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….