Bequia to Australia Day on St Lucia

Happy Australia Day! Apologies as I’ve been a bit slack with the blog; it’s been a combination of poor Internet coverage, having too much of a good time and being downright lazy whilst on holidays!

All up we had a week in Bequia and had a ball! Great island and one Gina & Bruce will definitely revisit. We spent a great night at the Frangipani Hotel listening to calypso music and meeting all sorts of yachties, ate at Mac’s Pizzeria, bought and cooked the best fish (tuna steaks to die for and swordfish), ate conch, drank sorrel juice and tried other local delicacies.

Gros Piton

We headed off on Tuesday 24th for St Lucia. We were up at 5am and set sail by 6.10! Just as well because we didn’t reach Marigot Bay on St Lucia until 4.30pm. It was a little rough crossing the channel between Bequia and St Vincents but was very pleasant sailing up the west coast. It looks a very nice island with some interesting coves and bays but, as previously mentioned, we have been discouraged by others from visiting. We saw the two Pitons of St Lucia, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, from afar. These islands are volcanic and the Pitons are a land formation rising strikingly out of the water. We had a great sail up to Marigot Bay reaching 9 knots in Wyuna and I didn’t call for Ruth once!

Entrance to Marigot Bay

Marigot Bay is where Dr Dolittle was filmed and is a very small protected bay. It was very crowded and we were quite close to other boats and a lovely looking restaurant, Rainforest Hideaway. It reminded us of Hamilton Is and other touristy types of anchorages and decided it wasn’t really what we had come all this way for! We had a lovely meal of tuna and salad and then hit the sack early after our long sail. Alas, not everyone else in Marigot Bay wanted to sleep – there were some very loud revellers on a nearby boat that kept three of us up most of the night! Mal slept like a baby right through it all

Marina Marigot Bay

After we went ashore and Bruce cleared us through customs/immigration we decided to move on to Rodney Bay which is a northern bay on St Lucia. That was a leisurely 6 mile trip through some rain but we made good time and arrived about 4ish. This is a very wide bay with a smaller internal harbor. John & Linda from Kool Kat are here and we caught up with them for dinner together with a couple of Canadians, Muddy & Kate, at a Chinese Restaurant. We feel like we are suddenly back in civilization as there are 2 shopping malls and a more structured road system than we’ve seen for awhile!

Celebrating Aussie Day

The fridge we had fixed in Cariacou is still playing up so Bruce put out a request across The Cruisers Net on the radio for a local refrigeration mechanic. We are now in a berth in the marina where someone will look at it.

Being the 26th of January Bruce hoisted the Boxing Kangaroo flag and we are joining other Aussies tonight at a BBQ here at the marina to celebrate Australia Day. Free drinks for Aussies apparently!

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Union Island to Bequia

We only stayed one night at our anchorage on Union Island. We decided to head north to the island of Bequia, pronounced Beck-way, which we had been told by a number of sailors we would love. They were right, we do love it but more about Bequia later.

The sail was very rough although Wyuna handled it very well. I had my stugeron but after approximately 7 hours of sailing with intermittent squalls of 25-30 knots, I succumbed to seasickness! Bruce, Gina & Mal thought I did pretty well to hang on so long considering the conditions. We arrived at sundown so anchored out the back with a view to moving the next day.

Bequia Harbour

We awoke to a most beautiful little bay and the township of Port Elizabeth. Bruce went ashore to check us all in to customs & immigration. We then spotted friends, Texans John & Linda from Kool Kat, another 47′ leopard,  who pointed us in the right direction of a vacant spot closer to shore where we are now located. This is such a beautiful little town – clean, clear water and a really great blend of laid back village life with a small amount of tourism. Great shops for provisioning, great restaurants, art galleries, good snorkeling and clean beaches.

Mature Hawksbill Turtle
6 month old Hawksbill turtles

Yesterday we went with John & Linda on a tour of the island. It took us 3 hours and Terence a local taxi driver was our guide. We went across to the east coast which was pretty rugged and beautiful. There are many extraordinary houses with incredible views owned by internationals. We visited a hawksbill turtle farm where one man is trying to protect a threatened species. Locals like to eat them and use their shell. We’ve noticed turtles swimming around the boat so we hope this is a sign of his good work. He retrieves eggs and rears them himself before returning to the wild. At the end of the trip we all sat down for a quiet one at a gorgeous little cafe/restaurant/bar by the water – The Gingerbread House (photo below). Life is pretty good.

Mal, Gina, Bruce, Linda & John

Our first night here John & Linda invited us on board for dinner and we were treated to Linda’s special Kool Kat rum punch! Wow did we knock those back – they were fantastic. We had a great night and caught up on all their news since we’d last seen them in Port Louis. Last night we went to dinner with 2 more Texans, Steve & Alice. Mal had lobster again; a whole lobster served with veggies and salad for 60EC, approx $20! Everday since I’ve been in The Caribbean, a boat boy has come past selling fresh lobster; who would have thought we’d be saying no because we have had too much! The restaurant had a local singer performing, Amanda Gooding, who was great. She is performing at the Bequia Music Festival later this month and a couple of us bought her CD.

Bougainvillea on day’s tour of island

Having a quiet one after day’s tour
Crescent Beach, Bequia

We like this place so we’ve decided to chill here for a few days and then head to St Lucia. St Vincents is actually the next island but we’ve been warned against going there by several yachties as it is becoming quite a violent place. Not like here which caters for the yachting community and thrives on visitors. St Lucia is another country which we hope to spend 4-5 days in and then on to Martinique which is a French island. Mal & I are hoping to change our flights so we can fly out of Martinique direct to Miami rather than having to return to Grenada but if we can’t change them we’ll fly to Grenada for our scheduled flights.

Spring Bay, Bequia

Today we refueled with a floating ‘7-Eleven’ called Daffodil (picture at right); they provide diesel, water, ice, laundry, etc. Sooooo convenient and a good example of how the island caters for the yachting community. The fruit & veg are really good here and Gina & I had a rather interesting experience at the market. Our Lonely Planet guide warned us about the aggressive nature of the Rastafarians at the market but we went in the afternoon thinking they may be less aggressive towards the end of the day….. WRONG. The two of us had a list of what we wanted to buy but boy we were hammered from every which way. We had three or four of them at a time asking if we wanted this or that; some breadfruit? some soursop? some avocado? some passionfruit, etc, etc, etc….. In the end we walked away with masses of fruit and veg that should last us a few weeks!

Gina & I took the dinghy into Princess Margaret beach for a swim around 5.30pm; what a beach! It is long, clean and the water was delightful. Fancy swimming at that time of night and not feeling cold either in the water or when you get out! It’s called Princess Margaret beach because she swam there in 1958! Anyway, just another day in paradise….. we like it here!

Union Island

We’ve finally left Carriacou and anchored at Ashton off Union Island. We were determined to leave today even though the weather looked grim because yesterday the part was finally fitted by the Sam, the refrigeration mechanic, and we’d been in Tyrrell’s Bay a week! I’ll update you on what we’ve been doing since our last entry…..

Mal, Bruce & Sue at Slipway Bar

Wednesday was a quiet day with a shopping trip into Hillsborough for Gina & I to stock up on some provisions. We laugh everytime we get on the bus now because no trip is the same…. there is always a diversion for someone so we’ve rationalised it by noting that we get to see more of the island. The locals are a very caring community and there is always someone who needs help either carting boxes somewhere or picking up someone’s tiny child from pre-school and taking them home because they couldn’t. We’re cool because we’re not in a hurry! That morning I’d booked Gina & myself into a massage for late afternoon so after a swim to the beach and back and a quick shower off the back of the boat, Mal took me by dinghy to the yacht club dock. The description to our masseur’s home was to take the “path” through the mangroves on the right of the yacht club and her house was the first on the right. I found it and was greeted by Frenchwoman, Genevieve, who has lived here for 20 years after sailing from France. She and her partner travel back to France once a year to visit family. Following our massages Bruce, Mal & I called into Slipway Restaurant for a drink; the boys had a beer and I had the best and biggest papaya daiquiri ever! Gina went back to the boat for a swim and shower before dinner. Gina and I slept like babies after our relaxing massages. Bruce got news that the part he’d ordered from The States had arrived in Grenada and had missed the ferry to Hillsborough so it would now definitely arrive tomorrow. We’ll believe it when we see it!

Boat building at Windward
Typical old Carriacou home

Thursday, Gina & I took the bus into Hillsborough and purchased some supplies for our planned hike on the northern end of Carriacou. The boys were waiting for Sam and Andy to come and do their stuff. We took a bus to Windward which is on the east coast and home to the traditional boat builders of Grenada. We saw some original housing which are quaint little cottages with some being restored. The view from Windward was fabulous – across to Petite St Martinique and, as we hiked to the northern most point of the Island, we could also see Union Island “in the next country”. The varying colours of the water in shades of turquoise was spectacular and it was a beautiful day. The hike took us 1.5 hours and tested our resolve as there were a few steep bits. We saw hundreds of geckos, sheep, goats and a cow. We finished up back at The Rounds House in Bogles where we had eaten a week before. They were closed for lunch but we took a swim below their cottages/restaurant in Sparrow Bay. We really enjoyed it after a very warm walk. We had our oranges and bananas and then headed off to catch the bus to Hillsborough. Fortunately for us an American called Dave picked us up and drove us in to town. Another expat who’s been living here more than 20 years! We tooks a bus back to Tyrrell’s Bay and again had another refreshing swim.Part of our exercise regime is to pull ourselves up whilst in the water and hanging on to the back of the boat. We’re up to 30 pull ups and feel very satisfied with ourselves – so much so that we promptly have happy hour and undo all the goodness we’ve just achieved!

Unfortunately, Sam didn’t make it on Thursday but Andy did and fitted the new covers – Bruce and Gina are very happy with them and they got a good test in today’s sail (more of that later). Sam arrived Friday morning and got to work. I took a bus into Hillsborough for a pedicure, Bruce took our passports into Customs and Immigration for clearance, Gina did some cleaning on the boat and Mal worked with Sam. We were hoping it would all be fixed and we’d be able to leave early afternoon. WRONG! By the time it was fixed, 4pm, it was too late and we voted to stay the night. Gina was particularly pleased about this as it meant we would go to Lambi Queen’s for dinner where they have a Steel Pan Band playing on a Friday night. So, we all had a swim, a shower, enjoyed our nightly happy hour and then took the dinghy into Lambi Queen’s. Lambi is a specialty over here – it’s the flesh from the conch shell. Well, Lambi Queen’s is the place to be in Tyrrell’s Bay on a Friday night. Everyone was there – we had a great night with Andy, Don the Aussie with the catamaran called Ned Kelly, a boatload of eight 30-something Americans and heaps of others, tourists and locals alike. We had lambi fritters for starters, then mains of barbecued lobster, chicken, rice and lentils, and salad followed by bananas flambe! When Andy left Gina asked if she could have a ride in the sidecar of his BMW motorcycle. Bruce kept mumbling something about someone’s taken my wife! She arrived back shortly with the biggest grin across her face.We practiced our Caribbean moves on the dance floor to the fantastic rhythm of the Steel Pan Band and 18 Carib beers and 6 rum punches later, we headed back to the boat. We nearly ran aground at one stage but after some cursing and much laughter, we finally made it back on board.

Mal catching 4 Yellow Jacks for dinner

We got up early today and prepared to leave. Alas, the weather had turned during the night as Bruce had predicted, but we all agreed to head off anyway. I took my reliable drug, Stugeron, and we made our way out past the point, past Sandy Island and into the Caribbean Sea. The new weather covers were great but Bruce was on the weather side so he was copping the worst of it. The rain made it impossible to see the islands but as we’ve found, the showers don’t last long here. So between squalls we were able to see glimpses of Carriacou disappearing and Union Island coming ever closer. It was on the nose, again, for most of the trip but eventually when we reached the northern most point of Carriacou, the wind dropped a little, the sun came out and we put up the heady. Very pleasant! We got another squall just before Union Island but eventually that passed and we anchored just off Frigate Island, out from the township of Ashton. We spotted some turtles swimming and pelicans fishing. Mal decided to give it a go and promptly caught 4 yellow jacks for our dinner tonight. He cooked them on the barbie and they were fantastic! As you can see by the photo, the weather here is lovely.

Hey mon, not much to report

Yachts in Tyrrell’s Bay

Well we’ve been here a few days now in Tyrrell’s Bay waiting for a part to arrive from Trinidad for the compressor. Once the refrigeration mechanic has it in his hot little hands we had planned to return to Grenada for it to be fitted. Bruce was getting rather frustrated with the time it has taken and sought a 2nd opinion from a refrigeration mechanic here in Cariacou. He only found out about him because of Andy who is making the extra covers – he is extremely helpful and a wealth of information. The photo shows the large red and white  cat known as SV Wyuna slightly to the right of centre.

Sam (refrigeration mechanic) came out to check out the compressor and believes it is working fine! He thinks it is an expansion valve which Bruce has now ordered and will arrive in a few days via Fedex. Sam’s “other” job is training Cariacou police. He is a retired major from the US navy, carries a gun and has some amazing stories to share.

So, we are hoping that the covers will be fitted tomorrow and the valve by Thursday our time. We then plan to clear out of Grenada in Hillsborough and sail to Union Island where we will probably moor off Clifton. Union Is is in the country of St Vincent & The Grenadines. Weather dependent we will then sail to Meyrau and the Tobago Cays – v good snorkeling apparently.

The last couple of days have been spent swimming, walking, drinking, eating and reading. Gina & I went walking the other day and met a Swedish woman, Jeanette, who was painting and working with her Cariacou boyfriend setting up a little cafe/bar. She had a fellow Swede there, Susannah, working on the cafe and it turns out she has lived the last 30 years in Brisbane. She has bought land here and is in the process of moving. It’s so interesting meeting ordinary people who are living extraordinary lives.

M, S, G & B at Lazy Turtle
Floating dock at Lazy Turtle
Mal preparing to leap to floating dock

Last night we went to The Lazy Turtle for pizzas and pasta and a very tasty creme brulee. The restaurant “dock” was innovative. It was a floating deck which was tied to 2 steel poles in a short concrete slab. You tied the dinghy to the floating dock and then pulled it as close to the steel poles as possible and then took a flying jump! Not so easy from a moving, rocking floor. I felt like Lara Croft! All the cafes/restaurants are along the shore so the views are gorgeous. We had a K9 friend last night lying next to us in the restaurant – he had a very similar snout to Josie so it was quite comforting for Mal & me.

Today Mal is assembling a minicatamaran (photo at top) which came with the boat. This boat has everything! The kayak is the same as Mal’s in Lonny but an earlier version. Gina is currently updating the boat’s inventory and discovering all sorts of tools, equipment and parts. It’s astounding how much “stuff” is on this baby!

Until our next update, love to all, S, M, G & B.

Lazy day in Tyrrell’s Bay and a gourmet delight at night!

Tyrrell’s Bay Yacht Club
Bruce, Gina & Mal in Slipway Restaurant
2 x Juvenile Iguanas
Good spot for a quiet one!

Yesterday, we motored back to Tyrrell’s Bay (just round corner from Sandy Island) and decided to do some exploration of the village. We picked up a mooring in close and then tied up the dinghy at the Yacht Club. Had lunch at Slipway Restaurant next door – gorgeous little place on the beach – the boys had grown a little tired of fresh salads every lunch so were ecstatic that hamburgers with fries were on the menu! Gina and I had fresh passionfruit juice – unbelievably good; it tasted pure with no added sugar and cost us $2AU! A small stubby of beer is around $2.50AU. We all had a hamburger but this was a little more upmarket than greasy joe’s. Finely diced red cabbage coleslaw, dill pickles and the best fries were the accompaniments. Over here they ask how you want your hamburger cooked: rare, medium or well done – 4 well done thanks! The restaurant is only a year old and was built on an old shipyard. They had some fabulous rustic machinery that they’d turned into chairs, tables and ornaments that really gave the place character. We all loved it!

We spent the afternoon walking through the village, stopping for a beer and picking up the odd piece of fruit from the roadside stalls. We met a couple of guys, with six-packs you wouldn’t believe, catching their evening meal: baby iguana. They had two about a foot long. Apparently they are juveniles, can grow to 2-3 feet and are prevalent on the island.  During our walk we came across a sailmaker, Andy of Stitches, and Gina and Bruce engaged him to make some additions to a weather cover between the biminy and the deck. Andy is an Englishman who would be in his 60s and who, after sailing the Caribbean for 30 years, settled in Tyrrell’s Bay. He likes that it is undeveloped from a tourist point of view in comparison to the rest of the Caribbean. He introduced us to his South American Red-legged Tortoise who he is helping recuperate after coming in contact with a lawnmower. She had lost one of her front legs but he was pleasantly surprised when she laid an egg the other day so feels she is on the road to recovery.

Sth American red-spotted tortoise

During the afternoon we met Malcolm Fraser, a local taxi driver. When I told him this was the same name as a previous PM of Oz, he knew and we all laughed. We negotiated a fare for him to take us that evening to a restaurant called The Round House at Bogles, north of Hillsborough. This had received a write up in Lonely Planet and Gourmet Traveller a few years ago. We were not disappointed – what a great meal.

The Round House @ Bogles aka Bilbo Baggins home
B, S, M & G dining at The Round House

For starters Gina & Mal had calamari that was sooooo tender,  Bruce had a blue cheese and bacon salad and I had a double baked blue cheese souffle with rocket – to die for! We had a very nice Italian pinot grigio and then came our mains: Mal & Bruce enjoyed lamb shanks in a red wine jus – the lamb just fell off the bone and the flavour was gorgeous. Gina had barracouda and I had lobster with a red pepper, butter sauce! We both loved our mains too and promptly ordered another bottle of the pinot grigio. All of this was great but the venue was really interesting too. It is a little round house made from large round stones that you would think was made for Frodo or Bilbo Baggins overlooking a small bay. Everything about the house is round; the windows, the tables, the central trunk, the placemats, etc. The owner, Roxanne, is English and came to Carriacou with her parents when she was six. She is an exceptional chef and recommended the chocolate fondant to finish. We ordered 1 per couple and weren’t disappointed. It is made with Grenada’s 100% organic cocoa and the runny centre exploded out of the chocolate “cake”. It was accompanied by vanilla and chocolate icecream. Happiness is……   We finished the evening with an espresso coffee – who could ask for anything more? Malcolm Fraser arrived to take us back to our dinghy at Tyrrell’s Bay where we zoomed across the water to Wyuna. On the other side of the bay we could hear the great music from a local Steel Band at one of the shoreline restaurants – gosh they were great so the four of us lay out under a full moon on the “trampoline” part of the cat. A perfect finish to another great day in The Caribbean.

Today is Saturday and Gina & I went ashore to drop off our washing at the local laundry cum supermarket (who suggested we return at 1pm to collect it) and then took a bus into Hillsborough for some food shopping. What’s so funny about the buses is that they will pick you up anywhere and take you anywhere you want to go, so you never really know how long it will take you to get to where you are going. Gina & I ended up seeing a lot more of the island than we had planned but that’s ok mon, we’re not in any hurry because we’re now on Caribbean time! People hop on with all sorts of things from buckets of fish to petrol canisters; people come out of a home to give the driver who has slowed down a cooked meal; everyone knows everyone. The island only has a population of 9,000. A woman with a baby hopped on but someone else ended up holding the baby; the children are so gorgeous and you never hear a peep out of them.

We finally arrived at Hillsborough and got our goodies. Most of the shops close around 12.30pm  so we just made it in time. Caught the bus home and, yes you guessed it, we made a small detour to a shop someone wanted to visit. Had great baguettes with salad back on board and then at 2pm off in the dinghy to the “laundry” to collect our neatly folded clothes. Wrong! Try coming back in half an hour; what the heck, make it a couple of hours. Off we go zooming again! Back at 4pm and fortunately everything is dry but not quite folded. No problem mon, we’re cool, we’ll take it anyway. All in all, it’s clean, dry and we’re happy.

Dinner on board tonight. Love to everyone, S, M, G & B. xox

Moored off Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada

Sue & Gina on seats at bow

Mal enjoying the sail

OMG! This is one of the reasons we had come half way round the world. We left our anchorage at Tyrrell’s Bay and, again, the wind was on the nose. We rounded the first point and could see immediately a tiny stretch of white sand with a few yachts moored up close, Sandy Is. There are only a few low palms, small vegetation and pelicans. We picked up a mooring and immediately jumped in to swim, snorkel & kayak the afternoon away. Similar fish to what we’ve seen in Oz but the pelicans are different; smaller and range from a light to a dark brown/grey. The water is a lovely temp and the colour is, as we had expected, turquoise. This is a National Park and the local rangers arrived to collect 25EC ($8) which meant we could stay 24 hrs. We can see Hillsborough from Sandy Is and we will move there to spend a few days exploring and provisioning. The great thing we’ve noticed is the islands are all close. We can see Union Is from here and we can pick up provisions as we go rather than having to store too many. However, it was lucky we had some supplies the other day as Grenada had one more public holiday than we had anticipated and all shops were shut!

Mal & Gina picking up the mooring

For those interested in aspects of the boat, there is a pull-out shower nozzle so when you come back on board after swimming you can have a rinse in fresh water – lovely! Gina & I are amazed at how stable the double hull is; during our rugged sail across the strait the other day, nothing was displaced; my water glass was still standing in exactly the same place! This is obviously playing a major role in my wellbeing!

Two things we all agree that’s noticeably different to sailing at home is the amount of traffic and the different nationalities you meet; Swedes, Canadians, lots of French, heaps of Americans, Brits, Venezualans and heaps more. At all times of the day you see a huge amount of vessels sailing up or down the coasts.

We spent the rest of the day reading, adding another line to the mooring and generally hanging out.

Port Louis to Carriacou

Left Port Louis Marina just before lunch after a nerve-racking departure. We hugged the Grenada coast for 15 miles with strong gusts and for those who know my predilection for seasickness, I felt great. Nurse Gina had dosed me up with the strongest drug known to man, well yachties anyway, and it worked a treat. We were doing so well we decided to cross the strait between Grenada and Carriacou. Whoa, we had been sailing into the wind up the coast but that was nothing until we did the crossing. The wind was on the nose for the next 14 miles and I was prostrate for most of that time but I was ok! We reached Tyrrell’s Bay around 6.30pm in the dark. B, G & M did a great job setting the anchor with only the moon for assistance. The boat handled the conditions beautifully and Bruce is very happy with her. After a big day the G & Ts and the Stag beers got a workout. Cooked up a chicken korma with rice and veggies and called it a night.

Awoke to a pretty bay crowded with yachts, water is 14′ and we can see the bottom and some small fish – Mal has thrown in a line but to no avail! We have had some rain but it’s still warm with all of us in T’s or singlets.

Carriacou is a large island and still part of the country Grenada. We will probably move around to Hillsborough Bay which is the main town and spend a few days exploring before we leave Grenada. The islands are fairly close so we anticipate short sails between countries.

Until next time, all’s good mon!