When heading south from St. Lucia, the next island you encounter is St. Vincent. Unfortunately, there have been many incidents with cruisers over the last several years involving theft and worse. So sadly, like many other cruisers, we completely bypassed it. St. Vincent is actually just one part of “St. Vincent and the Grenadines”, the former referred to as “the Mainland” and the latter comprised of about a dozen primary islands that stretch all the way down to Grenada. The Grenadines are a real jewel for cruisers as they are smaller/more intimate, relatively close together and very cruiser-friendly. Greg & Nicole Holmes absolutely loved the Grenadines, as have many others we have since met. They were not wrong.
On our way down the coast of St. Vincent, the crew put out the fishing rods with a look of hopeful anticipation on their faces. After multiple rounds of changing lures and removing seaweed, the romance faded, as did they. Our steadfast cruising buddies were soon sound asleep, rocking softly in the warm breeze and gentle ocean swell.
The first stop in the Grenadines is Bequia, with Admiralty Bay being the main cruising destination. The feel of the island is very “local” and you can join in with the islanders for provisioning in the harbour town or at one of the many bars lining the bay. Doris’ house is a must-stop for provisions that are otherwise unavailable. Doris is a delightful East Indian lady whose small, but filled-to-bursting “shop” is well known in these parts and frequented by chefs from larger yachts.
John & Ziggy MacKenzie on Windancer were also anchored in the bay, and introduced us to KJ and Nelia aboard Wind Cat. The South African couple have sailed extensively in the Caribbean and I spent a morning aboard Wind Kat, getting the low-down on all the best places to visit when heading south. What a difference it makes to have the benefit of local knowledge. We are constantly talking with other cruisers as we make our way along to get a feel for what’s up ahead and what things are cool to do and/or see. A big thank you from all of us to KJ & Nelia for setting us up so well for an excellent Grenadine excursion. When leaving Bequia, we came across a wreck that looked like a ship that had tried to go between two islands. Clearly, it didn’t end well as the photos below show.
Mustique is the next southbound stop and is home to “the rich & famous”. There are about 100 home owners on the island, which include Shania Twain, Brian Adams, Mick Jager, Princess Anne, Tommy Hilfiger and many more. The home owners employ about 1,000 in-home staff and 400 grounds keepers and construction workers. Most of the travel on the island is done by electric golf cart. We toured the island with Boom-Boom. He is aptly named, as he has many children, all by different mothers – a situation that is very common in the Caribbean in general. Given the means of its home owners, Mustique is very well kept and everything looks perfect – not in a tacky way, but in a nice way.
The workers on Mustique live in The Village, which is also much nicer than most local Caribbean villages and much tidier (see the video).
There is quite an active fishing fleet on the island and we were able to buy fish very reasonably from the local “fish shack”. At $11.00 ECD per pound (that’s about US$4.00 per pound) for whole tuna or Mahi, we bought one of each. The fisherman cleaned and filleted the fish perfectly with a giant machete, the tool of choice for delicate seafood work in these parts (see the video of the fishboats).
Note: $ECD are Eastern Caribbean Dollars and are equivalent to about US$0.37. They are used in most of the British islands south of the BVIs. The French islands use Euros.
Part 2 of Steve McHale’s email account of our trip appears below the Background section.
The Caribs aggressively prevented French settlement on Saint Vincent until 1719. Prior to this, formerly enslaved Africans, who had either been shipwrecked or who had escaped from Barbados, Saint Lucia and Grenada and sought refuge in mainland Saint Vincent, intermarried with the Caribs and became known as Black Caribs or Garifuna.
The island changed hands between the French and British several times over the next 80 years. In 1797, British General Sir Ralph Abercromby put an end to ongoing conflict with the Black Caribs by crushing an uprising which had been supported by the French. The British deported more than 5,000 Black Caribs to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras.
Like the French before them, the British also used African slaves to work plantations of sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, cotton and cocoa.
Slavery was abolished in Saint Vincent (as well as in the other British colonies) in 1834 causing labour shortages on the plantations. In the late 1840s many Portuguese immigrants arrived from Madeira and between 1861 and 1888 shiploads of East Indian labourers arrived. Conditions remained harsh for both former slaves and immigrant agricultural workers, as depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the turn of the century.
La Soufrière volcano has erupted many times over the years, the most recent of which was in 1979, causing extensive agricultural damage, and in the past, great loss of life.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines received full independence in 1979.
Part Two - Peri and Steve's most excellent Eastern Caribbean Adventure...or Old Farts Afloat!
"So what is it like sailing a new age cat with old dogs aboard? I am not going to bore you with we sailed x course for 3.6 hrs on a beam reach blah, blah, blah. Personal experience is much more enlightening or not as the case may be. You see, I like to think of myself as a competent incompetent sailor. I can usually do what I'm told (Yes Dear), usually don't break or lose things and in most cases, everything is fine. But sometimes things just don't seem to work out. I know you usually expect me to espouse my highly efficient and confident self but on this trip: not so much!
So what has gone wrong?
Day 3 I broke off a port dog which Price was kind enough to say is a warranty item. That's a good warranty!
Day 8 I got my worst sunburn in 40 years. Some may not know it but underneath my grey hair I am a ginger through and through. One giant freckle just waiting to burst forth! And my head has already had the first of what will be three peels.
And I have a hate-hate relationship with the dinghy aka Dogbone. On Day 6 I did a rather inelegant boat dive which set the tone. Body parts intact, dignity in tatters. On Day 8 Dogbone conspired with a surging wave and a high dock to make me the best imitation of a wishbone. I am still in one piece but I hobbled for a couple of days. I am really starting to dislike the dinghy!
So what does a guy do??? You get side tracked when tying the dinghy to Panache and 5 minutes later, as we are marvelling at the incredible kite boarders off the stern, Price notices that Dogbone is 20 ft astern being pushed by a 25 knot wind! Luckily the Park Ranger, Ranger Smith (just kidding) was going by and took off to get the dinghy. $50 ECD to the Ranger fund helped to assuage my guilt but you gotta know my confidence took a huge hit. So I stripped down and spent two hours cleaning the port side heads. I left them sparkling clean, no issues except one of the power outlets tripped as I was standing in an inch of water. It doesn't count as breakage as P&B have that really good warranty!
Which brings me to another thing about sailing on Panache: SWEAT! There is a lot of sweat on Panache.
You are sweating breakfast, lunch and dinner, before, during and after you shower, doing the dishes, prepping the food, cooking the food, doing the dishes, shopping for rum, food, beer, sundries and rum. SWEAT!
Plus you are sweating when there is anything to do with the boat like talking about the anchorage, is the anchor dragging, what is the weather now, last week or two months from now? Fixing something, breaking something. "They aren't really going to anchor there are they?" SWEAT!
It is time for a cleansing dip, shower and getting back to SWEAT!