Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
We need to go shopping, but we do not just slip right into the local supermarket. Today, it requires us to get in the dinghy, sail it in to the beach in the anchorage we are in. In there, we look for Phillip, who owns a small bar, Sunset Cove. We know he is here, because we can hear the generator required for him to have electricity, and shortly after he comes around the bar with a big smile. “Hello my friends. How are you today? ” After a little chat we ask for a taxi and immediately he calls for one. that is, he calls his brother, who he knows is nearby, as who is also the chef at the bar. “He’s here in 15 minutes.” Perfect, then we can just make it up to the taxi.
There is only a very impassable road down to Chatham Bay, so we go up a narrow path through the forest, partly formed by rainwater and the cows and goats that graze here. Breathless, and a lot of altitude meters later, we are up by the main road, which is a narrow concrete road. Up here we meet Phillips’ brother, agree on a price, and then we’re on our way to Clifton, where the best shopping opportunities on Union Island is. The trip goes along narrow concrete roads, up and down the beautiful landscape and with a fantastic view over the sea and some of the other islands in the Grenadines. The road is so narrow that 2 cars can barely pass each other, so the sharp turns are taken sounding the horn.
Chatham Bay on Union Island, from which the shopping trip above starts, is one of our favorite anchorages in the Grenadines. We really calm down here. The anchorage is very well protected from waves, and surrounded by densely overgrown hill sides. Magnificent and peaceful. In the trees at the northern end of the bay, the pelicans sit and keep an eye on the fish life below, which is also a really good snorkeling spot with shoals of fish, lobsters, dragon fish and many other different fish. Unfortunately the dragonfish is an invasive species, but it is still nice to look at, and a single one even kept watch down at our anchor.
Union Island is not just Chatham Bay. Clifton is the main city of the island, but forget about a big city. Here you walk along small streets with colorful small houses and stalls, and it is quite common to meet goats that roam freely in the streets. When there are fresh fish and lobsters, the fishermen blow the conch so everyone knows. And you can not avoid meeting Bobby Brown when walking around the city. Bobby plays steel drums, and has made a carrier of it in New York. Whether it is Covid-19 who has put an end to it or he has retired, we do not know, but it is certain that he would love to arrange a lobster buffet out on Happy Island. At the far end of the reef, which protects the anchorage at Clifton, is a very small island that started as a small pile of conch shells, but which the owner, Janti, has built up over the years from a small island with a parasol, to a less small island. , which is exclusively a bar – Happy Island.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are filled with amazing places. In addition to the main island of Saint Vincent, the archipelago consists of 31 islands, which make up the Grenadines. When we were on Tenerife and had to decide where in the Caribbean we wanted to make land fall – it was necessary because we had to get a permit due to Covid-19 before we sailed off – there was not much doubt. Switching around between the Caribbean countries would require expensive PCR tests and quarantine, so we would land somewhere where there was a lot to experience. This is certainly the case in all countries, but the many islands and that the Grenadiers also have the marine park Tobago Cays, which is described as “The Jewel in the Crown” of the islands, made the difference, and that several of the other Danish boats we have followed also aimed at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Pirates of the Caribbean
“5 meters to the left, no wait, there is one 3 meters behind you“. This is how it sounds when trying to guide a snorkeling friend from a boat to a sea turtle on the Tobago Cays. Because here is guarantee of seeing and swimming with sea turtles. Tobago Cays is a protected marine park consisting of 5 uninhabited small islands, surrounded by a coral reef like a horseshoe – except for a single island outside the reef, but we will get back to that. The reef protects against the waves from the Atlantic Ocean, behind the reef there is a sandy bottom, with many sea turtles, which graze on the bottom and once in a while are up among the boats to breathe. And if you snorkel or dive on the reef, there is plenty to see. On the islands you can see iguanas if you walk around carefully and keep a close eye, because they are experts at camouflaging themselves. The Tobago Cays are paradise.
In “Pirates of the Caribbean”, Jack and Elizabeth are stranded on an island where Elizabeth burns the buried rum of smugglers to be rescued. This scene is filmed on the island Petit Tabac, and it is the island that is outside the reef. So when it is not too windy, you can sail in the dinghy through a reef passage and further out to the island. We found no more buried rum, but enjoyed a lunch picnic with the other Danish boats that were there at the time.
Another life style
Usually there are a lot of tourists in the Caribbean, and especially a place like the Tobago Cays. Here will usually be approx. hundred boats, and the cruise ships will bring 100s of passengers into the islands and reef daily. But Corona has meant that we were a maximum of 15 boats, and no cruise ships. So now that the world situation is as it is, it is a rather unique time we have visited the Caribbean. But it also puts pressure on the population. One can be absolutely sure of being received by a boat on its way into an anchor bay offering goods, anchor buoys, lobsters, or arranging a lobster buffet. On the Tobago Cays we were a group of danish boats, and a single swedish, who accepted the offer. It was a bit of a coincidence that Søren collected money from the boats and paid after a fantastic meal with freshly caught lobsters. And it was very clear how much that money meant. In no way were we adored, or at the other end of the scale tried to be fooled for more money. It was happy, proud, and incredibly relieved people who had sold us a good product, but no doubt the money fell in a dry spot.
Corona has minimized our contact with the local people, but the contact we have had has shown us how happy, smiling and positive – and not least relaxed – people living in the Caribbean are. Even in times of crisis like these. It is clearly a different lifestyle, where time in particular does not play a big role. Yes, it’s more primitive. Goats by the houses are more fun than robotic lawnmowers and precision-cut privet hedges. And water and electricity can not be taken for granted. In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, each drop of water counts, as the fresh water comes exclusively from rainwater collected in large barrels by the houses. So when it rains it needs to be collected. They live closer to nature and are more dependent on nature. Just like we do when we sail, and it’s a very life-affirming way of life.
Bequia, like coming home
“Let me guess, 3 mango juice?” The question is from Angie who works at Marias, one of our favourite cafés in Port Elizabeth, the largest city in the Grenadines located on the island of Bequia just south of Saint Vincent. And the answer is always “Yes please“. Bequia, or rather Port Elizabeth, has become a kind of home for us in the Grenadines. Perhaps because things here are a bit easier than in a distant anchor bay, and this is needed once in a while. Grab the VHF and call on channel 67: “Dafodil Dafodil. This is Carpe Diem. Can You Pick Up Laundry? ” Shortly after, the laundry is collected at the boat, and some hours later delivered dried and folded. A little depending on rain showers, because then you get it the next day.
The shopping opportunities are also better than at the more southern islands like Union. But forget about stock as a Danish supermarket. We can get meat, chopped tomatoes, etc., but it is expensive as it needs to be imported. Here are also 2 very different chandleries and a sail maker. We had our Bimini sewed here and we are very pleased with the result. Many restaurants and cafés are closed due to Corona, but there are still plenty of places to go, of which we are very pleased with Maria’s, Papa’s and Jacks. Unfortunately, we have not experienced a real Live Steel Band, but we will experience that some other time.
You might be able to read it between the lines: Bequia can be an expensive experience, which at least requires some disciplin to keep the budget.
We are very pleased with our time on the Grenadines, and it is really hard to describe it in the same way as we have experienced the small paradise islands with azure blue water, palm beaches, nice nature, cozy and colorful beach bars, colorful fish, sea turtles, and not least exciting and friendly people. The sum of it all has made it a unique experience. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have at least been stored well and beautifully in our hearts.