8th January 2020 – Barbados – The Grenadines – St Vincent
It took a day or two to recover from the crossing, and there was no better place for our recovery than Barbados. After our arrival in Port St Charles, we spent a morning turning the boat from an ocean going vessel back into something a bit more liveable, and enjoyed a lovely couple of days swimming, snorkelling, eating delicious Bajan food, and catching up on the world in general. Judith arrived on our third day and we’d planned to all meet in Bridgetown on the boat. We sailed an hour south, only to be recalled by customs over a clerical error, so after our false start, Dad went to Bridgetown with the local taxi man, and Marty and I sailed Ealu to Bridgetown the following morning. Highlights from Barbados were the Mount Gay Rum Tour (highly recommended!), the Barbados Yacht Club, who couldn’t have been more welcoming, and the Bajan people, who were unbelievably friendly.
From Barbados, we’d planned an overnight sail from Port St Charles to Bequia, to start our cruise around the Grenadines. After a lovely “last supper” at the yacht club, we left Barbados around 7pm to start the 90 mile crossing. We left into light following winds and a flattish sea – all good. However, a few miles offshore, the seas built into an absolutely heinous cross swell, and we were thrown around all over the place. The breeze was up and down, and there was plenty of shipping traffic, so it wasn’t the most peaceful of passages. We saw some miserable squalls of 35 knots and lashing rain, followed by flat calms, which in the nasty swell were just as uncomfortable as the squalls. I think we were all relieved as morning arrived and we could see St Vincent, and Bequia growing larger on the horizon. We arrived into Port Elizabeth, Bequia just after breakfast time, ready for a good sleep and some food!
After a really lovely couple of days in Bequia, we headed south to Mayreu, with a brief pause at Canoun for lunch. En route, we caught a small Jackfish, which Jude expertly cleaned and cooked up for dinner on our arrival at Saltwhistle Bay. Saltwhistle is a really pretty anchorage, surrounded by sandy beaches and palm trees, with brightly coloured shacks and fishing boats along the beach, with a great bar for our sun downers!
Marty enjoyed some excellent kite surfing with a bunch of other kiting cruisers on the windward beach – this was slightly overshadowed by a very unpleasant woman from the nearby resort, who really didn’t like kite surfers using the beach near her resort, but aside from that, it was a really lovely stop, with hundreds of pelicans splashing around.
From Mayreu, we made the short passage over to Tobago Cays – with out a doubt one of the most stunning places we’ve been. The small collection of islands is un-inhabited, and is a protected nature reserve, with turtles swimming among the moorings, and a beautiful reef for snorkelling. We seemed to have found our selves there during the “Christmas Winds”, and it was a steady 25 knots for a few days, but we didn’t let that stop us. We snorkelled on the Horseshoe Reef and saw all manner of wildlife, climbed the hill on Petite Bateau, and walked up Baradel to look for some Iguanas. We’d heard that if you shine a light into the water at night, you might see rays swimming by the boat, so we gave it a go and we weren’t disappointed – we watched 7 or 8 rays swimming under the boat, chasing the smaller fish, it was really very cool.
Next up was Union Island – we anchored up in the beautiful Chatham Bay to spend a night. Unfortunately, while absolutely stunning, the wind funnelled over the hills here, and sent huge gusts down across the anchorage. Affectionately referred to (we later heard) as “willywaws”, these gusts had the boats in the anchorage swinging wildly in all directions, and made the whole boat shake – not ideal for a restful nights sleep. No one needed much convincing to move on around to Clifton on the other side of the island, so we set off in search of a quieter spot. Clifton was an absolute hive of activity, with its colourful little high street, and shops, bars and restaurants at every turn. We ate delicious burgers in “The Local”, and found a brilliant little supermarket to re-stock some of our provisions. The Yacht Club in Clifton was a really nice spot, where we could enjoy real showers (still cold, but with proper running water!) and a very tasty rum punch.
Having got our fix of civilisation, we then headed off down Carriacou, to the very beautiful Anse le Roche on the north of the island. This tiny little bay was totally secluded, with only one other boat in the anchorage. The beach was absolutely pristine and unspoilt, and we did some amazing snorkelling around the rocks. The only minor hiccup here was that as we were all departing the boat to go for a swim, our anchor started to slip – a frantic swim back to the boat and lifting the anchor revealed that we’d snared a giant conch shell (complete with its own live-in octopus), so after we’d cleared our catch from the anchor, we re-set and all was well.
We moved on an hour south in the morning down to Sandy Island – a tiny little sliver of sand and palm trees off the coast of the main island – it really did look like all the postcards and brochures you’ve ever seen for the Caribbean! Another marine reserve, this island was also teeming with sealife, and we saw turtles, pelicans, and all manner of fish on the reefs at the end of the island.
By now, we were over half way through Dad and Jude’s stay with us, and it was time to start working our way back up towards St Vincent. We decided to call in again at Chatham Bay, to try out the legendary beach BBQ by Vanessa and Secky. We were treated to an absolutely delicious meal of lobster, chicken, ribs, rice, salads, potatoes and plantain fritters, along with their tasty but deadly rum punch.
We’d planned to be in Bequia for Christmas, as we knew there would be plenty of other cruisers around, so from Chatham Bay, we undertook a long up wind slog back to Port Elizabeth against the tide. Our initial passage plan of 4 hours went out the window, and some 7 hours later we dropped anchor back in a very busy Bequia. A quick trip to Jacks Bar for their rosemary salt fries and a well earned beer, and we were all ready for bed!
Christmas in the Caribbean was a very weird experience – the Christmas music sounds so out of place among the palm trees and sunshine. On Christmas Eve, I felt very homesick and felt very far away from our families and friends enjoying the festivities at home. That evening we met some other cruisers on the floating “Bar 1”, and we all went out for pizza and beers which took the edge of the homesickness.
We definitely felt quite smug that our Christmas morning swim was probably much warmer than every one at home, and we spent Christmas morning calling home, and making pancakes for breakfast. For lunch, the cruisers in the area had organised a “pot luck” lunch – one of the local restaurants kindly lent their BBQ, and every one brought along a dish to share. There were about 80 people there, and it was a really great way to meet other people and enjoy Christmas the Caribbean way.
After Christmas, we made our way up St Vincent, and it was time to say good bye to Dad and Jude, who were flying home. We set up in Blue Lagoon marina to wave them off. It felt very weird saying good bye, Dad had been with us for nearly 7 weeks now including a week in Tenerife, the Atlantic crossing and the three weeks with Jude in the Grenadines, so the boat suddenly felt very empty.
After we said our goodbyes, Marty and I sailed on north, passing Wallilabou, where most of the Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed, and stopping into the the very scenic Cumberland Bay. This will be our final stop in St Vincent, before we move on to St Lucia, and the next stage of our Caribbean adventure.
Until next time…..