Thursday, 20 December 2012

Bequia and Tobago Cays

We leave the distinctive shape of the Pitons behind us as we head south on our way to Grenada for Christmas. It is a glorious day and the easterly wind carries us on a beam reach down the west coast of St Vincent with its coating of lush green rain forest and down to the island of Bequia where we drop anchor in Admiralty Bay, a deeply indented large natural harbour on the sheltered western coast which provides good protection from the northern swell.  

Bequia is the Caribbean as seen on picture post cards; the sea is warm and viscous as it laps the sandy beaches, white against the deep green backdrop of palm and banyan trees.  Brightly coloured wooden boats bob in the gentle surf offering yachts a wide range of services from garbage collection, fresh bread, lobster, water and even a floating garage with large tanks of diesel and water. A number of beach restaurants nestle in the palm trees with names such as Frangipani, Gingerbread and Daffodil, each with their own wooden dinghy dock.

Bequia is part of the Grenadines, a different country to St Lucia, so we have to check in with customs and immigration. This is always a lengthy process in the Caribbean as the customs office is normally manned by large sedentary individuals who drag themselves to their feet and shuffle across to the desk, looking blankly at us when we ask to check in.  Desperate not to offend these powerful officials, we dance around them saying our pleases and thank yous at every opportunity while they utter monosyllabic requests for yet more paperwork, passports, boat papers and EC dollars. We have arrived after four pm so in addition to the normal fees we are charged extra for overtime. The numbers seem large at first, but after doing the sums, the whole process costs us about £40 for a month’s permit in paradise. At last we are finished, our forms have been corrected (almost impossible to get them right first time),  then copied in triplicate using carbon paper, our passports have been stamped, initialled, and the words ‘By Sea’ have been crossed out and replaced with ‘By Juno’ and we are free to go.

After a swim in the clear water of the bay we dinghy across to Princess Margaret beach in the evening and tie up to the dinghy dock outside Jacks, a beach bar and restaurant that looks very alluring, its lights beckoning across the water. Of course we start with the usual rum punch and then order ceviche of fresh tuna followed by good old steak and chips. It is only when we get up to leave that we realise that the rum punch really does pack a punch and we spend hours trying to complete the simple task of bringing the rib back on the davits in readiness for our departure in the morning.  
The wind is gusting strongly in the bay as we weigh anchor and blast downwind toward the Tobago Cays, past the islands of Mustique, Canouan and finally to Mayreau where we pick up the channel for the Cays. The Tobago Cays is a marine park and comprises three small uninhabited islands surrounded by a huge reef system; Horseshoe Reef on the inside and Worlds End Reef further out, protecting the islands from the full force of the ocean. The Atlantic rollers break on the reef in bursts of white spray while inside the reef it is like an aquarium with pale blue water only a few feet deep over yellow sand. We pick our way carefully through the channel between the reefs and drop anchor in the inner pool, just off the island of Jamesby. It is a dramatic anchorage; fully exposed to the wind from the Atlantic yet sheltered form the waves by the natural barrier of the reef and the habitat for the many turtles we see swimming in the water around us. Boat boys in their brightly coloured wooden craft soon appear and we buy two red snappers for supper which we gut on the deck and cook in the oven, stuffed with thyme and garlic and baked in silver foil. Pudding is fresh mango and papaya. The wind is still gusting strongly so we let out 50 metres of anchor chain, check our transits to ensure that we are holding firm and we are asleep by nine pm.

We wake early as we have a further 50 miles to sail to our final destination of Grenada. Kim stands lookout on the bow while Fatty mans the chart plotter and I helm us through Penguin Channel, a narrow sliver of deep water that flows between the reefs and out into the deep water beyond. The wind has dropped as we sail south on a broad reach and as Grenada comes into view we are gently rolling along in bright sunshine at a sedate and soporific seven knots. We plan to anchor in Prickly Bay where we will clear customs again as we are now in the country of Grenada which is curiously not part of the Granadines.  Tomorrow we will motor round to neighbouring Hartman Bay, the location of Kingfisher Villa where we will spend the next ten days with Tom, Jamie and the Oxie’s who all fly in tomorrow evening. Aren’t we lucky?  


  1. Two words - no four! Lucky ducks, Happy Christmas. Love 'suelo and the rest xxx

  2. Lovely picture of Fatty with her Uncle at the bow of the boat. Would she like an Australian holiday?

    Happy Christmas to you all! Well done again on the crossing.

    From A Friend