07 January, 2013

The Northern Grenadines

Bequia is about 16 nm north of the island of Canouan and only a few more miles on to the nature reserve of the Tobago Cays.
Having pulled up our anchor from the crowds of Admiralty Bay it was great to pull up the main again and head down wind for the wide open spaces of the open ocean. It was not to be not only were yachts leaving our anchorage but other were heading in our direction. Never the less after about 4 hour of great down wind sailing we rounded the way point along side Baleine Rocks and started to motor amongst the coral cays and shallows of the turtle reserve. It was great to be back in cruising mode in a tropical environment.
We approached Petits Ramea and Petit Bateau and the depth sounder was started to come up from the 20 meters to shallower water. We went round the south of the latter island into the anchoring area only to find little space in the shallow water and weed in the 20 meter depth. What can a person do? Just drop the anchor and hope to get a good hold. Not the first time but the second time the rochla took and Malua was attached to the ground.
The anchorage is a bit rolly in a funny sort of way because the swell is channeled through an opening in the reef and then enters the anchorage and bounces around causing a sort of chop – enough to upset a full glass of wine. There were about 60 boats in the anchorage with about a quarter on mooring balls. Most people has anchored well away from their neighbour. We had a peaceful night.
The following day we took the RIB to the outer Horseshoe reef and went snorkeling. The fish life was prolific in about 3 meters of water. On the reef I really had to control myself because under almost every rock in the crevices was at least one good size lobster. _ Once a crayfish diver always a crayfish diver. Being in a reserve Denny said I could not take any – how times have changes as I have git older. That did not stop me when I was young – did it Richard?
On our return from snorkeling we stopped at the turtle island and walked over the hill. We did not see one turtle in the bay but saw a few swimming by that evening.
Tobago Cays is a lovely anchorage but not one you would stay for more than a day or two because of the rock and roll.
The next day we upped anchor and took the southern exit out towards Union Island passing west of Palm Island.
We stopped at Clifton on Union Island anchoring in the north east corner of the bay just upwind of the reef in the middle of the bay. Here again there are moorings scattered throughout the anchorage severely restricting where a cruising yacht can anchor. A cause Chris Doyle is pushing to have the moorings registered and controlled. The town has a few good vegetable shops/stalls but not much more. The Anchorage Yacht Club and the Bougainvilla restaurant look like the only good places to eat however we skipped both and started on the pork chops from the Canaries. Just great.
We had decided to spend new years eve in Bequia so it was time to start to move north again. The next stop was Canouan Island in Charlestown Bay home of one of the charter companies. The bay was almost empty so we dropped our anchor in the NE corner of the bay. We were soon approached by a fisherman selling lobsters. The negotiations started and we finally settled on a price of EC15 plus a pack of cigarettes. That evening we took the Rib ashore and walked all over the southern part of the island followed by a dog who attached himself to us. Only when a larger group of yotties passed did he leave and follow them.
The island appears to be quite prosperous due to the establishment of a very upmarket resort on the northern part of the island and the major extension of the airport and landing strip. Almost every third house had an OCC vehicle outside presumably used by one of their workers. The charter base and the Tamarind Hotel Resort must also require workers and development. The bay is unfortunately open to the northern swell that seems to sweep round the eastern part of the island.
Now the long beat into the wind back to Bequia. We left early in the morning and set a course north of the Grand Cai and tried to make the 060 course to Mustique but with the wind coming from 080 to 090 we did not have a hope so had to make a few tacks before we arrived at Britannia Bay – Mustique. 
We were now amongst the rich and famous not only on the land but in their mega yachts – sailing style. The harbour master approached and asked if we wanted to anchor at US$75 per night – more for a mooring buoy. We asked to stop just to eat our lunch of lobster so he said yes with pleasure. After a good lunch it was off again on a broad reach to pass between Quatre and Petit Nevis where the tide is reputed to run very fast. When we arrived it was relative calm so we passed with ease on our way to the southern most point of Bequia at west cay. Once we rounded it the wind was back on the nose and increased to more than 20 knots so on came the engine and we motored at 3 knots into the chop and wind the last 3 nm into Admiralty Bay just in time to celebrate New Years Eve.

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