Okay this has been a long time in coming so I have gotten a bit verbose… please skip down to the photos instead rather than listen to me ramble.
We did a little exploring in Rodney Bay – a lovely spot for sure to come see again – and then sailed down the leeside stopping at a few bays. The towering twin Pitons, at the southern tip of the island are quite spectacular. St. Lucia is mountainous and lush and the entire coastal southern end is now covered as part of a marine management area (like a National Park). Mooring buoys are limited, anchoring prohibited, diving must be with a guide and daily fees are collected for maintenance and upkeep of the park. We did a short tour inland to a rainforest , waterfall and mineral baths. One of the biggest things I miss is soaking in the tub…. So this was a delightful surprise to find the mineral hot springs and for $6 EC/person we got to fill and enjoy our very own bath. Needless to say I think they may now have to consider adding a time limit as it was a little hard getting me to leave.
We awoke to a very cloudy, socked in kind of day. We had not internet connection so couldn’t recheck the forecast, from 2 days prior it was supposed to be good….. needless to say we got very wet along the way. We sailed through at least 4 storms (including one I would call a squall), seas were 2.7m at least and at one point in the gusts our max speed reached 9.4 knots. Seven hours of fun later we had a calm and sunny last hour as we made our way down island to Wallilabou, St. Vincent. The fame of this little bay was it was where Disney filmed “Pirates of the Caribbean: Deadman’s Chest”. The shoreline is dotted with many relics and deteriorating set pieces.
The Grenadines are a chain of delightful small islands, islets and rocky reefs between St. Vincent and Grenada. They are a sailing dream with easy day hops from one turquoise shore to another. Our first stop was Bequia where we spent 2 days exploring this lovely little island before heading to Mayreau. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better we anchored in the absolutely stunning Tobago Cays. We snorkelled and swam with the turtles in the turtle sanctuary and enjoyed the amazing scenery. Hard to tear ourselves away, but knowing this is definitely on the ‘to return to’ list we lifted anchor and sailed off to Union Island, the last customs outpost of the Grenadines. Clifton Harbor is charming and colorful and the people incredibly friendly but by late Saturday afternoon it turns into a sleepy little town (it might have something to do with the heat and humidity). Shopping for produce at the local markets is such a treat – the tomatoes are those sun-ripened, juicy ones you can only get just off the vine and everything is sun kissed and bursting with flavor. We met Richard in the early afternoon, who had a fresh catch of small tuna we couldn’t resist. He filleted one for us and also gave us his special recipe and cooking tips. But before our delicious meal we had to make a trip out to Janti’s Happy Island. The photo doesn’t do it justice … but the history of the ‘island’ goes like this:
“ Janti formerly had a bar in the nearby town but could not find enough customers. He also worked for tourism, trying to clean up the town. One headache was a huge pile of conch shells left by the fishermen on the beach. Janti solved both problems by taking the shells from the beach and using them to build Happy Island.” From Chris Dolye’s Cruising Guide
A unique place that has evolved over the years from a little grass shack into its current amalgamation of roofs and outbuildings housing a tiny kitchen, bar, well, solar and wind generators et al. Janti is a character unto his own behind the bar with stories and friendly advice. When we first arrived we asked if it was happy hour to which he replied “it is always happy hour here”. We stayed for one rum punch (toasting Kelsey’s grad back home) and were just heading out. Glen was in the dinghy with the motor started and I was undoing the line when he came out to tell us that we couldn’t leave…. “it was too early, we hadn’t stayed long enough, come, come and have a special drink”. So I retied the lines as Janti went back to his blender, tossed in lots of everything topped with fresh grated nutmeg and brought them out as Glen was getting back out of the dinghy. It was meant to be ….. as we sipped that next drink we then met new arrivals to Happy Island who turned out to be our kindred spirits on a similar journey, cruisers Kirsten and Tom from Washington DC. They too have recently taken on this cruising lifestyle indefinitely and we hope to meet up with them again on our travels. Tom and Kirsten if you are reading this, please send us a note and let us know where you are….. we ended up exiting on the other side of “roundabout reef” and missed catching up with you on our departure in the morning.
Our last night in the Grenadines we anchored off the exclusive island of Petite Vincent….. sort of an exclusive boutique hotel for the lifestyles of the rich and famous. We heard later from the great Canadians; (story to come) that they had to go ashore as the fuel tank was empty (wine that is) and buy wine at $35/bottle….yikes
Farewell Grenadines and hello to Grenada… our next journey was a short stop on Carriacou (an island of Grenada) where we cleared customs and the next day completed our last sort of long passage (35 miles) to Grenada. We had good sailing for about 2 hours of the trip and the rest was flat calm where I dreamed of water skiing behind Napa II.
The Story of the Great Canadians! (aboard the Mid-Fifty)
As you sail the waters and sit aboard in anchorages one is always checking out the flags for the nearby boats and it is always worth a special wave to those Canadian boats. It turns out that we continued to pass by, run into and see this catamaran with a rambunctious group of 8 Canadians, who we learned were from Vancouver. We finally hooked up at the final destination of Grenada where they kindly invited us to happy hour (which I must say we worked into a scrumptious dinner invitation- thanks again Marnie and Linda). It was fun to catch up and share stories with more kindred Canadian sailing folk. It was great to relive our trip of the past week and realize that yes, in fact we (or they) had been stalking all along as we had almost identical itineraries. We also discovered that they were the culprits having the party night in Salt Whistle Bay…. complete with synchronized swimming (we just saw the splashes) – obviously they had had a chance to refuel the wine supply – tee hee. On their final day in Grenada we ran into them again ashore in St. Georges (and there was talk of stalking charges). We hope to keep in touch and follow their exciting upcoming journeys to France and Brazil…..
So here we are at last, Grenada! We are spending a few days in the capital city in a marina in order to charge batteries and devices, do some provisioning and check out some of the other marinas. We have rented a car for tomorrow and will do some land exploration. Our initial plans to make it as far as the ABC’s is now uncertain. The distance is great and in order to break it up it would require stops on some questionable Venezuelan islands. We have considered Trinidad also, and after talking with our insurance company today, remaining in Grenada is also a possibility. We will have to make some decisions and plans soon. We had a chance to get some great local wisdom from a charter captain, Andrew, who has been sailing for 40 years. His advice is no to both Trinidad and Aruba… he says he wouldn’t do it in a small boat like ours…. So we will see…..