St Vincents and the Grenadines Part 1 (5th January – 13th January)

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Bequai – 5th January

So after the rough night sail and long wait to check Scrumpy in, we were sailing again straight away to get to Bequai, the first island of the Grenadines. Check the map, but basically, St Vincents is the mainland, about the same size as St Lucia, and then there are 30 small islands, a few miles wide, running south until you reach Grenada. We decided to miss St Vincents, as there is not much here for boats, and Bequai has been described as amazing. It was a short 7 miles until the huge Admiralty Bay, as always we rounded the headland and it looked amazing, not like anything we had seen yet. It was a square kilometre in size, full to the brim with boats in crystal clear water. We moored up to a buoy for the night, as there was no space to anchor, and went straight ashore to explore and stretch our legs after 24 hours at sea. There was a meter wide boardwalk that follows the south side of the bay for about half a mile, lined with hotels, bars and restaurants. This was more like it, at the end it turned into the local high street littered with even more bars, restaurants, boutiques, shops, chandleries and a pizza hut…….although, this was just a hut which sold pizza by the slice…but nicer than the pizza hut we all know. Don’t get us wrong, it is not a built up UK town, it is still a coastal caribbean village, with roaming goats and dogs, colourful shacks everywhere, crazy local vendors in the nicest possible way, but it was more built up than anywhere we had seen. It seemed much more chilled out and relaxed compared to St Lucia, no one hassled you and everyone was really friendly, Holly and I both said it was the first place we had seen where we could happily settle for a while. The next morning we took advantage and trundled round the town, looking in every chandlery for some essential boat bits, that we had not found for ages, sinks, toilet seats etc, Holly and I adventured around finding all sorts, the National sports stadium (a sports field covered in goats), Holly managed to get her hair cut, a super market which sold English products (This was one of our greatest finds since arriving in the Caribbean), two little puppies who befriended Scrumpy and followed us all over, a cheeky slice from Pizza Hut, a man willing to sell us a second hand cheap dingy (We turned it down in the end as it needed patching up), we even stumbled upon a dorado on the docks that put our crossing dorados to absolute shame…….That evening we headed back to the boat for an early film night, as we were all busy tomorrow. On the 7th January, Chris and Kerry went for a scuba dive, something they had been looking forward to for a long while, and the Tudor Rose crew got to work, hand washing and fixing an array or broken bits on the boat, how rock and roll we are. By the time they returned we were only just finishing up on the boat, the hand washing alone takes a good 3 hours onboard. Instead of staying another night, we decided to push on about 8 miles round the south of the Island to the deceivingly named Friendship Bay…..
We arrived to Friendship bay as it was getting dark, seems to always be the way lately, which makes it hard for the best anchoring spots and going ashore for dog walks. By the time we settled in, we realised that the bay its self was pretty nasty, the rolling was vile, offering no real peace or comfort. As Kerry cooked tea, Holly, myself and Scrump jumped in the dingy to go ashore…….We aimed for the apparent dingy dock to make things easy, but on arrival we found it to be about 4 foot out the water with a large swell, and no way to get up. We rounded it to see if it got easier, only to find ourselves amongst the ruins of an old dingy dock, and we kept hitting ruins under the water, almost breaking the outboard, again all whilst getting smashed by waves. We aborted and headed round to a patch of beach we had seen, having to surf the waves to get ashore. Holly did not enjoy it one bit and was starting to get a bit panicky with the situation. The dingy was full of water, and so were we…….So a short walk for Scrumpy, as we just wanted to get out of here  and back to the boat, it was back to attempt to leave. I dragged the dingy out to waist height, put scrumpy in, Holly clambered in, and then we were hit by a 2 foot breaking wave, sending us flying and capsizing the boat, throwing Holly in the water, and for the smallest of seconds, loosing Scrumps. Lucky for his life jacket, and the reflective strips, he was pulled to safety like a drowning rat……Attempt 2 went slightly better with us managing to get off the beach, with the engine on, motoring through the waves crashing into the dingy to escape. Back on the boat, a slightly grumpy and wet pair, decided no more night trips with little Tippy, when we hadn’t seen it in the light.
The next morning we unfortunately realised we were low on water, poor planning my side, so we were up early and heading back to Admiralty Bay to fill up, then it was back to Petit Nevis, 500m from Friendship bay. This was a small towering island about 300 meters wide, the plan was to stop for a snorkel and some pre arranged lunch. This whole plan was scuppered, due to the 2 and a half foot barracuda I caught about 10 minutes from the anchorage. By the time we dopped the anchor, he was being filleted and Holly was warming the oil to cook him. Nowhere nice as dorado but certainly not bad, well unless you count the fact we found out they are poisonous 2 barracudas later. Holly and I had a good snorkel, seeing a host of fish, and finding a turtle shell. Hopefully not from people hunting it, which unfortunately it looked like. There was also a mountain, yes mountain, we are talking 10’s of thousands of conch shells (see picture) piled up on the edge of the island. Conch is a local seafood, and this was like a graveyard for all the discarded shells. Strangely we would see this on numerous islands through out the Grenadines. Who new they could eat so much of the stuff, or would ever want to…….its basically a welk, 10 times the size. After lunch we set off again to make our way to the infamous Mustique…..From what we had heard/read, it was an island of celebrities and we were looking forward to meeting the queen.
Mustique – 8th January
We pulled into a small bay to pick up a buoy for the night. We were met by the mooring manager in his dingy, who burst into laughter at the size of our dingy, and said he would be back the following day to collect the fees. It was expensive to stay here, due to the Island being private and owned by the 100 or so residents, house prices start at 10 million US dollars, but we wanted to see it, and it was worth it with the hope of seeing Morgan Freeman or Leo. We spent the night in the local Basils bar sipping cocktails and playing cards.
In the morning I woke early to torrential rain, and decided to treat everyone by nipping over the the fancy bakery to get french pastries for everyone, Holly woke and joined me last minute with Tippy to get his walk out the way, so we could get back in the dry quicker onboard. Not wanting to waste this beautiful Island we embraced the rain and took Scrumpy for a huge deadly walk around the coast, we had to avoid both deadly poisonous trees that you must steal clear of in the rain (Impossible) and a small snake…..The latter was easy for us, but for a curious dog with no fear it proved much harder, he sniffed the poor snake so much he slithered his was up a tree. Once we reached the south of the Island we met a huge lake and wetlands, we snuck through and stumbled across a road which led us through the private part of the Island….Unfortunately no millionaires were to be seen, just the islands garbage dump, and 5 tortoises who freaked Scrumpy out into a barking rage each time he saw one. Due to the rain, the rest of the day was spend cosily onboard, hoping the sun would come out tomorrow.
Our hopes were answered the next morning and the sun was out in force, a quick dog walk on the large lush green, and back to the boat for a dip in the sea. Holly had seen a huge amount of turtles close to the boat, so we were excited. Not half as much as we should have been though. This was our best snorkel to date, the water was crystal clear, and the reefs and life below were amazing. We spent a good 2 hours in the water, seeing the following to add to our list……at least 6 turtles all within 40metres of each other, in only 4-5 m of water, and endless sea of glorious coral, 2 lobsters hiding in a rock, a huge porcupine fish (With his smily face – look them up), an Octopus that had Holly and I following it for 20 minutes, 10’s of thousands of the usual colourful fish, and as we got back to the boat, a small electric ray that Chris poke (Prior to knowing it was electric…..All in all a great day in the water, topped off with seeing a huge long shadow under the boat from on deck, I jumped in to find a massive 5 foot Barracuda, slightly petrified to go and bother it I hung onto the swim platform and watched it drift around the boat for a minute, until he floated out of sight.
We woke up on the final morning and decided top take advantage of the lush long dog walk, this time in the beaming sun. We followed the same route all round the coast, but this time pushed further onto a residents only private beach, we spend about 10 seconds there before feeling everyones eyes burning into us, so we ran away. We met a local pair of women who we think lived in the employees houses of the Island, they had a big dog, which Scrumpy soon made friends with. All in all the Island had been our favourate place, we loved the chilled out mood, and beautiful walks, including the best snorkelling we had done, but it was now time to get moving with Canouan in our sights 13 miles away.
Hi all Holly here making a quick appearance in Simon’s update, you will notice that everywhere we seem to visit is Simons ‘favourite place’!!!!! I don’t know how many times I’ve heard him say but its becoming a running joke now. I guess what I’m trying to say is there are lots and lots of places that we have loved but all of them for their own different reasons. It would literally be impossible to have to pick just one.
Canouan – 11th January
The sail was longer than expected, don’t blame the Captain……but it was about 2 hours longer than I had thought. On arrival the water looked very clear, but the bottom was all sand so there was nothing to see. Right below our boat were lots of huge star fish, and an old tire that was now home to about 20 small lobster. On debating eating one for dinner, we decided against it, so off to shore we went to find some tea. The swell here resembled Friendship bay, and it made getting ashore quite difficult, for anyone other that us youngsters, it would have been treacherous…..This was the first place we had visited that really did feel like a different world. There were huts everywhere, goats, and stray dogs, locals sitting in the streets with a few market stalls selling veg. We found the supermarket, which was ok be it tiny and more like a corner shop than a supermarket, Holly and I bought a few bits for dinner and made our way back to the boat. Chris and Kerry went out for tea, and we dingied ashore to a tiny shack on the beach to meet them for some rum punch. The owner lit a large pallet bonfire on the beach, it was a really cool place, and was a nice charge to the restaurants we usually go to for drinks. After the disasters of transporting a drunk Chris and Kerry back to the boat, and Kerry losing her second pizza leftovers of the trip, we were all tucked in for the night. We woke up an decided to venture out round the Island for the day, we all hired a golf buggy, and drove around the 5 miles of road that the Island had, stopping at the highest point overlooking the bay, a beach made of thousands of conch shells (Seems to be becoming more common), the posh gates to the northern private part of the Island (Damn rich folk), and finally the long stretch of untouched golden sandy beach on the eastern side. We stayed here for an hour or so and after being met by perfectly clear turquoise water. The view from the road was amazing with a big reef creating a kaleidoscope of colours. Holly and I went for a snorkel, only to finally see our first flying gurnard (Again look these up, when they spread their wings they are amazing). On getting back to the dingy, Chris and Kerry went for lunch, and us poor hobos went back to the boat to eat noodles. Once they got back, we realised we had seen all we were going to so last minute decided to move on to the next Island 6 miles south.
Mayreau – 12th January
We arrived just before dark, this was becoming a pain, as it meant unchartered territory for a dog walk, these were getting harder with the rough swell in some of these bays, combined with high pontoons for the dinghies, alternativly we could land on the beach, but with crashing waves I wasn’t keen to capsize Holly and Scrumps again. We had a quick tea, and once ashore walked up the never ending steep hill into the town, the Island of Mayreau has a population of 180, this seems crazy as there were more people in my school year in secondary school, than there are on this Island. It was a small village with a handful of restaurants, and one small hotel. On checking the menu of the a restaurant, and the staff over hearing us that we had no money with us, we were chased down the road by management saying we could have whatever we wanted to eat and drink, and return to pay tomorrow…..I can’t see Nandos or Burger King offering this kind of deal, we graciously declined, as we’d eaten and we had no money onboard either, and made our way down to the boat.
We woke the following morning, and all made our way ashore to use the internet and do a food shop for a day or so, and returned to the boat with plans to head over to Tobago Cays, undoubtably the most spectacular place in the Grenadines….or so we had been told. Although from what we had seen, Mayreau was an amazing Island and we set our hearts on heading back here for a date night and meal out when we had a chance.
Tobago Cays – 13th January
Tobago Cays was only a short 3 – 4 miles passage from Mayreau, with the wind in our face we had to motor, but this was fine as Tobago Cays is 4 small (300m long) Island bunched together, surrounded by endless reefs which make it very calm, and the wildlife is fantastic, but this did mean that navigation could be tricky……Once through the shallow channels, we anchored in only 2 meters of translucent calm water, and were excited at what this nature reserve would bring us. If you’ve ever seen photos advertising Caribbean yachting holidays then this is most definitely the place they’ve been taken, the water is another level of aquamarine we may as well have been floating in a swimming pool it really was breathe taking. The only difference from the advertisements was that isn’t of a couple of boats its was full to the brim, so we had to share it with everyone else. We spent the afternoon snorkelling to find 2 large Spotted Eagle Rays, a huge stingray and numerous turtle, the wind did pick up slightly meaning it became a little rough, especially for the evening dog walk where the three of us ended up absolutely soaking. Chris and Kerry went off for a walk on one of the Islands and found lots of large Iguanas. We woke in the morning and headed round the large reef to the smaller island of Petit Tabac, the book had said it was beautiful, which it was but the sea was rough and we were a little worried to get in the strong current for a snorkel…..Holly and I are convinced this is the Island Captain Jack Sparrow gets marooned on in the films. We had a nice walk round the whole coast line, before heading back over to Mayreau for a much deserved date night.

 

 

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