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Old 02-14-2007
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Another great Caribbean cruise

We just got back from 2 weeks sailing in the Caribbean and, man it’s hard to get back into the grind again!

This was our second such trip, the first in 2004 when we flew into Guadaloupe and sailed to St Maarten via Antigua, St Kitts, Nevis, and Saba.

This time we took our son and his new wife along as our wedding gift to them. As it happened, they celebrated their first anniversary along the way having gotten married a year ago near Tulum, Mexico.

Our target this time out was the Grenadines and we flew into Martinique to rendezvous with our hosts and their Beneteau 36.7 at the La Marin Marina. The next day was a short hop to anchor off St Annes for a swim and a walkabout in this quaint village. The next morning saw us off to St Lucia. We didn’t linger here long, taking a buoy in a bay below the Pitons – very scenic – and the following morning carried on to St Vincent. Clearing customs at Chateaubelair we carried on to a small cove called Petit Bayhaut which had some nice snorkeling. On the way we passed some of the surviving sets used in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.

We wanted to spend time in the Grenadines, specifically Bequia and the Tobago Cays so again moved on the next day, ending up anchoring in Port Elizabeth in Bequia. We found Bequia to be charming, with mostly friendly people and plenty of eateries along the beach. After provisioning and dealing with the fairly aggressive Rastafarian vegetable sellers, we undertook some long walks over island to the windward side taking in a pottery/art gallery in a former sugar mill, a turtle farm and husking coconuts with only a paring knife for tools (A big job – if you had to survive on wild coconuts alone, you’d work non stop! – tough little buggers they are!) We enjoyed Bequia enough to stay 3 nights there.

Leaving Bequia in a good breeze we reached fast down past Canouan (which we passed on due to its heavy, pricey resort base) our daughter-in-law put a line in the water and soon landed a nice sized tuna, a little more than six of us could eat. We sailed on to Saltwhistle Bay at the top of Mayreau. It is a small but picturesque bay which was quite full with about 10 - 12 boats. A local birthday party ashore blasted throbbing basslines and incomprehensible “music” from the beach – which detracted considerably from the location – but they thankfully shut down fairly early. We again hiked the beaches and stopped in at the small resort and their stone-tabled thatched shelters and waited out a rain squall with a round of drinks. Returning to the boat we prepared our catch for dinner before settling in for the night. We rolled a bit overnight, being at the outer end of the bay, but were not uncomfortable.

The next morning was a short beat to weather (we actually tacked 3 or 4 times!!!) into the Tobago Cays. On the way we sailed close by the Maltese Falcon, Tom Perkins’ impressive though unconventional clipper ship with its freestanding rotating 3 masted rig. Different enough to provoke the purists’ wrath, it is none the less and amazing boat and quite a feat of engineering.

Past them and around the corner we anchored in the Cays. This was impressive – sitting virtually in mid-ocean with no swell behind the reef – but plenty of breeze. A $10 EC per day fee has been instituted here and the Cays appear better for it. Fewer boats spending less time there should help the health of the reef’s ecosystem. The holding appeared excellent (in the carefully selected sand patches) and we spent several hours snorkeling the reef and swimming with turtles over the grass before moving to the lee of a small nearby island for the night.

The next day saw us anchoring off Petit St Vincent (PSV) near a resort after having stopped to snorkel another reef on its northwestern corner. This was a pretty anchorage too, with a really nice stretch of beach. Across the bay in the morning to Petit Martinique for fuel (very little) and water (all we could get) we then jumped over to Union island to clear customs from St Vincent and the Grenadines. Here we chose to utilize one of the boatmen to run us into town for our two hour stop, including a stroll to the airport to get custom clearances. (here, something new – the skipper was unable to clear us off – we had to all go to customs and fill out individual clearance forms)

Then it was off to Carriacou, home base for our boat during the summers. Once again our fisherperson dropped the line in the water for the hour long sail to Hillsborough, and in no time hooked another fish. This time it was a 4 foot long Dorado. It came in quite docilely, with virtually no fight until we flipped it into the cockpit. Then the poor thing went beserk. We were finally able to subdue it and admire our catch. Though we’d read about it, to see the colour changes take place was very dramatic. From electric blue, through green to mostly white once it was dead. Now our problem was a 30-40 pound fish and only six people to eat it. In the end, we took it to a local Carriacou beachfront restaurant and they prepared it, cooked enough for us all and then we gave them the rest of the fish so it wouldn’t go to waste.

Carriacou is a very laid back, rustic island with no real tourist attractions excepting some small B&Bs and the odd restaurant or bar. We again went for some long hikes finding deserted beaches, wrecks and huge piles of Conch shells, some of which found their way home with us later on. The Carriacou bus experience is worth the stop. On one trip, the bus stopped at a house, a babysitter jumped out, handed a baby in through the front window. The baby ended up being passed through the bus to the mother near the back row. This must be a regular occurrence because the child seemed perfectly at ease with it all.

After a few days in Carriacou we sailed on to Grenada to catch a plane home. After Carriacou’s laid back atmosphere the hustle and bustle of St Georges was a drastic change. Hurricane damage is still visible in the ragged vegetation on the hilltops and the evidence of many new roofs and some remaining missing ones on churches and other structures. Moored at the Grenada YC was uncomfortably warm out of the wind. After some sightseeing and shopping we all enjoyed a final meal together at the yacht club before getting up at 4 am to catch our flights home.

Some observations comparing this trip to the last (3 years ago)

The proliferation of charter catamarans is huge – 3-4 fold at least.

The US dollar does not seem as welcome (over ECs) as it was the last time. They will take them, of course, but last time it seemed fine, this time there was an undercurrent that we didn’t feel when we paid in ECs.

Amongst the non charter boats, Europeans seemed to outnumber even US yachts. There was always a smattering of Canadian yachts in each port so we were not the only ones.

The snorkeling was better in the southern waters, with more shallow reef areas to choose from and more fish to see.

Not one dolphin, porpoise or whale sighting this time around. However some of us had the good fortune to see a fair sized Ray of some type.

We are looking forward to our next trip!!
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Old 02-14-2007
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Sounds like an excellent trip, and nice change from the PNW.
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Great post, thanks.
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Old 02-15-2007
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Just a few guesses to comment:
"On the way we passed some of the surviving sets used in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie"
The place has got a name: Walilaboo bay. Nevertheless, it is amazing that some sets are still there since 2003. I hope that the wooden model of the "Kingstown waterfront" was not stolen and can still be admired.
"... before moving to the lee of a small nearby island for the night"
My first guess was that you refer to Palm island, just opposite Union island. Or is it "Petit Tabac" behind the Tobago Cays horseshoe reef, about half a mile to windward?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrondi
Just a few guesses to comment:
"On the way we passed some of the surviving sets used in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie"
The place has got a name: Walilaboo bay. Nevertheless, it is amazing that some sets are still there since 2003. I hope that the wooden model of the "Kingstown waterfront" was not stolen and can still be admired.
"... before moving to the lee of a small nearby island for the night"
My first guess was that you refer to Palm island, just opposite Union island. Or is it "Petit Tabac" behind the Tobago Cays horseshoe reef, about half a mile to windward?
I suspect you are correct about Waliliboo bay, we didn't stop there but sailed by 1/2 mile off.

As to the island we hid behind, it was Petit Rameau, one of the three small islands behind the Tobaga Cays reef and to windward of Mayreau, not Petit Tabac which is in the lee of World's End, as you say, to windward of the Cays. We considered stopping at P. Tabac, but the wind had a bit more north in it than we wanted to stop there.

Sailing in the trades, especially on a north to south track, is a joy when we come from an area where our destinations are mostly either dead to weather or dead downwind depending on the current weather pattern. Sailing on a constant beam-to-broad reach in 15-25 knots for miles on end on a relatively quick boat is a lot of fun. Some of the channels provided enough swell and waves to play around with, though Bequia Channel failed to live up to its reputation and we had a very calm crossing there.

We're in the middle of a 3-4 day heavy (cold) rain period now, at 5degC and its rather hard to believe just a few days back we were getting warm rain now and then at 28deg........
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Every single word you said about sailing conditions there is 100% true and a sheer pleasure to sail in these waters. Be sure that next time you will meet marine mammals and not only catch 20 pound dorado fish!
Fair winds and now patience with bad weather

Last edited by chrondi; 02-15-2007 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 02-15-2007
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Faster...nice post...brings back memories! We were in the St. George's laggon when Ivan hit and later spent a couple of months waiting for Dockwise at LeMarin. Still miss those morning baguettes and 340 varieties of cheese!
Glad you had a good trip...you covered a lot of ground!
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Originally Posted by camaraderie
Faster...nice post...brings back memories! We were in the St. George's laggon when Ivan hit and later spent a couple of months waiting for Dockwise at LeMarin. Still miss those morning baguettes and 340 varieties of cheese!
Glad you had a good trip...you covered a lot of ground!
Thanks Cam...
Did you manage to weather Ivan in the lagoon? I'm told the major boat devastation was in one of the bays/lagoons on the southern shore around the corner from St Georges. I truly cannot imagine having to go through a hurricane with a boat, in port or out. Our friends keep their boat in Carriacou for the summer/fall season, where the boatyard in Tyrrel Bay does an exemplary job of protecting the boats in the (previously rare) event of a major storm that far south.

Ah... fresh baguettes... I can smell them still. But why, unless you're in the French islands, is it so difficult to find a good cup of coffee down there?
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Faster...no we were on the yacht club docks with 1.5" nylon and two 2000lb moorings + the anchor out front and when the 185mph stuff hit we all broke loose and were carried up on shore in front of the supermarket on the other side of the lagoon. Long story short...we got off the hard...jury rigged our way to Martinique and Dockwise took us to Lauderdale/Palm Beach for repairs. We lost a lot of deck stuff (mizzen included!) but had no hull damage and no water below decks after all that. Quite a testimony to the build quality of Tayana. If you want to read more details, you can check the logs on my website available on the personal page.
On the south shore is where most boats were located and over 200 on jackstands for hurricane season went over in Spice Island Marina. There were only about 50-60 boats in the lagoon but only a few were spared. 40 of 46 at anchor were sunk or driven ashore. Funny but only the derelict boats seemed to survive...guess they were better attached to the bottom than all the Deltas,Spades,Rocnas etc. could manage...
We spent plenty of time in Tyrell and in Bequia too. We had some friends that went into Tyrell's mangroves during the next hurricane and weathered it just fine...but that was like 90mph...nothing like Ivan. Here's a pix from the day after...Another great Caribbean cruise-p1010010.jpg
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Old 02-15-2007
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Wow - thanks for the details - what a day that must have been for you and everyone else involved.

Glad to hear the boat survived to tell the tale. I'm sure many did not.
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