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