At last we were ready to move on. We said a temporary goodbye to Janet and John on Ventoso and headed the 33 miles north to Carriacou while they left to sail south to Tobago then onward to Trinidad. Remember last year we were in Carriacou for their mini carnival. We only stayed for a few days in Carriacou this time as we had an appointment with Joanie and Graham from Karma in Wallilabou on St Vincent. They were waiting for Graham’s nephew Guy and his girlfriend Ursula to join them for a fortnight’s sailing between there and Grenada. We spent a couple of days in Tyrrel Bay then moved round to Sandy Island, a marine reserve just off the capital, Hillsborough, where we could clear out. We hadn’t intended to stay at Sandy Island but we were hailed on the VHF by our Canadian friends Mike and Debbie on Caramba as we rounded the headland. It is always happening to us as we sail past anchorages. Someone sees us on the horizon and gives us a call. We can’t reciprocate as one white hulled boat with white Bermudan sails looks very much like another in the distance. Oh, the price of fame! We paid $10 each for the privilege of anchoring there.
We left the following day and, like last year, we had to miss out most of the Grenadines as we needed to get to St Vincent before Karma left. We sailed 40 miles north and cleared into SVG at Bequia, where we met up with Paul, the son of our dear friends back home, Brian and Lyn. Paul is working for a charter company out here and takes charterers to most of the islands in the Grenadines which we were hoping to visit this year as we made our way south again. We didn’t get his photo, unfortunately. After a couple of days we sailed the 14 miles up to Wallilabou and there was Karma, safely anchored in the sheltered bay. Amid great celebrations at meeting up again we went snorkelling and then to the Pirate’s Retreat where Tony remembered us and made us welcome again. Joanie and Graham had introduced themselves to Tony before we got there and agreed that he is quite a character! They had had some problems with their e-mail address being ‘hacked’ and had got to know the local internet cafe owner Solomon. Solomon had sorted everything out for them and offered his services if they wanted to hire a vehicle to collect Guy and Ursula from the airport that evening. A visitor hiring a car in many of the islands has to buy a local driving licence and it would be easier if Sol just hired it in his name. The car would not have to be returned until the following evening so we could all see a bit of St Vincent the next day if we wanted. We agreed to join them and somehow, 7 of us squeezed into a small Suzuki SUV. The Hobo’s ended up in the best ‘seats’ as the other 4 are slimmer than us, so they were all squashed into the back seat. Mike took the front seat next to Sol while Pat lay just semi squashed in the boot. It was good of Karma to let us join them, especially as there really wasn’t room. If just the four of them had gone with Sol, three would have been seated comfortably in the back!
Anyway, Sol took us right up to the north east of the island where we saw many beauty spots, including yet another ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ setting, the Black Point Tunnel. This 300 feet long tunnel was constructed using slave labour in 1815 to link the sugar plantations in Grand Sable with Byrea Bay. Sugar was loaded onto ships in the bay and could be kept dry in bad weather in caves hewn out of the rock. We also visited the Owia salt pond which reminded us of the landscape of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. This area of St Vincent is home to the descendants of the ‘Black Caribs’. We finished the day with a drive up to the truly beautiful and fertile Mesopotamia valley. This is the ‘bread basket’ of St Vincent where many important crops like banana, nutmeg, cocoa, coconut, breadfruit and root crops are grown. The Montreal Gardens, privately owned, had just closed by the time we got there so, unfortunately, we were unable to visit and view the great array of exotic flowers, shrubs and spices. Maybe another time.
We got back to Wallilabou tired but happy with our day’s sightseeing and had an early night in preparation for our next foray, a visit to the Dark View Falls to the north of us at Chateaubelair, the end of the road as far as the bus went. Our guide for this trip was ‘Bagga’ recommended by Tony, and we left before 9.00 am to catch the local bus to Chateaubelair. When we reached the end of the road we had just about an hour’s walk up to the twin falls. They are set in a beautiful cleared area in the forest with bathing and ‘liming’ areas. You have to cross a traditional bamboo bridge to reach the falls, which we all managed to do, some bouncing across more than others. Graham! After bathing in the pools below the falls and a picnic lunch we descended to the village and waited for a bus to take us back to Wallilabou. We waited, and waited, and waited. Plenty of the local small buses arrived but there were people ahead of us in the bus shelter and half of the buses were already full with people from further down the road. As Chateaubelair is the end of the route passengers from villages further south had taken the chance to get on there as the bus came north! At last, after about 2 hours, we finally got on one and reached home 40 minutes later. We could have hired a taxi but didn’t want to pay more than the $4 bus fare!
The next day Karma and crew left for Bequia and El Lobo followed the day after. Paul was out on charter when we returned so we didn’t see him again. We didn’t do much in Bequia except get ‘ripped off’ for fruit and vegetables from the market and vendors. Honestly, it costs more for a pineapple there than it would do at home in Morrison’s. Even the diesel we bought from the floating provider cost half as much again as it did from the gas station in the village! We said goodbye as Karma left and the next day moved round to Friendship Bay where we anchored last year. We only stayed the one night there as we left the following day to our next port of call, 8 miles away to the south east, the private island of Mustique, the holiday island of many celebrities. Lots of people had told us they wouldn’t go there as you had to pay a ‘conservation fee’ for the privilege of anchoring and that you could only stay for a three day maximum and that the anchorage was ‘rolly’. None of that put the Hobo’s off and we picked up a mooring buoy in Brittania Bay opposite the famous ‘Basil’s Bar’, haunt of the rich and famous. The cost of our mooring should have been $200 (about £50) for the three days. This price was for all boats up to 70 ft. The rates for larger boats went up proportionately, $300 for boats up to 85 ft, $400 for those over 85. Pat mentioned the unfairness of not having a lower rate for the likes of us lowly 39 footers. 70 foot yachts are enormous, almost ‘super yachts’. The official said “Just give me $100.” We gladly handed over the note and he didn’t give us a receipt. We suspect that the fee went straight into his pocket but we weren’t asking any questions!
Mustique is only three by one and a half miles in size and is owned by the Mustique Company. There are about 100 private homes, most of which can be rented for a week at a time for between US $15,000 and US $23,000, depending on the season! There is one hotel, the Cotton House, an upmarket B & B cum restaurant called Firefly, a few boutiques, two food stores, one fruit and veg vendor and Basil’s Bar. The small village on the hill, Lovell, houses the local population of 550, with 3 bars - each selling beer at a third of the price of Basil’s! We drank there after the first night. There are a further 2,000 or so seasonal workers who come from St Vincent mainland to work in the big houses and on the estates. We did fork out $50 US on a taxi tour of the island and our driver, Johnny P, showed us many of the houses belonging to the likes of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Shania Twain, Tommy Hilfiger and international businessmen we had never heard of, including the owner of Lacoste. Previous owners include Princess Margaret and Raquel Welsh. Mike was especially upset that he didn’t bump into Raquel as they share the same birth date. Pat had to remind him that this meant she was now 65 and didn’t look quite the same as in the film 2000 Years BC! He has changed quite a bit too! We actually didn’t see anyone famous during our visit. Most people come to their homes in paradise for just a couple of weeks a year, normally over the Christmas period. The whole island is beautifully kept and we enjoyed walks along the coast and inland as well as our tour. It is certainly a ‘Fantasy Island!’
After our three days were up we upped anchor and sailed 15 miles to the next island down the chain, Canouan. Canouan is slightly bigger than Mustique, with a total area of 3 square miles. The northern end is privately owned by the Raffles Resort and has the 18 hole Trump International Golf Course, exclusive villas, landscaped gardens, 4 restaurants, bars, tennis courts, swimming pool and a sumptuous casino, all overlooking the renowned coral reef which runs along the east side of the island. Suffice it to say we didn’t partake of any of that! Instead, we managed to reach the lagoon ourselves with the help of the local bus driver, had a swim then walked back over the hill through the only village, Charlestown. Fruit and vegetables were half the price they were in Bequia!
The next stop, 6 miles further south, was the smallest of the inhabited islands of the Grenadines, Mayreau. At only 1 square mile and a population of only 250 people, it is another privately owned island. The Salt Whistle Resort in the bay of the same name in the north west is the main attraction for tourists. Further south the only village on the hill, has many small, colourful restaurants and a couple of small supermarkets and the people are very friendly. At the top of the village is the striking old stone built Catholic church giving panoramic views of the Tobago Cays, our next port of call. Mayreau has been the only place on our travels where there is not a Government garbage collection. We had to take our bags to the municipal dump to the south of the anchorage. Rosie, a local lady selling wraparounds and t shirts on the beach, told us where to go. The villagers have to walk there themselves. She told me they all burn as much as they can at home and then most of the families pay a disabled boy who earns a living by collecting and dumping the rest for them.
A couple of days later we then sailed 5 miles due east to the uninhabited islands called the Tobago Cays (pronounced keys). These beautiful small islands are protected from the Atlantic Ocean by the Horseshoe Reef which stretches along the eastern edge. This is another marine reserve and there is a speed limit of 6 knots within the anchorage. We again paid $10 per person for one night. Fishing is banned here so there are many fish and Hawksbill turtles around the shoreline. We spent another day here exploring the small islands and swimming and felt we were truly in paradise. The Park Rangers didn’t come to us for more money. Mike got some good underwater pictures of the turtles. Another benefit of staying in the Cays for an extra night was that the wind is constant from the east with no land to disrupt it and our wind generator worked like a gud’un all night, keeping our batteries well charged.
On the Saturday morning of the 28th we made the short hop of 5 miles down to Union Island, where we are now. Clifton Harbour looks quite a scary anchorage but it is protected by yet another reef and we are sitting snugly with still a good wind from the east to keep the batteries charged. We watched Manchester United being thoroughly thrashed by Barcelona yet again in the Champions League Final in a Clifton bar. We were wanting an English victory but it was not to be. In any case, there is only one team to give your heart to and if Sunderland aren’t playing, Pat isn’t really that bothered who wins!
So there you have it for the month. We have been to some new and old places and met new and old friends. We haven’t done much since we got to Union. We’ll tell you more about it next month. We did explore quite a bit last year (June) when we were here. We are staying for a few days to re-provision and to take advantage of the good wind, then will be clearing out of SVG and returning to Carriacou and Grenada. Hurricane season officially starts on the 1st of June but it is very unusual for there to be any bad storms this early. We will keep an eye on the weather and leave for Trini at the beginning of July.
We have a few movies and some lovely pictures for you below. Sorry about the quality of the movies again. They will improve when Pat gets a new camera in the summer!