The Grenadines is part of the windward islands extending 72 km (45
miles) to the southwest like a kite's tail, including Union Island, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Bequia, and St. Vincent.
Trinidad to Union Island
We had a one night stoppover in Grenada, anchoring off St George's. The
lushness enjoyed on our previous visit to Grenada had been replaced by brown,
bleak comatose looking toothpicks covering the otherwise barren hills.
The following morning we bounced our way up the coast through choppy and
disturbed seas, reaching the mountainous Union Island around 5 pm, too late to
check in. Not wanting to pay overtime charges, we picked our way through the
reefs and settled in behind Frigate Island, a protected anchorage about a mile
We were nervous about checking in to customs at Clifton Airport the following
morn having heard rumours of heavy fines for delaying the procedure. Sure enough
we met up with a disgruntled cruiser who had been anchored at Chatham Bay, on
the far side of Union Island, waiting for more settled weather before bringing
his boat around to the main harbor. He was fined $500 US!!!!! for the delay.
We strolled through the colourful picturesque tiny town of Clifton, full of
local character with its tiny brightly painted wood clad boutiques and fruit
stands. Our mission was to exchange our Trinidad currency for the EC (Eastern
Caribbean) money that was the accepted tender in most of the Islands. We were
totally unsuccessful and the ATMs in Clifton did not support our Cirrus Bank
Cards. Luckily I had some US notes on hand to use for check-in charges.
Now that we were officially checked into the Grenadines we were anxious to
enjoy some of the clear azure waters we had been hearing so much about. It was a
rough motor to the Tobago Keys with wind waves and current against us.
After several hours, the islands were in
sight. Much like the Tuamotos, the Keys consists of a cluster of
three islands, sandy patches of beach surrounded by shades of
blue and green. Anchoring space was at a premium as hundreds of
charter boats vied for position.
We anchored in the Split, between two islands. Immediately
we were surrounded by "Boat Boys" selling bread, fish, water, beer, whatever.
Ashore, on a tiny white sand spit, colorful sarongs and T's
hanging between the palms fluttered in the breeze.
We took the tender to the main part of the
anchorage, past mountains of piled up shells that were the
remains of conch feasts past.
There were several snorkelling spots and we visited a couple of
them over the days we relaxed in this tiny piece of paradise.
Swimming with the
We beached the dingy on a sandy spit, quartered off with a rope.
This is where the turtles hung out and a snorkel around the area
would guarantee a sighting! We then explored some of the nearby
tranquil gorgeous beaches, with their flowing silhouettes of
palm fronds rattling in the trade wind air.
I never wanted to leave!!!
For an overnight stopover on our way to
Mayreau, we enjoyed Canaucon, a lesser visited island in the
Grenadines but home of the Moorings base .
on beach and only saw locals, children swimming, woman chatting in Manchaneel
trees. Not a particular attractive spot as the island was the
typical-for-the-season Brown, and rolly also. Moorings Base
It had been 20 years since we last visited our favorite 15 Square mile Mayreau (pop 250) by cruise ship. We
anchored in Saline Bay, where we had so long ago enjoyed the silky sand
beach and crystal waters. We were delighted that everything looked
almost exactly the same as we remembered.
The only changes were a few more homes spilling over the hilltop of
the tiny village. Since electricity came to the island in 2004, the hill
is marred by the electrical plant. Otherwise the island remains dozed,
untouched, in the sun.
Palms shaded the sprawling crescent of
sand, uninhabited while we were there this time. At the far end of
the beach, t-shirts and sarongs were strung between the palms. There
were three other Canadian boats anchored in the tranquil Bay with us.
One of the skippers was from Kelowna and we had a nice visit aboard Ascension. He spoke of his work as crew of Tradewinds Club,
selling club shares for cruising holidays. Hmmmmm!
On shore there was a dock to die the dinghy.
Not much on shore there but a gangly bush with the most
beautiful huge flowers adorning it.
From the beach a road climbed up the hill to
the little town overlooking the bay
Walk to Salt Whistle Bay
We walked to Salt Whistle Bay, along
a hilly road that took us through town. At a restaurant, its
Interesting decor of local objects; ancient pots, washed up
coral and sponges, crabs, shells, WW1 relics, fishnets and
buoys, a Rasta on the street encouraged us to stop "Tis ott,
mon. 'Mon fo a drink. Da bar ees open!" But it was only 11
am, a little too early for us to indulge.
Along the way we
met "Rosie" a very plump and jovial local, her back laden with
T-shirts, sarongs and souvenirs, as she trudged her way along
the smokin' pavement to sell her wares on the beach. We promised
to visit her later.
Mayreau remains 90% Catholic, the
lone rustic stone church perched on top of the island's central hill,
surrounded by the beauty of a sea view encompassing the Tobago Cays.
Life in the town was pretty rudimentary,
people and goats idly taking it easy, meagre offerings displayed
for sale in the openings of rustic wood clad shacks.
There is no ground water on Mayreau
and being the dry season, everything was very brown. It was hard
to imagine what the numerous roaming goats were surviving on.
build cisterns to catch and hold rainwater. Sloping rock-paved walls capture what
little rain falls
from the heavens.
We continued our steep climb through barren
hill dotted with giant cactus and goats scrimmaging for sustenance. We
passed an interesting graveyard overlooking the outer islands. A
crumbling tombstone caught our attention. It belonged to a 113 year old
who died in 1950.
climbed the final hill that revealed a gorgeous palm lined beach where
boats were packed into the tiny turquoise bay. Vibrantly coloured
sarongs were strung all around, the vendors sprawled in nearby chairs
sound asleep in the hot afternoon sun.
After enjoying the beach and the surrounds,
we endeavored to make the trek back to Saline Bay. Before heading back
to the boat, we stopped to visit Rosie as promised. I bought a T-shirt
and we visited for a bit before climbing into the dingy.
April 3 Moonholes
We had an idyllic sail from Carracou to
Bequia, 10 to 15 knots and fairly flat seas. As we sailed along the
western tip of Bequia we attempted to sail as close as
we could to the famous Moonhole to get a better look at
the strange rock formation so named by local seamen for the natural arch
formation which is over a hundred feet high, through which the moon
shines. The original Moonhole house was the early 60's creation of a
secluded and private community encompassing the entire peninsula, with
houses built into the steep rocky ridge open to the elements with no windows or doors and tree roots growing through
the rooms. There are some 20 or more dwellings on the site; some
abandoned, some occupied and some used as unique holiday rentals. All
the rooms are open to the elements
Friendship Bay, BEQUIA
We anticipated Admiralty Bay to be a zoo
as a result of it being the Easter Regatta in Bequia. So we headed for
Friendship Bay, which was empty of cruising boats. Friendship Bay was
surrounded by a nice beach and a few resorts. The clear water soon
invited us in for a swim. By late afternoon it got rolly so we tried a
trick we had only read about, taking a line from the anchor chain to the
stern of the boat. To our surprise it worked! The boat slowly turned
into the swell and we had a comfortable evening. We soon found out
though that this only works when there is a steady wind. When the wind
dropped and the tide changed, we were pulled sideways to the swell and
our line was threatening to get tangled under the boat and into the prop
so we abandoned the arrangement.
Gaff Rigged Boats
We awoke to lots of activity on the
beach as preparations were being made for the gaff-rigged races. These
are interesting boats that carry a huge sail area on hulls with no
rudder and no ballast. The sails are hoisted with the boats beached. One
the main is partially up the mast, a much longer pole is connected to
the top of the main sail and "pitched" like a tent. These vessels are
very fast but look a bit squirrely in large waves or strong winds.
was not long before we realized that we were right in the middle of the
racing course, especially when the committee boat almost
anchored on top of us. Taking the hint, we set sail for Admiralty Bay on
the other side of the island. We motored the short distance, needing to
charge batteries. It was just as well because we were kept busy avoiding
all the race boats tacking every which way and tangling with other boats
in different divisions.
Admiralty Bay was not as crowded as we
thought it would be. We recognized some other Canadian boats that were
there 3 months ago when we had enjoyed Christmas in Bequia. We found a
hole in a protected and comfortable part of the bay before heading to
Port Elizabeth for a walk about.
Being Easter, we decided to treat
ourselves to dinner out. There were lots of restaurants to choose from
including one with a bar made almost entirely from whalebones.
The bar seats were whalebone vertebrae.
Colorful tables and chairs lined the funky waterfront area of
Bequia. We settled for a Lobster Pizza at Mac's Pizza on the waterfront. MMMMM!
Pricey but yummy. The shops were closed for the weekend but we were able
to buy some overpriced fruit and veggies at the market.
Bequia is a lovely place to hang out. We
lazed on the boat and watched the goings on around us. All sorts
and sizes of watercraft from the big Cat anchored next to us ,
to the tiny toy boat being chased around the anchorage by a boy
in a dinghy. A quiet anchorage with the daily call from the
conch shell blower announcing that the fishing boats were in. Time to buy
fish, although the small fish caught in the area were not all
that appealing to us.
We would have like to check out of the
Grenadines and move on but, being a holiday, stiff overtime charges
applied at Customs so we decided to wait until the working Tuesday to