Golly it’s been a while, for those of you who are interested and like to be updated with news of our travels I apologise for the delay. We have been suffering yet more wi-fi problems and have had to resort to using an internet cafe. We last communicated from Bequia but have been to so many other places in between that I struggled to recall all of them and it took both Jamie and I, aided by prompts from photos, to peice together our journey since!
From Bequia we sailed south to Canouan. We had initially planned on heading for Mustique but the wind was against us and so we re-routed to Canouan hitting lobster pots along the way. In aproximately five hours we anchored in a lovely bay, ate a very late lunch (4pm) and sailed ashore. We had only been walking on land for five minutes when we were hailed by a man driving a ute. It turned out to be a chap whom we’d met some weeks previously in a bar in Calliaqua (St.Vincent). He took us for a tour of the island, although half of it is a privately owned resort that we were unable to access. Large tortoises lumbered along road sides as we peered from a mountain view spot onto the palatial homes in the private resort. These were in stark contrast to the ramshackle dwellings on the other side of the island.
The next morning we set sail south again to Mayreau, a tiny and sparsley populated island. We arrived after an hour or two and hurtled into a tiny bay full sail (nothing to do with me) which impressed a yacht full of French people who all called “Bravo!” and clapped from their deck. It was a beautiful spot, the kind you imagine when you picture a desert island. We were offered lobster by some local fishermen (who asked what was wrong with our engine because we’d arrived full sail) but declined as it was a little on the pricey side. After a couple of hours of snorkelling, walking and coconut collecting we went back to the boat where Jamie proceeded to hack open our coconut with an enormous hatchet he’d bought specifically for the job. Strangely, the coconut water/milk stained the deck an ugly orange despite looking clear, so, for future reference, coconuts should be prepared on the beach. Later, as we sat on deck in the beautiful tranquil bay with a few other yachts moored nearby, a deafening ghastly raquet of what I can only describe as ‘rasta rapping’ blasted out from a beach shack. It continued for at least two hours. We retreated to below deck to escape but some French (there seem to be a huge amount of French yachtspeople here) who were moored next to us started to shout ‘shut up’ which seemed to exacerbate the music players(I use the word music in the loosest possible sense of the word) and the raquet continued. It was really funny (but also quite annoying) to watch the ‘tourists vs the locals’. The locals were probably under the impression that their ‘music’ was marvellous and that we would also share this opinion, and that it would, in fact, entice us all into their beach bar shack. Instead, it was some of the most offensive noise I’ve ever been subjected to and all we (and clearly every other yachtie there) wanted was to enjoy the tranquility in a rarely found beauty spot.
Tobago Cays was our next port of call, again, only an hours sail away. It is a marine national park with an entrance fee of $10 EC per person, not much for such lovliness. We’d both been highly excited about visiting this place as it has been the most reccommended place to visit in the entire Grenadines archipeligo, and it was indeed very beautiful. A scattering of tiny sand lined islands surrounded by turquoise seas with lots of turtles swimming past. It was however ridiculously popular and there were a lot of other yachts moored around which spoilt the whole feel of the place. Similar to the Lake District in August on a sunny day, still beautiful but too full of other people. We spent a couple of hours snorkelling which was amazing, gorgeously clear and packed full of a vast variety of beautiful fish and marine life, then, after a spot of lunch and a giggle at some young kite surfer who got his kite caught in someones rigging, we headed off to Union Island, the last Grenadine before Grenada.
Union Island was a strange place, the capital, Clifton, was fairly basic with half empty supermarkets but had a gem of a french cafe where we sipped freshly squeezed orange juice whilst waiting for custioms and immigration to open the next morning. We had to ‘clear out’ before leaving as our next port of call, Carriacou (an island belonging to Grenada) is a seperate country.
The sail was lovely, we stopped off for lunch at a divine and deserted beach, had a swim then continued the sail to Hillsborough the capital. Here we dingied ashore to customs and immigration, ‘cleared in’ and sailed around the headland to Tyrell Bay where we anchored and ate.
The bay was packed full of other yachts, all live aboards presumably doing the same kind of thing as we are. It was a windy night and Jamie woke me at around midnight telling me to get up, that the anchor was slipping. Ugh, rudely awoken! We couldn’t really anchor with ease so stole a mooring for the night and moved off at 6am to avoid being charged for it. After sailing around the bay for about half an hour we realised that it was looking unlikely that we’d be able to anchor again due to the amount of weed in the bay and the lack of space between other yachts so off we sailed, this time to Grenada.
The weather, which started off grey and misty, didn’t improve, in fact worsened and as we sailed over Kick ’em Jenny, a submerged volcano, a squall hit us and we had to very quickly reef the jib and the main as torrential rain near drowned and frightening wind buffeted us. I was terrified I’m afraid, very close to tears and expecting to capsize at any moment, however, just as Jamie was trying to reassure me that this was all fine, just, in fact, part of the whole sailing package, it started to lift and within twenty minutes the sun was shining through the clouds. Shortly afterwards a couple of what must have been whales (I’ve no idea what kind) swam in front of the boat and death didn’t feel so close after all!
We anchored just outside the marina at St. George’s, the capital city of Grenada. St.George is an attractive colonial town guarded by two forts, built originally by the French but stolen by the British and used to defend against the French later on.
We walked up to St.Georges Fort which now houses the police headquarters. It was strangely tatty and unkempt, the old and original parts looking sturdy and strong, the new additions looking in a much worse state of repair with roofs missing and plants growing inside. We passed the spot where Maurice Bishop (once Prime Minister) and his cabinet were executed in the early
eighties during the unrest in Grenada in ’83. After a couple of nights anchored here, we sailed south to Prickly Bay to visit Budget Marine and purchase the charts and bits to fix our VHF radio in preparation for our sail to Trinidad.
Jamie had to climb to the top of the mast in a homemade bosuns chair winched by me on three seperate occasions to fix the radio aerial. I felt sick looking at him and I don’t think he particularly enjoyed the experience…but he managed to fix the aerial the clever sausage. We also bought a Red Ensign but decided to be understated (Jamie dislikes even a sniff of patriotism) and bought the smallest one. Unfortunately, it’s so small it looks like a tiny pair of red knickers dangling from the rigging, barely discernable. Hmph, I’d like to get something a little bigger, nothing ridiculous you understand, but just large enough to actually be identifiable as an Ensign, but have been outvoted…so far.
At 6pm on Monday the 14th we sailed for Trinidad. This is the cheapest place in the Caribbean to replace the standing rigging etc. We sailed all night passing two huge oil rigs but no other boats. I managed to cook two meals – dinner and breakfast and make tea and proper coffee during the trip while being flung around the little kitchen. I also managed to stay awake which is pretty impressive considering I normally fall asleep at 9pm. An hour after dawn, with the coast of Venezuela to our starboard and Trinidad ahead and to port, we met our first obstacle, the Boca de Monos. The sea was behaving very strangely around the Boca entrance, where the Southern Equatorial Current enters the Caribbean sea, the waters were an odd mix of brown and grey with tumultuous swirling areas right next to calm bits of water.
The wind dropped to nothing and we had to turn on the engine and bring in the flapping sails. As we reached the mouth of the Boca with cliffs towering on either side a sense of foreboding, made worse by lack of sleep, grew. Huge black condors circled on the thermals above, Jamie stood on the bow checking for rocks and I steered all the while checking the depth and shouting out to him what it was every thirty seconds. It got to thirty feet at one point where I felt so panicky I forgot to breathe. Slowly, the swirling current and our engine took us deeper into the Boca and the depth began to grow. As it got to about seventy feet a large pink and grey dolphin appeared from nowhere and crossed under the boat a couple of times and the feeling of doom lifted and I started to breathe again! Chaguramas was around the corner in the next bay, we anchored, breakfasted (again!) and had to face the ordeal of customs and immigration before finally managing to get to bed just after lunch at 1.30pm. Argh, sleep at last.