempt and malnourished for dollars. Like in England we prefer to take them to a local shop and buy them some food and a cold soft drink, as often they are also intoxicated with rum! On passing through Ashton we were approached by an elderly man and were escorting him to a local shop when a local man came rushing out to warn us that he wasn't poor. He was ashamed that the elderly man was trying to 'fleece'us and we thanked him for his concern and decided to only buy the elderly man a coke instead.

The following morning we walked to the old Fort that now over looks the 'international airport' and from here we had a 360 degree view that enabled us to nearly see every island in the Grenadines, from Grenada and Carricou through to Saint Vincent and St Lucia in the North. It was very obvious why a fort had been built here and any guns would have been able to fire down onto ships in the different channels and fortunately there was very little haze to effect our views.

We continued our walk heading along the east coast this time, passing several apartments and hotels that all no longer appeared to be running and in various states of disrepair. We even walked past what appeared to be a wedding venue with a stage that went out into the sea that had seen better days. Maybe the attraction of Carribbean Weddings have gone out of fashion. We asked a couple of local people but nobody had any clear knowledge of why the various places were no longer operating other than a possibility that the loss of the beaches due to sand erosion may have been a reason. We wonder if the downturn of our global economy and huge airline taxes have effected tourism generally and only the all-inclusive resorts are surviving. Cruising the Caribbean via cruise ships or like us on sailing yachts seem more popular than package holidays.

What we love about cruising is meeting and re-meeting sailors from all around the world. We caught up with Simon and Freeka a wonderful dutch couple, who we originally met in Barbados and then briefly in Grenada who are on a similar journey and timescale as us. After a coffee on Mirage we agreed to meet in the evening to see a local steel band at the near-by yacht club. However as the time arrived to head off, the sea state and wind had increased which would have made the dingy journey ashore very wet and uncomfortable so we regretfully cancelled our trip ashore. Such a pity as we enjoy their company and this would have been the first steel band we would have experienced in the Caribbean. Instead we continued to write up our blog and edit photos to maximise our free time. Again we noticed a blog entry from a German couple whom we were beside in Santa Cruise Marina. They appeared to be on Union Island too. It would have been great to meet up with them again and discuss their Atlantic passage. We sent them an email late that evening to see how long they were staying.

After a rolly, windy night we had planned an early departure to Mayreau hoping that the dreary weather would improve. Just as we came up on deck to prepare for our short hop we saw our German friends Alfred and Petra disappearing south. What a pity, however we did manage to Email a photo of them as they passed us by oblivious to our presence. As they say ships that pass in the night!

Mayreau

It was a short upwind sail from Union Island to Mayreau, the small adjacent island, of just under 4NM to the anchorage in Saline Bay. Mayreau is the smallest inhabited island of the Grenadines, with an area of less than 3 sq.KM The population is centred in the village which doesn't actually have a name, located on Station Hill, a hill top in the south-west of the island. The island is only accessible by sea. Mayreau has a population of just over 450 people so is about the size of our village we live in but it had at least 25 bars! Arriving early allowed us to anchor and have almost a full day exploring the island.

There is one road on the Island going from Saline Bay over the top of Station Hill and down to Salt Whistle Bay on the other side. The Roman Catholic Church and community building, also used as the school, are at the top of the hill and have fabulous views of Tobago Cays. There was an old obsolete rain catching and storage system which was inspired by a retiring priest, Father Divonne, who encouraged the local people to build the water capture and reservoir. Their efforts are now commemorated in the small catholic church on top of the hill.

The power production for the island is by a diesel generator and like Union Island there is a large solar panel array and battery store system that has been funded by the Abi Dabui State investment fund to reduce their fossil fuel reliance. The water desalination plant is conveniently placed by the power generation.

Then we walked along to Saltwistle Bay, which although stunning, we discovered was crowded with yachts, most of them charter boats, using the moorings, and there were yet more bars and restaurants as well as a launderette! We walked along the beach to the less crowded end to view the headland from duel aspects and walked along a narrow track up into the rocks on top of the headland where we had lunch whilst watching the local lobster catchers swimming along the rocks. Returning to Saltwhistle Bay we had a drink in a bar where we chatted to a number of different sailors including a couple from Sweden and Germany on their yacht Solo and a couple from Norway, who were on a friends boat (more of this couple later). We played table tennis and beach games until just before sundown when we made it back to Mirage before darkness fell.

The previous Island owners gave the island to the islanders with the island now running on pseudo co-operative type structure but the loss of the fishing rights in the Tobago Cays, when it became a marine reservation area, had an impact on the island's prosperity and the need to change more to tourism, which will always be limited due to boats being the only way of access and Tobago Cays on their doorstep. That said they appeared to have the perfect balance, we were welcomed but not hassled. Again we found the people of the island friendly and chatty with many of them telling us of their visits to the UK to visit friends and family. This is a common thread with most people we talk with. The Island was immaculately clean, even sweeping the beaches of the weed and rubbish being continually swept in with the tide. This has probably increased their popularity as a pleasant escape before and after a visit to Tobago Cays. We certainly would have liked to stay longer but we were ever pressed for time by the need of our sail repair in Bequia.

Tobago Cays

After the night in Mayreau we had a short motor around to Toabgo Cays. Tobago Cays is one of the 'must do' places in the Grenadines and the shear number of boats proved this. We had slightly delayed our arrival here by going to Mayreau first. Thus ensuring we had near perfect weather conditions, with very little wind and good sun providing excellent water clarity giving the best snorkelling experience possible. Tobago Cays is a marine reservation and on the chart looks like 5 small islands protected by a large horseshoe shaped reef on the Atlantic side of the group, known as Horseshoe Reef, with a second reef further to the east known as World's End Reef. The Tobago Cays have wonderful beaches, snorkelling and short walks on the islands easily accessible from the protected anchorages. These delights are very well known so hence the busy anchorages. We stayed for only the one night but by getting there early ensured that we made the most of our day and a half there. After the obligatory dive to ensure the anchor had set and breakfast we went ashore by dinghy to explore a couple of the near by Cay Islands. As we walked, there were a large number of very large Iguanas walking around showing very little fear of humans. Again whilst walking and admiring the views it was always great chatting to different people, mostly having the common passion of sailing, with some chartering, some doing what we are doing and other more longer term cruisers. With the Europeans BREXIT is a often a topic we try to steer away from when asked!

The afternoon was spent snorkelling it what can only be described as Gin clear water on one of the outer reefs of the Cays. The sheer numbers and varieties of fish was breathtaking (not a good thing when snorkelling!). There is evidence of damage to the coral in places probably as a result of humans, hurricanes and storms over the years but there is also areas or pristine coral that has recovered no doubt helped by the creation of the marine park and the control of fishing and anchoring. A fee of $20 EC was very reasonable.

We treated ourselves to an onshore BBQ in the evening, the first time out for a meal for quite some time. It is arranged most days by the 'boat boys' within Tobago Cays and is known to be a well organized event. Each boat boy arranges for his own chef to come over to the Island, once he knows how many are coming and arranges a suitable time to meet at his reserved tables for his guests. Micheal collected us just after 6pm and took us ashore to our own table. On the adjacent table was a group of 5 from Norwegians, including the couple we were talking to in Mayreau, who were staying on their friends yacht for a few weeks. They invited us to join them on their table and it was then that the actual owner recognised us. He had been the other side of us as boat neighbours in Tenerife with Alfred and Petra on the other side. What a coincidence after 3 months we see them both within a week of each other. His beard fooled us initially in working out where were had met before! It just shows how small the world is! The meal was BBQ tuna, garlic potatoes with a rice salad and plantains and is probably the best meal we've had so far in the Caribbean. After the Norwegians had left we then spent a good half an hour chatting with Micheal, not only discussing cricket, but also about the island population and how many of the youngsters leave to earn better money elsewhere and never return. Quite a few join the UK armed forces as it gives them a secure financial future which they would never have at home with housing, pensions and the chance to travel. He had no resentment of this as he knew this would give them a much better life and was very philosophical of his own and their life choices. The BBQ and chat to Micheal was a wonderful end to our short visit to Tobago Cays before being taxied back to Mirage.

Sail to Bequia

Again it was an early start when we left Tobago Cays, but we were not alone with boats heading both towards Grenada and like us North to either Bequia or St Vincent. It makes perfect sense as daylight and darkness are equal here and it happens very quickly first light is around 5.30am and its invariable pitch black by 6.30pm. We were heading to Bequia to visit a sail maker to get our main sail repaired at 'Grenadines Sails' recommended by fellow Moody Sailors, Steve and Annemarie.

Using the Genoa only, the sail was not at our usual pace but it gave us time to enjoy the sun and views as we passed other islands. We had originally planned to visit Canouan and Mustique but the repair to the sail had to take priority but we may be able to return if the sail repair is quick!

Grenada

24 January 2020
Paul Kember
Our first stop in Grenada, also known as the Spice Island, was Halifax Bay and we used this anchorage to explore some of the central area of the island. This is the first anchorage in Grenada from the north and is a sheltered inlet between two forested hills. The anchorage had only one other yacht anchored and was the classic representation of a Caribbean anchorage with the green lush foliage of mangrove woods coming all the way down to the beach with steep cliffs beyond. The only thing that prevented the perfect 10 score was the black sand and murky water caused by leaves and undergrowth!.

With the chores of the day done the three of us rowed ashore, locked the dingy and eventually found a path in which to climb up to the road. We walked towards the village of Concord heading for Concord falls. The walk was a mixture of alternating sunshine and tropical showers making for a very steamy walk. Reaching Concord we passed some faces engraved into the side of the cliff face lining the road and then had a very steep climb up to Concord Falls, of around 2 miles. During the walk we stopped to chat to a guy cutting some green beans from his plants who then chatted to us for almost half an hour describing the various plants he has on his plot and showing us how to pick and use them (nutmeg, cocoa, sorrel, ginger ...). He was delighted to share his knowledge and answered a lot of our questions, he then gave us some spices to take away with us! This was an early example of the friendliness and generosity of the people of Grenada.

When we arrived at Concord falls it was just in time for another tropical rain shower but this had the effect of significantly reducing the number of other visitors and by the time we had eaten our lunch we had exclusive use! We then had a very enjoyable time swimming in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and it certainly gave true meaning to the term 'waterfall shower'. The swim was refreshing, exhilarating and experiencing the power of the waterfall was a definite bucket list tick off for us all, as the photos show.

After the two nights at Halifax Bay we sailed to the south coast of Grenada passing Port St George, its Capital, with Jim at the helm. This was a momentous experience for Jim, he specifically wanted to visit this area as he had recently won a virtual sailing event (over 40,000 people world wide typically compete in a race) from Lanzarote to Grenada, the first British guy too, using his own routing software, course2steer, that we have used for planning some our passages. Our final destination being an anchorage off Hog Island, as recommended by a neighbour of ours who used to crew in Grenada. The last couple of miles were a hard upwind sail and it was during this part of the journey we sailed to the most southern point of this whole adventure, so it could be said we are now on our way home! I don't know why it is called Hog Island as there were no pigs there and it is not shaped like a hog or hogs head.

Whilst at Hog Island we noticed our friends on Quokka2, Deb and Julian, and were invited on board for a quick catch-up as they were due to imminently sail to another marina to have there mast removed for some upgrades. We had just got ashore to purchase some outboard fuel and could see Q2 heading off when I remembered I had left our dry bag on board along with our wallet, boat keys, Jim's and our credit cards and my phone! This resulted in a mad dash for me in the dingy in hot pursuit, praying the fuel would last. Meanwhile Jim borrowed a fellow sailors VHF Radio to try and call up Q2 and Sally noticed the electronics engineer so asked him to try and whats app call them. Neither worked as they were too busy manoeuvring out of the anchorage! Thankfully they eventually noticed my bag and me trying to catch them up just as they were leaving the bay. Arriving back at the dock very wet I met with Jim and Sally holding the wet bag aloft like a trophy, much to everyone's relief especially Jim, needless to say Jim opted to carry his own credit card in future! Sally treated us to a delicious cake each from a local bakery to get over the shock and nervous energy expended over the ordeal as we continued to explore the local area. One of the reasons we went ashore was to get some petrol for the dinghy and just as we started to return to Mirage we ran out of fuel within a few seconds leaving me to have a half mile row back to the boat. I am glad I didn't run out fuel whilst on the dash for the bag!

Another recommendation by Tom was Nimrod's Rum Shack where we purchased a Nimrod's tee-shirt for him as a reminder of his time here. Tom used to frequent the shack when he worked in Grenada during the sailing season and used to drink the rum from old tin cans. After the rum shack we walked to to Fort Jeudy Beach in Port Egmont as we were considering coming around to the anchorage. Whilst on the beach and doing a bit of a beach clean we were asked by one of the local guys if we wanted to pop over to where they were working to join them for lunch. We thought this would be a quick visit for a drink in a roadside cafe but it turned out to be a kind of community project. An allotment style small holding where they had built a shack style communal dining area. We were invited to what turned out to be a three hour lunch including Rum and Coke! We were treated to a Porcupine fish meal using their locally grown vegetables, so locally grown we saw them being taken off of the trees so no food miles here. The guys showed Sally how to prepare, wash and cook them, including Bread fruit, Poppey, Sorrel, fresh herbs and spices as well as how they removed the spikes from the fish using pliers which showed that the fish was cooked. The meal was cooked on a log fire using wood from the area where we sat. Whilst chatting with the guys we discovered that a quiet older gentleman had been the mastermind behind this project. He had been made redundant from a local marina after 22 years and invested it into purchasing this piece of land. Gradually cultivating it with the help of local men and now uses it to teach younger Grenadian guys the techniques of clearing the shrubs, gardening and cooking. I guess similar to what is called a 'man cave' group in the UK. We felt very welcome by all the guys and talking to them and discovering their backgrounds including fishing, plumbing, builders, University Staff etc. The older guy who owned the placed spoke very little but it was clear in the pride he had for his achievements. They didn't want anything for our visit but we did give a donation to the running of the place and the all essential rum supplies they were drinking!

Afterwards we rushed onto our original destination for a visit to the Westerhall Rum distillery museum. Unfortunately now late afternoon we were advised that they had closed for that day but we could sneak in with the cruise liner tour that was about to begin. It was a German tour and Sally spoke a few German words convincing the hosts that they were part of the tour and they then even managed to blag a couple of free samples of different rum with using chocolate beans in the distilling process. This took Jim's rum types up to three for the day!

When we returned to the boat the final adventure for the day was a short dinghy trip onto Hog Island and a brisk circumnavigation walk around the island before sunset, ending at the small bar on the beach. Two drinks later we returned to Mirage taking Jim's Rum variety count to four for the day and Sally up to three, this is definately the exception and not the rule!

Jim's final day with us started early at sunrise, with a short motor back along the coast from Hog Island to Prickly Bay. This was the nearest anchorage to the airport for his flight the following day. We spent the remainder of the day visiting the capital, St George Town by taking the bus and getting off at Port Louis Marina. Jim specifically wanted to visit this marina to see for himself where his virtual race finished. Such a pity he missed the real experience that competitors got as they came into the Marina having crossed the finishing line but definitely the next best thing!

We walked up to an old fortification overlooking the coastline and had a fabulous vantage point of his finishing line and then on into St George town along the front which was exceptionally quiet with no cruise liners visiting. Whilst there we climbed to Fort George which is now a shared area with the Royal Grenadian Police Force and found ourselves chatting with the Commissioner no less as we walked through to visit Fort George! Even he took time to explain the devastation and the damage that is still present from Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 where buildings still have yet to be either repaired or demolished and this was very apparent from the heights of the fort. Immediately north of Fort George, St Andrew's Church fared worst of all the town's churches in Hurricane Ivan. There isn't much left except the front wall and the clock tower perched precariously on the hill top as the photos show. St George's is a very picturesque town and the handsome old French architectured buildings to the Carenage harbour really added to the whole appeal. There are also some more modern buildings that have been painted to appear old with a look of rough hand laid bricks rather than the more modern consistent size bricks they actually are built from.

Sadly Jim's time flew by quickly and we waved him off hoping that he had enjoyed his brief visit to the Grenadian Islands and wet his appetite for a return visit some time in the future.

The day after Jim had left we took two buses via George Town to Grand Etang National Park to climb Mount Qua Qua. The Mount Qua Qua hike is a moderately challenging trail that follows the volcanic crater ridge to the west of Grand Etang Lake, that gave us beautiful views across rain forest to Grenada's east and west coasts. The Mount Qua Qua hike was one of the adventures that we added to our 'must do' list prior to arriving in Grenada after reading other travel blogs but wanted to select a day when little or no rain was forecast as some of the blogs hikes had been miserable or even dangerous following heavy rainfall on the trail. January is the transition between the dry and wet seasons in Grenada. Moreover, being located in the rain forest covered, mountainous interior of Grenada, we knew that finding a rain-free day was not going to be easy. Initially taking the number 1 bus followed by the number 6 bus it deposited us right at the entrance to Grand Etang National Park and the starting point of the Mount Qua Qua hike. The first section of the trail is relatively flat and leads you through pleasant forest on a well-defined, albeit muddy track. After a short distance, there is a route off to your right which leads down to Grand Etang Lake and the Shoreline Trail. At this point, the Mount Qua Qua hike gradient increases but some helpful man-made steps integrated into all the steeper sections greatly aided our climb. As the elevation increases, the canopy gradually opens up and regular gaps begin to appear in the undergrowth off to both left and right. As a result, glimpses of the sparkling ocean beyond the thick carpet of dark, lush forest become visible for the first time. If you are anything like us, you will probably find yourself stopping at regular intervals to marvel at the wide variety of exquisite views on offer. Grand Etang Lake also came into view behind. A glistening lake encircled by light green vegetation, with a backdrop of craggy, dark green peaks. A photographer's dream for sure! As the Mount Qua Qua hike leads you on the final stretch towards the summit, you really get a sense that you are walking along a mountain ridge. This is because the forest that was acting as a shield a little further back, is now a little thinner. You are now fully exposed to both the sun and those strong, gusty easterly prevailing winds. A short distance from the summit, there is a path leading off to the left this would have taken us to Concord falls, the waterfall we had visited earlier in our stay but with time being short we decided to miss out on another swim there! The walk down was much quicker as you would expect!

We choose to clear immigration from Carricou, Tyrell Bay, so we had another early start at dawn to make the short day sail back there to enable us to clear out the following morning. As I was trimming the sails I noticed a small area of sunlight flowing through our main sail. On closer inspection with the binoculars we did indeed have a small area where the stitching appeared to be coming undone. After anchoring and having our late lunch we dropped the mainsail to perform what we anticipated would be a small repair with our sail repair kit. However on closer inspection we discovered small tears along the leach where the sail material is doubled for reinforcement. This was definitely too much for hand sewing and it will mean we can no longer use it until we reach an island big enough to have a sail maker and repair centre. Thankfully we have a large Genoa which allows us to upwind sail without a main, but sadly we will not be able to race any other cruising boats to the best anchoring spots in the near future!

We met up with Steve and Annemarie, members of the Moody Owners Association, who have a Moody 425 and have been cruising the Caribbean for the past 7 years. We met at the local bar called 'The Slipway' and they gave us some extremely useful tips on good cruising grounds and places of interest. They also recommended a good sail makers in Bequia so that would be ideal for us as we are planning on visiting there on our way up through the Grenadines the next Island chain. However we did get more than we bargained for as although the bar was great we were certainly fresh blood for the local mosquito population as we got our first Caribbean bites!

Sally took a final bus ride into Hillsborough for our last minute provisions whilst I cleared immigration. After lunch we took a short motor around the headland to a sandy island, ironically called Sandy Island. It's a Marine Conservation Area and you have to pay to pick up a mooring buoy and to snorkel. However it was a perfect sunny day for it and although we had to share it with about 20 other boats it was a little tropical gem with the best snorkelling we have had since leaving Barbados. The Coral Reefs were alive with plenty of fish and pelicans enjoying rich pickings with little to no effort. We were also blessed with a fabulous sunset to round off our first Island hoping adventure to the Grenadine Island Chain.

We can now understand why people sail here and never go home!

To Grenada

11 January 2020
Paul Kember
We left the anchorage at Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, just before 10am with the hope of sailing to Grenada and heading to an anchorage about half way down the West coast. The wind was quite strong and we initially set the sails to have a 2nd reef in both the main and the genoa to be on the safe side. We were not the only boat making the sail to Grenada from the anchorage, many were charter boats that probably needed to be back to their bases that day.

Once clear of Carriacou and into the steady winds we released more sail and off we shot towards Grenada making over 7 knots at times. As we sailed we had the fishing line out and managed to catch a small tuna, but too small to eat so it went back in.

We headed on an bearing of 230 degrees and passed quite a few different islands, generally uninhabited or privately owned, as we closed in on Grenada. These islands have names such as Frigate Island, Diamond Rock, Ile de Ronde and Ile de Calle. One area the charts gave an exclusion zone around was an underwater volcano, fortunately not active at the moment!

Grenada is a very lush island and as we sailed along the west coast we passed various villages and tropical forest right down to the coast. We expected to get becalmed as Grenada has some high mountains, over 700 metres tall but fortunately we sailed all the way to the anchorage.

The anchorage, Halifax Bay, had only one other yacht anchored and was the classic representation of a Caribbean anchorage. This is the first anchorage from the north and is a sheltered inlet between two forested hills. Once anchored and lunched we did a few chores on the boat as well as a rigging climb up the mast to check all the standing rigging and various fixtures and fixings for general wear and tear and there id a chance on Grenada to have these fixed if there had been any problems. Fortunately nothing was found but I did take a few photos from the top of the mast.

After a wonderful sunset, the best for quite some time due to lack of clouds we battened down the hatches as we were then hit by a sudden and very heavy shower. I did use the rain to have a lovely shower first though!

Carriacou

10 January 2020
Paul Kember
Carricou is all you would expect from your mental images of a Caribbean island with white sandy beaches, mangroves ending at the water's edge, lush vegetation all over the island and wonderful friendly people. With a population of just over 8000 people the island is not yet spoilt by mass tourism as it has no major airport and is not suitable for cruise liners. The 'capital city' is Hillsborough, and this is the only town on the island as the rest of the island the settlements are very small villages.

We anchored in a beautiful bay called Tyrell Bay amongst nearly 60 other yachts and boats in clear water that was 6m deep and so you could easily see the anchor. Fortunately we had arrived just before lunch so were able to ensure we had a secure anchor by diving and checking before heading ashore to clear immigration and customs. They were conveniently located adjacent to a bar as when we arrived, 1:10pm, they were still on their 12-1pm lunch hour! Once clear we had a quick look around the beach area of the bay where there were quite a few different bars as well as a very new modern supermarket, probably sited here because of the many yachts that pass through each year. The remainder of the first day was spent sorting Mirage from a sailing boat back to a home at anchor. Jim treated us to a meal at a small shore side restaurant, Jim and I both had pizza and Sally had half a locally caught lobster but we did share so we could taste each others meal!

Day 2 we walked to Hillsborough, around 4 miles each way, which enabled to to sample the real island and the people we met on the way. Passing the local school we saw the children in their very smart uniform sitting outside having their lessons in the brightly decorated building. Our route also took us via Paradise beach and it's views of Sandy Island and Mabouya. Sandy Island is a small reef based island with white sand and very few trees/shrubs whilst Mabouya is covered in trees with one sandy beach but is not able to be visited as it is now a nature reserve. Needless to say we swam in the sea in Paradise Beach on our walk back to the boat. Hillsborough, as mentioned, is the only town on the island and this is where most of the shops are as well as the usual market stalls etc. as well as tourist information. After the visit to the tourist information we were armed to the information to plan for the rest of the stay. The lady in tourist information certainly sold us the island, telling us about the buses, the marked walks up to two highest peaks, the boat building area on the north east coast as well as the more usual beach type information and details of the nature reserves.

Day 3 we sampled the buses to discover other parts of the island, there are three routes , 10, 11 and 12. Not sure where the first 9 went! Each route is a circular route covering a different area of the island and they even do a door-to-door service to the residents whos don't live on the actual route. The buses were far less frentic than the ones on Barbados and no loud music in them. Our plan for the day was to initially climb the second highest peak on the island, followed by the bus trip to the north east of the island where the local wooden boats were made after a wonderful description of the area by the lady in the tourist office. We did manage to start the climb to the top of the mountain but the route just disappeared and we ended running out of path but even so we did have some amazing views looking towards Paradise beach, the anchorage and Sandy Island. There are loads of free roaming goats on the island and this walk was no exception, however we did also see cows tethered in a small meadow along way up the walk as well as tortoises enjoying the sun. The tortoises ranged from small babies through to larger adults and had a golden colour to their shells. After our walk that we couldn't find the path, and even the locals we asked didn't know about the path, we caught two buses to the boat building area of the island. The surprise of our request from the bus driver should have put a bit of doubt into our minds! Expecting to find local craft in build, repair and a large wooden boat under construction we arrived and what could simply be described as a dumping area for old boats, bottles, engines, sails, masts and spars and no evidence of any building or repair really showing. I guess most of the local fishermen have now moved to fibre glass boats and these old wooden hulls are simply left to rot and get washed away by the next storm. Sally did however find a huge pile on Conch shells to look through to add to her shell collection. After a quick drink at the local bar we returned to Mirage using the buses via Hillsborough and the supermarket in Tyrell Bay for a well deserved container of ice cream, banana with chocolate chips!

The fourth day on Carricou was a complete wash and wind out as were not able to leave the boat due to very strong winds. They did eventually relent just after dark, however during the day we planned the next step of our trip to Grenada as well as perform a small amount of maintenance and boat clearing between the showers so not a completely wasted day!

There are supposed to be more than 100 rum shops in Carriacou making it easier to get hold of rum than petrol and the speciality of the island is Jack Iron Rum at over 60% proof. It comes in reused bottles so we must get some for my father, ex-Navy, to see how it compares with his tot from the days in the Royal Navy!
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