Sailing along these small islands in the
Caribbean is a pleasure. Almost flat seas, nice wind, it is really
something different. The only disadvantage of the Caribbean is that you
have the idea of taking part in some kind of relay race, i.e. you have
to determine where to check in and out (not necessarily the first or
last island in a row so very important for the routing) and all this
paperwork with time and again the same stupid questions.
We sailed from Petite Martinique back to Carriacou (7 nm) to clear out
Grenada. In doing so we recognized the villain's face of a
“wanted” person whose picture was affixed behind the immigration's desk, so the
immigrations officer immediately placed a phone call to Surinam. After
this we enjoyed a nice sail to windward to Union Island (another 7 nm),
where we dropped our anchor in the sand behind a reef next to a palm
beach to start the clearing procedure in Clifton Harbour.
Union was a drawback but we were warned in advance. You are
anchored almost on the airstrip with a lot of other yachts and who
wants to snorkel in someone else's loo? The prices are minimum 25%
higher than on Grenada (and twice as high as in Surinam). We bought some
fish from a fisherman and fled to the next island: Palm
Island, directly next to Union, yes we visited them all.
Another luxurious resort like Petit St.Vincent's, white beaches and
hundreds of palm trees (what's in a name). The view from the beach
Film view as seen from Palm Island beach (1.78 Mb)
Concerning special meetings with other boats, the Grenadines area is
quite miserable. 75% is chartered
(bareboat or with skipper), the majority are catamarans and crews are
not interested in contact, unless they need help in case they have done
something stupid. This intensive tourism is spoiling the market. We were
offered a red snapper for 20
euro's! P asked what the weight of this fish would be. “Four pounds”, the
fisherman said without blinking an eye and the price per pound was 4 euro's.
Huh??? We put the fish on our kitchen scales (they were impressed) and
yes: not even 2 pounds. But the boys saw the humour of
Miep is an extraordinary appearance among this “The Moorings”- and
“Sunsail”force of castle-like catamarans and white plastic bathtubs.
Talking about despicable boats, in this area we started to meet monster cruiseships
taking a 1000 passengers and more.
During daytime the patients (this is what we call them)
are transferred from their cruiseships onto big party catamarans, which
are circling around interesting objects such as Miep.
Of course it is a nice way to explore the islands in these shallow
waters, as the cruisehip cannot come close to the beaches.
We did not only see monster cruiseships, but also a monster yacht of 114
meters length. “Le Grand Bleu” is 1 of the 5 biggest motoryachts in the
world. On the aft deck she carries a helicopter, a 50 ft motoryacht and
a 60 ft sailing yacht, judging by the number of spreaders (4 sets).
Suppose you'll have to sail a freighter like that...
Palm Island was not a very good anchor spot (unprotected and 36ft deep)
so we moved quickly to the somewhat larger but small island of
Mayreau. Finally some rest, as the crowds are anchored in the Tobago
Cays. The pilot guide calls Mayreau a “one road two cars island” and
this is a perfect characterization.
Two cruiseships came in early morning to keep Miep company in
so we went quickly ashore to be ahead of the crowd. At that hour the entrepeneurs are
already waiting in front of their elegantly decorated little restaurants
and souvenirshops until the island begins to liven up, and this is as
soon as the patients are released from their cruiseships. Pink and fat
they drag themselves at about 11hrs up mountain, it is humiliating and
the villagers will have their own view without saying so. But
tourism is their only source of income so they remain extremely friendly.
There is a pretty little catholic church of which the windows on the
back are bricked up. It is not at all ugly as they are painted with nice
fresco's, a.o. a chart of the islands from Grenada to St.Vincent. P
digitally added our route: the already sailed track is yellow and where
we go from here is green.
Mayreau's one road leads from Saline Bay to Salt Whistle Bay, where we
dropped our anchor two days later (we seem to stick for days to
You get the feeling of competing in a jostle for positions to obtain a
spot, as the bay is so small it will only take ten yachts (and
catamarans are two boats in one). Apart from that it is known as one of
the Grenadines' highlights and goal of every charterboat. Most of the
time these sensibly pick up a mooring as they have no anchoring
experience, but our German neighbour gave it a try. With two anchors and
eight meters of chain!!
Obviously the anchors were not dug in and the
chain was way too short so the boat started to drag when her crew was
ashore. While JW protected Miep from an eventual collision, P and Boris
(Misty Moon) anchored the boat again. Upon return the Germans turned out to
be extremely witty people (yes it is possible) and we had an enjoyable
evening with them.
We spent a couple of days with Boris. Had dinner together, snorkeled at
Mayreau and went to the Tobago Cays (pronounce as “keys”). The Cays are a
touristical “must”, consisting of five mini islands surrounded bij extended
Including Mayreau the nature park extends over an area of 5x5 nm. In 1998 it
was declared a national park and the rangers come by to collect 3
euro's pp/day for the preservation of the park. Boatboys buzz around with
high speeds and sell anything you need for way to expensive: T-shirts,
Caribbean jewelry, French bread (3
euro's), water (3 gallons for 12 euro's), fish, lobster and organized
barbecues on the beach. They concentrate on charterboats and they almost
don't give us a glance; they know their customers. Arnie and Andrea, the
Germans we met in Mayreau, dinghied immediately
alongside and took us along in their huge dinghy with 15 HP outboard engine
to go snorkeling on Horseshoe Reef. This was very convenient as our outboard
is a bit quirky lately. The reef is lively with lots of coral, many fish and
sea turtles and especially on the outside of the reef big schools of small
and large fish; but also a heavy current. As an unsuspecting snorkeler you
have to be careful not to be overtaken by a
buzzing boatboy or charterboat dinghy. The Tobago Cays reminded us of
Chichester Bay: too busy (even in slow season) and the reefs overrated, as
the reefs of Sandy Island were at least as beautiful or maybe even prettier.
After the Cays we said goodbye to Boris and his Misty Moon. Boris returned
to Trinidad to haul out his boat before leaving for the Netherlands
for a couple of months, and we continued into the direction of Martinique to
gain some windward miles for our return journey to Surinam. For the sailors:
E-SE wind on a course of 155-160°
we'll have to sail 650 nm to
windward with after 120 nm a stop in Barbados. Obviously we hope for a wind
shift to E-NE to make the reach not too close to windward.