It was a lively and lovely sail down from Bequia to Mayreau. It is difficult to decide which is our favorite island of the Caribbean – Isle de Saintes south of Guadeloupe or Bequia or Mayreau. All 3 places were first visited when aboard the Mandalay back in early 1985 and again in early 1986, visited again on aboard BeBe in 2006 and 2007. We have not yet gone far enough north to once again visit Isle de Saintes, we are saving that for next winter; but both Bequia and Mayreau have changed a great deal in the past 31 years. They actually have changed a great deal in just the past 9 or 10 years.
Just as we reached the tip of the southwestern point of Bequia there was an Amel Super Maramu approaching from our starboard side, headed on the exact course to which we planned to turn. As he was the starboard vessel (and because he showed no indication of giving way to us), we slacked sail to slow and let him pass in front of us. Then we turned to port and continued on the same course as him. Technically, according to Rule 11 of Colregs, that French flagged vessel was supposed to give-way to us. We were the windward vessel and both boats were on a port tack. That made us the stand-on vessel and made him the give-way vessel. As he did not give-way as required by the rules, we gave-way to him. Jerk. Just meant that we had to change sails and slow down. Should have been him doing that.
He passed us going 8.4 knots under full sail with all 3 sails. Winds were sustained 20-25 knots and gusting higher. We were sailing with double reefed genoa, single reefed mainsail, and full mizzen sail. We saw top speed of only 7.2 knots and averaged only 6.5 knots for the entire 26 mile passage down to Mayreau. He sailed much faster but we sailed more comfortably. I’ll take comfort over speed any day. And full 3 sails in 25 knots sustained winds while crossing an open channel is foolish; not safe sailing. Winds in the channels often run up to 10 knots higher. Getting suddenly hit with 35 knots under full sail is not my idea of a good time.
As we approached Mayreau we could see only 3 boats anchored behind the largest island at the Tobago Cays off to the east. Usually there are minimum 50 boats out there. It was much too windy and seas far too lively for anyone with any sense to want to be anchored out at the Cays this week. Forecast is for winds and seas to remain this high for at least a week; so we will be skipping the Tobago Cays this season and will continue on south after a brief stay in Mayreau.
|Salt Whistle Bay on a very windy day.|
My absolute single favorite anchorage anywhere in the world is tiny Salt Whistle Bay on the NW tip of Mayreau. But only under the right weather conditions. This day was definitely not the right weather conditions! As we sailed past Salt Whistle Bay we peeked in to see that it was much too crowded and much too windy. Since so many boats these days are catamarans (especially charter boats and there are a lot of those in these waters), that small bay now can hold only half as many boats as in years past -- because each catamaran takes up the space of 2 monohulls. We continued on south to larger Saline Bay.
Saline Bay vividly brings back a few memories. When we first arrived here on the Mandalay 31 years ago the captain told us that only 50 people resided on this island. The St. Vincent and Grenadines government had just built a sturdy high concrete dock which was serviced by a weekly supply ship from St. Vincent. A 2-lane hard-surfaced road had been built which connected to the concrete dock. This would enable heavy materials to be off-loaded from the weekly supply ship but there were no roads to allow easy transport of those materials beyond about 150-feet from that dock because that is where that short new road ended. Today that road connects all the way from Saline Bay on the SW side to Salt Whistle Bay on the NNW side of the island, and there are several smaller roads branching off to either side of that main road. There probably are 20 times the number of homes and/or businesses on this tiny island than back then. This island was so poor that after we had returned to our homes several of us passengers on the Mandalay shipped basic school supplies down here. Windjammer assisted by allowing us to ship items to their office in Miami and they sent everything down on their supply ship that serviced all the Windjammer vessels throughout the Caribbean back then.
Another memory from that same trip was when we snorkeled in Saline Bay and ‘discovered’ an old sunken small ship. The wooden ribs were still in place and the outline of the ship was evident. It was not too far off the beach on the south side of the bay. We looked for that sunken ship in 2007 and found it, but it had disintegrated significantly over the years. If one did not know where to look and what to look for, this shipwreck would be easy to miss.
Another memory is from 2007 when we again visited here aboard BeBe. In 2006 we rushed through here because we had a date deadline by which we had to be in a marina in Grenada so Bill could fly home for a commitment to his previous employer. Plus, we did not know any of the other cruising boats at that time; we were total newbies to the full-time cruising lifestyle. But by the following year we had befriended people on many other boats and when here in 2007 a group of 10 of us cruisers gathered in Saline Bay for a week or so. We did pot-luck sundowners in a thatched roof structure on the beach. One evening all 10 of us walked the main road up that hill to Dennis’ Hideaway for drinks, a long-time favorite of cruisers and charter sailors alike. Among that group were Roberta and Tito of Alleleujah! and Nick and Josie of Jedi. I do not remember the names of any of the other folks in that group, although do remember it as a fun evening. Roberta and Tito have since moved back to Miami and sold Alleleujah! after 10 years of cruising the eastern Caribbean. Nick and Josie on Jedi are somewhere in the western Caribbean now, I think.
Today Bill and I would not walk up to Dennis’ Hideaway after dark unless there were a group of 10 people -- certainly not if only 2 or 4 people. Because, as Dennis recently stated in a comment published in the Caribbean Compass newspaper, today Mayreau is experiencing a problem with local gang members. This armed gang has robbed several cruisers recently, all of whom were walking on the main road after dark in groups of only 2 or 4 people. This has greatly affected the local restaurants and bars, including Dennis’ Hideaway. It is difficult for us to understand how an isolated community of this size can have a problem with gangs. It seems that the local men could solve this problem with little effort. This makes we wonder if possibly 1 or more of those gang members might be related to either local police or politicians. There has to be more to this story because this island community is too small and too isolated to suffer gang problems. They need to nip this in the bud before the problem grows. No matter how idyllic this place is, if crime is not stopped then cruisers will stop coming here. That would devastate the community; they rely on our tourist dollars for survival.
Note that if anchoring in Saline Bay that one must anchor well south of the dinghy dock in the center of the bay. The concrete dock which services the ferries is situated on the northern side of the beach. Those ferries require a larger space to turn around than one might assume, especially the green and white one.
Bill had contacted the author of the sailing guides for this region and asked which was the best company or companies for internet service from St. Lucia through Grenada. He informed us that Lime (Flow) works through all those islands and that is what he uses.
Once again, his information is partially correct. Based on his advice, we purchased 3GB of 3G service in St. Lucia, thinking that we would be able to use this all the way to Grenada. Nope. That Lime (Flow) sim/service is valid only in St. Lucia. One must purchase another sim and set-up another account for Lime (Flow) service in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And then purchase yet another sim and set-up yet another account for Lime (Flow) service in Grenada. That expert author failed to explain those details, as did the shop clerk in St. Lucia when he verified that Lime (Flow) does work all the way south to Grenada. Both the author and the shop clerk failed to mention that one must buy separate sims and set-up separate accounts for each island country. Because of this foul-up, we had no internet service while anchored in Mayreau. We were able to purchase service from a different company in Bequia, but that worked only in that specific bay. We hope that there will be a Lime (Flow) store in Carriacou. The island of Carriacou is part of Grenada; a sim purchased there also should work in Grenada.
Simple ‘problems’ in paradise.
19 May 2016
This morning we washed a load of clothes and while waiting for those to dry we decided on the spur of the moment to head on down to Clifton on Union Island and clear out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Weather is forecasted to be good today and tomorrow and then squalls for a few days, so best to get to wherever is a good place to wait out squalls. And we decided that place should be Tyrrell Bay on the island of Carriacou.
|The bar on the reef at Clifton, Union Island.|
It was a short beam reach 5 mile sail down to Clifton. We anchored behind the Newlands Reef just to the SE of Clifton town; and, as always, that anchoring area was very crowded. We could only lay out anchor chain scope of slightly over 2.5:1 so I stayed on the boat to monitor possible dragging while Bill grabbed a water taxi into town to handle departure clearance. BeBe never budged in those 25 knot winds with only 2.5:1 scope; we were stuck well!
|BeBe anchored behind Newlands Reef. Facing Palm|
Island as we swung on anchor; facing that tiny bar
on the reef when we swung the other way.
|And then there was the reef behind us. Not much|
space for anchoring here, but there are no other
|More reef behind us. Looking toward Clifton town where one|
handles inbound or outbound clearance formalities.
|The Pinnacle in the background. Clifton town for clearance.|
We each prepared a quick sandwich for an early lunch and then enjoyed a perfectly lovely downwind sail to Tyrrell Bay on Carriacou.
In a certain way this bay makes us feel as though we have returned home.
An elderly man came by and offered us several items for sale. We bought 3 small lion fish from him and that would be dinner tonight. We have never eaten lion fish and I was not entirely sure how to cook these. Bill pulled out the grill (which we cannot even remember the last time we used); I scored each fish and sprinkled liberally with Old Bay Seafood Seasoning; and Bill grilled them for 12 minutes while flipping over every 2 minutes. I placed these on a serving plate and gave a generous squeeze of lime juice. Tasted great. Who would have guessed that lion fish are tasty. Never thought that when watching them in the aquarium in the Houston Zoo. Lion fish are taking over the Caribbean and parts of Florida waters and killing other fish as well as reef. People are encouraged to catch these as frequently as possible.
Tomorrow we will officially clear into Grenada and Carriacou. Only about 32 miles from here to Grenada where we will meet the grandchildren in early June, so we will stay here in Tyrrell Bay for at least a week -- maybe longer. This bay honestly does make us feel like we have returned home. Too bad that all the good friends we met here 10 years ago are no longer cruising. Such good memories of some wonderful people. I know of only boat still cruising of those we socialized with back then. Hope we eventually meet up again with Ed and Linda on Dreamtime.