St. Vincent & the Grenadines: June 12-21, 2007

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period


We arrive in Admiralty Bay, in Bequia, (pronounced "Beck-way"), the Grenadines, at about 2:30 PM, having cruised right by the west side of St. Vincent.  (All of the passages are short in this part of the Caribbean.)  There are many things to see and do at St. Vincent, not the least of which is a visit to the Soufriere volcano, but we are running out of time to be in Grenada, where we intend to hunker down until such time as a named storm chases us below the latitude of 10 degrees 50 minutes. 

As we pass along the west side of St. Vincent, I scribble the following notes:   "11:40 AM, 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the pilothouse.  After a squall, we are under sunny skies w/ puffy clouds.   Life is good.  The wife is sunbathing on the foredeck.  I have two fishing lines trailing behind, hoping for a mahi hit.  We are in the lee of the island, so the winds are under 10 knots and the seas are almost flat.  ...  12:37 PM, Moving past the south end of St. Vincent into the Bequia Channel.  Making headway only 5.5 knots against the current and 25 knot winds.  Wind waves only 2-3 feet but w/ white caps.   Earlier, in calm, I had a big fish on one of the lines, but too aggressively set the brake and the line broke.  Should have waited longer to light the charcoal.  :-)   ... Later, in the middle of the channel the waves are so high and close together that even w/ stabilizers we are being tossed about.   I resort to tacking to avoid the broadsides, and comfort is restored."

We spend five days in Bequia, doing lots of running (Chuck) and walking (Barb and both) and poking about.  We have Mexican one night and pizza for lunch on another and a fancy dinner at Devil's End, where the entertainment at 9 PM was supposed to be reggae but instead consisted of several fellows singing to Karaoke records of Jimmy Buffet, etc..  Excellent voices, but definitely not reggae.  Yet another night at a buffet at Frangipani with steel band entertainment.  Four fellows providing vigorous and rhythmic percussion -- some of them bounced about as much as the beat -- on variously-voiced steel drum heads, and one lone female stiffly and unmovingly providing melody.  Strange, peculiar, and just another thing to smile about while enjoying a before-dinner rum punch with friends Steve and Linda of Seaman's Elixir.

One of our walks, and subsequently the remaining of Chuck's runs, takes us out to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.  There, without the benefits of electricity, Brother King has been attempting to save the endangered Hawksbill and Green turtles by gathering them up as they hatch on the various islands in the vicinity, raising them until they are about five year's old, and then releasing them from the beach on which they were found.  They were granted the rights to use the federal land by previous administrations, and have been struggling in a labor of love for years, changing the water in their many tanks daily by using gasoline pumps, since they have no circulation system.   Now, they are in crisis mode, since the current Prime Minister is selling the vast federally-held lands off as fast as he can, and has in fact sold the land hosting the sanctuary.  So far, pleas to the government and public demonstrations have proven ineffective.  When we return, the area may well be a private ritzy resort.

We keep hearing about various incidents of minor crime, but have not experienced any ourselves, until one day after an early morning walk -- while Chuck is off running to the Turtle sanctuary -- Barb returns to the dinghy dock to discover that a young man is in our dinghy and has been stirring through the storage compartment at the front of the dinghy.   By the time she gets to the dinghy, he has jumped back onto the dock.  She confronts him, and he denies having been in the dinghy, despite the fact that she saw him there and there is no one else on the dock.  He disappears just as Chuck appears, and in the process of unlocking the dinghy from the dock, Barb discovers that he had stashed our portable VHF in a ledge under the dock.  Barb marches to the Police station to report the incident, but they seem rather uninterested -- writing the bare minimum of details on a piece of scratch paper instead of an official form, and not requesting a description of the perpetrator.   Chuck has long been uneasy about the lack of a mechanism to be able to lock the storage compartment.  Necessity is the mother of invention, yes?  Suddenly it becomes perfectly obvious to him that he can attach an additional hasp to the lid of the compartment -- a hasp through which a padlock can be affixed and thereby secure the contents of the compartment.  A trip to the nearest chandlery to secure a stainless steel hasp, four holes drilled into the fiberglass, and viola, the compartment can now be secured!  Note to cruisers heading through the Caribbean:  no need to wait until an incident to provide a manner of securing the compartment in your dinghy, if said dinghy has said compartment.  The slogan the cruisers use is: "Lock it or lose it". 

Bequia has free wi-fi, we were told by another cruiser, but they had crowded up much closer to the inner harbor than we could find room or comfort, and so we are reduced to paying for our less-than-satisfactory connection.   And so on 6/15 we move over to the north side of the harbor in order to be closer to the commercial antenna.  As a bonus, we find the anchorage less roiled by the winds sweeping down through the saddle above the village.   However, one afternoon a sailboat flying a Norwegian flag comes sailing in and anchors directly in front of us.   They drop their anchor in grass -- not a good idea -- and put out a sizable amount of chain but do not back off to see if it holds.  Nor do they dive the anchor, or in any other way attempt to ascertain whether it is well-set.   Instead, they all pile into their dinghy and disappear.  Also not a good idea.  Very shortly thereafter it becomes apparent that their boat is dragging directly into ours.  What to do?  First, we let out 75 more feet of anchor chain, in order to buy ourselves more time.  Then, we jump into our dinghy and go out to their anchor, which Chuck checks with snorkel and discovers that it is lying on its side and is fouled with coral debris.  Down he goes, clearing the debris and attempting to right the anchor.  The sand cover seems thin at this location, and the anchor now sits upright but does not dig in very far at all.  Meanwhile, new acquaintances on Temptation have noticed our problem, and arrive by dinghy to offer help.  They have a large aluminum Fortress anchor, and we decide to set that anchor and attach it to the bow of the Norwegian vessel.  Just as Temptation returns from their nearby vessel with the anchor, we see a dinghy, with a single occupant, approaching rapidly from the nearest dock.  Full of apologies, anxious to learn where is safe holding, speaking flawless English, as do most Norwegians, he jumps aboard the Norwegian vessel and pulls up his anchor.  We offer minimal advice and do NOT discuss our admiration for all things Norwegian, our opinion of his anchoring practices, or our opinions concerning how to set an anchor in the Caribbean.  We are not too sorry to say that we do not know where he eventually re-anchored; indeed, we are glad that it is not anywhere near us.

We leave Admiralty Bay on the 17th of June, and shortly after leaving, we pass the Moonhole community.  Founded by the late American architect Tom Johnson, the dwellings are highly unusual.  They are made of stone, and appear to just grow out of the rocks of the cliffs on which they perch.  They have no electricity.  The original dwelling was built under a large arch -- hence the name "Moonhole".  That dwelling is now abandoned, and has been ever since a large boulder fell from the arch and burst through the roof and landed on an unoccupied bed.  Several days before our departure, we had tried to organize a tour on the one day of the week that such is possible, but we were unable to recruit a sufficient count.  Yet another item for the "To Do Upon Returning" list.

Soufriere Volcano on St. Vincent

Admiralty Bay Anchorage at Bequia

Two-mile hike to Turtle Sanctuary

Sign outside of the sanctuary

Infant turtles

Individuals cells for damaged or misbehaving turtles

About ready to be released

Note the "tagging" (with holes) on the rear shells

Getting the story from the young assistant

All turtles in this large container are ready to be released

It's legal for the locals to harvest whales

This bar features whale-bone furniture

Vertibrae seat

Bar made from a long rib

Moonhole lodgings -- namesake house is under the arch

Moonhole lodgings blend right in

Another Moonhole cluster

Tobago Cays

We are headed toward Mayreau (pronounced "My-rue"), but learn via VHF that many of our cruising friends have moved to the Tobago Cays (just east of Mayreau, and described in the guide books as one of the most scenic locations in all of the Caribbean), and so we divert and also anchor in the marine park in the Tobago Cays, the site of some of the filming of the first Pirates of the Caribbean.   It is indeed beautiful here, and very much reminiscent of the Bahamas, in that the anchorage is shallow (and a pale green) and the nearby islands are small and low-lying.  At times we have up to 50 vessels anchored in this picturesque spot, unprotected from the winds but protected from the waves by the Horseshoe Reefs lying to the east.  We are told by the Park Rangers that in the peak of the winter season there are over a hundred vessels packed into this small anchorage, a thought that caused an involuntary shudder.  There is a narrow dinghy passage out through the reef, and Chuck joins several divers from other vessels in dives along the outside of the reef, while Barb -- iron stomach that she possesses --  sits in the dinghy "for  the diver's safety", she declares since the area is known to have strong currents, but "out of lethargy", Chuck declares since she didn't want to dig out all her dive gear.  The soft and hard coral are nowhere near as healthy as we found between the Pitons, but the visibility is fantastic and there are many interesting fish to be seen, as well as a Hawksbill turtle.  Jim and Amanda of Adventure Bound are among those diving with Chuck, and they also find the anchorage to be the ideal place to work on their rapidly-improving windsurfing skills.

Seaman's Elixir hosts a sundowner cocktail party on 6/18, and among the guests are Steve and Ann of Receta.  Ann wrote An Embarrassment of Mangoes, a book that recounts their experiences in cruising down from Canada and back to/from the southern Caribbean. The book is extremely well known among cruisers, and it is a pleasure to meet them and discover how delightful  a couple they are.  Many of our friends will already be familiar with the book, since we have purchased and gifted many copies and have recommended it to many others.  To our new readers we can only say:  you will enjoy the book.  Find it and read it.

The following night Tusen Takk II hosted a "Mexican Train" tournament.  (Mexican Train is a dominoes game popular with cruisers.)   We had six couples in all.  (The Krogen North Sea is so roomy!)  At the end of the evening we presented a bottle of Brugal rum (from Dominican Republic) to the person with the best cumulative score.  Deana, of Caribbean Soul was the winner.

The following night, with new cruisers -- whom some of us had met oh-so-long-ago in Georgetown, Bahamas --  arriving, we have a beach party at 5 pm.  Another throwback to the Bahamas.   In the Caribbean, most beaches have a nearby bar.   In the Bahamas, many do not, and so the cruisers have their own beach party "sundowners".   Here in the Tobago Cays -- which incidentally are nowhere near Tobago, should you care to look them up in your Atlas -- there are no bars but several lovely beaches.   And so we all dinghy to the shore and pull out our libations and our snacks and visit and drink and nibble until well after dark.  Gosh, this cruising life is tough.

The next morning (6/21) we pull out of the beautiful Tobago Cays and head south for just a few miles.  We put in only briefly at Clifton, on Union Island, the southern-most customs office of the Grenadines, where we check out.  We intend to stay for the night, but the anchorage is so crowded and windblown that we decide to continue on down to Carriacou (pronounced "carry-a-cow" by many cruisers, but probably correctly pronounced as "carry-a-coo"), which is a separate island but under the same government as Grenada.  But for an account of Grenada, faithful readers, you will have to tune in later for another exciting episode of "Chuck and Barb go cruising".

Jim (Adventure Bound) windsurfing in Tobago Cays, Grenadines

Amanda (Adventure Bound) windsurfing

Brown Boobie

The downside of cleaning your fish at anchorage -- note gulls

We found they like bread too!

No morsel ever hit the water!

Cocktails aboard Seaman's Elixir -- four out of five guests brought a soft cheese!

Hostess Linda (Seaman's Elixir)

Host Steve (Seaman's Elixir)

Guest Amanda (Adventure Bound)

Guest Jim (Adventure Bound)

Guest Ann (Receta)

Guest Steve (Receta)

Guest Deana (Caribbean Soul)

Guest Nick (Caribbean Soul)

Guest Barb (Tusen Takk II)

Anchorage at Tobago Cays

Tusen Takk II in the anchorage

Amanda and Jim (Adventure Bound) prepare to dive off Tobago Cays reef does Chuck

Some of the dominoes tournament

More of the tournament

Cocktails on the beach at Tobago Cays

... and the rest of the party

Sign at the beach

Flag courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.