Friday, 5 July 2013

The Southern Grenadines

South from Bequia
Wednesday 19th June was spent doing laundry and filling the water tanks. This involves calling Miranda on Ch68 who sends her man to collect the laundry and brings it back later washed, dried and folded. Water is calling Daffodil on Ch67 who comes over with his barge full of water. He also supplies fuel and they both do ice! Bequia is really well organised for the yachting community. With Joseph coming  around with vegetables and his own fresh baked bread on Wednesday and Saturday you hardly need to leave the boat!

We had planned to leave on Thursday but it was still blowing more than 20kts in the bay so we decided to wait one more day. This was quite nice as ‘Capisce’ had arrived, fellow Cruising Assoc. members who we had met first in the Canary Is and then again over here. So, we had one last sundowners on the beach with them and ‘Trudi Mae’ our new Canadian friends.

We upped anchor at 10:00 and set off with one reef in the main and the full genoa in easterly 3/4 having to turn to avoid a turtle on the surface near the edge of the bay. We are seeing new birds now, ones we had first seen on the way down from St Lucia. I think they are Audobons shearwaters and blue footed boobies, but need to see more to be sure.

We sailed past several small islands as well as Mustique, where we shook out the reef. We did want to visit Mustique, but now you have to take a mooring ball and pay US$150.00 for up to 3 nights. Since there is very little you can really see and do there, we decided the charge was outrageous and gave it a miss.

Entry into Charlestown Bay, Canouan is very easy with a wide channel clearly marked with red and green posts, but of course here, it is green to port on the way in. By 14:15 we were anchored in 5.5.m with three other yachts – 21miles in 4.1/4 hours.  I pulled the engine stop cable to turn off the engine, but it just kept on coming and the engine kept on going! Richard went below and turned it off manually.

The cable had broken just before the fuel pump, but ingeniously Richard rejoined it using an electrical chocolate block connector, and it seemed to hold. Of course, this is now something we will have to find, but unlikely on Canouan, (population 1200). It will have to wait for, hopefully, Union Island. Martin, a spearfisherman, arrived with fish to sell, a stoplight parrotfish, a doctorfish and a big squirrelfish. We declined and then asked if we would like lobster! He was on his way to get some for another boat.

We were in a small bay with a rocky shoreline in the north becoming a lovely long sandy beach to the south with wooded hills behind. Pelicans were sitting on a big rocky outcrop, frigate birds, boobies and laughing gulls in the air and turtles in the water. We had a quick snorkel to check the anchor. It was a bit murky but we could see the anchor on the bottom from the surface, nicely dug in. There were sandy bits and lots of turtle grass, a few fish, probably Porgys, and many Short Spined sea urchins.

We enjoyed not having to rush ashore to check in. This is the first time we have sailed from one island to another in the same country since the Canary Islands. Later we watched a yellow crowned night heron land on the rocky shore looking for his supper.

The following day we go ashore to look around the village of Charlestown. On our way to the dingy dock we pass over a 1m wide stingray on the sandy bottom.  Ashore there are numerous small groceries and a fruit market, a few small eateries and bars. All you need really. Canouan seems to be in the grip of a building boom, the north of the island is being developed into a ‘caged development’. An exclusive tourist resort at US$1500 a night! The rest of the island is slowly being rebuilt on the back of this development with new houses and apartments being built. When the building boom ends will the island be plunged into recession?

Conch shells by the fishing Co-op
For the time being everything seems rosy. We hiked over the hill to the windward side to see the reef and its’ pool. It was not very well sheltered at all. The few moored fishing boats were rocking in quite a swell. In a couple of hours we had walked most of the locals’ end of the island.

Wildlife on Canouan!
 On our way back we stop at the Mangrove bar on the beach for a welcome cold beer. Slightly tourist prices at EC$6 for a beer but nothing compared to the price of lunch in the Tamarind Beach Resort where we are anchored off - US$100 for a traditional lunch for two of baked chicken or fish with steamed provisions, rice and peas. In a local café where this is what they always serve, you can get the same for about EC$15 each (about US$6!). Thankfully they didn’t charge for the use of their dinghy dock.

A couple of days here and we have really seen all there is to see. Our next stop is Mayreau about 6 miles away, as we are picking up the anchor we saw turtles close to the boat, we motored slowly out so hopefully not to disturb them.

 Mayreau (pop.400) has a couple of anchorages on the leeward side, Saltwhistle bay and Saline bay.

A Deserted Saline Bay

Saline bay is the main anchorage and in the season, cruise ships visit discharging their passengers for beach BBQ’s. We have the place to ourselves, apart from the daily ferries that always seem to pass 20 feet off our stern at 15kts! The walk up the hill to the village and church is rewarded with great views over the Tobago Cays and the rest of the Grenadines.

Tobago Cays

We have lunch and are the only diners at the Combination Café. I cannot imagine what it is like when there is a cruise ship in the bay. We are off to Union Island where we may be able to get our engine stop cable replaced.

Mayreau church and Hurricane shelter
Righteous and de Youths Bar!

The sail to Union is about an hour from anchor up to entering the harbour! The main town of Clifton has an interesting approach, surrounded by a reef and with a reef in the middle of the harbour. Careful pilotage is required. The main anchorage is facing the reef and the prevailing easterlies, you are sheltered from the waves but as for the wind you are in the lee of Africa! We sat here while a tropical wave blew through, hum!!

Our view from the boat. Clifton Anchorage, the reef then Africa!
The Anchorage

 The town is pretty and has a feel of a border town (which it is). Pretty much everything is available here. There is an interesting ‘new’ island built on the reef by a Rasta called Janti, constructed of all the old conch shells the fishermen were dumping on the beach.

Happy Island Bar

The 1st Mate with Cap'n Harris - Janti wasn't the only 'pirate' on Happy Island

 He called it Happy Island. It is his home and also a Bar/restaurant. We are sure that he preys on the tourists as we went there for a beer (at EC$10 a beer it was only one).

Mulzac square Clifton, Union Island

Who was Mulzac - Google Captain Mulzac to find out!

Sign outside the pool in the Anchorage hotel


They wern't kidding!
 In the morning, we found the mechanic and with his help managed to engineer a workable solution to our broken cable. Somewhere we will be able to find the correct one, until then our fix seems to be working ok. Union is the last of the SVG islands so we check out with Customs, Immigration and Port Control and set sail for Carriacou, part of Grenada.

Off the wind we set the genoa and mizzen, dial in our new autopilot and before we know it we are there. On arrival we checked the log, was it really only 8 miles to here from Union?

Hillsborough dock- Not a flat cap or Whippet in sight!

Hillsborough is the main town and the Port of entry. We dinghy ashore to check in and find ‘Exit Strategy’s’ dinghy tied to the dock. I can feel some socialising happening here!

Looks like the sun is over the Yardarm again!






  1. Jerry and Helen16 July 2013 at 20:42

    Hi Guys hope you are all well sounds like you are.
    England is in a heat wave 30 degrees celcius but when Caressa sails to France on Saturday 20th July for our annual holiday it will all stop no doubt.Victoria my daughter is about to drop our second grandchild so all is waiting except me I am going sailing
    Love to you all and fair wind .
    Best regards Jeremy and Helen

  2. Hi Richard and Rowena,
    More than a year on the "road" already. Time Flies!
    I'm happy to see that you're having a wonderful time.
    Keep on blogging, it is relaxing to read your adventures.

    Read you soon!


    Véronique Vanloon