It was only a 2 hour sail and 10NM from Carriacou to Clifton on Union Island. On our way to the Grenadines we caught a tuna which I managed to reel in underway. Gavin then gutted and filleted the fish and stored it away for dinner at a later date.
We were about a mile out from Clifton when we had three pangas approach us and follow us into the bay. The locals were all chasing us down and fighting to connect our boat to a mooring ball for money. Once in the bay we had vendors come to the boat on small fishing boats trying to sell us lobsters, banana bread and arts and crafts.
We launched our dinghy and headed for customs and immigration to clear in. After reading the cruising guide about Clifton, I was really looking forward to spending some time there. It said it was a ‘bustling small port with a cosmopolitan atmosphere’. On first impressions the main town looked very run down, a little hippy like with loads of restaurants and a nice market square. We headed through town to take a look around when we were hounded by locals trying to sell us everything under the sun. They were very pushy and it made us all feel very uncomfortable resulting in us trying to get back to our boat as quickly as possible. Our friends later told us that on their way down the island chain a few weeks earlier they had stopped in this same bay for one night and their boat got robbed. That made us feel even more on edge and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. After originally thinking we would spend one night here, we threw our lines into the water and headed around to a neighboring island called Mayreau.
Mayreau is the smallest inhabited island in the Grenadines with a population of around 300.
We anchored in a beautiful little bay called Salt Whistle Bay which had a spectacular sweeping half-moon beach. The bay was lined with local fishing boats, restaurants and bars. Gavin, Léna and I swam to the beach and took a walk around to explore. There was an extremely picturesque sand spit lined with palm tress at the end of the bay with a barrier reef located on the other side.
Later in the afternoon the crew on all 3 boats decided to head to the shore for a sundowner. We were the only guests in the area and made ourselves comfortable for the evening at a small wooden shack called the Coconut beach bar. We sat and drank with the locals, enjoyed some potent rum, tried the local beer, Hairoun and danced on the beach until sunset.
The following morning we headed over to the Tobago Cays. We anchored between Baradel, Petit Bateau and Jamesby. The wind was pumping and the sand was churned up beneath the water, but the sea was incredibly blue and there were beautiful white sandy beaches to roam. We launched the dinghy and headed over to Baradel to snorkel. We swam with turtles, stingray and saw starfish laying beneath us. There are plenty of turtles back in the BVI but I am always so busy on charter I never have the opportunity to swim with them. The experience was incredible and it is so amazing to watch them glide so smoothly through the water. They truly are majestic creatures.
We cooked the tuna we had caught the previous day for lunch and it was so delicious and meaty. A really tasty catch and definitely one we hope to hook again on the way home. We had more vendors circling the boat offering us their catch of the day. We had run out of money as we hadn’t been to the bank in a while, so Gavin started bartering with the fishermen. He offered beers, rope and a snorkelling mask in exchange for 5 lobster. They came to some kind of agreement and we had lobster for days. A different fisherman came to us later and promoted his lobster BBQ that he did on a beach around the corner. We agreed that we needed a night out and told him we’d be there at 6pm.
We moved the boat closer to the beach that afternoon and anchored close by. The BBQ was great. We had huge lobsters, rice, vegetables, fried plantains and garlic potatoes. The location was amazing, we ate almost on the waters edge, on a secluded beach under the stars. It was a very enjoyable evening and I would definitely recommend booking with a guy called ‘Summertime’.
After a quick snorkel the following morning and another swim with a couple of turtles, we lifted the anchor and set sail to Bequia. The seas were rough with high winds, speeds up to 25-30 knots. The sail was only 4 hours but was a tough one heading straight into the wind.
We arrived in Bequia and anchored in Admiralty Bay, a natural protected harbour surrounded by steep lush hills. The water was so clear, I have never seen anywhere like it. This place was spectacular.
Bequia, meaning ‘Island of the Clouds’ is the second largest island in the Grenadines, home to a population of around 4,300 and is one of the few places where limited whaling is still allowed by the International Whaling Commission. Whalers can hunt 4 humpback whales per year. Dating back to the 1870s, Bequians hunt their prey on sailboats with hand thrown harpoons as they have for more than 130 years.
After a quick dip in the crystal blue water to cool us all down we headed into town. Bequia was a really cool little place with bars, restaurants and a scenic promenade lining the waterfront.
We took a stroll along the watersedge and bought a few provisions from the local fruit and veg vendors on the side of the road and headed back to the boat.
We hosted a bbq that evening for our friends on Endless Summer and Let It Go. Gavin cooked the lobster he had bartered for and several bottles of rum were drunk over the course of the evening.
Everybody awoke the following morning with a heavy head and it took a while for us all to get moving. Gavin, Léna and I decided to head into town, grab a taxi and go and explore a little. Some people in the bay had recommended visiting the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. They told us there were some two day old turtles, and I couldn’t wait to head down there and check them out.
Bequia is a very well kept island with a beautiful coastline. The ride was peaceful driving on the quiet roads through fields of coconut palms and extremely expensive looking homes.
Run by Orton King, a local Bequian and retired fisherman since 1995, this slightly rundown old wooden shack filled with salt water tanks is the home of many rescued Hawksbill turtles. After nurturing the young and raising them until around the age of 5 they are then released back into the wild. This wonderful old man is so passionate about these amazing creatures and is doing a fantastic job trying to raise numbers of the Hawsbill turtles that are in serious decline due to poaching. With some fascinating stories and the chance to touch a turtle, this place is definitely worth a visit to support and help raise funds to help him continuing doing what he loves and contributing to our oceans wildlife.
The next morning we started to prepare for our next destination. We headed into town and cleared out at customs. We stocked up on provisions and gave the boat a good clean. Gavin managed to barter some fishing line and lures with a local fisherman for more lobster and a couple of small white fish to keep us fed. In the afternoon we headed to the white sandy beach of St. Margarets Bay for a dip in the sea and a snorkel around the reef. I cannot believe how many incredible fish live in our waters and how beautiful some of the reefs are in this area. Scuba diving or snorkelling are a must when visiting the Grenadines.
After spending a few nights in Bequia, we had an early night and prepared for our 2am start and our sail to St. Lucia.
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