Shopping and socialising in Grenada

After a leisurely (grey and damp) start on Wednesday we motored the three miles along the coast and entered the channel into St George’s. This channel is well buoyed but all ships use it – so did a quick check around to make sure no bigguns were out there waiting to follow us in!   As we entered the channel we radioed the marina to find out which dock they had allocated to us – on Channel 14 – and two guys start chatting over the VHF. Mmmmm…. Richard definitely not impressed and told them to switch as this was a marina working channel but they just carried on. Eventually – after venting his spleen with some working class language in the cockpit (not on the radio – that would contravene radio regs!) – we got the slip information and went on in. Unfortunately the marina could not offer us 110 volt on the dock so we are using our normal solar / wind and occasional engine / generator use to keep our batteries topped up.

Having been to the office and settled up for a four night stay – we had a wander around the marina, including a walk up to the top of a little tower to take some photos of Morphie nestling against the dock, and then had a really nice late lunch in the restaurant. We organised for our laundry to be done and for our propane gas bottle to be filled. Having achieved a few things – but recognising that we need to write lists to make sure we get everything done – we headed over to have some late sundowners with pad in hand. We were surprised to see Jim and Mandy from Sha Sha as we thought they were heading to the south coast of Granada – but some boat problems forced them in. We also went and said hi to Chris who is home alone on Troubadour whilst Linda is away visiting family.

Thursday we got up early and jumped in a cab to take us to the large IGA supermarket for the main provisioning trip for our friends’ holiday. The taxi driver was a bit of a speed freak jumping on his brakes real hard every now and again – but he did wait for almost two hours for us whilst shopping. And yes, Grenada lived up to its oasis status for food shopping, although I did get a bit concerned about the chances of our eggs getting back on board in one piece!!!! The fun part starts then – where on earth do we put it all????? We are also keen to give Morphie a well-deserved spruce up above and below the water line, as we are growing our own dive site again. Literally bumped into some divers who had just finished someone else’s boat and asked a price. Pleasantly surprised we engaged them to dive and clean Morphie’s bottom. We also got a quote from another local guy for washing, cleaning, waxing the hull, the topsides and all the stainless….. Happy with that we set him to work too. Things are really starting to come together now.

Had a late lunch / early supper in the restaurant – and went to bed early aided by a couple of glasses of wine. Whilst we were in the bar a young lad called Nathan decided to adopt us – and spent about an hour with us, whilst his Dad(?) sat and drank at the bar. Nathan was starting to be a bit of a pest but we didn’t want to tell him to go away – he is only 7 after all – and he started to complain he was really hot. I had a glass of ice which had melted away so we let him drink that. Within seconds his Dad was over – grabbed the glass away from him, and fixed me with a steely glare whilst saying – loudly – NO!  I explained it was only water but Nathan got dragged away and I was made to feel like some potential child molester. Fair enough – you can’t be too careful – but he wasn’t interested that Nathan had spent over an hour with us prior to this….. Finished up and went back on board for another early night – feeling a bit miffed by what had transpired…. Oh well….

Friday and we were up early again. We needed to get some more bath towels and a couple of pillowcases – and we’d also like to pick up a waterproof camera; a prescription mask for me; a new fin strap for Richard; a new canvas bag; maybe some clothes; and a few other odds and sods…. We had asked advice on where best to go – so headed off on the local bus to the Spiceland Mall with high expectations. Stopped first to get some drinking vouchers out of the ATM and we were accosted by our first beggar of the day. I think the bank should move these guys on – being hassled whilst waiting in the queue is no fun. We eventually got away from him – and others that pestered us as we walked along – and entered the Mall. Well – this is not oasis after all – we got absolutely nothing! So back on the local bus and into the capital city – first stop the Hubbard’s department store. Hurrah – we got something!

We then enjoyed wandering along the really pretty waterfront admiring the well-preserved old buildings of Carenage. Then walked through an ancient 7ft high tunnel built by the British back in the day when this was an amazing feat of engineering…. This very narrow tunnel links Carenage with the rest of the city and it is shared with one-way traffic and pedestrians. Felt a bit risky at times with cars coming too close….and stepping around locals who do like to stop and natter in the most inopportune places!

In the city it got much busier and we found another Mall – leading to the cruise ship dock. But nothing we wanted to buy. Oh dear… We wandered around – taking in the sights – and visited numerous local shops but we couldn’t find anything we wanted. Deciding not to go back through the tunnel Richard dragged me up some really steep steps to the top of the hill where we saw the mammoth restoration programme that faces them to repair the dilapidated church. Over the hill – admired the views – and then went back down the other side. These steep steps were even worse as they were uneven slabs placed into mud with some awkward angles.

Got down safely – phew! – and back to the waterfront where we spent some time watching the local fisherman prepare their catch for sale to the public… although Richard wasn’t so impressed by the football team that one of them supported! It was fun and slightly nostalgic to see old red telephone boxes on the town dock too. We then took off – by bus again – to the chandlery where we were surprised to run into BJ & Cathy (Evenstar) and John and Georgina (Shamal) – who we had last met at Union Island and Bequia respectively. They are both anchored down in the Prickly Bay area so we will probably catch up with them after our friends have departed. And – yes – we managed to buy some stuff!    Shame we couldn’t get the underwater camera though….. definitely something for the future.   But a great sigh of relief that we managed most things on the list in the end.   Hurrah….

Coming back to the marina we stopped by the local store to pick up our beer / soda / water / coke delivery – and pushing the trolley along we recognise Mike and Rebecca from Zero to Cruising, a couple we follow via their blog and have an on-line relationship with, but have never actually met. Dirk – our dock neighbour on Evening Ebb – then came along and he knows them both too!  Small world – and slightly embarrassing to be caught with such large supplies of beer (luckily they didn’t see the wine we got the day before!!!) – anyway we arranged to meet up for happy hour later and went back on board for a tough couple of hours trying to find more storage room. Had a really enjoyable happy hour – and wish Mike and Rebecca luck in their new venture – glad that we had the opportunity to meet them at last. We later had dinner with the Sha Sha gang… and were (very) late to bed!

This morning – Saturday – we have been out to get the fresh produce and bread as our friends fly in tomorrow…. Really excited to see them both and although today is a bit rainy the outlook is looking very favourable. Hurrah!!!!   We are back on board now and have plans to go bobbing in the marina pool later this afternoon. Richard has just been over to talk to Dirk’s next door neighbours – the boat is called Imagine from Falmouth and he was convinced he knows the people on board. So he goes up to say hi and it turns out that they share mutual friends and he has met them before in the Solent when sailing……..  Really small world!

Out of here tomorrow, Sunday, to go south to True Blue bay to await Carolyn and Ron’s arrival  – and we’ll then be heading north up to the Tobago Cays where internet isn’t so readily accessible, so will post again when I can.

Bye for now



We’ve made it to Grenada…

Sunday morning we had a lazy start and around noon we went ashore to explore Tyrrel Bay. This anchorage is really pretty bordered by a sweeping beach. The town itself has a single road – the High Street? – with a variety of local supermarkets, bars, rum shops, restaurants etc. But it is really very sleepy and quiet as pretty much everything is shut down for the weekend. We enjoyed the walk though having a look at the goats and cows tethered in gardens; watching the kids honing their back-flipping skills off one of the small docks; and the always impressive canopy of the Flamboyant trees.

In the afternoon we got together with Sha Sha and dinked round the corner from the anchorage enjoying the views of the beautiful rocky coastline dotted with dead ships! Wonder whether these are hurricane victims from years gone by? Anyway….the water was so sparkling clear and beautiful….we rafted up the dinghies together, anchored them carefully, and then all jumped into the water for a unique experience. After cooling off we all climbed back on board – which was really simple when using the stainless steel steps on Sha Sha’s pimped up ride, who is called Jim Jim!   Returning to Morphie we picked up speed and left them behind….of course, as dink has not been pimped with steering wheels and seats….we can go much faster even though we have a significantly smaller outboard. Such fun!   In the evening we got together on Morphie for sundowners and enjoyed the first sight of the supermoon. Great time had by all and late to bed!

On Monday morning the girls got together on Morphie while Jim and Richard did important land jobs and ended up talking boats on board Sha Sha. In the afternoon Richard and I had a quiet snoozy time on board before we all reconvened together for dinner at our own private cabana overlooking the ocean at the Twilight restaurant. It was simple and basic fare – with not great service to be honest – but we had a fun party night with singing, chatting, drinking and story telling, not necessarily in that order! We loved the sunset over the anchorage and the spectacular moon lighting our journeys home.

Tuesday we got up early, prepared Morphie for sea, and headed away from Carriacou towards our final destination this season, Grenada. We holidayed here in the early 2000s – including sailing to the Tobago Cays and back – but, even so, we were really excited to be arriving here in our own boat which, back then, we could only have dreamed of….   And, sadly, although the sea was beautiful and flat, the sun was out and the sky was blue, there wasn’t much wind!   So we ended up motor sailing using the opportunity to make water whilst underway. We also had the music blaring – which we don’t do very often underway – and did some cockpit dancing!   We were thrilled to pass Diamond Rock; we carefully avoided the marine exclusion zone around Kick ‘em Jenny, an underwater active volcano; enjoyed our first glimpses of the mountainous island of Grenada; got overtaken by a pretty 100ft yacht also motor sailing and – after a six hour passage – pulled into Dragon’s Bay. Really pretty place tucked in behind a headland and we went snorkelling. Saw some huge colourful parrot and trigger fish; a free-swimming moray eel; and loads of little uns swimming in and out of the rocks and under ledges. Not great coral but an interesting snorkel anyway.

We then moved round into Grand Mal and anchored for the night – meeting up with Sha Sha who had also travelled south today – and went to visit them for a couple of drinks before heading off to the Sunset View restaurant for potentially our last night together for a while as we need to get ourselves – and Morphie – ready for our friends who are joining us on Sunday for a holiday.

Had a great meal and headed back to Morphie exactly at the moment the heavens opened so got soaked!  It continued to rain most of the night.

This morning, Wednesday, after a lazy start, we motored around the corner the two miles to St George’s – the capital of Grenada – and have taken a slip in the fancy Port Louis marina for a few days.   Being alongside will make it so much easier for our shopping expeditions and getting it all back on board – we need to provision up as well as trying to source some spare parts that we haven’t tracked down yet.    I’m particularly looking forward to a large supermarket experience again – never thought I would ever say that!!!    Over the months we have built Grenada up to be our ‘oasis’ destination – as we’ll be able to get anything here.   I’ll let you know if it lives up to our expectations!

Bye for now


Leaving the Grenadines…

Wednesday and the weather started to improve. Still cloudy and grey with limited visibility but at least the rain has stopped. Hurrah!!!!! Having a lazy morning on board and, to our surprise, Sha Sha sails into the anchorage. We met Jim and Sharon in Anegada back in December at the start of our trip – and although we have kept in touch via e-mail – we haven’t seen them since! So lots of waving going on – and we organised to meet up at Happy Island later in the afternoon for a reunion. We also got to meet Mandy, their daughter who is having a holiday on board, and to catch up on the gossip – including the fact that Jim and Sharon tied the knot in Cane Garden Bay in February!   Fantastic news…so happy for them both. Oh yes, we also marvelled at the latest small plane to come down into the local airport behind the trees and across the anchorage…. looks like a terrifying challenge for the pilot!!!

At Happy Island we all ended up joining up with two couples from the UK who were holidaying on their large catamaran. Later on we went ashore for dinner together – although Jim bailed as he was tired and had had enough rum already. This was the sensible thing to do!!!   Unfortunately it was clear that one of the English women had peaked way too early (it was only 7pm!) – as she spent the whole time in the restaurant with her head resting on her arms, ignoring the food placed in front of her, and then suddenly stumbled away to puke over the top of the wall onto the path below!!!! We were embarrassed – this was a pretty nice place – and really didn’t know what to do – so we just ignored her letting her friends sort her out… and quickly called it a night and escaped back to the sanity of Morphie, and it was still only 9 pm.

Thursday and the weather was significantly better – although still a bit cloudy. We spent the morning doing boat jobs and watching some naughty goings on by a boat boy who picked up a floating kite surfer’s board and secreted it in his boat, even though the owner was going up and down in his dinghy looking for it. So on the way back to Happy Island in the afternoon we stopped by their boat to let them know where it was – and they had already sussed it out and got it back! Good – didn’t want to be a grass – but that was so blatant it was unbelievable. At Happy Island we met up with the gang and had a bobbing time for the whole soggy afternoon. Jonti was in a really good mood too and put on loads of music – so there was some aqua dancing going on too! Fantastic time had by all…

Friday we awoke to sparkling blue sunshine – at last! We went ashore to pick up some fresh bread and to check out of customs and immigration for Saturday, as we plan to spend the night at Petit St Vincent which is still part of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We had our last soda waters in the Anchorage Hotel; enjoyed the view across the bay in the sun; and had our final look at the crabs in the pool. 

We said goodbye to our friends, who were also moving on today, and sailed away from Clifton towards PSV having our final look at Happy Island. Not very far to go but PSV is tucked away behind a reef across the way from Petit Martinique, so careful navigation was required! Approaching PSV we were stunned by how beautiful a tropical paradise it really was. The sea is an amazing colour and Morphie enjoyed being the only boat in the bay! 

Once we were set we took off in dink to explore Mopion – a desert island – but we failed to see how you could get ashore as the reef was dangerously shallow and we (er…actually…it was me!) was nervous about grounding the prop or even holing the tubes…. so we had a quick look and turned back. Later in the afternoon we went ashore to PSV – as the original and current owners were sailors, they welcome yachties to this luxury private island – we visited Goatie’s beach bar and enjoyed the splendid surroundings as well as the most spectacular sunset.

Saturday we picked up our anchor and sailed out alongside the reef and around the top of Carriacou – our next destination, which is part of Grenada. Pulled into Hillsborough to do customs and immigration and wandered the town for a little while – deadly quiet for a Saturday afternoon. It appears all the shops are shut up for the weekend, although we did find a supermarket open and topped up on some exceptionally cheap wine and beer! And it wasn’t rubbish either – the wine is a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc that we often buy at home.    Hillsborough’s dinghy dock was horrendous – a concrete slab under a huge commercial dock – with metal steps going up which were cracked down the middle, sloped backwards, and the handrail was so dangerously loose it was tied up with rope! We thankfully made it safely back on board without any mishap – phew…..

We then picked up anchor again to sail around to Tyrrel Bay where we knew Sha Sha had settled in, as well as Suzie on Spirited Lady who we had last seen in Chatham Bay.  As we were only going around the corner – literally – we decided to drag dink behind us rather than put him back up on the davits. We were also going to go through the relatively shallow cut through the marine park alongside Sandy Island. We were making pretty good way downwind with just the genoa out and spotted a catamaran motoring behind – but he appeared to be keeping a respectable distance. Anyway, as we are just about to harden up to port to clear the headland he starts to speed up to overtake us. Richard shouts out to him – we are turning to port and overtaking vessel should keep clear – but to no avail as the guy ignores him and overtakes us on our port (windward) side so we had to hold our course until he was clear of us. Grrrrrr….

Arriving into Tyrrel Bay we were surprised by how many boats were here (including the French Canadians again!). Finally found a spot to anchor and made contact with Sha Sha. Suzie had already told us there was a party at Lambi Shack this evening at 6pm so we made arrangements to meet up there. We spent the next few hours cleaning Morphie and getting salt off her woodwork and stainless. Had a great night at Lambi Shack – beers are half the price than on Union – and as it was Connie’s 75th birthday there was free food all round too!!! What a fantastic welcome to this place. Great time had by all and back on board around 9pm.

This morning (Sunday) we are just lazing – plan to explore later – and will probably sail on down to Grenada on Tuesday.

Bye for now


Still in Union – waiting on weather

Sunday morning we awoke to a beautiful sunny day with strong winds. Thankfully the engine battery remains fully charged and the house batteries are in good order too. We started the engine easily and are now convinced that this problem is, thankfully, behind us although we will obviously monitor it more closely than we had done before!

We went ashore to the Anchorage Hotel to use their internet and caught up with all the weather forecasts for the next few days – we regularly monitor both NOAA and the StormCarib hurricane sites amongst others as we are officially in the season now. Our original plan had been to move out of here on Monday across to the private island of Petit St Vincent as we wanted to go check out the beach (which is public) as well as the tiny desert island of Mopion (which is only 0.5m above sea level). The snorkelling here is supposed to be really good as the islands are surrounded by reefs – but we need flattish seas for this really. Well – we found out that there is a tropical wave coming through on Monday / Tuesday and possibly into Wednesday – so we are going to hang out in Union for a little while longer as this wave will bring big seas, strong winds and lots of rain.  But the good news is that once it has passed through the forecast is much better…. Hurrah….

In the afternoon back on board and Charlie comes by with our laundry. We had been persuaded by him to give his service a try, so we had put in five towels and a set of sheets.   Big mistake!  Not only did he try to rip us off on price – although we stood firm on that and refused to give him extra – it wasn’t even a good job. The sheets had dirt and rust marks from being hung out to dry, and the dye had run in the towels. We had been waiting for this to come back as we had quite a bit more to do.   Damn.   So, instead, we ended up spending the afternoon with Richard on washing duty, with me rinsing and hanging out. Felt quite jealous of the guys zipping around in front of us on their kite surfers having fun, but chores must be done first!  But we did sit and gaze at them a few times as well as enjoying the colours of the water on the reef….

About 5pm we headed over to Happy Island to chew the fat with Jonti. Told him about our laundry experience and his view is that all the boat boys are ‘hustlers’ and even though they have been told to work co-operatively with each other and fix prices, they do not understand that people will not return if they have a bad experience. But as Clifton is a port of entry / exit into St Vincent and the Grenadines many people don’t actually have a choice about coming here.  Jonti also thought that the increased crime rate of late was because it was coming up to carnival time and people were desperate to go to St Vincent but didn’t have the cash.  Interesting take on the current situation from an educated local entrepreneur. 

Later on we were joined by Ann and Bill who are cruising on their trawler and were amazed to see that they had a depth gauge on their splendid dinghy!  Had a really nice chat with them, watched the sun go down, and returned back on board for a quiet night.

Monday morning we awoke to the start of the weather – no rain yet but significant wind and large seas. A skiff came by and a guy from Sail Grenadines told us that the yacht behind us had been stolen over the weekend!  Unfortunately all we could tell him was that it had not been there on Sunday – but couldn’t help. Felt terrible on two fronts – for the owners of the vessel and also for the people who had been booked to come on a sailing holiday. Shaking off the bad news – and making sure Morphie was securely tied and locked up with no means of starting her engine – we went ashore to do some provisioning for when we leave.

Clifton has three small supermarkets and not one had everything we wanted – so had to visit all of them and still came back without basic things like washing-up liquid! Whilst shopping, we bumped into Shauna from Bollheads who was actually with Tony when he got robbed and we were really shocked to hear that it was actually two masked men with a gun and he had no option but to hand over his day’s takings. She also told us that a boat had been broken into and raided over there too – this is starting to feel like bandit country!   Wandered around town for a while, enjoyed seeing the sharks in the shark pool, and headed back on board.

In the evening we went ashore – making sure Morphie was alarmed as well as locked. We had dinner at the Anchorage Hotel with Bill and Ann and had a really nice time. As we were enjoying after-dinner drinks the heavens opened and we had a thunderstorm. Sat it out and, when the rain had eased a bit, we headed back on board and were pretty soggy by the time we had lifted dink back on her davits.

During the night the wind howled and the rain was torrential – so much so that we didn’t get out of bed until almost 10.00 am today (Tuesday). We are having a lazy time onboard and are planning to go ashore to get latest internet updates.  When we get the latest weather info – and it has been pretty accurate up to now – we’ll plan for the next few days. We are actually ahead of schedule as we have friends joining us in Grenada at the end of June and, if we wanted to, we could get there in a day or two as it is only 40 miles as the crow flies. However, we really want to continue our very slow meander down there so that we can check all the best places to take them when they come onboard for a sailing holiday with us. So will keep you posted.

Bye for now


Drag queens of the Caribbean

Monday morning we left Saltwhistle Bay for Saline Bay, Mayreau, motoring the three miles down the coast. We picked a spot to anchor but felt exposed so picked up and re-anchored closer to the beach to get some shelter. We were bemused to see a gang of five French Canadian boats – they have been cruising in company since Bequia and we keep running into them. They are constantly zooming backwards and forwards to each others’ boats and drive us crazy and they don’t seem to appreciate other boats in ‘their’ anchorage either!

We tied up on the dinghy dock and wandered through some waste land to reach the road up to the village. There are only around 350 people living on this tiny island and they all live here, up a very steep hill which is more suited to mountain goats than people. We wandered up, very slowly, and found a very welcoming open-sided cafe for a tasty salad lunch. After lunch we carried on walking up towards the church but the hill was brutal in the heat and humidity so we stopped off at Righteous Robert’s bar. Although it was only early afternoon, Robert seemed half cut already. And it wasn’t weed as this was the first Rastafarian we have met who smoked cigarettes out of a packet! We bought him a beer over a chat and before we knew it he was on the microphone rapping at full blast about his daughter’s birthday…. We couldn’t understand a word but it was highly amusing.

Walking back down the hill we stopped off at the supermarket for a couple of things and came across some local art on the side of a building. Hmmmmm…. maybe this place is not as welcoming as it would appear on the surface???? We had a quiet night back on board and decided to move on in the morning as we weren’t really enamoured with the place.

Tuesday morning we had a leisurely five mile downwind sail to Chatham Bay, Union Island. When we arrived a large two-masted schooner – which is one of the smallest of the Windjammer fleet – was the only boat there. So we had lots of anchoring space and we settled nicely into a patch of sand in about 15 feet of water.

This long sandy bay is picturesque with mountainous terrain and a nice beach with numerous local bars and restaurants set up along it – plus one resort-type place. A couple of local boats came out to tell us of their offerings – from the only two places who were still open this late in the season. We went ashore to Bollheads and had a couple of local beers with the owner Tony, who models himself on Kojak but without the lollipops!!!! He even gave me the ‘who loves you baby’ line…. We put our fresh bread, fruit and veg order in for the morning and then excused ourselves as we headed over to Aqua, tempted by the promise of an infinity pool and the only wifi in the bay. Arrived at Aqua, got logged on and had a bottle in hand, and they turned the wifi off. Grrrrr…..  Will be back on in 30 mins apparently… We were also disappointed that the pool – lovely setting etc – was filthy…. so not planning on getting in that! We had a bite to eat – expensive and ordinary – and waited for the wifi to come back on, feeling like we had been suckered in. Eventually it came back on, so we had another beer, caught up with emails and then called it a day. We got over our frustrations and actually thought the place was pretty nice with lovely surroundings and seating. Great place for sundowners…. Went back on board for a quiet night and turned in pretty early. My back was also starting to play up again….ouch….

During the night it poured with rain and the wind howled at over 30 knots and we did a 180 degree turn on our anchor a few times…. So not a particularly restful night!   Wednesday morning I was feeling pretty rough….and still in pain. So I stayed in bed with the aid of some serious prescription drugs until mid-afternoon while Richard did (pink!) boat cleaning jobs;  tried to find an in-line fuse for the starter battery as we think it has failed (although not an issue as we can parallel with the house batteries to start the engine); and went ashore without me to do emails and some research on our charging problem.  In the late afternoon – feeling much better having rested up – we both went ashore to Bollhead and had the local BBQ mixed platter offering – beautiful fresh snapper, pork and chicken along with salad, fried plantain and rice. Had a really nice meal…. and as we were finishing up we were joined by Suzie from Spirited Lady and her current crew member Rich. We had last seen Suzie in Dominica… and she lives full-time with her two gorgeous boat dogs on a beautiful classic 60 foot sloop which was built in Ipswich. Nice to catch up again and we ended up having a relatively late night. When we returned to Morphie we realised that the catamaran anchored in front of us has dragged and was now behind us – phew, at least he didn’t hit us. They were up and about on deck so clearly they knew what had happened. They were not a danger to us at this point so we went to bed.

Thursday morning it is raining again and the wind is playing up – we are constantly doing circles around and over our anchor. We have snorkelled it and all is well. But the catamaran that re-anchored after dragging the night before was again way too close. So annoying! Whilst we were out snorkelling our own anchor we checked theirs and realised that they have very little chain out – maybe 50 feet…and no room to drop more without hitting us. Hmmmmmmm……

We continued our snorkel across to the shoreline and the rocks – and at first we thought we were seeing things as it appeared that the seabed was moving! It wasn’t – just an optical illusion – as the weed was moving with the movement of the tide like a green bobbly shag-pile carpet going in and out. Took a bit of getting used to… Water was a bit murky but full of critters. We saw some squid swimming in formation, a lovely large colourful trigger and the usual range of reef fish. On the way back we visited the fish net trap that had been set earlier today and were amazed by the sheer quantity of small fish inside of it – thought of Nemo and was tempted to let them loose…but of course I didn’t. The pelicans also turned up to watch this spectacle as they are sitting on top of the net trying to work out how to get at them!!! Large predators were also circling below the net of fish – and the fishermen turned up to get them too….

Back on board and Morphie is dancing all over again and the wind and rain are coming at us horizontally….. The catamaran is dangerously close now so, in the middle of a rainstorm, we picked up our anchor and reset. Got a good set although pretty damp in the process and now just sitting it out…. We eventually got fed up of being held captive by the rain we put on our jackets and went ashore to Bollheads to have a drink and to wish the gang farewell, as we are leaving for Clifton tomorrow.

While we were in the bar listening to tunes and debating deep subjects such as the rise of Nelson Mandela and what did we think of Michael Jackson……. four Sunsail charter boats came in and a couple of other cruisers. And guess what – Morphie is definitely a boat magnet – we had one a bit too close again. But not close enough that we had to ask them to move…… We went back on board after a really nice afternoon to have a simple dinner.


At around 10 I bailed out and went to bed leaving Richard in the cockpit listening to tunes and sipping coconut rum. I always tell Richard not to go for a wee over the side when I’m not around as if he fell in I would not know anything about it until I woke up and found him missing….. but, as is often the way, he ignored me! This evening it proved to be an important decision as, about 11.30 pm, Richard is shaking me to wake me up – the cruiser in front of us has dragged alongside and he only spotted it in the dark because of what he was up to! Richard has been flashing our torch at them but they have failed to wake – so it is time for the air horn. Wow that thing is loud – but it had the desired effect of waking them up along with the rest of the anchorage! They quickly move to re-anchor – in the dark and the rain – and we settle down again. Of course, we are dancing around our anchor too and actually did 360 degrees at one point. Luckily we can tell from our anchor alarm that we are not dragging!

Friday morning, went to pick up our anchor and to our horror the windlass isn’t working now. Grrrrrrr…. so we have to parallel the batteries again to get our engine working, and then pull up the 100+ foot of chain by hand. We manage this and start going around the headland – oh yes, did I say it was raining again???? – into a steep sea and we then noticed that our rev counter has failed. This is not great news…. Obviously these things are all linked – so we motor around in horrible conditions to Clifton as we know there are technical guys there. Picked up a mooring – which is ill-advised as they can be very unreliable and we are going to be between two shallow reefs – but luckily Tiger (our boat boy) has strong moorings and we know that because we snorkelled it before parting with any money!!! He went off to get us some assistance and came back with a couple of electricians including the senior maintenance guy from the Moorings workshop. Without our anchor windless working and reliant on house batteries to start the engine battery we feel a bit vulnerable so hope to get this fixed whilst we are here…… 

After a few hours they went off having identified (and fixed) a loose and corroded neutral wire to the alternator and that the solenoid was not closing and making the circuit….  They are planning to come back on Monday to do further investigations.  Feeling pretty fed up in the wind and the rain and the prospect of being stuck here for longer than we had planned so headed off to visit Jonti on his famous Happy Island. As we arrived the rain stopped, at last…. Jonti reclaimed conch shells from local fisherman and built a small bar on the reef in the early 2000s – it is now a restaurant / bar and his home combined using solar and wind power only. A really nice oasis. Had a chilled evening and got chatting to the cruising family from Evenstar. Had wonderful food and came back on board relatively early but in a much better mood than when we had left!! But another dampener on the day was to find out that Tony from Bollheads had been mugged the night before for all his takings…… A real shame as this guy works really hard to make a living.

Saturday morning we woke up early and checked the batteries – the engine battery has definitely got more life in it than before…. so fingers crossed that it is now receiving a proper charge. And the sun was shining….. Hurrah!!!    Went ashore to top up our provisions and to get some drinking vouchers out of the ATM.   Then back onboard to get on with some boat jobs.   BJ from Evenstar came over in the afternoon with some diagnostic tools as he has a similar set up as ours…..   And, fantastic, the engine battery is being charged;  the battery is holding it’s charge;  the windlass is working again and we have our rev counter back!   Bit annoyed though that, contrary to the Island Packet owner’s manual, they had wired our windless to the engine battery not the house battery bank……That aside – PHEW is the word!   Very happy and grateful for his help….   So to celebrate we went back with the crew from Evenstar to Happy Island for beers on us in the evening!   Lovely time had by all.

We plan to leave Union on Monday now to continue our journey south towards Grenada….but will keep you posted.    Bye for now….


Turtles galore

Wednesday morning we had a leisurely start as the Tobago Cays are not very far away from Canouan. We set sail around 10 am and had a great fast downwind run towards Mayreau…. passing the Baline Rocks to port. We then turned into the channel for the Tobago Cays – taking care to avoid One Fathom Shoal on the way – with the aim of going through the cut between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau towards Baradel, which is a turtle conservation area. We went slowly and cautiously, dousing our sails in good time, and worked our way between the reefs towards the cut – which wasn’t actually that obvious because a great big catamaran was anchored in the middle of the narrow channel!!! Really????   Eventually we worked it out and went through, rounded into the channel behind and picked up a mooring ball off the edge of the turtle area. We decided to pick up a ball here as it meant that we could be really close in and just snorkel off of the boat. Anyway…by around noon…we were settled, had paid our marine park fees, and were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves having done this passage with no worries or stresses….. But we were not as impressed as we had expected to be by the area – the sky was grey, the clouds were heavy, and so the water was not sparkling in the way we remembered it from our visit here back in the early 2000s… It was pretty cool though to be anchored opposite Petit Tabac which was where the Pirates of the Caribbean desert island scenes were filmed…..but it is the other side of the amazing horseshoe reef.

We really wanted to snorkel with turtles, so we got in the water and went into the zoned off area – immediately we came across two green turtles, both of whom were wearing tags…. The larger of the two was completely aware of us but not bothered – he even came up to surface for air alongside us. Pretty amazing…. But that was it – the water was murky although not very deep at around 6 feet – and after about an hour we came back to the boat. Bit disappointed really. In the meantime my repaired mask – rubbish for diving but thought would be OK for snorkelling – fell apart again…. So it is definitely kaput now. I will have to try contact lenses and a normal mask until I can get a replacement…. During the afternoon we were visited by numerous boat boys and ordered some fresh bread to be delivered tomorrow morning by MandyMan… Had a relaxing time on board and an early night.

Thursday morning up early, had our bread delivery and organised to go ashore for a beach BBQ dinner in the evening, and headed out to explore by dink. Still a bit grey and misty out – but at least we could see the beauty of the water. We dragged dink ashore on the beach of Petit Rameau and went snorkelling around the headland…. The contact lenses worked well although the mask did fog a bit – but toothpaste will fix that – but I did managed to step back onto a sea urchin and get a spine embedded into the bottom of my foot. Ouch…really hurt…. So back on board and Richard performed surgery to remove it (being told to chew on a towel was really helpful!)….and it eventually came out – just hoping for no ill effects as these are toxic….  Anyway, to cheer ourselves up we went around the cut to a little beach where the BBQ was going to be held in the evening and bought a couple of beers off the local lady from a cooler. While we were there for an hour or so, the guy who runs the BBQ reminded us to bring our own drinks and cutlery in the evening. Good job he told us as MandyMan had failed to mention that bit! 

At 6pm MandyMan came by to pick us up and we went ashore. No one else there….. Oh dear, looks like we are having a party for two…. Sat down at our allocated table, cracked open a couple out of our cool bag, and put our little Bluetooth speaker to work with some good old reggae tunes…. Fantastic sunset – great local fish with an array of sides, loads of it too, although the birds sweeping down to nick the rice was a bit tiresome at times! Had a really nice chilled few hours off the boat and back on board by 8pm.

Friday morning had a lazy start and we were delighted that the sun was out, the sky was blue and the sea was beautiful with the full range of colours that you could imagine. This is how we remembered it!    Hurrah….  Quickly into the water – no fogging of the mask this time for me – and we came across turtles before we had even cleared the bow of Morphie. We just kept running into them….we estimated about 30 in total today….and at one point we had six swimming / eating and breathing around us. Amazing sight….. To cap it all we saw a very large southern stingray and an amazing up-close encounter with an eagle ray in about 4 feet of water. Oh yes…don’t forget the dinner plate sized starfish that are everywhere; the conch creeping along on the bottom in his shell; and the little flat fish being chased around by others…. Fantastic snorkel. Just what we had hoped for…. Back on board for breakfast – and we spent a few hours relaxing whilst making water and topping up our tanks. Oh yes, the people on the catamaran next to us started drinking early – before you knew it they were dancing on the roof whooping and hollering … which was a bit uncharacteristic as they were French! This noisy behaviour also inspired the Italians the other side of us to retaliate by playing music very loud…. Richard was tempted to whack on his Larry Miller at maximum decibels but thought better of it and I talked him out of mooning at them as well!

So we left them all to it and went out again in dink to the solitude of horseshoe reef. Along the inside of the reef they had put a few mooring balls to tie up to – so we tied up dink and did a backroll off the side. Straight into a really really strong current which we had to fight against – this was definitely advanced snorkelling and not for the faint hearted! But the hard work paid off as we approached the reef and came across bigger specimens – including beautiful triggers and parrots and another huge stingray who came really close having a good old look. Loads of the usual reef fish around although the coral wasn’t in great shape having been storm damaged. My favourites the puffers and trunk fish were out and about along with a few others we haven’t identified yet…. Oh yes, and a lobster feeling pretty safe as the lobster season doesn’t start again until the 1 September! After a while we were pretty tired swimming against the current all the time so ended up drifting back to the dinghy really quickly….. Back on board about 4pm and all is quiet on the French boat – we think they peaked too early! The Italians have gone ashore to do some parasailing…. Has just been a truly fantastic day… OMG – the Italian has crashed into the side of the island and became suspended up the rocks….. After quite a while they got him down and he has got back on board without any visible injuries…. Phew!  Had a quiet night on board again enjoying our last night here.

Saturday morning we had a leisurely start and went back through the cut to leave the Tobago Cays behind. The sun is up and the sky is blue – happy days! And the sand banks, the reefs and the shallows show up much more vividly than they did on the way in – luckily we know the way this time…. After a short downwind sail of three miles around the corner and we pulled into Saltwhistle Bay, Mayreau. Wow – what a place. Managed to get ourselves a good spot in 10 feet of water and Richard went snorkelling. On the way back to Morphie having confirmed our anchor was well set he diverted because he saw something on the bottom….so he dived down and came up with a €100 note! The luck of the Irish eh???

Went ashore to explore – had a cold one in the local Rastafarian bar but didn’t feel welcomed at all, so moved on quickly. We bought a teeshirt for Richard and a beach throw for me from the lady who has her wares set up along the beach – and wandered on down this beautiful bay marvelling at the colour and clarity of the water, accompanied by local dogs who were all pretty friendly. Ended up at the Saltwhistle Bay bar and restaurant at the end of the beach and which is all built out of stone with thatched roofs. Amazing place – and looked like something out of a film set! Had a mediocre but relatively expensive lunch although the surroundings more than made up for it to be fair….. and the service was warm and welcoming. Whilst we were there some kids off one of the charter boats went coconut rustling up the smaller palm trees that fringe the beach. Back on board later in the afternoon where we enjoyed bobbing with style in our chairs off the back of Morphie. We didn’t fancy any dinner so we had an early night after watching another stunning sunset.

Sunday morning was another beautiful sunny start and we took our floatie chairs ashore and anchored them in the surf so went bobbing off the beach in them, which was a first. Also bobbed with soda water not beer!!!! Then rain stopped play – the heavens opened – so we raced back to the boat and spent the rest of the afternoon evening reading, chatting and chilling. Re-anchored nearer the beach in between rain showers as the night before was really really rolly…..    Early night tonight.

This morning we had a leisurely start and made our way the three miles down the coast of Mayreau to Saline Bay……

 Bye for now


Chilling in Canouan

After relaxing on the beach on Sunday at the Tamarind Beach Hotel we headed back on board for a quiet evening. Just as we got back the heavens opened….phew, glad we didn’t get caught out in the dinghy in that! Sunset was really moody as a result and we turned in early.

Monday morning we explored Charlestown. We wandered around and came across a cute little local bar on the beach – although it wasn’t open – and did some shopping Canouan style at a stall set up by the side of the road. We also found a small supermarket where we stocked up on some snacks….local peanuts are really cheap and good!  But we are really missing our daily fruit and bread delivery to the boat which we got in Bequia. Oh well…  We were surprised by the amount of building materials just lying around – the goats clearly liked them as places to hang out – and that they recycled old shipping containers into so many things. We actually went into a local restaurant made out of one for a soft drink while waiting for another rain shower to pass…. Of all the buildings, the police station was the most impressive with its grand facade.  

Whilst we were out and about we came across a cute puppy who Richard really wanted to adopt as he looked like he needed a good home and had boat puppy potential – but we resisted the temptation.  We also bumped into cruisers who were on the catamaran anchored in front of us – and they had a phone stolen from their boat Sunday night. We weren’t surprised at this news particularly when we found out that they sleep with their doors open….it may be hot here but we lock ourselves in at night because we knew that these islands have this reputation. Shame to hear it though – this place is really friendly and chilled –but you always get a few bad uns…

Having explored, and returned to Morphie to stow our acquisitions, we went back to the beach at the hotel for the afternoon. On Sunday it was busy – today it was empty. Just us and a barman…. So we chilled, relaxed, bobbed and chatted to Pete about life on Canouan. Around 4pm the heavens opened again and we ended up staying in the beach bar for a bit longer than intended while we sat it out…. About 6pm we went back on board for dinner – no sunset tonight in the gloom.

Tuesday morning we headed into the hotel reception as we wanted to visit the other end of the island where there is another resort, golf course and private villas…which is a gated community. Well – it is closed because of the massive construction work going on – so not able to go there officially.  However, they were happy to organise an island tour for us by taxi at a reasonable price of US$20 each – and, because it was in a company vehicle, we could drive around the gated bit providing we kept away from the construction areas. Well – this place is amazing. Truly a millionaire’s paradise and the photos really do not do it justice.

Having left the gated area behind us we enjoyed the views as we drove along the hill tops and eventually down to the other end of the island, where the airport stands on reclaimed land.  The reefs surrounding this island are amazing and the colour of the water has to be seen to be believed…..  We went into Friendship Bay and had a coke at the beachfront bar / restaurant while looking out towards the Tobago Cays. They had a great sign up on the wall which Richard really liked…  In this area they are reclaiming more land and building a huge marina – not sure when it will be finished but it is going to be some place.

On the way back to the hotel we asked our driver what he thought about half of the island being gated – and the view is mixed apparently, but the majority agree that it is a really good thing as it brings so much employment to the island. And, indeed, the affluence of the locals can be seen in the housing which is pretty sturdy looking and they all have mains electricity – no real shacks here. Having been out for a while we decide to return to the beach for our final afternoon and Richard treated me to lunch as I’ve been cooking a lot recently! So that was nice – and again we had the beach to ourselves. Not sure how we are going to cope when we come across other people in future destinations!!! 

Back on board now and getting ready to depart tomorrow for the Tobago Cays. This is probably the most challenging trip in terms of navigation so far. We are hoping to be able to anchor behind the horseshoe reef for a couple of days and get in loads of snorkelling. I’m particularly keen to get in the water with the turtles I hear are found here in great numbers – Richard was luckily enough to come across one when snorkelling the anchor the other day. Whilst we are in this area internet coverage will be zero – so will be in touch with a blog update when I get connected again. 

Bye for now



Magical Mustique….

Wednesday night we had a quiet night on board having caught up with internet stuff over sundowners at the Fig Tree and saying our goodbyes.   I decided to celebrate our last night in Bequia by cooking a couple of sirloin steaks that we had purchased in St Lucia.  So salad was prepared and the defrosted steak went on the grill.  Well…they were as tough as old boots…and one of them definitely had a weird sweet flavour. We had to wonder whether the horsemeat scandal at home had reached the Caribbean?????    Really disappointing end to our last evening….and so early to bed.

Thursday morning we were up bright and early raring to go….and set sail about 9.30 am. Destination Mustique.  We were really excited about going there……not only it is time to mingle with the rich and famous….but we also never expected to be able to set foot on this private island which does not allow day trippers but does welcome visiting yachts….  The forecast was for 23-25 knots of wind with a 10 foot sea – so we headed out of Admiralty Bay and hoisted sail.  Luckily it was only cloudy rather than raining. The first part of the trip was downwind and, as we neared the bottom of Bequia to change direction, we saw this ship really close to the gap in the rocks. In the challenging sea conditions we thought that was a little foolhardy….and then realised that it certainly was, he was hard aground!!! 

Learning from his experience, we decided to abandon our idea to cut through between two small islands to get to Mustique, which would have given us a better sailing angle to our destination, and instead continued out to sea to keep away from the very strong currents that were running….. After 20 miles we arrived in Britannia Bay having glimpsed beaches and absolutely massive houses all over the cliff tops from afar…. Some were impressively landscaped into the hillside – others stood proud like huge structures that just had to be noticed!

Having picked up the mooring ball – compulsory here as the reef is protected – we quickly got ready to go ashore. We paid our mooring ball fee – equivalent to £50 for one night, but you get two nights free!  Bargain….  But according to the guide, it is a very rolly anchorage, and most people head off after one night.  Hopefully that’s not going to be the case as we’d like to stay here for a little while and explore.  The water here is a spectacular pale blue colour and we can even see the shadow of dink on the bottom through the sea…. amazing!  

We tidied ourselves up and went ashore to Basil’s bar – which we had identified from the sea as we came in – and were less than impressed by the back view from the road!   But were amused by the seagulls sitting in a line on the sea wall…

From the main road, however, it is much more attractive and we went in eagerly to see what all the fuss was about.    Hmmmmm…….. beer’s expensive…. service good….. no other guests….and certainly no celebrities.  Although we did find out that Bryan Adams was on island at the moment. Oh well – maybe tomorrow will be different?  Not an impressive place at all inside…..pretty shabby without the chic and the wood could definitely do with some tender loving care…. but it is about to be closed for renovations, so perhaps we didn’t see it in its best light?  Anyway enjoyed the nice sunset and had an early night…..and yes, it was rolly!

Friday morning we went off exploring the main little strip here – came across a wonderful bakery and small food stores. Also went browsing in the boutiques but the prices were a bit rich for us!  Enjoyed wondering around and decided to head off to the beach which runs along the length of Britannia Bay. The walk to the beach was impressive with all public areas nicely manicured – but the beach was not what we expected….  It was very wild and beautiful with sea grass, reef up to the water’s edge, with loads of conch shells and broken coral lying around – along with quite a few lizards too. But although stunning it was not really a bathing, swimming or bobbing beach which is what we were after really…  But the walk certainly did us good!

So we headed back towards the dinghy dock.   We had wanted to hire a ‘mini moke’ to have a look at the island – but apparently they are not available for rent this time of year….   But we did find a taxi so we hired him to take us over to The Cotton House, a very exclusive resort.  All beaches are public, so didn’t anticipate any problems with camping on theirs, but we were very surprised when one of the staff offered us two beds, complete with luxurious coverings and towels, all for a small tip….and he gave us waiter service for drinks on the beach too!!!  The hotel is a bit outside of our price range with low season running at US $1200 for a one-bedroom suite per night!!!   But we certainly enjoyed ourselves – a real treat!   The beach itself was quite small and rocky – but we managed some bobbing, sunbathing and generally we just soaked up the atmosphere… Went back to Basils for sundowners – some more guests – but still no ‘faces’ and a quiet night on board illuminated by a brilliant moon.

Saturday morning we did an island tour – well, I say a tour, but it only lasted 45 minutes! Most of the island is broken into large swathes of land which is heavily, and beautifully, landscaped and you get a glimpse now and then of an amazing mansion behind the hedges and the walls. Also from a distance we were shown Mick Jagger’s and Bryan Adam’s houses nestling on the beach….

While we were being driven around, we found out a bit about how Mustique works.   The island was purchased in 1958 by Colin Tennant for US $67,500 – and apart from the parcels he gave away including one to Princess Margaret – he ran the island until he sold it to The Mustique Company in 1976.  In the contract, it ensures that the locals who are born on the island are looked after. They have a primary school on island and they go to St Vincent for secondary education, paid for by the company.  All properties – other than those privately owned by rich individuals –belong to the company and the locals live rent and utility bill free, buying just their food. Some locals have built their own properties on parcels of company land (with permission of course!) – but are not able to sell them outside of the local community.  Locals are guaranteed jobs when they leave school but we are not sure how they allocate them….    All private property owners are allocated maids, gardeners etc etc in accordance with the size of the property – and the company provides them. Assumingly for a very large fat annual fee – we did hear gossip of £1.2mn to maintain a property here, but that is just hearsay. To ensure privacy and security the company also vet all visitors – apart from yachties! – and locals have to get their relatives etc onto a list by security before they will be able to purchase a ferry ticket. No entry on list, no ticket. Locals are not allowed to just visit Mustique without a connection or a reason….. Pretty exclusive place hey???? Not sure why they let us in!!!!!  Anyway, Colin Tennant is remembered by a really good statue in his honour erected by his friends. Another statue we came across is one donated by a couple of residents – which is of two tortoises having fun….  Why tortoises?  Well, they live here in the wild and can be seen wandering along the side of the road.

In the afternoon we went to Macaroni beach on the Atlantic side of the island and took a cooler with us….. Taking up residence in one of the cabanas we had a great afternoon jumping huge surf and watching some smart land crabs dig their holes in the sand….

Last chance to spot some celebs as we are heading out in the morning – so back for final sundowners in Basils.  Great sunset but no rich and famous….oh well, maybe we’ll have to return in the future at a busier time of the season!    Another sunset then early to bed and another rolly night…..

Had a great time in Mustique but time to move on….    So we headed out early Sunday morning and had a fantastic 15 mile downwind sail to Canouan, which is in the heart of the Grenadines….   We are anchored in Charlestown Bay and plan to explore later….for now we are just ashore enjoying the beach bar at the Tamarind Beach Hotel…. 

Bye for now