From Mayreau it’s a 45-minute hop to Clifton Bay on Union Island. Similar to the Tobago Cays, the bay is sheltered behind an extensive reef and so enjoys strong winds with relatively calm seas. This is the perfect combination for kiteboarding, which you can watch while sipping a beer on Happy Island, a small bar perched atop the reef. The hotel & “yacht club” at Clifton has a natural pool in front of its bar that is home to half a dozen nurse sharks. Don’t fall in!
Union Island is a central hub for the southern islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It has a busy airstrip and the tight landing necessitates planes fly very low over Clifton, essentially just above its main street. See the video for a flight landing during a torrential downpour.
Mopion Island is a tiny strip of sand with a single umbrella made from palm fronds. It’s a quintessential deserted island and a great spot for a quick stop on our way to Petit St. Vincent (“PSV”). The colour of the water is absolutely stunning.
PSV is the last island in the Grenadine chain. A privately-owned resort, first built in 1966, that provides a secluded luxury retreat for those who prefer staying in cottages rather than at large hotels. The beachside restaurant, “Goatie’s”, is open to cruisers and offers excellent food in a very cool, open air environment. Most of the staff live on the island, but some come across daily from nearby Petite Martinique (“PM”). PM is actually part of Grenada (i.e. a completely separate country), but immigration authorities overlook the rules so local islanders can access good jobs close to home.
We were given a tour of the island in a Mini Moke, one of the tiny vehicles that ferry people and supplies to and fro. The cottages are really cute, made of local wood and very tastefully furnished. They use a 2-flag system to let the passing Mini Mokes know if they need something (a yellow flag) or if they wish not to be disturbed (a red flag). We chatted with a lovely newlywed couple from the States who are of Indian descent and who met while attending medical school in Dominica. The Caribbean has quite a number of medical schools, a thriving business as a result of the shortage of places available at North American universities. It seems that the resort is popular with honeymooners, as we saw a lot of red flags during our tour!
We bid farewell to the Grenadines and turned south-west to Carriacou, one of three islands that make up the country of Grenada. We cleared in at Tyrell Bay, a large and popular cruising stop on the south end of the island. Steve and I did some hull cleaning while we were there. Steve also had a run-in with a hoard of local flying ants. More about that in the third and final installment of his email chronicles below.
We finally decided to retire our Canadian flag. After 6 months, it was shredded. Thankfully the McHales had tucked a new one in their suitcase so we had a ready replacement.
Part Three - Peri and Steve's most excellent Eastern Caribbean Adventure...or Old Farts Afloat!
Ants! Ants! Ants!
Not an issue you usually associate with sailing but there we were, sitting in Tyrell Bay where the wind only blows from the east and always 20 knots, only to wake up on the last morning to find Price and Benny awake and playing Candy Crush but pretending to work with the boat completely sealed up.
What is going on???
It is still 33 degrees and 90% humidity so let's open up the boat!
Uh...there is the small matter of about 1,000 flying ants that have used a very light offshore breeze to come to the great white beacon that is Panache for their new home. There was only one thing to do: fire up the generator and turn on the air conditioning. "Stevie likes to kill bugs so let's have Stevie do it!" Once again, the heavy mantle of being a "doer" falls on my shoulders while Candy Crush is played and Peri checks Blue Jays stats. So for the next 2 hours I shop vacuum the aft half of the boat. There are ants and ant wings everywhere: on the deck, the deck head, bulkheads, cushions, compartments. Just brutal! Only a few got into the main salon and we christened Peri as “Antzilla” but her heart wasn't really into it. She is more of a " I will block the hole and that will do it" kinda person. More like “IndifferAnt” than Antzilla. No endorsement packages from RAID for her then!
One thing that has resonated here has been the number of holidays there are in the EC Islands. Essentially there is a holiday every second stop we've made. And the hours are flexible: "open when we're open, closed when we're closed". Everything is closed on Sunday. It is the Holy day but cruise ships seem to be the only thing that will make anything happen on Sunday.
I know I have mentioned weather in passing but the past two weeks have been spotty with rain almost everyday and in biblical quantities. Still very muggy and hot mind you but you are soaked to the skin in 20 seconds.
Some choice quotes heard around the various anchorages. Steve to a street vendor: I told you I would come back. V: I'm sorry, but I don't recognize your face. S: That's ok, I know we all look alike. V: Gales of laughter. Price with a boat boy: P: How you doing? BB: Good, how are you doing? P: Feeling old! BB: That's too bad, there's no cure for that!
Battening down the hatches for a Hurricane...no wait, that would be alarmist! It is just a tropical depression. But not the kind that Brad Pitt goes to rehab for.
Tonight's our last night on Panache: out for dinner at the Port Louis Marina. Peri and I are sad to be leaving Price and Benny but they are in a great facility with good staff which is the best possible place to weather the storm.
When going gets tough the non-retired guys get going! Wednesday back at the office for both of us.
Lastly, great thanks to P and B for sharing their new home. It has been an awesome trip and we can't wait to see them again in some far off tropical paradise. Whoever said that retirement wasn't work hasn't been with these guys!
Love to all, S.