Tobago to the Grenadines & Grenada

November & December 2003

We left Tobago around lunchtime on 27th October for the overnight trip to Bequia in the Grenadines.   Mostly we had enough wind to sail and soon after we left Tobago, Phil hooked a tuna, which was much tastier than the cheese sandwiches we'd planned to eat on the way!    The night passed quietly apart from the odd thundercloud and we were easily able to spot the many flashing navigation lights, warning mariners of the hazards of the reefs of the Grenadines.   By dawn we were passing Mustique and suddenly the fishing lines sprung into action.    Of course, when Phil got bites on both his lines at the same time, Christine happened to be answering the call of nature and unavailable to slow the boat down for him to reel in his catch.    Both fish were lost, plus a lure and the ship's fisherman was not happy!     Back out went the lines and a few minutes later he'd hooked a good sized Spanish Mackerel.   By the time it was hauled aboard, however, there was only half a Spanish Mackerel left.    Something very large with extremely sharp teeth had stolen the other half off our line!    We still had enough fish for two meals and were quite relieved to have only landed the smaller of the two fish!

Phil wanted to brush up his diving skills while in Bequia, where he'd taken his PADI course the year before.   His first refresher course was to clean the bottom of the boat.   For a birthday treat he took a dive at Moonhole with the Dive Bequia team and Christine tagged along to snorkel.    Apart from a huge number of jellyfish, luckily not the stinging type, the visibility was excellent and from the surface Phil could be clearly seen below enjoying his dive.   Didi, the instructor, pointed out a seahorse to us.     A few days later he took another two dives with Didi, one down to 80 feet, his deepest dive yet and towards the end he found himself "buddy-breathing" with Didi, using air from her bottle to breathe to conserve the remaining air in his own.    The snorkeling around Admiralty Bay was as wonderful as ever and we finally treated ourselves to a reference book, so we would know what we were looking at.

Phil's birthday was celebrated in Bequia with Ann and Graham from Rasi.   We enjoyed the rest of the tuna we'd caught on our trip from Tobago and Ann even baked Phil a cake!     Phil and Nicola on Splendid Adventurer, with whom we'd spent a lot of time in Tobago, and their visiting friend "Rooster" arrived in the anchorage and the next day we shared a fish picnic on the beach.   Hurricane season was over and it was time for Splendid to get back to work, chartering in Mustique.   We agreed to head over to Mustique and visit them there.   Before we left Bequia, we feared that we'd have to finally buy some water for our tanks, the first time since fitting our new rain-catching awning, so we were very pleased to finally have a full day of rain and fill our tanks.   Bequia's water is the dearest in the Eastern Caribbean.   By the third day of continuous rain, however, we were not quite so happy!

Off we set from Bequia to Mustique, to see how the other half live!   We tied up on a mooring ball close to the world famous "Basil's Bar".    Photography is "not encouraged" on the island, which is privately owned by the Mustique Company, and contains many holiday homes of the rich and famous and a couple of high class resorts.  During our stay we didn't manage to see Mick Jagger, but Phil caught our supper in the bay just behind his house!   This saved us forking out for provisions in the supermarket, where HP sauce was retailing at 5 a bottle.   Although we were having a brown sauce crisis aboard at the time, we decided to leave the sauce where it was and bought fresh coriander instead, which although an item we'd never managed to find in the Caribbean, was unbelievably cheap!   We put together our fresh fish and a marinade using the fresh coriander and made ourselves a meal of which the poshest restaurant on the island would be proud! 

Basil's Bar and celebrity Boobies in Mustique!

The island's poshest restaurant - unfortunately no longer available in Mustique!

Transport on the island is mainly in "mules", petrol engined golf carts, supplied at exorbitant cost by the Mustique Company.   Phil and Nicola's mule, christened Pepe, had seen better days and took some reviving after being laid up over the hurricane season.   Once the two Phils managed to bring him back to life, we were able to tour the island with Phil and Nicola, as they ran errands.   Now and again we had to stop to collect bits of Pepe which dropped off here and there, including both headlamps, but we passengers were only too happy to stop, as the back of the mule wasn't designed for comfort and we began to feel that bits may drop off us too!  We were happy that Phil and Nicola managed to find some time to show us around, as they seem to know everybody in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.   They even introduced us to the former prime minister. 
Next we headed to the Tobago Cays and enjoyed more fabulous snorkeling on the huge reef.    On one snorkeling trip, in the deep water outside the horseshoe-shaped reef, we spotted the distinctive shape of a shark's tail behind a rock.   We quickly swam away but later, on realising it was the tail of a nurse shark, a type which sleep on the sand all day and pose little threat to humans, we swam by again for a closer look.   Sure enough the menacing looking shark was peacefully napping on the bottom.   It certainly got the pulse rate up for a while though!   

In the Cays we met up again with Clive and Margo on Revid, who mentioned that they'd spotted another Welsh flag on a charter boat anchored in front of them.   By the time they mentioned it, the anchorage was already pitch black.    We debated for about thirty seconds whether go over and disturb the Welsh visitors at the unearthly hour of 8.30 pm (which is very late for the Caribbean!) before deciding that anybody flying a Welsh flag was fair game.

 

Ann and John enjoying their holiday.

We motored over in the dinghy and were immediately invited aboard by Ann and John from Cardiff, who were on a one week charter in the Grenadines.   They were delightful and kept us entertained and "lubricated" until the early hours of the morning.   Next day we were luckily all in a fit state to go snorkeling and then we headed over to the neighbouring island of Mayreau, where we anchored close to Revid again.  Of course Ann and John showed us up by sailing all the way there, when we were too lazy to take the sail covers off on Anju for a four mile trip!   

We hadn't been to Mayreau before and staggered up the steep hill to see the sights, which consisted mainly of a picturesque church and stunning views of the Grenadines.     One day we had to share the anchorage with a visiting cruise ship, which annoyed the locals by renting the whole beach from its French owner and bringing all their own food and drinks ashore from the ship, creating no income at all for the island's inhabitants.    Another new arrival in the anchorage at 8 pm one dark night was a charter boat, surrounded by a crowd of half a dozen local fishing boats.   They'd run aground on the windward side of the island and had to be rescued, a feat which seemed to involve every boat from Mayreau and Union Island.   The discussions about who was to be paid how much for their services went on late into the night.   We got the feeling it was much more profitable for the locals than the cruise ship's visit!

We visited Chatham Bay on Union island with Ann and John, before they left the Grenadines.  They very generously treated us to a delicious lobster dinner, served on the beach after dark by enterprising locals.  They only seemed to own one lamp and the darkness made trying to eat lobster with only a fork very entertaining!

Margo and Phil off up the hill to see the sights of Mayreau.

                                                        

                                                              Mayreau's church.

Main Street, Petite Martinique.

 

Our last stop in the Grenadines before heading back to Grenada was a visit to Petit Saint Vincent (PSV) and Petite Martinique (PM), two adjacent islands with a mile wide channel between.   PSV belongs to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and PM to Grenada.   There was quite a contrast between the two, which we visited after a brief delay to take apart our windlass and rebuild it.   PSV was a private resort island whereas PM was definitely a working island.    A major attraction of Petite Martinique is its supply of cheap booze.   If you don't ask too many questions, your favourite drinks can be bought in the supermarket for half the standard Grenada price!   The ice cream was good too, when we finally tracked it down.

One more overnight stop in Tyrell Bay, Carriacou and it was time to sail back down to Grenada.  We decided to sail down the Atlantic or Windward side of the island, firstly as there would be more wind and secondly as the fishing is supposed to be good on that side of the island.  The first couple of hours of the trip were very pleasant and uneventful, until we managed to get a brown boobie bird tangled in our fishing line. We had to reel it in to free it, which was no easy task.  Luckily it wasn't caught on the hook, it just had the line wrapped around one of its wings about 6 times. Christine grabbed hold of its body while Phil untangled it but it still managed to bite her hand. 

A little later we caught a small barracuda and then with bad weather rapidly approaching from the east, a 20 lb wahoo. It was hard to get the wahoo aboard with no gaff and our fishing net was broken so the end just spun around in the water but we finally succeeded. We just had time to lash in on deck before the nasty squall hit.  We managed to reef the genoa and put up the spray hood just in time but hadn't had time to reef the main or mizzen sails. Really they should have been reefed too, as we ended up doing 8 knots in 30 knots of wind, even spilling wind from both the main and mizzen. We debated going outside to reef in the bad weather but thought the squall would soon pass and luckily had enough sea room to bear away from the wind.  The Caribbean squall clouds are so hard to predict, some kill the wind off completely and the majority bring gusty winds and heavy rain for fifteen or twenty minutes while they pass overhead.  This one decided to bring heavy rain and strong winds for about an hour and a half.   Visibility was down to nothing, it reminded us of the Bristol Channel. Once the weather moved off, we managed to dodge the other squalls on the rest of the trip past St. David's along Grenada's south coast to Mount Hartman Bay.

 

The approach to Hartman Bay was quite stressful.   The entrance has many treacherous reefs and although we'd entered several times before, we were approaching from the opposite direction and several of the marker buoys were missing.  Finally we found our way safely in and anchored near Night Owl behind the reef at the entrance. Just after we'd anchored another boat went hard aground on the reef and was lucky to get off at all, later another boat was heading for the reef too, so our concern was entirely justified.

Phil's prize Wahoo - doesn't the weather look nice now?

The bad weather we'd experienced on our trip to Grenada was the start of a week of unsettled weather, rain and strong winds.  At around 3.30 am one morning we got up when we heard the wind begin to howl and the rain hammering down. We'd already been up twice that night for the same reason.  This time, however, the bad weather lasted for over two hours. The wind was mostly over 30 knots with gusts over 40 knots. We were very nervous as we had our full sun-awning up, giving us a lot of windage and right behind us was a reef which would be really bad news if our anchor dragged.  We stood by with our engine running, just in case.  Our anchor held fast the whole time but our friends Pam and Chas on Night Owl weren't so lucky.  They had a very stressful couple of hours when their anchor dragged and their boat ended up aground.  With their powerful engine then managed to get afloat again but had problems with their windlass, so couldn't re-anchor.   It was pitch black with driving rain and the anchorage was crowded with boats.   We were all worried as they had to motor around until they were able to re-anchor but the crews of the anchored boats helped them by shining spotlights onto nearby anchored boats, so they were able to see them.  Nobody was able to launch a dinghy to assist them as the weather was just too bad.   As soon as there was a lull in the wind we were able to take down our sun-awning, which by some miracle escaped without damage.   By about 8 am everybody in the anchorage went back to bed. 

We spent the next week or so preparing Anju for our absence.  We were going to visit family and friends in the UK for a month over Christmas and left Anju in the capable hands of George Cumberbatch, who did an excellent caretaking job for us again.

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