Bequia, Mustique, Canouan and Palm Islands
23 March 2018 | Palm Island
Next morning we departed at 10:00 from Admiralty Bay and motor sailed south along the coast to round the West Cay, the most western extremity of Bequia and then turned east sailing along the south coast to anchor in Friendship Bay. The bay has a lovely white beach but a small swell was present and we opted to eat lunch and then move on to the island of Mustique.
By 13:20 we were moored in Britannia Bay, the only anchorage permitted on Mustique, a privately owned island. Although private and exclusive, there is an open friendliness to passing yachties. Mustique was initially developed by the Honourable Colin Tennant who bought the island in 1959. It was developed as a playground for the rich and famous but with time, it is more rich businessmen who own property. The Mustique Council acts as custodian for the entire island and its mandate is to protect the environment and retain the privacy and tranquility that has made Mustique an ideal, peaceful and secure haven.
We did an island tour with one of only two taxi drivers and found it fascinating to see where many well known and famous people retreat to. To mention a few: Mick Jagger, Shania Twain, Tommy Hilfiger, Brian Adams, David Bowie when alive, Puma brand family, and many lesser mortals who can afford the ten million or so for a slice of paradise. The number of dwellings has been capped at 90. Princess Margaret accepted a 10 acre block of land as a wedding gift from Colin Tennant and William and Katherine had a 2 week honeymoon on the island, above the famed Macaroni Beach. We were surprised to see Mick Jagger in a beautiful dress shop that us girls were browsing in. We later learnt that he had ducked inside to avoid someone with a camera pointed at him. He was dressed casually in the linen look and the shop keeper said he often comes in and they give him no special attention....oh the price of being famous!
While on the tour we saw the local village, the school for 20 local children of all ages, set in beautiful manicured grounds, the airstrip for light aircraft, the island doctor’s clinic and home, the Equestrian Centre, the Cotton House, an exclusive hotel with 15 luxurious rooms and suites and one of two hotels on the island. The other is Firefly, a privately owned hotel with six fantasy rooms. The most appealing stop was at the Bamboo Church, a non-denominational church, with just the simplest of bamboo structure and a beautiful mural of surrounding islands in muted tones behind the altar, which was a small timber table. We understand that services are held in the church for all the special Christian calendar events. Maybe someone flies into the island to officiate on these occasions! There is so much more that could be said about this island, but I think it best if we all save hard and come to stay at one of the hotels, at least for one night!
We snorkelled all over Britannia Bay and were rewarded with many turtle sightings, lovely coral and a myriad of fish. We had sunset drinks at Basil’s Bar and enjoyed a range of tapas snacks, which we turned into dinner.
As we had to pay $200 EC minimum to moor which entitled us to 3 nights on the mooring, plus the fact that we liked this tranquil place, we stayed a second night, but sickness struck during the night. Steven hadn’t been totally well for several days, feeling the need for a lot of rest and a general malaise. Peter and I were struck with a nasty tummy bug that we initially thought was due to both of us having the same flavour ice cream that afternoon. As Mustique has its own resident doctor, the skipper decided that although a Maxalon shot had stopped the vomiting, we should go to the clinic for a consultation about our ailments. There is nothing worse than a yacht full of sick people! The doctor, who was a very charismatic character who’d spent 25 years serving the island population, ushered all 5 of us into his surgery together. After listening carefully to each of our symptoms, he decided Steven had an active infection, while Peter and I had food poisoning probably from a home made vegetable curry that had a small amount of left over coconut cream in it. He warned against drinking Piña Coladas, due to the coconut content, that is prone to going off if left in a tin.....oh dear! No treatment was offered as he felt it was just time that would heal. It was most interesting to get a glimpse into the life of a solo professional, who had a wealth of experience in medical matters and the issues of getting suitable locums. We left feeling more confident that we could continue sailing to more remote areas.
Those who needed to rested, after getting back to Trilogy and by late morning we departed for Tobago Cays, a quintessential destination in the Caribbean. However, the wind was blowing 15-20 knots and the Cays are quite exposed. We diverted to Grand Bay on Canouan Island which offered good protection. Those who were feeling very tired after the previous night took to their beds and those still keen, went in the tender for a snorkel off the far headland. Later some of us swam ashore and walked the beach. There was quite a nice resort on shore which only seemed to have a few guests. When we got to the middle of the beach we found ourselves navigating a slimy rock platform in order to get under an elevated jetty. On the way back we thought better of the situation and swam out into deep water to get around the hazard.
With our appetites suppressed, it was agreed that toasted sandwiches was a reasonable dinner option. Only about half were eaten and we all crashed early. It wasn’t long before the skipper took his turn at having a very bad night. Now it seemed that maybe it was a live bug rather than food poisoning. In addition, the wind had got up through the night and the quiet anchorage had shaken Trilogy back and forth. We had a slow start to the next day, but after a short swim, we cast off the mooring lines and had a dream beam reach sail of 5NMs with the main and headsail hoisted. Although the skipper was below his optimum, he was keen to stay at the helm!
Our next stop was Palm Island, one of those idyllic destinations. Originally called Prune Island, it was renamed when a small hotel and plentiful palm trees arrived. It has since been developed by a large hotel chain to a first class resort. Casuarina Beach is just like all the glossy magazines would have you dream about - aquamarine water, golden sand, swaying palm trees! We swam ashore and wandered the beach, observing the discreet signs of ‘hotel guests only’ pegged to the palms, which apparently means yachties can walk on the sand only to one chain above high water level! We counted 9 other islands visible from the anchorage, with Clifton Island just across the passage. We noted that the Palm Island staff all headed home to Clifton at the end of their shift.
What a beautiful part of the world!
St Vincent and Bequia
21 March 2018 | Bequia
After a lovely snorkel along the reef of soft fans, bright yellow pipe shaped coral and plentiful fish, we went ashore late morning, mostly because the boys wanted to acquire the cans of Carib but also to clear Customs for St Lucia. There were no cans to be found and the Customs had a lunch-hour from 12:00-13:30! After a little further wander, everyone agreed to have lunch in the marina village while we waited.
With our passports in order, It was time to motor south only 3NMs to Anse Cochon, where we anchored off the attractive beach. It is a beautiful little bay with a cottage style hotel perched on the southern headland. There were plenty of people on the beach and there was quite a surge as the waves hit the steep beach drop off. We snorkelled from the middle of the bay along the northern shore where we saw an interesting mix of corals and fish and then walked the beach. We hoped to snorkel from the southern end of the beach but the surge looked formidable so we headed back to quieter water for our exit. Later a dinghy load of barefoot cruisers went ashore in their tender and managed to get upturned in the wave break, with all on board flipped into the water which would have spoilt their night ashore, for sure! A far more amusing episode was when our men spotted an anchor on the bottom of the bay with some rather nice chain attached. It must have appeared like it was there for the taking because rather excitedly they got themselves a length of line to salvage this bit of treasure. Just one problem....they eventually realised that the anchor was attached to a nearby yacht and they were very lucky to have not completely embarrassed themselves! After all the embarrassment and mirth had settled, we opted for a meal on board, enjoying Atlantic salmon and tender chunks of tuna.
We planned a long sail the next day and by 8:00 we departed Anse Cochon, heading for the island of Bequia. Initially the seas were glassy smooth and we motored under full main sail, and the water maker was eagerly flashed up, to test its performance. For the first time in the 6 years of Trilogy’s sailing life, the water maker was effortlessly making 60 litres of water per hour! By 9:30 the easterly breeze was blowing at around 15 knots and with the headsail unfurled the motor was cut and we made excellent progress. It was a dream sail and Trilogy was in the sweet spot on a beam reach. We all enjoyed the sail immensely, passing the spectacular scenery of the Pitons on the southern end of St Lucia and then the volcano Soufriere on the northern end of St Vincent. Both islands are rugged and largely unspoilt and unusually, we could see St Vincent 35NMs away, as we commenced crossing St Vincent Passage. As the sail continued to go really well, we sailed a total of 53NMs to Bequia. By 16:00 Trilogy was anchored in Princess Margaret Bay, which is part of Admiralty Bay, the main harbour for Port Elizabeth.
It was Sunday afternoon and that means the locals were out in force, gathered in groups enjoying some fun and sharing food together. There were plenty of tourists as well and the bay was busy with small craft moving back and forth and service craft selling fuel, water and laundry. We felt a strong need to wash away the sail with a refreshing swim and in the mix of all that was happening around us, we dived in and swam ashore. Jack’s bar and restaurant was pumping out music at a deafening volume. In the last couple of weeks, Admiralty Bay had been exposed to some damaging wave action from something akin to a mini hurricane. We had been told about it when in Blue Lagoon, St Vincent island and knew that for nearly 2 weeks the normally quiet harbour had suffered a pounding and that it was unsafe for yachts. Between Princess Margaret Bay and the main town of Port Elizabeth, a timber elevated walkway, just above the normal sea level and supported by concrete pylons, had been constructed for easy access. The recent pounding wave action had lifted many of the concrete pylons and the timber sections had broken up. Steven had walked along it only weeks before! We enjoyed a beautiful sunset drink on Trilogy’s foredeck before heading into Port Elizabeth for dinner at Mac’s Pizza. It was a perfect evening and we very much enjoyed the food and atmosphere, right on the waterfront. Just as we were about to get into the dinghy for our return journey, a couple approached us requesting a lift back to their yacht, as they had no means of getting back on board. This we did and then headed back to Trilogy as we were all feeling tired.
There was an overcast sky when we awoke, but that soon gave way to another beautiful day. After breakfast, we headed into Port Elizabeth, the skipper needing to complete the usual Customs entry formalities for the Grenadines. The search for cans of Carib continued and various hardware and chandlery items to be found, along with a trip to Doris’ Fresh Foods, almost legendary in Bequia. Hidden in one of the back streets, this store has a huge range of quality cheese, wine and all gourmet items, along with a large fresh fruit and vegetables, all at a premium price!
After a cafe lunch in the main bustling street that ran along the beach front, we organised a 2 hour taxi tour with Eric, in his open air ‘fully air conditioned’ truck. We all piled in to sit on the bench seats and off we went, winding our way up some incredibly steep roads to get the best van at age points of the island. Eric told us his forebears were whalers and today the whaling station still exists and the remaining 2 men who understand the traditional methods of hand thrown harpoons from an open sailing boat operate it! The whaling season is February to April (and it is now March!) as during this period Humpback whales leave their northern feeding grounds to travel south to mate and bear young. Eric said that whales are still caught and once the whale has been killed, a secondary boat assists with towing the animal to shore. The second half of the trip was to the Old Hogg Turtle Sanctuary on the Atlantic side of Bequia. Turtle eggs are raised in salt water tanks to maturity, around age 7, and then released to sea with the hope of greater survival rates.
Before we knew it was were back in Port Elizabeth, where we picked up cans of Hairoun beer (second best would have to do!) and some fresh fruit and veg from the local colourful stalls. Sunset was beautiful and we opted for an on board meal of Beouf Bourguignon which all enjoyed, with a splash of red, of course. There were a couple of super yachts, Cocomo and Artemis, both of which we have previously seen, which provide a spectacle with their lofty masts and sleek elegant lines. You know they are huge, when deck crew look like ants and they are not very far from you!
Rodney Bay - farewells and welcomes
17 March 2018 | Rodney Bay
The motor sail of 9NMs along the coast to Rodney Bay was scenic and very pleasant. It was agreed that we should anchor off Rodney Bay beach for lunch, a long stretch of sand that is home to continuous resorts and water loving tourists. We got buzzed many times by the jet ski boys, one of whom I felt I eyeballed up on the bow as he sped within metres of Trilogy as we anchored.
Our guest cooks excelled themselves with delicious seared tuna, mango salad and mashed potato with a touch of wasabi...try it sometime! The meal over, we entered a narrow access channel to Rodney Bay marina and first stop in the lagoon was the fuel wharf. There was a bit of confusion initially because the fuel guy asked if we had checked in and insisted that we do this first! He was referring to customs clearance but we thought he meant the marina. Once the misunderstanding had been resolved we all laughed, the fuel was loaded and we happy campers. The marina communications went well, but the request for a berth on the west side of the pontoon was not understood which meant the skipper had to manoeuvre Trilogy’s bow in first, which is not so easy, especially if the wind catches the bow....and it did. However we got the bow line secured quickly and all was well.
With the remainder of the day, the decks were given a thorough wash down and the bathrooms cleaned. Being the last night for our delightful guests, Stephanie produced a bottle of champagne to celebrate and thank us for the wonderful experience. It had certainly been our pleasure.
Next day was all about cleaning thoroughly below decks and getting more spare parts from the chandlery. By early afternoon Trilogy was shiny bright from top to toe, the laundry had been done, fresh linen on the beds and the girls packed and ready to depart. We ate a delicious Japanese lunch at the marina restaurant Rituals Sushi, as our farewell to the girls.
Before long, Sue and Peter Lucey arrived by taxi from the airport and it was time for them to settle in to their Trilogy berth. It is always a great pleasure to welcome Sue and Peter and they bring so much to the journey. Before we knew it we were sipping GNTs and sharing news from home. Dinner was at BBs was delicious, the men choosing rotis while the girls chose chicken coconut curry. There was an excellent Caribbean singer/steel drum player in the back of the restaurant which set up a lively pulse.
Next day was devoted to a restock shop and the boys held a ‘business meeting’ to reprioritise the jobs list. They made contact with a desalination expert who agreed to come in the afternoon. The day slipped away but we were had achieved a lot, as the food was stowed and the water maker issues better understood. The desalination expert, Egbert, recommended removing the pre-filter (raw water filter) to below the waterline adjacent to the pump. A secondary recommendation was inserting a so called ‘lift’ pump, to pressurise the sea water input side of the desalination, which is the option the guys chose. The raw water filter was left in place and a new lift pump was installed, along with a new filter, the system bled of air and the accumulator reseated. Dinner was enjoyed at Rituals Sushi, which again served a delicious spread of sushi and sashimi on a beautiful bamboo yacht shaped platter.
After a good sleep, the day dawned and we planned to depart no later than 13:00. Alas, the boys had not found time to do the grog shop...and that definitely had to happen! While the boys worked on the water maker, the girls took another taxi ride to Rodney Bay Mall to boost the Bombay and Baileys supplies. The boys wanted Carib beer in cans but alas, only Heineken was on offer in cans, and otherwise glass bottles were all that were available. Just maybe it will be a beer-less boat for a bit! The girls escaped to Cafe Olé for a cooling drink and Wifi time while the boys continued to repair the water maker and when Egbert returned he completed the task and the water maker worked like a charm. Yet another issue could be ticked off the maintenance and repair list!
We departed Rodney Bay marina at 16:00 and with main and head sails aloft, we motor sailed the 9NMs south to Marigot Bay in an easterly 10-15 knots of breeze. Trilogy was humming and effortlessly reached 10 knots speed. Back in Marigot for the night, we were all keen to cool off with a swim before the sunset. Before we knew it, we were sipping on GNTs and tucking into spaghetti bolognaise with a side of fresh local beans and of course plenty of red, red wine!
Soufriere and Marigot Bay
15 March 2018 | Marigot Bay
It was Sunday when we awoke and our first visitor was a very polite local man who offered fresh fruit and vegetables at very reasonable prices. He had 2 young boys with him and they were just the cutest! We chose a hand of bananas, tomatoes, paw paw and lemons and we gave the boys a biscuit each, which put an even bigger smile on their faces.
Sunday in the islands is very much family day and a day of rest unless you are a government employee. We needed to visit the Customs Office before it closed, but being Sunday, the girls decided to make a brunch dish, which was a gourmet version of baked eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. If there had been chilled champagne available, that would have definitely been consumed also! It was a lovely morning, the wind still making its presence felt, the scene around us quite lively, as the local families got together. Our eager snorkellers decided to check out a dive site on the headland but they reported a reasonable swell, strong wind and a fair bit of current which made things a bit tough. Those who remained on board enjoyed a quiet time, time to just indulge one’s own self. Believe it or not, that does not often happen in the cruising lifestyle!
By early afternoon, the paperwork had been completed for the electronic customs check in, and we all piled into the tender for a shore excursion, with frigate birds aloft and seagulls perched on every possible foothold on various yacht’s rigging. From the mix of modest cottages along the shoreline came sounds of both laughter and argument, and young boys peddled their rusty bikes up a rocky road towards the headland, where we had seen goats in the early morning.
The dinghy dock was quite substantial and the inevitably some men were there to offer assistance up the steep ladder, tie off the dinghy and watch over it....for a fee! Once the guys were happy that the dinghy would be still there on our return, the skipper headed to the Customs Office and the rest of us found our way to an ice cream shop.
Soufriere was abuzz with the locals all in relax mode. The town was once a film set for Water, starring Michael Caine and it has many charming old Creole buildings with balconies and gingerbread. More recently, much has been done to upgrade the town and the waterfront and it was fun wandering the streets, soaking up the atmosphere. We saw the usual vendors of bead and shell necklaces, but also some quality pandanus reed basket ware; an old Ute filled with coconuts which with a slash of the machete and an added straw produced a refreshing au naturalle drink; small colourful bars where the local men gathered; old people chatting amiably on their verandahs; and mothers with young children catching up while the children played. Thrown into this mix was loud blaring music and the odd hotted up car blowing off smoke. The guys had a chat with a delightful local man called Pascale, who having discovered we were Australians, mentioned ‘ah, the land of the kangaroo’. He claimed to have once lived in a cave, but now he lived in his parents old house. He was kind, not on the take, and when the guys offered to buy him a beer, he reached into his pocket for the money, not expecting for a minute to be given it. On their wander through town, the men were offered fresh tuna for sale and after we had all regrouped for a cool drink, it was decided to buy the tuna for a sashimi treat. Buying the fish was a most interesting experience! Bushman lead us through the maze of houses, following a narrow and rough dirt track to finally enter a little enclave outside a fisherman’s cottage. The fisherman appeared cuddling his young granddaughter and he assured us the fish, which was in a large chest freezer, had been caught that morning. The 5lb fish was weighed on an old set of scales and then we followed Bushman back to the beach, where he cleaned and gutted it. Bushman was another stand out character....wearing his shorts slung as low as possible, revealing much more of his underpants and tight buttocks than necessary, along with his tight six pack shirtless torso. He was kind and polite and true to his namesake, after the fish was cleaned, he took off to the jungle to tend his vegetable garden. Although there was a bit of a wild feeling about Soufriere, the place was vibrant and provided a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment and an opportunity to sense the genuine Caribbean lifestyle.
With fresh fish for our booty, it was time to head back to Trilogy for a swim and a sashimi treat. Marinated in lime juice, garlic with pepper and salt, it was delicious. We tried to book a couple of different nice restaurants up on the ridge so that we could have a superb sunset drink or two gazing at the Pitons. Alas, both Boucan Restaurant and Jade Mountain Club were fully booked, so our choice for dinner was at Humming Bird at the far end of Soufriere beach. In the dark we had trouble finding the restaurant jetty and went back to the main dinghy dock so we could walk there. That was an interesting walk which lead past the cemetery, a blaring disco club following a narrow pot holed road that cars and people sometimes frighteningly shared, to a pleasant little restaurant attached to the Humming Bird Beach Resort.
Next morning there was a swim for everyone and then Trilogy released the mooring lines and headed out of the bay and motored 9NMs north along the east coast to Marigot Bay, a completely sheltered, mangrove lined bay, famous as a hurricane harbour. We anchored in between a few yachts in a space that had plenty of swing room, but the French yacht astern made sure the skipper was aware that he suspected we had laid over his anchor chain and that as he was departing at 06:00 in the morning, we needed to be ready to assist! The skipper duly set his alarm for 06:00 to save any embarrassment. As it turned out, there was no problem whatsoever!
Marigot is picturesque, surrounded by folding hills and we happily took the tender ashore for a wander before sunset, and then gathered at Chateau Mygo bar for a perfect sunset drink...or two. A meal followed at the adjacent Mygo restaurant, which promised the freshest of ingredients from the fertile mountains. It was a lovely meal and such a pleasant setting.
The girls were up for more shore time next morning and we usurped the tender to indulge our desire. Breakfast at one of the waterfront restaurants was a delicious treat and the ambience created by the large super yachts sparkling nearby us all added to the scene. There was some pleasant retail shops to check out and a beautiful conch shell to be purchased. Back on board Trilogy, the boys recommended a snorkel to the adjacent shore. It was a forest of multi coloured fan coral and so captivating to observe, all the fronds waving gracefully in the ‘breeze’.
Next stop, Rodney Bay, a further 9 NMs up the east coast!
Crossing St Vincent’s Passage
11 March 2018 | Anse de Pitons
The sky was quite dramatic next morning, not that this is unusual around these islands! Certainly being on a yacht makes the surrounding sky - cloud formations, sun angles, moon shine, star positions feature more significantly in your awareness....what a wonderful world!
We agreed o go with a guide to the local waterfall ‘10 minutes walk....no track!” Once ashore we walked with our guide up a long road that wound its way through the village and followed the stream that would eventually be a waterfall. It was nice to be discovering on foot, noticing the women washing clothes in the stream, a small clothing shop with steel sculptures in the front garden, local produce - sorrel, nutmeg, peas, paw paws, passion fruit, livestock- cows and sheep and both wild and cultivated flowers. The waterfall was unfortunately inundated by a steady flow of cruise ship tourist vans, but we found a short gap in the flow and got into the pool of very refreshing water and moved across to the water fall for a pummelling. The setting was very beautiful and we all relaxed as it was so cooling. We finished the morning with lunch at a nice little local restaurant that served fresh and delicious local food. As it was adjacent to the remains of the Pirates set, many bits of memorabilia hung from the rafters and a life size plaster pirate climbed aloft.
Once on board, we made our way just 1 NM further north to Cumberland Bay. The pilot description was lyrical ‘this deep and enchanting bay is part of an estate in the heart of St Vincent’s wildest and richest land’.....who could resist a visit! We again did a stern to mooring and various vendors visited. We bought some fresh fruit but no necklaces. Some went snorkelling out on the point but did not report any thing too special. Swimming off the back of Trilogy was the other option and that was very pleasant. The lure of sunset drinkies ashore was too much for some and while that was happening, a vegetable curry was conjured up in the galley. It wasn’t too long before the dinghy returned with an offer to have BBQ lobsters delivered to Trilogy...that seemed like a lovely combination....and it was. The final visit for the day was the resident Rastaman, a gentle soul, who wanted to let us know he was a qualified tour guide and was happy to offer us his services. His dreadlocks were monumental and his pandanus hat had an open crown so that the locks could sprout forth and wander down his back. The toothless smile was endearing but told a story.
Next morning was a 07:00 departure, as we needed to clear customs 5NMs north at Chateaubelair before making our way to the island of St Lucia. Chateaubelair lies at the southern foot of Soufriere, St Vincent’s volcano. In 1971 there was an effusive eruption, which formed an island in a lake prior to an eruption in 1979, when a dome formed in the lake within 48 hours of first signs of activity. It is still very much considered an active volcano. This is therefore a dramatic and rugged coastline and the volcano is a full day’s hike away, but that would have to wait for another day. The customs clearance was done in more or less quick time and when the skipper returned, it was time for the 42NMs sail to St Lucia.
Our lovely pilot informed us that ‘the northbound passage between St Vincent and St Lucia can be hard on the wind and hard on the body’.....and so it came to pass! With the full force of the easterly Trade Winds, we were quickly into 25-30 knots of wind. It is not unusual to have gusts of 30-40 knots in the acceleration zone on the northern end of St Vincent and with 3 reefs in the mainsail and motor purring away the close haul sail was quite uncomfortable but we managed 5 knots. It seemed to take forever for St Vincent to diminish in size! Having battled the conditions in the first 15 NMs, the route was changed so that we were on a beam reach, the staysail unfurled, motor off and headed for Anse de Pitons. There was greater comfort with less strain on Trilogy and we picked up several knots of speed.
After 6 hours of sailing, we approached the Pitons, two majestic conical shaped peaks, Gros Piton (2619’) and Petit Piton (2460’) separated by Anse de Pitons. The wind and current are issues in this picturesque bay and thankfully decent moorings are in place to hang onto, as the frequent bullets of wind, some as much as 40 knots, strike the water. When this is combined with a rapid current on the change of tide, the yachts are flung in all directions.
We planned to eat ashore after our solid day, and the men did a trip in the dinghy to see what the docking facilities were like, as we had made a reservation at the Sugar Beach Resort restaurant. They felt that the dock was only just acceptable as you had to scramble up a high wooden pier and we were also likely to get wet on the trip across. On the return trip they noticed an Aussie flag fluttering from an adjacent catamaran and dropped by for a chat. They were a middle-aged Sydney couple who were sailing the world!
When they got back on board Trilogy, the wind was rocketing around the bay and second thoughts emerged about dining on shore. The skipper reluctantly made the call that it was not safe to be going ashore. So, a quick rethink and our on-board gourmet cooks created a delicious Mexican Taco sauce with all the trimmings and we feasted on board. All tired after the big day, it was time to rest, even though there was an after dinner push for Euchre!
Blue Lagoon, Kingston, Petit Byahaut and Wallilabou Bay
11 March 2018 | Wallilabou Bay
We were on the go a little earlier than usual to prepare Trilogy for the arrival of our daughter Kat, who resides in Brooklyn, USA. She was arriving on an overnight flight, changing planes in Barbados in order to arrive at Argyle International Airport, St Vincent. This is a new international airport, and in 2016 when we last were here, there was only a very large brown scar on the land which was an abandoned project. Many said the project would never get completed due to lack of funding, but thankfully the new government pushed money in that direction and now the island boasts a 9000ft runway. Additionally, there is an expansive apron area and aircraft as large as 747s can land. The airport was constructed to accommodate 1.2 visitors a year as well as a cargo terminal for imports and exports. Thank goodness this progressive and significant infrastructure has been completed and the island’s economy should surely benefit.
Kat arrived at 10:30 and we took a taxi to the airport to greet her. Her friend Aussie girlfriend Stephanie was also joining us but flying in from Mexico City via Trinidad, arriving at 16:30. The day went very quickly, as catching up with family always does, and Stephanie settled quickly to her holiday home. The girls were taking photographs of the sunset when a sleek fishing boat arrived on the opposite side of the pontoon. It turned out that it was owned by Kellie, the owner of the Blue Lagoon marina, a New Zealander who has been in St Vincent for 30 years. He noticed the girls and their accent, offered them a rum punch from the fishing esky, which they accepted cheerfully and the next thing they knew, there was a good size fish handed to them. Their holiday was off to a very good start!
To celebrate the joining of our new crew we went to the marina’s Loft Restaurant. Several more rum punches later (well, we had to use up our free rum punch vouchers), the evening was very animated and filled with great conversation. The girls did not hesitate to have lobster for dinner and as both are gourmet in their food preferences, we were expecting some interesting meals onboard. The girls were here to ‘shake up the party’.
Next morning we did a trip into Kingston, the capital of St Vincent. It is a bustling, intense sort of place, the pavements very uneven, the traffic unpredictable and the street vendors all struggling to make a living. The girls peeled off while the rest of us checked out a few things in a hardware store before heading for the Basil’s, in the Cobblestone Inn, for a rooftop drink and snack. It was hot and steamy and the large ceiling fans made us feel really in the tropics. Before our taxi arrived at 13:00, we did some fruit and veg shopping at the market stalls. There were beggars in this neck of the woods, something we haven’t seen before on this trip. The fresh supplies arrive on the island on Friday and Saturday, so our Tuesday visit was just the local suppliers. Bananas, paw paws, mangoes, passion fruit in abundance! The girls stocked up on spices, fresh herbs and special treats.
Back on board, we were all focused on casting off at 14:00 to coincide with the rising tide and exit through the narrow entry of the lagoon. We had organised a pilot again but we had a tight space to turn Trilogy around in the marina before the pilot came on board. He was very capable and deftly steered Trilogy through the channel, to the open water. We were all pleased that this had been an incident free exercise. Once in open water, the headsail was unfurled and we motored north along the coast 7NMs to Petit Byahaut. This bay is small and beautiful and we anchored fair in the middle, so that no one else could be tempted to join us! It is only accessible from the sea, but there are remnants of buildings that hint of a former small hotel. The snorkelling was better than anything else we have experienced in the Windward Islands and a walk ashore revealed some interesting plant life and an overhanging cave at the southern end of the beach. As the sun set, the gifted fish was lovingly prepared for baking by our resident cooks, with numerous fresh herbs and spices rubbed into the flesh. Baked potatoes and beetroot accompanied, along with a delicious mango salsa. It tasted absolutely beautiful!
The local fisherman were in bay at first light, using large nets to herd the surface fish into their boats. This happened a couple of times over the next few hours and we were entertained by the technique and procedure. Certainly the last team had a yelling style, head honcho yelling loud enough to scare any fish! Two guys with snorkel gear were inside the net as it was laid out their main role was to prevent fish escaping before the ends were brought together. They seemed to get a decent haul and presumably the fish were all treated humanely.
An excursion was mounted to find the ‘Bat Cave’, on an adjacent headland. There was a swell of at least a metre surging up and down the rock face of the cliffs and our pilot advised to anchor the dinghy in about 3 feet of water at the cave entrance. Before doing that, Stephen was in the water exploring what we believed to be the cave entrance, but he was concerned by the amount of surge and uncertain if it was definitely the correct cave. The description was that the cave was dark and inside it were bats that cling to the cave walls, along with crabs climbing up among the bats. A tunnel lead off to the left, which was around 30 feet long and4 feet wide. You rise and fall on the swells and if the swell is large, it can be dangerous. The tunnel leads to a fissure, through which you exit, which is 30 foot high and 40 foot deep. Fish and coral abound in the fissure and the water is azure blue. This all sounded wonderful but challenging if you got it wrong! Try as we might, we could not identify an entrance or an exit and we could only conclude that the cave may have had a significant rock fall. That decision did not happen lightly and many determined efforts by the guys were made to swim into any possible gaps in the cliff face! There was however the opportunity to do some good snorkelling at designated dive sites along this coastal stretch, and everyone felt well satisfied, even if disappointed.
Next stop was 4NMs to Wallilabou Bay, made famous by Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies. This is quite a tight little bay and with many yachties visiting, the locals suggest stern to mooring, which means attaching stern lines to trees on shore. There are plenty of helpers in the bay and $20EC for shore line tying assistance is paid. Before we could settle Trilogy, several local vendors had glued themselves to Trilogy’s hull and were quite insistent that we view their ‘Jack Sparrow’ necklace and bangle offerings. We politely listened to their well rehearsed patter( my mother made this, this is whale bone/ mahogany/ volcanic rock) and each of us felt compelled to purchase something as an offering to the local economy.
The day finished with some of us going ashore for piña coladas (guess who?) and then back to Trilogy for a Beouf Bourguignon dinner, which was delicious. To finish the day, there was a challenge put out for a round or two of Euchre. It was a sharp learning curve for some, but a great time was had by all.