Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Tobago Cays and Mayreau

May 5, 2007  Saturday
Tobago Cays, SVG
12.37.890N; 061.21.385W

Several vendors stopped by yesterday attempting to sell us various things.  One guy, Walter, wanted to sell us breads.  We didn’t need bread but we asked if he could get us 6 tomatoes.  This morning he arrived with 6 large tomatoes fresh from his sister-in-law’s garden at a cost of $20 EC or $7.40 USD.  These tomatoes tasted wonderful – grown naturally with no fertilizers or chemicals.  Delivered to our boat for lower price than we would have paid at the produce market in Bequia.  We also bought a baguette from Walter and it was good also.  Yum, fresh tomato on baguette sandwich for lunch, accompanied by a bowl of French style vegetable soup.

Bill also bought me another pretty blue pareo from one of the vendors.  Think that will be the end of our boat boy shopping here in the Tobago Cays.  But we will be buying more bread from Walter each day.

The Tobago Cays are incredibly gorgeous.  It is impossible to sit and read in the cockpit because the view is so spectacular that it interrupts and grabs our attention.  There are far fewer boats here than were here last May.  We have noticed this to be true at every island we have visited along the entire island chain of the West Indies.  We are visiting these islands at about the same time as last year but there are far, far fewer boats at each island.  Where did everybody go?

May 7, 2007  Monday
Saline Bay, Mayreau, SVG
12.38.042N; 061.23.844W           Motored approximately 5 NM

Winds picked up during the night and were predicted to increase another 2-5 knots today.  We could no longer even see World’s End Reef, the outermost reef off the Tobago Cays.  The Atlantic had covered it without showing any more breaking waves.  We were anchored behind Horseshoe Reef where you are supposed to anchor and it wasn’t particularly rough there; in fact it was so calm that neither of us had disturbed sleep during the night.  But there was no reason to stay there since it was too windy to snorkel the reefs or dinghy to the beaches so we pulled anchor and weaved our way westward through the reefs to Mayreau.  (Actually there was one reason to stay:  we had invited Mer and Nadine on SQUIZ to join us for sundowners today; but I called them on the radio and canceled the invitation and we agreed to meet up another time somewhere.  How rude of us!)  We are now anchored on the western side of Mayreau in Saline Bay and it is nice and calm.  Winds are still a bit high but the water is much calmer here.

Last time we were in this bay was about 1985 or 1986 and there were only a few small houses and the one 300 foot road to nowhere.  There was a large concrete dock connected to the concrete road.  The road led up the hill and stopped where a few houses were built.  There was no electricity on Mayreau and the people were very poor.  Once a month a supply boat would bring basic provisions down from the main island of St. Vincent.  We were so moved by how poor everyone was and the fact that there were elementary school age children living here who got excited by a pencil and paper that when we returned to Houston Judy put together boxes of school supplies and had them shipped down here via a Windjammer boat. 

Electricity finally arrived on Mayreau just a few years ago.  And there are now 3 to 4 times more houses on the island than there were 20 years ago, which means that it is still very sparsely populated.  There are even a few basic restaurants scattered around the island and one “beach hotel” in Saltwhistle BaySaline Bay has a pretty white sand beach with lots of palm trees.  There were 2 guys out raking the beach today and there chaise lounges are stacked in several places for when the pocket cruise ships or Windjammer ships arrive.   A very nice quiet place.

BTW, the arrogant Brit who refused to pay in Mustique and left after dark and then chickened out and turned around in the channel to the Tobago Cays has surfaced again.  Friends told us that he is now anchored right in the middle of the channel between the islands at Tobago Cays.  That is a very narrow space and he is blocking egress.  This idiot has no seamanship skills whatsoever.

Bill find entertainment on the VHF radio listening to the Moorings calls.  Today was a classic:
Charter Customer (woman):  Moorings, we need another dinghy.

Moorings:  Has your dinghy been lost or damaged?

Charter Customer:  No, the gas container is leaking and the bottom of the inside of the dinghy is oily and dirty with gasoline.

Moorings:  So do you need a replacement outboard engine or a replacement dinghy?

Charter Customer:  Well, the gas container is leaking so we need a new gas container, and a new outboard and a new dinghy.

Moorings:  Is there something wrong with the dinghy and the outboard as well as something wrong with the gas container?

Charter Customer:  No the outboard works fine and the dinghy is okay, but it is dirty and slippery and dangerous because someone could slip and fall in it.

Moorings:  We will send someone out with a new gasoline container and he will check out the dinghy and outboard while he is there.

Now, how dumb is that.  My dinghy is dirty; please send a replacement.  No wonder charter customers have a bad reputation.  (Later note:  I mentioned this incident to a land-based friend via email and she had a different take on it.  She and her husband charter several times each year.  She felt like the charter customer was correct in calling Moorings for a new dinghy because for as much as these vacations cost the customer should not be expected to repair things or clean things.  Not sure I totally agree with that outlook because sailors should know that on a boat things are always needing to be fixed or cleaned; I think cleaning up something spilled inside a dinghy should be a normal task for whoever is using that dinghy.  But if I had paid $5,000 for a week on that boat then I might feel differently about the matter.  Just goes to show you that there are always at least 2 opinions on anything.)

Another Moorings catamaran was out at Mustique when we were there last week.  They left both air conditioners running while they went ashore for the entire day for 2 days in a row.  So the generator and a/c units were running for at least 60 hours straight that we know about, and probably had been running constantly during their entire charter.  And it wasn't even really all that hot.  At night it was too cool for us to sit in the cockpit without shirts with sleeves, and they were still running their a/c units. On the third day we heard them hailing Moorings that they were returning to the base because they were out of diesel.  Bill couldn't resist.  He chimed in unidentified on the radio and said "that's what happens when you leave the generator and a/c running for days when you aren't even on the boat--you run out of fuel."  I would never own a charter boat with a generator on it.  The charter customers would burn the darn thing up.

Tito and Roberta on ALLELUIA! and Ed and Linda on DREAMTIME are coming to our boat for sundowners this evening.  Yummy snacks will be served.  Everyone who knows me knows that I am a pretty good cook and even I am looking forward to what I am preparing this evening – pork and cheese empanadas served with a neat little sauce that I made up; Sicilian caponata on crackers; and smoked fish from Ile des Saintes on toasted baguette slices with sour cream and capers and seasonings.  And the obligatory standard cheese and crackers for those with dull eating habits.   We recently met Ed and Linda and really like them.  They will be going to VZ this summer so we likely will run into each other during the next several months.

May 8, 2007  Tuesday
Saline Bay, Mayreau, SVG

Today was the day for naked people on chartered catamarans.  You see naked people on monohulls too, but usually they stay in their cockpits or lay in the sun and then wrap up in a towel to walk around on deck; they usually don’t prance around all over the boat and pose like the nudists on some of the chartered catamarans do.  The day started with a catamaran with 8 Germans aboard anchoring just in front of us off our port side.  They arrived in the bay with naked men (and one was hugely fat like Buddha) standing on the bows.  Truly a disgusting sight and a bit hard to ignore when they are so close to us.  Later in the day 3 more catamarans arrived and also anchored in front of us and on the starboard side.  Each also had naked people walking all around the decks.  Walter the bread guy was selling me a baguette when the first boat arrived and he said, “Oh no, here comes another boat of naked customers.”  How would you like to be the vendor in a small boat tied up to the side of a big boat and talking to a stranger (who is usually pretty fat which makes it all the worse) while eye level with his or her bare crotch?  I know the locals think that all these nudists are being disrespectful to the local residents of the islands.  The local people dress very modestly.  You never see an adult male in shorts and the women almost always wear dresses or long skirts.  

BTW, that is how we gained a new flotation cushion for our dinghy back in St. Thomas.  Bill rescued a cushion floating by our boat one morning and it had the boat name written on it.  We did not know this boat and did not see it near us in the anchorage, but later in the day when a few boats had left then we could see this particular boat anchored next to shore.  The people were not on their boat.  When we saw them return later in the day so Bill jumped into our dinghy and went to return their flotation cushion.  BTW, these are required by US Coast Guard to be in your dinghy or you must be wearing a life vest; no one wants to wear a life vest so everyone has one of these cushions for each dinghy passenger.  By the time Bill arrived at their boat the man had stripped and was walking around the boat naked.  So Bill turned around and we kept the cushion.  Bill wasn’t going to talk to some guy while eye level with his bare genitalia.

Bill spent most of the morning running electrical wiring to connect our main GPS to the Hydra 2000 in order to provide us with yet another back-up for using route waypoints (just in case both our computers crap out at the same time).  (We are currently looking for a third computer; can’t have too much redundancy when it comes to electronics.)  He got everything done only to realize that the cable that we have has the wrong end connectors.   It looks the same but is not.  Maybe we can purchase the correct cable in Grenada.  Bill also ran wiring to have our Raymarine ST7001+ autopilot display all the info we might ever want at the helm, such as water depth under the keel in feet instead of meters.  We are now accustomed to everything reading in meters and we both like it that way.  But sometimes in exceptionally shallow areas it would be nice to be able to see the depth in feet.  It is really scary to maneuver through shallow areas with the depth gauge displaying 0 meters.  It would be comforting to know that there really is 1 ½ or 2 feet of water under the keel.  Our depth gauge displayed 0 meters several times at the Tobago Cays and also in Los Roques, VZ; and we know it will be exceptionally shallow when we reach the San Blas Islands.  This will be a nice feature to be able to see shallow depths in feet for those situations.

Tito, Roberta, Ed and Linda came over this afternoon and we played Mexican Train dominoes in our cockpit.  Our large white shade awning provided cool comfort with the 12-16 knot breeze and we enjoyed the beautiful view of the beach while playing our silly little game.  It was fun.  Even Bill enjoyed playing the game and joking around with them. 

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